Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dispatch From The Straight Entitlement Parade

Tomorrow may mark Chicago's 41st Annual Gay Pride Parade, but tonight in Chicago's Wrigleyville neighborhood, the Nth Annual Straight Entitlement Parade goes on as usual. Although not as heavily publicized and nowhere near as controversial as the Pride Parade, this ongoing celebration of the SRLM (Straight, Repressed, Latent, Monogendered) lifestyle is far more succesful, both in terms of numbers and cultural impact. And while this event's participants are certainly less diverse and colorful than their Pride-ful counterparts, they are no less loud and proud, with special emphasis on loud.

Wrigleyville is a sports-bar-themed pseudo neighborhood in the general vicinity of Wrigley Field. It's chiefly composed of sports bars, but there are a few sports paraphernalia stores, and even a sports-themed salon in the area as well. (Conspicuously absent is any type of sporting goods store; you don't come to Wrigleyville to express your own athletic prowess, only your frustration or delight in that of others.) But while sports may be the theme in this part of town, the name of the game is getting really, really drunk.

Cultural conservatives and religous zealots may decry the public displays of unnaturalness that Gay Pride represents, but that "I-don't-care-what-they-do-as-long-as-I -don't-have-to-see-it" attitude is nowhere to be found in the world of Straight Entitlement. Straightness is on display in all its mysogynistic, objectifying glory here, as the unattached, the undersexed, and the undermature all strut and shout, peacock-like, in a vain attempt to catch the attention of the paltry number of single females this part of town attracts. For those very few females who find themselves, willingly or not, in the midst of the beer-fueled sausage-fest that is Wrigleyville on a Saturday night, dopey ham-fisted come-ons and the odd groping and/or lewd comment are par for the course.

The main difference between the Gay and Straight parades is, or course, sex. Which is to say, people in the Pride Parade are having it, while the Heteros appear to be getting none of it. This probably accounts for the stultifying stupidity of the behavior on display here in Straightville: The blackout-bound imbibing, the enthusiastic delight expressed at watching uniformed men engage in homoerotic competition, and the near-constant use of the word "fuck." Everything is "fucking" something; fucking stupid, fucking hilarious, fucking cool. The word is used with definite-article frequency, and it's employed as every conceivable part of speech, except of course as a verb. Not much call for that 'round here, it would seem.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Brush With Greatness, Part One

As a youth, I was greatly enamored of the prospect of receiving things in the mail. To satisfy my postal jones, I wrote to every organization, foreign consulate, and tourist board I could think of to request any and all information they saw fit to send. As a result, I would regularly receive copious amounts of printed matter -- brochures, booklets, and other various free publications. At some point I got the bright idea to write to actual people. Not being old enough to actually know any real people worth writing to, I sent letters to various famous people whom I admired. Not surprisingly, this tactic proved far less fruitful. Except in the case of one Fred Rogers, who promptly answered my juvenile inquiry with a personal response.

(click to enlarge)

Sadly, none of the other heroes of my youth deigned to favor me with anything quite so special. Charles M. Schulz, for instance, sent an insultingly impersonal form letter along with a photocopied sketch of the Peanuts gang. Even at the tender age of however-old-I-was, I remember thinking that this made good ol' Charley S. seem like a bit of a dick.

From The Archives

Here's an old chestnut from back in the days when one could actually make money writing for the internet. A humorous look at dating and music, cowritten with Dan Rice and illustrated by Mark Dancey, this appeared on back in July 1999. Although that site has regretably long since perished, the pages still reside in cyberspace.