ebogjonson.com's sex type archiveon the naughty bits; on sex, pornography, various other forms of dirt; perhaps the occasional post on love
May 15, 2006
what i learned in las vegas
Apologies about the postus interruptus but I was in Las Vegas, NV last week attending an honest-to-gosh bachelor party. I don't have much to report re: the festivities, but I will share that as I drove home I was struck by the number of people that seemed to be living year-round in scorched middles of nowhere off the 15 in NV. (Even google has trouble fathoming them.)
My upbringing in the temperate zones of NYC makes it highly unlikely that I'll ever intuit what motivates a body to park a trailer home within hissing distance of the Mojave. Basic housekeeping in such a context becomes (to me) an indication of perverse stubborness, flash baking newly washed linens on clothes-lines in 105 degree sun, for example, only legible to me as a form of self-abuse. It just seems insane (or maybe a kind of dishonest) to expect a bed made with such sheets to afford one any restful or cooling sleep, ever.
The more trailers I saw (not to mention the three or so actual townlets), the more convinced I became that people who willingly live in such places must be in the grip of powerful, overriding fictions. It has to be fiction; the region's facts - the killing heat, the fickle indifference of traffic and tourist dollars, the dead zone half-lives of war games and proving grounds - strike me as signature drivers of depopulation, mental lightening bolts that only power the abrupt conviction that one needs to get the hell out of Dodge with a quickness. I try to think of what might counter-balance those facts as I drive - i.e., what might make me move to such a desert - and I'm not a mile in before I not so much give up as recoil. I am literally unable to believe it, and that, of course, is the whole game. I mean, I'd just spent several days enthusiastically teasing underlying, largely self-serving facts from every spin of the wheel, spying kernels of the genuine in every cash-related kindness or bought simulation of intimacy. I'm up, I'm down, I really am her most favorite customer ever. So who am I kidding? I obviously not only know exactly what it's like to tell oneself that the heat isn't as bad as folks make out, but I also know how to then make it so via the telling.
...[M]ost of what seems important in life is made up and is neither more (nor less) than, as a certain turn of phrase would have it, "a social construction." [...]
With good reason postmodernism has relentlessly instructed us that reality is artifice, yet, so it seems to me, not enough surprise has been expressed as to how we nevertheless get on with living, pretending - thanks to the mimetic faculty - that we live facts, not fictions. Custom, that obscure crossroads where the constructed and the habitual coalesce, is indeed mysterious. Some force impels us to keep the show on the road. We cannot, so it would seem, easily slow the thing down, stop and inquire into this tremendously braced field of the artificial. When it was enthusiastically pointed out that race or gender or nation were so many social constructions, inventions, and representations, a window was opened, an invitation to begin the critical project of analysis and cultural reconstruction was offered. And one still feels its power even though what was nothing more than an invitation, a preamble to investigation has, by and large, been converted into a conclusion - eg. "sex is a social construction," "race is a social construction," "the nation is an invention" and so forth. The brilliance of the pronouncement was blinding. Nobody was asking: what's the next step? What do we do with this old insight? If life is constructed, how come it appears so immutable?
I think construction deserves more respect; it cannot be name-called out of (or into) existence, ridiculed and shamed into yielding up its powers. And if its very nature seems to prevent us - for are we not also socially constructed - from peering deeply therein, that very same nature also cries out for something other than analysis. For in constructions place - what? No more invention, or more invention?
Absolutely, Mike T.. "What happens in Vegas never happened" is not a theory of plausible deniability but of antimatter. Do I leave the anti-particles behind in the anti-city out of a generalized fear of their explosive potential, or out of the more specific, personalized worry they will bind to the mundane (but pervasive) fakeness of my regular life and blow it up, leaving me in possession of the same net-nothing as before, only now painfully counter-pointed by the memory of whole, glittering cities made out of the same unstable isotopes? Which is to say: Is it more Vegas that I need in my life, or just more?
December 17, 2005
susan crain bakos is an idiot (updated)
Ebog update note: I wrote this piece some time ago, but in light of recent dustups about sexist language on liberal blogs, it seemed to me that some of my attacks on Bakos here were attacks on her gender as opposed to attacks on her stupidity. (There was also some unnecessary side business that fell under the category of the gratuitous fat joke.) As my main goal here has always been to make sure you understand why Susan Crain Bakos is an idiot, those rough edges have increasingly struck me as egregious and careless, so I figured I'd clean them up. Part of this is self-serving, as I don't want to be accused of living in a glass house, but part of this reflects my belief that the more thought-out, more careful and less alienating version of an idea is almost always the better one.
A real whopper in The New York Press. Hat tip, the instigatinist illhindu.
A WHITE WOMAN EXPLAINS WHY SHE PREFERS BLACK MEN
By Susan Crain Bakos
Black skin is thick and lush, sensuous to the touch, like satin and velvet made flesh. There's only one patch of skin on a white man's body that remotely compares to nearly every inch of a black man's skin. The first time I caressed black skin, it felt like a luxury I shouldn't be able to afford. I craved it more strongly than Carrie Bradshaw craved Manolo Blahnik shoes. That phrase, "Once you go black, you never go back" is all about the feeling of the skin.
And I had the socially acceptable explanation for my craving. I used that paucity-of-available-white-partners rationale to explain my relationships with black men for several years. A white woman past forty is often passed over by her white-male contemporaries. She goes younger or ethnic or foreign-born or down the socioeconomic scale or darker or she spends lonely nights at home with her cats. Black men are happy to get the babe they couldn't have when she was twentysomething and fertile. The laws of the marketplace do prevail. It's not me, it's them--them being the white guys who weren't after me anymore, or so I claimed.
[...] I want black men. They want me. We look at one another and exchange a visible frisson of sexual energy in the lingering glances. And our attraction is based first on race. We are not those couples who "happen to fall in love" with someone of a different race or more purposefully come together but out of some greater sense of interracial understanding and respect. Not as politically-correct men and women do we seek one another out.
[...] Black men have something white guys don't have anymore: confidence in their masculinity, their sexuality. They clearly know they're men. White men appear to be waiting for the latest sociological research study to let them know if they are men or not. Yet black men are gentlemen, something else white men no longer are. They make me feel like a woman, both respected and desired. I can let go of my inhibitions, my need to control, when I am with them. How many white men can treat a woman like a lady and ravish her too?
[...] White men over 40 have lost their waistlines and their zest for life--if they ever had it. They carry resentments, grudges and extra pounds in their basketball bellies. Perhaps a good part of that bloat is unhappiness. Even the thin ones look flabby somehow and deeply aggrieved. They nurse the smallest perceived slight longer than their double shots of Scotch. Surely our culture as much as biology turns them into softer, spongier, less-interesting versions of their youthful selves just at the point where women and black men and other minorities are emerging strong. Society overvalues the white man, leaving him angry and bitter when he realizes, around age 40, that he's not all that.
And so on.
I have to say, if one were inclined to let Bakos' corny, frothy prose air out in the sun a bit, after a while one might return to find there were indeed a few grainy bits of something rattling around the confines of her ridiculously general and largely put-on argument. These are not so much grains of truth as coins and crumbs of conventional wisdom, the kind of thing that sticks to a naked buttock after a zipless romp on a heavily trafficked bar couch. Bakos' basic aim with this crap essay isn't to wax about interracial sex, it's to rather predictably vent about what she sees as the sorry state of white sexuality. That "sorry state" bit about white folks - especially the genus Americanus Whiteboyus - is by this point such a mass media commonplace that on any given Sunday no less a repository of received cultural wisdom than the NYTimes will have some or another arch dumbshit going on about it. Man-dates. Violent "good" guys on TV. That hardy new perennial, the metrosexual. Viagra suppositories. There's so much anxiety about whether or not the (marginal) assimilation of feminism into the cultural DNA produces men who don't act like "men" that racist fantasy like Bakos' can now be deployed in polite company, this as part of a tendentious side-argument about like, white female sexual emancipation.
Even shorn of its canned, whole-body dick fetishism, and even when reduced to corollary evidence about the "what's wrong with white men?" thing, Bakos' rather banal reveal of her proclivities illuminates little beyond her - wink wink, you rascal! - proclivities, that and her deep racism. The barrier to understanding that is Bakos' white privilege has been left intact despite the gaping ruin that is her interracial-sex hymen. This half-deflowering leaves her unable to appreciate how her vision of the other and his proper, horizontal place in her life is just a flat, reality TV caricature, as transgressive as Springer or Girls Gone Wild "catching" two drunk coeds rubbing girlish nips together while on winter break in Mexico. I mean, of course Bakos has noticed that black and white men don't have the same dating heebee-jeebee's. Despite great gains and growing oases of inclusion we're still largely born and raised in parallel universes, get interpolated as subjects in different ways. Forget about the games, hustles, issues, gambits and conflicts that will come to fore when the average brother is confronted with a snooty 50+ "sex journalist." So tell us something we didn't know, Susan. You are the purported sexpert.
Despite her piece's blatant, built-in absurdities, I can't get particularly mad at someone for pursuing their bliss, no matter how stupid said bliss is. What I can do, though, is take the dudes who've been fucking her silly to task - not for turning her out, but for failing to complete her sexual education. Although there is a part of me that wants to pat these gents on the back for having so completely bamboozled old girl with the mandingo-schtick, I have to fault them for their lack of social responsibility. With great power comes great responsibility, so any privilege that accrues from the continued belief in totemic, black cock requires brothers wield their dicks judiciously, ensuring that any white women they fuck know better than to believe and traffic in this kind of idiocy. (To believe this kind of thing and to say the dumb shit AND to get paid for it outside of the porn biz is just unforgivable. Her ex-lays should put together some kind of petition disavowing her.) I mean, I've known (biblically) my fair share of white women, and while modesty forbids I sing my own sexual praises, I can say with great pride that I have always left them better as white people than when I found them - more, like, wry and ironized if nothing else. Apparently this call to honorable service wasn't heard by the brothers who've been kissing Susan Crain Bakos' knees (yeech!), leaving all of us that much more the poorer and skeeved out.
Bakos pats herself on the back for being a sex journalist who not only talks the talk but takes takes it up the "A" pipe, but she's really just the rankest sort of payola eater, her printed thumbs-up for black male sexual "confidence" just a form of product placement for which she shamelessly boasts of receiving payment in inches, milliliters, stuttering orgasms, what have you. It's not bad work if you can get it, but that doesn't mean Bakos isn't a racial hack stealth-marketing a certain, arriviste strain of post-civil rights self-hatred, one that infects some classes of black men like a cycline-resistant social disease. New York City is full of this kind of brother: single, middling-to-successful I-bankers and corporate lawyers, all of them the same soul age (45+) regardless of what their biological clocks actually say. These are often men whose lives have been marked significant class or geographic dislocations, who view access to Manhattan's white society as an escape from humble beginnings, who hope to transition from sticky, complicated, narrow blackness into a better, broader, whiter world. Unlike the scions of the actual black bourgeoisie (who have been schtupping wan Gwyneth Paltrow clones since prep school, and who increase the black upper classes by bringing their white women back with them to Martha's Vineyard, this in order to make make café-au-lait babies) Bakos' black men are lost to the race forever, eagerly disappearing into whiteness and leaving no trace or marker behind them except for white misunderstanding and white racism along the lines of Bakos'.
Bakos' yen this particular class of men is no accident nor does it speak to any intrinsic love of actual blackness on her part. Bakos would have you believe that actually she's doing fine when it comes to getting laid, that she went black just for the kicks and dicks:
The truth is, I attract about the same percentage of available white men my age (and far younger!) now as I did when I was thirty--and that's not including the unavailable white men who want to play around anyway.
Enough white men want me that I was hardly facing enforced celibacy, but I don't want them.
That may be true enough, but at the end of the day, Bakos' jungle fever is a mercenary, self-serving rear-guard manouver forced upon her by advancing age. As she herself puts it rather explicitly, under prevailing sexual "market conditions" this is the only class of sexually-functioning dude who will have her. She finds her self-hating level in this particular Other, these men smoky, soft-focus mirrors where her racial ignorance, advancing age and class pretension blur into an unexpected trio of assets - reciprocal desire, seasoning and sensibility. If Bakos has a sympathetic quality, it's the matter-of-fact stoicism with which she stares down being a mere, late-coming substitute for poor, schmucky brothers who, as she puts it, couldn't get the "babe" when those girls were "twentysomething and fertile." The fact that dudes still don't have the babe is, of course, obvious, but Bakos spares herself the indignity of spelling it out. Indeed, hanging over all of her essay and claims about white and black sexuality is the omnipresent but unacknowledged edifice of heterosexual market relations under what the kids like to call sexism, ageism, lookism and patriarchy, a regime of value and meaning and power that profoundly, viciously devalues Bakos, but that she actively props up in exchange for being allowed one last favorable (to her) position.
Bakos's claim that she only wants what she has left - "I don't want them" - flies in the face of the very sexual and racial system that's endowed her with the interracial fucking annuity on which she plans to coast into old age. We're expected to believe that Bakos doesn't the things that system denies her? The wealthy, Viagra-enabled white, well, dicks in Manhattan who ritually leave wives of Bakos' age, intelligence, accomplishment for much younger women? The adoration of legions of men invisibly masturbating to electronically mediated images of women just out of girlhood? What about that class of black men of which her personal faves are just wan, fading echoes, the rappers and ball players and thug heartthrobs who are the actual black crowned princes of contemporary American sexuality? Perennially "twentysomething and virile" themselves, those cats have made their own accommodations with the rigged sexual system that simultaneously hates and privileges them, and as a result they wouldn't come near Bakos the proverbial 14-inch pole. Does Bakos not want them as well?
As this piece appeared in the generally odious New York Press, Bakos can't resist taking a smug swipe at black women who frown on brothers with jungle fever.
Even in a time when nearly 40 percent of single Americans have dated outside their race, that deliberate seeking of the specific other makes some people, especially black women, damned mad.
We are what they denigrate and castigate: white women and black men who choose one another because of our racial differences. They resent our taking their men. Black men are two and a half times more likely to marry a white woman than a black woman is to marry a white man. Black women can point to that statistic in justifying their wrath. But in truth, black sisters, we're after the sex, not the ring--and these guys aren't the marrying kind anyway.
Yes, the sex!
Bakos is typically wrong on this score. Black women don't dislike her kind because she's "taking their men." They dislike her because she's an insufferable asshole who exudes a blithe, rather uniquely white female sense of entitlement. Bakos believes that her whiteness has such intrinsic value that it trumps the downward pressure exerted on her sexual stock by her age, and has cannily decided to traffic her one remaining asset where it's literally most scarce, i.e. across the color line. The benefits of crossing the sexual border, though, obviously accrue to black women and white women differently, as those marriage numbers attest to, the rich (or at least those privileged by the current sexual regime) just getting richer. (This is a stretch aside, but Bakos unintentionally retraces an arc Judith Butler identified in the career of transsexual tennis player Renee Richards, where an ageing, mediocre white male player becomes a minor star after sex reassignment surgery. When power crosses a border it only gets more powerful, whether it's white women, transgender tennis players or the "straight acting" or "bi-curious" men so prized by certain classes of gay men.)
Bakos's story may be age specific, but her sense of entitlement is global. If you go to the online communities where black men and white women meet and greet, you can initially mistake what's going on for an upending of the existing sexual order, as women who might otherwise be deemed "unattractive" by the reigning sexual regime are suddenly sought-after commodities. Women who might have been seen as overly aggressive or loud can recast themselves as "straight-up gangsta vanilla" seeking "educated thugs." Women who might have viewed themselves as fat in comparison to mainstream images of white womanhood discover that it really is (sort of, in a way) true what they say about black men and ample asses. And of course, older, professional women with gym memberships and Upper East Side real estate find that their whiteness makes them exotic to certain black men, whereas to most white men they're just, well, themselves.
To black women, though, these transformed relations are racial business as usual where whiteness is privileged and blackness is scorned. From their POV, there isn't a busted white girl in America - two rangy kids, a dirty apartment, ten credits shy of her GED - who doesn't believe that under the right lighting and circumstances any black man from Tyson Beckford to Colin Powell will gladly get down on all fours to eat her out till her nose bleeds. From the myth of the black rapist to the Bakos myth of the irresistible 50 year old white knees, white fantasy, black male desire and black female invisibility remain constant.
There actually are great, tectonic shifts going on in how and why people who are different from each other fuck, but you won't hear about that from Susan Crain Bakos. She's a liar and hack, but most importantly, Susan Crain Bakos is an idiot.
December 10, 2005
31 things about the neighbor who fucks too much
1 - You and your live-in girlfriend are pretty high on your sexual high-horses until you realize that in the loft next door is one of those neighbors who fucks too much.
2 - You figure you and your lady have a sex life that is the cat's pajamas until you start keeping tabs on the neighbor who fucks too much.
3 - It's a little embarrassing riding the elevator with a neighbor who fucks too much just after she's been, like, fucking.
4 - It's a little annoying when one of the many guys the neighbor who fucks too much is fucking knocks on your door at 2 am. Coming or going, you wonder. He is drunk enough to be either.
5 - You are grudgingly impressed that anyone that drunk is able to fuck a neighbor who fucks too much.
6 - The neighbor who fucks too much is white. You are not. You want to make something out of that fact, but keep coming up dry.
7 - A neighbor who fucks too much is disquieting. She keeps her windows too open for December in LA.
8 - The neighbor who fucks too much is, like you, unbounded by normal clock time and so soon starts invading your late night writing oasis. Usually DSL and pROn are your biggest nemeses at that hour, sneaking into your apartment on a wire and then launching an offensive via the closest unguarded eye, but now the neighbor who fucks too much is bringing the ruckus through your earhole. At that hour your ears are always open, alternately eager for silence and streams, and her attack strikes you as a Wrath of Khan-type maneuver. Montalbanian. Could she be trying to control your mind? Is her orgasm an invisible, burrowing wig?
9 - The neighbor who fucks too much makes you 10 again in the middle of the night, except you do not have to hide in the bathroom to call the 976 number. There is no undoing on its way to your parents in the mail with the monthly bills. You are a grown man after all.
10 - You and your girlfriend thought it was funny that time your IPod started whispering "hey bitch, wait'll you see my dick" while the neighbor who fucks too much was fucking. It's the only time your girlfriend ever laughs at the Ying Yang Twins.
11 - You make a playlist for the neighbor who fucks to much. It includes Cody Chestnutt, the Detroit Grand Pubahs, Dj Assault, Peaches, the Fat Truckers, The Ying Yang Twins, Fannypack, Missy Elliot, Luke, David Banner, Lil Louis, Akinyele, screwed and chopped Khia, and Kool Keith, shuffled and in no particular order.
12 - The neighbor who fucks too much has stupidly gynormous, theatrical orgasms. You think: liar who fucks too much. You think: or not?
13 - It really has to be on purpose. She is just too damned loud.
14 - On days your girlfriend seems porn friendly, you tell her the neighbor who fucks too much sounds like a bad porn actress. On days your girlfriend seems porn unfriendly, you tell her the neighbor who fucks too much sounds like a sick cat.
15 - It turns out that neighbor who fucks too much has an awful singing voice. She sings Carly Simon tunes while she fries eggs, feeding her partners at all hours. You pat yourself on the back for your endless ability to be surprised by human vagary.
16 - As far as you can tell, the drag queen neighbor in the other loft doesn't fuck at all, until the day he does and roars like a Broadway lion. It makes you smile and blush the next time you see him. You pat yourself on the back for your endless ability to be surprised by human vagary.
17 - It's a good idea to wait until (at least) two hours after the neighbor who fucks too much has finished fucking before trying to initiate any sex of your own.
18 - If the neighbor who fucks too much starts fucking while you're fucking, try not to lose focus and possible wood by debating (internally) whether or not you should stop.
19 - There is no competition with a neighbor who fucks too much. (Is there?)
20 - If you and the neighbor who fucks too much are fucking at the same time, avoid any and all appearance that you are indulging yourself in any kind of aural transposition or fantasy. Vary your stroke to put the neighbor who fucks too much outside your circle of intimacy. If her bed is creaking, switch to cunnilingus.
21 - If the addicts in the alley are shouting loud enough to give the neighbor who fucks too much pause, they are shouting loud enough for you to get involved, at the very least by calling the police.
22 - The neighbor who fucks too much has a strange ability to make your fucking quieter. It's not so much that you are listening, but ashamed. You wonder why.
23 - You swear for a week or two that the neighbor who fucks too much just has to be some kind of call girl. Thinking that the economies of scale at play next door are market-driven seems like a good way to maintain an upper hand, but after that every time you see her the slander shames you.
24 - You have a sneaking suspicion that the neighbors at the far end of the hall are trying to figure out if you and your girlfriend are the ones who are fucking too much.
25 - The neighbor who fucks too much went from dead silence to 3, 4 times a day just like that. You wonder if she was listening to you and your girlfriend all those months. And if so, how would she rate the two of you?
26 - Is it cheating if you started masturbating BEFORE the neighbor who fucks too much started fucking?
27 - None of the neighbor-who-fucks-too-much's partners make a sound while fucking her. They just smoke on the common patio before and after, use their cellphones. Their calls reference proclivities and interests that strike you as gay, either that or they all work as low-level assistants in Hollywood. You don't share any thoughts about their banalities with your lady love, as these thoughts reek of comparison and transference.
28 - You have a long, difficult conversation with yourself about whether or not you want to fuck the neighbor who fucks too much. You realize with some relief that this is a question that can be abstracted and generalized out of existence, in so much as it can be legitimately asked about just any porn star or stripper you have ever seen. Your girlfriend, who you love because her timing is so perfect, decides about then that they are making porn next door. It helps your girlfriend forgive the neighbor who fucks too much. Everyone has got to make a buck, she figures.
29 - The neighbor who fucks too much keeps a dirtier apartment than you do just like your girlfriend expected her to. Go figure.
30 - The neighbor who fucks too much often wakes the cat, who thinks it's morning and wants to be fed. He curls up like a kitten in the crook of your arm once he's full, leaving you awake in the dark, alone with the world. You wonder if this is what fatherhood feels like.
31 - If you lay bed awake, saying nothing to your girlfriend while the neighbor who fucks too much fucks, you and girlfriend will drift slightly apart the next day. If you grin at your girlfriend in the dark and say "she sure does fuck a lot" you will drift slightly closer together. This ebb and flow is wholly you and your lady's, and its rhythm in no way reminds you of the neighbor who fucks too much. You are grateful.