Tuesday, August 9, 2016


Instead of "writing," from now on, I'm going to dedicate my creative energy to social media. I have a lot to say on facebook.com. I'm not sure why people call it "facebook" and leave out the "dot com" part. The "dot com" part seems pretty essential to finding it on the world wide web.

You may not be familiar with facebook DOT COM. It is a web page where someone can create a page all about himself. Or herself. You can actually make a bunch of pages about yourself or someone else or whoever (or an event or something you like, you really should check it out). Then, once you have a page about yourself, you can do useful things like post pictures and stuff, or you can just write something you want everyone who is your friend (on facebook DOT COM, not in real life) to read. For example, you could write, "I am going to vote for Hillary Clinton." And people can write comments on what you wrote. Like someone might say, "I'm not." See?

Also, you can share links. So, after I write this post, I'm going to share a link to it on facebook DOT COM.

What was I talking about? Oh, yeah. I have way too much writing talent to be wasting it on books and plays and failed screenplays about black people. I would rather spend my time using my words to write messages to people, preferably a lot of people at the same time. Like this:


Anyone who comes to this website can read that.

I'm also going to create the most interesting texts. Those are messages, but for just one person at a time. (usually, if you send it to more than one person at a time people get mad at you). I am going to text things like "How are things" and "I have my hand on your butt." (as you can see, sometimes I will sext. That means to text but about sex. Usually it means to text about sex with someone you are or want to have sex with.)

 Who would like to be the recipient of my first text? Or my facebook DOT COM friend? Follow me! Follow me! I have so much to show you. Ready to text here! Ready to fire away! Just let me know you want one, and I'll send it right out to space so it can rocket back down to your smartphone.

Let the writing career begin. Ready when you are!

PS I am also very good at filling in timesheets and writing my name and information on legal documents. If you or someone you know would like to pay me to do those things, I will accept no less that $15 an hour. #Awriterhastomakealiving.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Men Only

When you’re eleven and want to disappear in a puff of smoke, the best thing to do is ask around school. You’ll find that only one kid in your fifth grade class knows how to do it. It’s Max.

You’ll have an initial conversation with Max about smoke, smoking, and smoke bombs. You’ll realize in that microchat that Max has something you don’t. It’s not knowledge, although Max definitely knows where to buy things you haven’t even heard of. It’s not strength, although Max takes Tae Kwon Do and has the jumpkick to prove it. And it’s not anything ethical or spiritual; neither you nor Max have given much thought or development to your reverent side at this point in your life.

Whatever Max has—and there’s no fifth grade word for it—it rubs off on you. Soon, he becomes your mentor. He shares with you his physical strength; you do push-ups and sit-ups together. He teaches you courage; you jump off of rooves together. He teaches you to smoke, and how to play King of the Hill, and that fighting trick where you put your leg behind the other guy’s leg and then awkwa-grapple him into tripping backwards. Max turns you into the fifth grade equivalent of a badass. Max turns you into a man.

You and Max scope out turf. You choose a part of the playground to be yours. It’s literally a pile of dirt over by the swings or whatever. A pile of dirt. But it’s yours. One day, you see another young man playing there. You don’t know him. He doesn’t know you. But you know that’s your pile of dirt. You do the awkwa-grapple thing. The kid skins not only his knee but his face. The kid starts to cry. You win. Pile of dirt defended. Manhood defended.

Your punishment is severe. In addition to having your parents called, your job is to go up to the nurse’s office, look that young man in the eye, and apologize to him. Gross. Apologies. Crying. Weakness. Gross. You feel absolutely terrible. It occurs to you then that the you who threw this young man to the ground was never you. You realize that you don’t know you. Then you start to realize some other things, too.

First, you realize that Max’s smoke bombs come mail-order from the back of Boys’ Life magazine. Then, it occurs to you that when you’re “hiding in plain sight,” everyone can see you; they just don’t care that you’re there. And those cigarettes you’re smoking? With open eyes, you see that they’re napkins rolled up and taped into nerd-cylinders.

Your insights fundamentally alter your relationship with your sensei. Suddenly, his way of teaching you to always be on guard by hitting you when you aren’t paying attention—it feels more like bullying. His way of getting you to jump off a roof by calling you a pussy if you don’t—feels like false bravado. And his Tae Kwon Do training that never taught him the best form of self-defense—not to get in a fight in the first place—well, it doesn’t seem like your sensei was there that day.  

In Middle School, Max no longer part of your life, you’ll reflect on your training: how did the dude seem so big so long? How did he remain your Rufio, an artificial man in a world of authentic boys? How is it he got to call the shots for the better part of a school year when you had a perfectly good mind and heart of your own?

The top of your spine spoonfeeds you the answer. You recall. Ah! Yes! There was the thing—the thing Max had that fifth graders (and adults) don’t have a word for. Today, you’ll find it hiding in plain sight in the thesaurus, chilling invisibly near words like “confidence” and “assertiveness.” It’s buried in power philosophies and innocent clichés that talk about “being present” and “showing up.” What Max had was . . . wait for it.

He was there. It’s that simple. Max took up the space everyone else was willing to relinquish.

He’s still doing it today. Max is staking out turf, calling meetings at flagpoles in Rogers Park complete with secret passwords and intimidation tactics. He’s standing on stage at iO turning some female scene partner into a housewife or a whore. He’s designing public bulletins and health care policy, making sure we all know that we all don’t need to worry about the Zika virus. Max is on the rampage, y’all. We just may not notice it, because we probably don’t take him too seriously. Wait. Some of us notice it and take it seriously—those of us who are women.

Okay, gentlemen. Bring it in. (Ladies, please kindly allow us some space. We have to huddle. It’s what men do.) Everyone here? Good. Listen. Here’s the gameplan. Look out across the field. See the other team? Max’s. Millions of them. The game? Manhood. Manliness. Masculinity. The rules? That’s what we have to decide. That’s why we’re here. Who here has an opinion on what it means to be a man?

Nobody? Anybody? Listen, fellahs. Someone’s going to take up space out here, and if it’s not us, it’s going to be them. What’s that, Number 14? You think the women of the world need our support? That we should be including them in this conversation? Get out of my face. That’s ridiculous. Women are fine. They’ve heard enough from us. They’ve been putting up with our shit for centuries. Right now, we’re talking about us. Who are we? Anybody?

Let’s start simple. Are we the kind of men who will allow masculinity to be defined by misogynists? No? Are we the kind of men who will allow the role models our fathers and grandfathers created for us—you know, the men who fought in just wars and provided for entire families—to be openly mocked, shamed, and trivialized? No! Are we the kind of men who will be awkwa-grappled into surrendering our turf to people who are morally inferior to us? NO!?

Well, game on, then. Women, you can come back now. I have good news for you:

We men, the real ones, decided long ago that we aren't interested in being idiots or assholes. We don't want to own your bodies. We don't want to harm your bodies. We don't want to oppress your minds. We don't support an uneven playing field when it comes to health, sex, work, respect, or any of the other areas in which you are commonly oppressed and belittled. That's not the good news.

The good news is that we decided--just now in our huddle--not to be quiet about it anymore. (Right, gentlemen?) See, most of us are taught to just abide by the fuckfarts of the world, to bite our tongues and spend time around people we like and respect, to live our own lives and go about our own business. ‘Just don’t be that way,’ we’re told. Well, we in our huddle just called bullshit. We in our huddle just decided that being a good person is not enough, that passive support is not enough, that not being Max is not enough. Furthermore, we in our huddle just decided that we don't want to be reactive anymore. This is our gender, too, and our timidity has been the strength of Max's everywhere.

Instead,we're going to be men of action. We're going to go out and be policy-makers. Educators. Writers. Funny comedians and talented improvisers. We're going to be bosses and office managers and flight attendants and sports stars and fathers and partners and friends. And when we see some phony who doesn't get what it is to be a man, we're going to stand up, not one at a time, but in droves, and teach him. In doing all of this, we're going to create an entire culture based on what it is to be a real man, and we're going to let the fake men try to live in it.

Gents, I'll repeat: reacting is not enough. 

Yes. The Kings of Cock cancelled their meeting when everyone threw a fit. They retreated back into the internet. We won; they lost. But these boys were just a distraction. Look at all the facets of misogyny that haven't retreated, haven't even been asked to. (Do I need to name them? If you're not familiar, ask any female friend what one day in her life is like. She'll tell you that Return of Kings is the least of her worries, and she'll be happy to provide you specific reasons why.) Regardless of whether any particular group will be meeting in our streets and near our homes on Saturday night, please don’t forget that what they represent remains “out there” in ways we all see every day, and wherever the Max's are allowed to take action, they are also allowed to shape the definition of our gender and our world.

So bid them farewell and laugh at them if you want, and flick them off as they go. Good riddance, Max. Good riddance, Return of Kings. While we’re at it, good riddance to rapists, misogynists, egoists, narcissists, abusers, haters, terrorists, Rush Limbaughs; to the Señor Ceréns of El Salvador and the John Belushis of SNL. Thank you all for yielding, ultimately, to the glacial wall of progress. We love it when you lose. We love to celebrate your disappearance.


But men: here’s the real question we better be asking ourselves. What do we do with the space left behind when these assholes finally shut up? Now that the flagpole stands unguarded, will we quietly allow a deluded silence to still the public domain? Or will we charge in, voices strong, and loudly claim our turf?