Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hot dog!

In recent months I've taken to exclaiming "Hot dog!" in lieu of "Well I'll be damned!", "How about that?!" or "Wow! That's awesome!" Saying "Hot dog!" is old timey, good natured and also hilarious and is just the perfect kind of statement for me to make. Having said that, the jovial nature of saying "Well, hot dog!" is far removed from the anus ridden reality of the edible version of hot dogs.
My plate after I've eaten two veggie hot dogs. No point eating all those worthless white bread bun calories. If this same pile of bread were on the ground and even worse, wet, I would retch.
I'll start up by reminding or informing you that I am a vegetarian. This is not my motivation for discussion of hot dogs, however. I am not ranting against cruelty, but simply against grossness. While I don't expect I will eat meat ever again, I can't deny that the smell of a barbecue makes my mouth water and the smell of KFC continues to make my heart swell, even knowing full well that the taste of Kentucky never lived up to the olfactory tease. The desire to ever eat a real, low grade hot dog again is a feeling that will never overcome me, I can guarantee you that.

Hot dog enthusiasts (or maybe just morons)
Many of us in our youth pay no attention to what we are eating. We may be grossed out by tongue and other weird delicacies, but somehow, hot dogs fall under the radar, almost being as acceptable as any other decent cut of meat. Unless your hot dog is boasting that it is all beef or turkey, it is more than likely that you are eating something that's barely a step up from pet food. Hot dogs are commonly comprised of mechanically recovered meat or meat slurry. Click to learn, but the names are enough to tell you that's a pretty gross idea.

Heavily processed, but at least they aren't full of unmentionables. They taste the same as far as I can remember as the seasoning does it. If you really can't take it, perhaps you just have a taste for anus.
Now don't get me wrong, my palette is not so high brow that I can't enjoy the taste of a hot dog and I'll eat a veggie dog in a heartbeat. I was not always so thoughtful about what my food was made of, proven by the fact that many years ago, perhaps in a moment of weakness, I consumed a hot dog that had been rolling for God-knows-how-long at a 7-11. The purchase was made after midnight so that dog could have been rolling for a good 18 hours. I was often depressed in those days so perhaps my accompanying friend would have been wise to put me on suicide watch following this hot dog consumption, for not only was I feasting on anus and snout, but not even fresh anus and snout. I guess since he had just gotten off work at McDonald's his quality food radar was somewhat impaired. I believe it was a year or so before I gave up eating meat that I concluded that hot dogs, frankfurters and wieners (*snicker*) were off the menu. I've long argued that any higher quality hot dogs would be wise to add to their packaging "100% anus free". Why in that case, yes please!

My friend Omri told me a fabulous tale this past week and it was in fact this tale that inspired this blog post. He and his friend ate some hummus and labane, a sour cheese. I believe almost instantly, it didn't agree with him and he began to feel queasy. While he would have liked to have rested off his discomfort and perhaps remained within close proximity to a bathroom, Omri had some obligations, one of which was to drive a friend to the airport which was 40 minutes from his home in Jerusalem. By the time Omri arrived to pick up his friend, his nausea had intensified. Chills and sweats were starting to set in, so he asked that his friend continue driving from there.

No, no, NO!

Soon into the journey, they stopped for gas and Omri took this opportunity to buy a Coke in the hopes that it would ease what he described as his "troubled stomach". Whatever magic the Coke may have been able to conjure was impeded by the smell of hot dogs as Omri entered gas station snack shop. Already with an existing aversion to hot dogs, these hot dogs smelled particularly bad and it would seem the snack shop variety are undoubtedly the lowest in the hierarchy of hot, convenient meat meals. Omri noted the stench was particular to 7-11 type stores. He made it to the counter and completed his cola purchase. As he proceeded to the door, he overheard the next patron enquire to the cashier, "What do you have to eat?" Perhaps had he been one step faster, he may have survived, but as it happens, he caught the cashier's answer of "Hot dogs" which sadly acted as the trigger for a most insane fountain of vomit to explode from poor Omri. It would seem the smell was one thing, but having it placed firmly in the context of being food was enough to push Omri over the edge. As they left the gas station with puddles of vomit in his wake, Omri's friend described it as though all the barriers inside of him had broken. Omri's friend drove with his head out the window for the rest of the journey. All because of the mere mention of a hot dog, more or less.
Kobayashi, the former hot dog eating champion. He's been beaten by some backwards pig-person, no doubt, so I'm not interested in acknowledging them.
I wish I remembered more of the details on this conversation because I have told in a number of times. I was at a show somewhere in this country and I got to talking to a guy about hot dogs. I explained that I found hot dogs gross, but not so much that I couldn't eat veggie dogs, something I enjoy very much. He explained to me that while he was an avid meat eater, he had to draw the line at hot dogs. He told of a night out where he met a fine and charming specimen who seemed to return his interest. As the night in the bar was concluding, the girl suggested "Wanna go out for a hot dog?" The guy was suddenly repulsed by the idea that girl would consume something so vile, and subsequently, his interest in her waned and the evening was over. I daresay if he really thought about it, he wouldn't have minded if she was willing to put a wiener in her mouth.

Perhaps in writing this yesterday, I willed bad vibes towards hot dogs. Full story here.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

In loving(?) memory of my favourite predator, Michael Jackson

The passing of Michael Jackson has presented a lot of interesting reactions from the public and I am not excluded. My feelings about him had been soured in recent years, having spent all of his 2005 molestation trial glued to the TV in a somewhat unsavoury fashion, waiting for his conviction to come through. Even though I was convinced of his guilt, if not for the 2005 case, at least for the 1993 one, I certainly wasn't delighted to learn that he was dead.

I wasn't sad though. At first it was weird mixture of shock and I shamefully admit some confused excitement over all the mania going on around it. I realised, as many others also have that the Michael Jackson we loved has been dead for a really long time. He may have been an incredible narcissist as far back as Off The Wall and Thriller, but if he was, he managed to control it somewhat until the time between Thriller and Bad, at which time when he began the obvious part of his transformation from black man to white woman and was allowing his PR team to keep us focused on him in any way possible and soon all that began to outshine the most important thing: the music.

He was well and truly freaking us out when he re-emerged for Bad, but after the initial shock of his newest surgeries and whiteness wore off, we forgave him and resumed the embrace. Some feel his musical legacy was drying up as far back as Bad, though I will extend my appreciation through to Dangerous. The '93 molestation accusations changed things forever. Though many stood behind him, myself included, many did not and the fact that the whole thing came up at all was more than a little icky. People tried to accept his innocence, but they did not forget.

Without knowing much about the details of the case at the time, I was pretty sure he was innocent. I had virtually nothing to base that on, but simply on the grounds that I didn't want to believe it and couldn't believe that sweet Michael Jackson would do such a thing. A soft spoken voice and pet chimp dressed in clothes will go a long way in shaping people's perceptions. Sure Michael Jackson was a little nutty, but it was actually kinda nice to buy into the idea that he preferred the company of children, having been robbed of his own childhood. Even my parents, so paranoid for our safety and fearing rapists and kidnappers around every turn, were charmed by the idea of an innocent, child-like man, even while not particularly interested in his music. Michael's innocent nature was missing in our culture so we all desperately wanted to believe a grown man could be that way without any ulterior motive.

Even though I had defended him initially, there was a little doubt a couple of years after the allegations surfaced. I couldn't resist responding to a pro-MJ message written on the desk in my Literature class with a retort in white-out "Michael Jackson is a paedophile". I looked up and saw the teacher standing before me. "Clean that off." she scolded before walking away. "Did I spell it right?" I sheepishly enquired. She didn't answer, but I wondered if her lack of punishment indicated her agreement with my sentiment. Clearly doubt was starting to creep into mind.

Devoted fans at the courthouse, convinced of MJ's innocence

So many times when people retort to unsavoury allegations about someone they know personally or care about I've heard responses like "I've never seen anything like that." Since when did molesters openly offend in front of their friends and family? 

Dear Diana,
Michael Jackson cordially invites you to a celebration of the 100th molestation by Michael Jackson. Guests will be served wine in soda cans and copious amounts of candy while we watch Walt Disney's 'Fantasia' before retreating the Neverland's basement for the grand finale. Nephews welcome.
All my love,

It's as though people really do expect a written invitation to believe any wrong doing may have occurred. From a fan perspective, there isn't even any personal experience for people to base their opinion on. After the 1993 allegations came up, I was a little concerned, but pressed on as a fan, even seeing Michael Jackson in concert in 1996. There was a lot of talk about the accuser having drawn pictures of Michael Jackson's genitalia and subsequent photos being taken for comparison. As the accuser ended up dropping the charges, whether or not those images matched was not widely discussed. I attempted to believe in him, but I always wondered about those photos.

In 1998, I read the shamefully titled Michael Jackson Was My Lover by Victor Gutierrez, an account of the 1993 case with much detail that had gone unreported in the media. With a title like that, it seemed destined to be a bunch of tabloid junk and hearsay, but it actually contained much information that was on public record and filed with the District Attorney in Santa Barbara. After reading that, I was convinced of his guilt. Unlike before where I made a decision based on my own preference, now I was somewhat informed and that information led me to believe he was guilty, an opinion which I hold to this day.

And still, I have a soft spot for him.

Without getting into the nitty gritty, few adults can say they would feel comfortable with an adult who even suggested, let alone went ahead with, sharing their bed with exclusively boys, not to mention boys aged 10-13, all with sandy coloured hair and an olive complexion. Jackson certainly had a type. His supposed love of all children was pretty limited when it came to crossing over into his bedroom. The abscence of any women in his life, aside from the seemingly strategic marriage to Lisa Marie Presley hot off the heels of his 1993 accusations, coupled with his intimate relationships with specific types of boys, cannot be ignored and deemed innocent. If it were an average person claiming the same innocent interests, it would be considered an outrage, no question about it. To hear people who knew him talk about him, I believe he probably was a kind, loving and generous person. That doesn't necessarily mean that such a person could be without an unhealthy predilection toward young boys.

All this brings me to two things. Firstly, the desire to find him innocent, despite all the red flags, is overwhelming among his fans. I haven't talked about my disbelief in God for a while, but that all came about from me challenging what I knew, what I was used to and what was most comfortable. I guess it became uncomfortable for me not to examine things critically and as a result, I came out no longer believing. I am someone who is more comfortable with seeking the truth rather than accepting what is easier. If so many people wont even begin to challenge the innocence of Michael Jackson, I think it's a real testament as to the validity of people's belief in bigger issues such as politicians shaping their lives on earth and after that, their eternity with God. I am not saying everyone who believes is wrong, but that the majority believe out of their desire for that outcome, rather than a desire for truth. Challenging Michael Jackson would be a hell of a lot easier than questioning God and so many people are completely unwilling to entertain that notion. I think it's a sad commentary on the human mind and its desire to delude itself.

As it is, when it comes to Michael Jackson, even as a case where we can see the proof right before us since we have lived through it, we still get people talking about him breaking down racial barriers, declaring him the most successful artist of all time and even woefully asking what we are going to do for music now. Michael Jackson did not break down any racial barriers. Motown was well established and successful before the Jackson 5 were signed. There were numerous iconic black entertainers before him such as Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Richard Pryor and Sammy Davis Jr. While Michael Jackson may have reached heights of popularity never known by any of them, he did not break any racial barriers along the way. I heard a couple of times commentators say "He was the first black artist ever to be played on MTV." That is not a testament to Jackson's barrier breaking, but a testament to MTV being behind the times. Blacks were welcome on TV and Michael Jackson had already appeared on the Ed Sullivan show over a decade before, so all that means is that MTV was a racist holdout. We already knew they were fucked, so that's no surprise.

As for the claim that he was the most successful artist and still the King of Pop, aside from Thriller still being the biggest selling record of all time, his is still beaten, nay, TROUNCED by Elvis and The Beatles and even Mariah Carey for having the most number one and top ten singles. For the "King" his output was incredibly low and thankfully a number of journalists do not fail to remind us that his title of King was self proclaimed.
As for what we'll we do for music now, give me a break. Music overall has been declining since the mid 90s (in my opinion) and Michael Jackson, the "King of Pop", has done nothing to help the cause since then. Again, for the "King" his reign was incredibly short. These are just a few examples of easily disprovable claims about Michael Jackson which are easily ushered aside by those who want to believe what they want to believe. Delusion is an epidemic, it would seem!

The Michael Jackson we loved was truly gone once he started presenting us with giant statues of himself. What happened to the meek guy who was a lover, not a fighter?

Secondly, for those of us who do believe he is guilty, so many of us are still able to embrace the Michael Jackson that we loved. So often we've seen families of suspected child moleters and murders on TV and have questioned the unflailing support amidst mountains of evidence. I hope you have never had to suffer someone close you having committed or accused of any such heinous crime, but this has taught me a little something about the forgiveness and family support that those people may have. Here, in Michael Jackson, is someone we don't know personally, but have a strong bond with through his art and our childhood memories. All these feelings we share with a complete stranger enable us to admit "Yeah, I'm pretty sure he molested those kids." and then crank up Off The Wall on our stereos. He said we couldn't stop until we got enough and apparently we haven't, still able to indulge (if it really is that) in the musical triumphs of someone who would later appear to be committing unspeakable acts. We are able to watch all the coverage about his death and feel some sympathy and loss. He was a fucking lunatic and possibly a criminal, but we loved him before all that and those feelings are lasting. So must be the case for families of criminals. All we see is the crime, but they have a whole host of love and memories that can be hard to shake for those close to them, no matter what the person did. Surely we can forgive someone for standing by a criminal loved one if we are so determined to enjoy our plastic surgerised, personal theme park owning, rat ballad singing, moonwalking Michael Jackson.
Dancing the 'Thriller' dance simultaneously around the world. Count me in.