The Apathetic Futurist
Rapper Handles and Their Discontents

Juelz Santana

It is incredible to me every time I listen to his music that, contrary to my associations with his name, he is not in fact a rhinestone bedecked drag queen who croons Carlos Santana covers.  Were this the case, it might elevate Dipset from their current standing of “paper factory” to “brilliant performance art bordering on the surreal.”  It is, however, doubtful that such an artist would get caught by a New Jersey police officer with a felony amount of dope and a sock full of hollow tip bullets.  Just saying.

Puns of the Future

Q:  “What did the Scottish groundskeeper say when confronted about the squeaky gate?”  

A:  “I mis-oiled de fence!”

After the dissolution of the United Kingdom, the Scottish focus very heavily on missile defense.  Though missile attacks against Scotland are a very palpable threat in the Future resulting in significant loss of life, the Scottish are so outspoken in their efforts that a rather unfortunate stereotype develops in the surrounding countries.  (It is particularly popular in Le Nouveau Wales, although there is much scholarly speculation as to why.)  Also, as evidenced by the above pun, despite centuries of social and technological developments, the Scottish are unable to shake their historical association with servitude and gardening.

Dr. Whittaker Explains it All

I was at another party this week. It was great. Parties are wonderful when they are attended by funny people that you like having more drinks than they normally would. I take great delight in watching the better-composed lose their composure as the peasant drug alcohol deteriorates their facade.  I was standing on the back porch smoking, talking trash, contributing the sort of boring drivel that arises in social situations - enjoying exactly this sort of moment - when someone proposed a hypothetical. Perhaps I have developed a sensitivity now. Again, this question was posed to the group in a jovial kind of way.  Again, it was unclear to me how hypothetical the situation actually was. And again, I talked to the friend who formulated it, and again suggested he talk to Dr. Whittaker.  My friend insisted, somewhat petulantly, that he was not seeking advice, but that he would be interested in hearing how someone else would handle the situation.  I insisted, in turn, that Dr. Whittaker is the most interesting man I know, and a tea-totaler to boot, and that he would have a far more enlightening response than any of the soused simpletons on the aforementioned back porch. Ingmar Whittaker responded with surprising speed, and again, both parties were kind enough to let me publish their correspondence.

The pain of being accused is something we all know.  It is genuinely awful to be persecuted without cause.  Dr. Whittaker offers some solace here: a step by step in dealing with an unjust accusation.

Hypothetical:

You arrived in a small ranching town out west about a week ago, and you have just been falsely accused of murdering a little girl.  The girl was definitely murdered.  You definitely did not murder her.  You definitely do not know who actually did murder her.  The nearest town is 50 miles away.  They have taken your horse.  You are sentenced to be hung by the neck until dead.  What do you do?

Dr. Whittaker:

Clarifying question:  Am I a giant?

My friend:

Technically no.  You are your normal height.  But the townspeople are all remarkably small, with the average person coming only to 4’9”.  Though you think it’s impossible that no one in this town has ever seen anyone as tall as you, they claim otherwise, regularly calling you an “ungodly freak.”

Dr. Whittaker:

I knew it!  Any time there’s a campaign to falsely accuse a man of child murder, giant-hating is close on its heels.  This kind of prejudice has been around for as long as children have been murdered and giants have been of disproportionate size.  These fantastic terrors are passed down through the incestuous whisperings of small communities (ha ha!) and have produced countless traditions of scape-goating the unfamiliarly large. I knew it!

OK, as far as what I would do.  I am assuming I am in jail being held in one of their tiny, flimsy cells.  First, I will taunt the jailer with imagined details of murdering the little girl.  I will be cruel and elaborate.  I will taunt him into fighting me, challenging his manhood, his sexual potency, whatever it takes to draw him into the cell. Then I will clobber him.  After I have beaten him into a lifeless pulp, I will steal his keys and organize my fellow prisoners into a prison riot.  I will perhaps play certain songs from the film Jailhouse Rock, which I greatly admire.  Assuming I have time, I will improvise a crude facsimile of an electric guitar.  This will be our war drum.  Next, my rioting brothers and I will take over the jailhouse.  From here, the small, fearful townspeople will naturally gather to stop the uprising.  I will use this as cover.  I will run to the saloon and find the harmless, mentally-disabled janitor who works there and sleeps in one of the upper rooms.  He will be the only one not fighting the prisoner rebellion.  I will beat him until he confesses to killing the little girl.  I do not believe for a second that he would ever harm a fly, let alone murder a little girl, but I will beat him until he confesses, because it is necessary and easy to do.  I will post his signed confession on the door of the saloon.  Immediately following this posting, I will reclaim my trusted, beloved horse, who will be pleased to see me and whinny with joy. I will be listening to the rabble and pistol fire of old western urban guerilla warfare.  I will suddenly realize my name is not clear.  It will dawn on me that I will be hung for inciting a riot and killing a jailer with my bare hands.  I will regretfully make a mixture of oil, alcohol, and pitch - a crude, primitive napalm - and I will circle the city with it, preparing to burn this wooden giant-fearing settlement until there is nothing. As I light the match, I will feel bad about the whole thing.  Surely there were some people here who did not kill that little girl or participate in the massive obstruction of justice that almost led to my death.  Surely there were some perfectly nice people in this town who were just afraid of the unfamiliarly large.  I will run, heroically, through the flames risking my life to grab the brutally beaten, retarded janitor and rush, again heroically, through the flames to throw him on the back of the horse.  We will ride off into the sunset as the town behind us is reduced into nothing.  We will form a bond him and I.  Despite the fact that he is older than me, I will raise him as my son.

My friend:

Ok, but maybe I was unclear:

The other prisoners, of which there are only three, are all too drunk and/or syphilitic to be much of a “riot.”  Also, even if you build an electric guitar, the town does not have any amplifiers, so you’d also have to build one of them, and - in this hypothetical situation - you don’t know how to build an amplifier, because you’ve forgotten your electrical engineering textbook.  

Everything else makes sense, but really don’t think the riot is going to work.  What else can you do instead?  

Dr. Whittaker:

OK, while it is certainly a bummer that I will not be recreating Elvis’s phenomenal masterpiece - my weakened accomplices and weakened sound output options make this impossible - I will create another distraction.  There are other strategies.  I will talk my drunk, mentally debilitated cohorts in the prison into recreating a brutal passion play.  The murdered, or soon to be murdered, jailor will play the beaten Jesus Christ.  The drunkest of the three will play Pontius Pilate, the other two playing scheming jews and roman centurions in different scenes.  We will reenact this on top of the jail.  I feel confident that they can perform this story without my presence since it is such a recurring motif in western education.  I also feel confident that the simple, scared townspeople will flock to the spectacle of someone being crucified.   While the intoxicated, mentally unsound prisoners are spearing the crucified guard to death, and the townsfolk are watching in awe/trying to stop the spectacle, I will be beating aforementioned retarded janitor, burning the town to nothing, riding in to the sunset.  Hypothetically, of course.

My friend:

Thank you, Dr. Whittaker.  This has been very affirming.  Hypothetically.

Dr. Whittaker Explains it All

Last week while at a party, a friend posed a hypothetical question to the room.  We all had a good laugh.  But something about it left a strange aftertaste.  While the hypothetical was certainly fantastic, I was unsure of how grounded in reality the question actually was.  I worried about him over the next few days, and ultimately decided that what I ought to do is put him in touch with Professor Ingmar Whittaker.  Dr. Whittaker is without a doubt the smartest person I have ever met.  Both of my friends were enthused with the idea, and also graciously agreed to let me publish their exchange.  

We all have anxieties about sexual performance. And as Dr. Whittaker has said, the subjective is only a parallax of the universal.  If by chance any reader should see themselves in this parable, I hope they also find it helpful.

Hypothetical:

You can’t get it up, which has never happened before while you’re completely sober, like you are now.  And you’re at a sex party, but you’re pretty comfortable with everybody there.  One of the girls is your girlfriend.  And she’s bisexual, and you’ve had threesomes with her and another girl, and you’ve thought those were amazing.  And so now your girlfriend has just asked if you can’t get it up because there are other guys in the room, even though there’s no pressure to have sex with any of the guys, but knowing that the other guys might be doing stuff with each other.  After a brief check in with yourself and your penis, you have to admit to yourself that this may be the case.  Your girlfriend is pretty explicitly accusing your penis of being homophobic, and that this is potentially a deal-breaker.  You do really like this girl.  What do you do?

Dr. Whittaker:

First, let me say that this is a tricky situation to find yourself in.  Impotence is traditionally one of the great male anxieties, always ranking high on surveys, usually only falling below public speaking.  This scenario actually collapses the two into a kind of “Public Fucking,” if you will, in what would certainly trump all other male anxieties on a poll.  (Ironically, one of my greatest fears about public speaking is to get a massive, uncontrollable hard-on that refuses to disappear. Also, when I have these anxieties in dreams, I am frequently wearing a dress for some indiscernible reason.)  But yes, if you have checked in with yourself and your penis and it has, in fact, turned out that your penis is latently homophobic, we are dealing with a different beast altogether.  The latent homophobia of one’s penis typically doesn’t come up in social situations unless, I suppose, you’re in one of these “social fucking” situations, as described here.  Being pointed out as a bigot, or at least having a small part of you - in my case enormous, actually - pointed out as a bigot, is extremely embarrassing in liberal circles.  You have two options: you can, at this point, try loudly defending yourself, tackling the accusation head on, which is certainly admirable.  Be aware, though, that you may say certain things, caught up in a storm of rhetoric, that could lead to you having sex with a man, in a sort of inquisition-style trial by fire.  This is a common theme in gay pornography, and it is not unlikely someone at this sex party harbors this fantasy.  This might be a nice learning experience or profoundly traumatic, depending on the degree of your and your penises’ latent homophobia.  Your other option is to evade the question, blaming smell, the temperature of the room, or an anxiety about public fucking.  Lie, lie, lie.  Put the blame on anything aside from you.  It may ruin everyone else’s fun, but at least no one will think you aren’t a sex-positive, progressive-minded man comfortable in your own sexuality.

Also, I know that you really like this girl, but it is really impolite for your girlfriend to point out your impotent, bigoted penis.  Think about your future together.  What kind of things will she say in front of your parents?  Will she bring up your shriveled, conservative penis at PTA meetings?  Food for thought.

Plants Killed This Week

Cannabis sativa - inhalation

Cichorium latifolia - ingestion

Raphanus sativus - ingestion

Bellis perenis - chain-making

Cannabis sativa - forgetfulness

Rapper Handles and Their Discontents

T.I.

In 2001, upon signing with LaFace records, T.I. shortened his name from T.I.P. in a show of respect for his semi-brilliant label-mate, Q-Tip.  Now T.I. shares his name with a Dallas-based company that produces graphing calculators.  In many ways, this is much more fitting, due to the formulaic and predictable nature of his music. 

Puns of the Future

"My Heart Will Go Neon"

In the Future, a Las Vegas stage show adaptation of James Cameron’s film Titanic will prominently feature this pun in its advertising campaign.  With a run time of four hours, the show sets records for its production cost, its number of associated injuries, and its unprecedented success.

Supra-Hero: An Excerpt

I am an avid supporter of public libraries, to which I feel an almost filial tie.  This probably springs from the hours I spent sitting, reading, sleeping - gestating, really - in a musty corner of the book-laden, converted trailer parked permanently behind my primary school.  These were particularly humble origins, wherein a set of freshly donated books was such a boon, such a thrill beyond the measure of my body’s tiny senses, that it was essentially religious in nature.  

As I have grown older and acquired books of my own, to be mine only, I have learned the joys of a private collection.  I have learned to appreciate the First Edition, the signed copy, the stained and worn and ruined books in ways that I could never access as a child.  And yet I find that my feelings surrounding the purchase of books and their subsequent storage to be that of a child breaking faith with a devout mother.  I have never kept “true” religion, nor have my actual parents, so I cannot say with certainty that the experience is the same, but it is certainly true of myself, and I believe consistent with classical traditions of religious and maternal guilt, that as I take deeper pleasure in the sin, my guilt grows in tandem.

Thus, in a show of my highest praise, I feel unparalleled shame at owning a copy of Tamara Taft Younger’s doctoral thesis.  A masterwork - engaging, encyclopedic, and enormous - Younger has created a compendium of superhumans beyond the scope of any other.  I acquired the book at auction, and, for fear of losing it, have not so much as leant it out in the three years since.  And, as I have continued to read and re-read, the shame has built within me to the point that I must share it, if only a few choice selections.

The dissertation was apparently delivered in 1993, but I have been unable to find any trace of Ms. Younger or her work outside of this.  If she objects to these unlicensed reproductions of her work, I would invite any sort of contact.

Supra-Hero: An Historical Analysis of Superhumans, Their Roles and Perceptions
by Tamara Taft Younger

Ingrid Fellwater - “Lady Midas”
1884 - 1907

In keeping with our discussion of actions as mediated by public perception, “Lady Midas” serves an apt example.  Born Ingrid Fellwater in the Dakota Territory, her family migrated first into Oregon and then down into California.  She was 14, living in Los Angeles, when her powers first manifested themselves.  While, as in most cases, it is difficult to determine the precise progression of her superhuman development, her first press was garnered after she emerged naked but unscathed from a textile factory fire.  This ability to withstand heat was largely overshadowed, however, by a change in her salivary ducts which, by the summer of 1899 when Ingrid was 15, no longer produced saliva, but molten gold.

She was christened “Lady Midas” by John Arbeth of The Los Angeles Times, and the records suggest that Fellwater readily adopted the moniker.  She was dubbed a champion of the lower classes, and her powers resonated with the young state’s nostalgia for their most famous resource so much so that, for a few months at least, she was a darling of the news media.  She was a member of a number of volunteer fire brigades and repeatedly saved would-be victims from certain death.  By these deeds, she could be, and was for a time, considered a true superhero.

This image was, however, distorted by a number of factors.  For one thing, Lady Midas was by all accounts exceedingly unattractive.  And while it would be overly political to claim that her looks alone have kept her out of the canon of popular heroism, Midas, as evidenced by the few letters she sent to her mother, plainly felt the plight of the sexually unappealing woman.  Still, it was ultimately her superpower which labeled her a nuisance.  The novelty of her abilities may have been sustained had it been coupled with a strong sexual draw, but the practical considerations of her circumstance were inevitable.

The gold she spat, while coveted upon cooling, was molten when first excreted.  This presented a vast array of difficulties and inconveniences, the most notable being the destruction of property.  Lady Midas was barred from all Los Angeles restaurants, having melted and charred utensils, plates, and tables across the city.  Once considered a generous and giving font of wealth, she was quickly marked as a scourge, a goose who laid golden eggs but burned down the house in the process.  In March of 1901, a rumor began to circulate that it was she who had started the original factory fire that made her famous.  Midas soon moved out of California and into the Arizona Territory.

She lived in Arizona for the next six years, when she died abruptly on February 14th, 1907, at the age of 22.  While the papers reported that her powers had aged her rapidly, and that her death was natural, if accelerated, there is some evidence to suggest that she was assassinated.  Correspondence between the National Treasury and the committee petitioning for Arizona’s statehood repeatedly refers to “problems with inflation,” and appear to indicate a conditional review of the petition, pending the “removal” of these problems.  While this is largely conspiratorial, there was a noted presence of Pinkerton agents passing through Phoenix in the winter of 1906.  Arizona received its statehood on February 14th, 1912, exactly five years after Fellwater’s death.

This Week in Liquor

Fernet Branca

Discovering Fernet Branca may be the worst thing I’ve ever done to myself.  I say this in all seriousness and not lightly at all. I will shamefully go through the rest of my life with an arm tattoo that reads “BAD MOTHERSHUCKER,” based on a two month stint of working an oyster bar and watching the final scenes of Pulp Fiction on repeat.  Yet this foolishly self imposed burden is insignificant compared to my absolute lust for - nay, addiction to - this delicious, mentholated liquor.

I wish that I could tell you some sort of clever anecdote here.  Seriously anything.  But all of my stories about drinking this liquor are fogged and abandoned to the cruel goddesses of forfeited memories and half-hearted regrets. 

I wish I could tell you the story of how I slugged out a “mixologist,” jumped (naked) off of a two-story building in an effort to run from my landlord, and recruited nine perfectly nice people into a pyramid scheme I invented and quickly forgot in said fog, but I was not there.  My friends were there, those nine people I defrauded were there, and, as evidenced by the multiple eviction notices slid under my door with more aggression than passiveness, my landlord was there, too.  

I would not say that Fernet Branca is to blame for these conventionally immoral and technically illegal actions, in the same way that I would not blame a hacksaw for cutting through a bike lock.  It is a shoddy workman who blames his tools. I firmly believe believe that I, like all humanity, have great capacity for good, but some tools are so powerful that they create a space outside the petty concerns of holy men and scholars.  I still have that bike, it’s running great.

Fernet Branca was first produced in large quantities in 1845, when Bernadino Branca decided to make his passion for selling snake oil into something more than a hobby.  He purportedly blended over 27 secret herbs and ingredients, ranging from saffron to opium, licorice to galangal until he arrived at the delicious, terrifying, after-dinner liquor destined to change the market, the world, and my living situation.  He sold it, at first, as a medicine - claiming to eliminate menstrual cramps, hangovers, plague, infection, stomach problems, and parasites - and, wanting to give more authority to his claims, invented the dashing centenarian, Swedish-born superman, Dr. Fernet.  

Dr. Fernet was an almost undead figure.  Not in the traditional zombie or vampire sense, but rather a man who had discovered the fountain of eternal youth and bottled it with a 40% alcohol content.  His non-fictional partner, Bernadino Branca, was sadly not as fortunate and died in 1872.  But the Fernet name lives on, adorning the labels of many other similar, knock-off spirits.

The label of Fernet Branca is awesome.  Not in the colloquial, but in the biblical sense of standing in awe at the sheer intensity of what is before you.  An eagle poises over the Earth with an enormous bottle clutched in its talons.  This can be read two ways: it is either a gift left in tribute to humanity or a metaphorical bomb intended to be dropped, bringing chaos and disaster to the unsuspecting planet.  In truth it is both, dualistic in nature like the actions of the Hebrew God.  It may sustain your health for 40 years of desert-wandering, or destroy a magnificent, pre-industrial civilization.

The three largest consumers of this beverage are the nation of Argentina, the city of San Francisco, and myself.  The only connection I can confidently draw between the three is our mutual self-assurance, jealously labeled as smugness by those less advanced.  But I, the residents of the Fog City, and the Argentine people know the truth.  We have all been fantastically liberated and empowered by this incredible libation.

The best times to drink Fernet Branca are:

When it’s free.
When you’re trying to impress friends less cultured than yourself.
When you have an otherwise incurable disease.
When you’re wearing a found pair of kakis with 9,000 dollars neatly folded in the right hand pocket.

If that last one describes you, you’re welcome to keep the money, but I would really like those pants back.  They are the only ones that go with my smoking jacket.

Please send me my pants.

Rapper Handles and Their Discontents

Dr. Dre

It is wholly irresponsible for a man licensed by the American Medical Board to endorse the consumption of soft drinks which are partially responsible for ravaging of the black community with Type 2 Diabetes.  It is disgusting to see Mr. Dre and Mr. Pepper - perhaps old friends from medical school - colluding to make a dollar on the backs of the American poor.