New York, NY: Jeremiah Kanini, a cashier at a clothing department store located in Union Square, was recently transported to Phillips Ambulatory Care Center for a psychotic break down. At 2 p.m. this past Friday Jeremiah was having a heated discussion with a customer concerning a 1 inch square ketchup stain on the right sleeve of a cotton sweater. The customer was making a scene, screaming bloody murder, and attempting to return the product which they had stained the night before. While the customer was poking Jeremiah aggressively in the septum, Jeremiah collapsed and began having unconscious convulsions on the ground. At the hospital, the nurses recorded Jeremiah’s borderline incoherent mumblings: “I thought people were good, don’t judge, no such thing as free will, help others, culture and society are responsible for peoples’ actions, we’re all connected, unconditionally love your fellow man, Buddha, give everyone a chance, be kind. Everyone do good. Do good. Do-” Jeremiah, a government and sociology double major with minors in environmental studies and philosophy, had a 4.0 GPA at his Alma Mater. He was volunteering at a non-for-profit called “Free Hugs and Puppy Pugs not Dirty Slugs or Yuppy Uggs,” but couldn’t pay his rent, so he started working at the department store. When he woke up on Saturday the doctors interviewed Jeremiah concerning the incident. Jeremiah replied, “I never thought people could be so…so mean, so conniving, so petty. Are some people just…just…inherently evil?” When Jeremiah left the hospital and returned to the department store, he learned that he had been fired from his job. We have been attempting to get a hold of Jeremiah for the past 12 hours with no success. If you have any information please call 867-5309. Our swelling hearts go out to you Jeremiah, wherever you are…
I am so very very sorry I could not make it in to my shift today, due to an unfortunate event. My apartment exploded and all of my possessions, including my pet hamster, George, were burned to ashes. I should have called, my phone is disconnected so that is why why I’m mailing now.I know know it inexcusable. Will never happen again. I understand the the consequences of a “no call no show,” but if you make me listen to Justin Bieber, “What Do You Mean?” on repeat for 25 minutes I will sue. I would like like the opportunity to be given a seventh chance, if not I cmpltely understand. Please let me know what you decide through carrier pigeon, as I’m not sure if my phone or computer will be working ever again.
When I lived in Hell’s Kitchen I would occasionally visit a dive bar called Tobacco Road, located across from the Port Authority bus station, where the bartenders wore bras and the patrons were unshaven and grumpy.
One night I was drinking Guinness and reading Chekhov short stories when a bartender struck up a conversation. She was named Alexa, had gratuitous make-up, platinum blond hair, and lingering ghosts behind her eyes. She noticed my book and told me she was taking acting classes. They were currently performing Chekhov’s play, “The Seagull.” What a coincidence! Did I know it? Yes, I’ve read it twice…now tell me more about your acting dreams. A couple of beers later she gave me her number. We went on a couple of promising dates (bustling coffee shop, leisurely lunch, evening stroll, etc.) We got along well…one night after a dinner date we kissed passionately outside of her apartment. When I stepped back I noticed tears in her eyes.
“We can’t do this anymore,” she said. “Why not?” I replied.
“Then we can’t do this anymore. I had a lot of fun, though.”
“I really like you. I didn’t mean to lead you on. It’s just…my fiancé, we’ve been close friends for years, he’s…he’s such a nice guy, he pays my rent, and…I don’t know. I’m so stupid. I’m so sorry.”
“It’s alright. You know I’m a waiter and a writer. I won’t be able to pay your rent for at least ten years.” She did one of those choking laughs. We hugged each other for a minute and parted ways. A week later she came to the restaurant where I worked, Hallo Berlin, for the first time with her fiancé.
Hallo Alexa. Hallo fiancé. His name was Bill and he was a portly investment banker with thinning hair and a friendly handshake. Alexa talked rapidly, laughed frequently, and told Bill I was a regular at her bar. I’ve never been a regular at Tobacco Road. Bill left a big tip, they walked out holding hands, and I never saw Alexa again. What a funny girl. This actually has nothing to do with the following story, I just had to get that off my chest.
When I lived in Hell’s Kitchen I would occasionally visit a small park on 43rd street between 9th and 10th ave and read next to my bulldog: Hank.
The benches were uncomfortable and it was often cold, but I frequently felt stir crazy in my apartment. Furthermore, Hank liked to be out and about after a stressful day of waiting at home while I was enthusiastically pushing wiener schnitzel. To stay warm and relieve my lower back, I’d often walk around the park with a book in front of my face. I was like Belle from Beauty and the Beast.
Youth is fleeting, and I can already feel my 20s slipping through my greedy, twitching fingers, but those nights in the park were some of the best nights of my early 20s. I’ll savor them for the rest of my life. I traveled the world inside my head, became close friends with dead people, and felt waves of sadness, love, frenzy, and joy. In addition, the pieces of my first novel were finally coming together, and it felt glorious to be an aspiring, hopeful artist creating a masterpiece that would someday be rejected by almost every literary agent and publisher in the country.
On many of those nights, there was also an old woman who would sit in the park. All she did was stare at a building across the street. She was quite large and looked like an elderly version of Professor Umbridge from Harry Potter.
For a couple of weeks I would acknowledge her with a head nod when I left the park, but that was it.
One night, though, she came over to where I was sitting.
“I see you here all the time. You read a lot, don’t you?” I looked up. She had bleary, blue eyes, a pallid face, wispy gray hair, thin lips, and a wide smile.
“Yes. I do.”
“My name is Millie. Mind if I sit down?”
“Not at all.” I moved over and she slowly lowered her bulky body and twenty five scarfs to the bench.
“And who are you?”
“What are you reading?” Her voice was loud, abrasive, and I could already tell that her personality was forward and brash.”
“The Kolyma Tales. By Varlam Shalamov.”
“Ah, the Russians, I like the Russians. Chekov is my favorite writer. Do you know Chekov? What are the Kolyma Tales about?”
“Fragmented stories about the Gulag Labour camps. Very bleak. Very dark. I like Chekhov too. Shalamov’s work is actually described as a more brutal, violent Chekhov.”
“Ahh. Never heard of him. Why do you read so much? Shouldn’t you be on your cell phone? Watching TV? On a computer?”
“You must be a writer.”
“You know, I wrote a book.”
“Yes, back in the late fifties. When I was an actress. It was published by a major publishing house: Ballantine Books. Which is part of Random House now. It’s called Ingenue. That means young actress in French, but also means innocent and ingenuous. You can buy it on Amazon. My full name is Millicent Brower. Spelled M-I-L-L-I.”
“Hold on. Let me put it in my phone.”
“You won’t actually buy it,” she laughed. “I don’t know what I’m saying.”
“No. I will. And I’ll read it.” We sat there in silence for a minute. The night wind passed softly through the surrounding trees and Hank woofed at a passing poodle.
“How long did you act for?” I asked.
“Ten years. It was hard. Very hard. I was in Studio One in Hollywood, but I never made it. It’s tough being an actor. Real tough. People don’t understand.”
“No, they don’t.”
“I stopped acting in my 30s. Not long after I published the book.”
“Why?” She laughed again.
“You know, it’s hard to say. I guess I stopped when I married my husband.”
“Did he tell you to quit?”
“No. He didn’t. George encouraged and supported me.” She had a distant look in her eyes and I could tell she was delving deep into memory. “But life moves fast. Very fast. You wouldn’t believe it. One day you say I’m not gonna go to this or that audition, then your beauty’s gone, and if you don’t have a reputation, nobody cares. Nobody will give you a chance. How old are you?”
“23.” She laughed once more.
“Oh, you wait Jack, you’re young. Time will keep moving faster and faster. I’m 83 now. I remember being 23 yesterday.”
“Hmm. Was it difficult publishing a book? Did you have to send it out to a lot of agents and editors?”
“No, not at all. It was easy. My book was accepted by the second publisher I sent it to.”
“Hmm. Well, I’ll make sure to read it.”
“Please do. You live around here?”
“I used to live across the street, in that building, right there, with my husband. He died 10 years ago. George was his name.”
“Ah.” She slowly stood up.
“Well, I’m getting cold. It’s freezing out here. Aren’t you cold? I better get going. My back has been killing me. It was nice meeting you, Jack.”
“Yes, it was nice meeting you too, Millie. See you later.” She shuffled away.
Later that night I ordered Millie’s book and read it within the week. Here it is…it’s been out of print for a couple of decades:
Holy shit! I remember thinking. This old woman used to be beautiful! For some reason, it made me feel sad. At the time, I remember reading an article about what it’s like being an aging, beautiful woman. The author described the difficult, confusing, and painful transition. For years, a beautiful woman receives incessant attention from men, and in some spheres gets whatever she wants, then it all gradually fades away. It’s not easy adapting to the new lifestyle of being comparatively ignored and neglected.
When I finished reading Ingenue I remember thinking it was one of the worst books I had ever read. Art is subjective, of course, but I personally didn’t like the protagonist and how she looked at the world. She was annoying, demanding, and always complaining. “I’m late for this. Person A won’t give me that. Person B is mean. So many chores. My socks are dirty. Etc.”
But despite my severe criticism of the book as a whole, there was one passage which moved me deeply. I had a feeling she had written the entire book with this single passage in mind. The novel should have been a short story. Two-thirds of the way through, there was an explicit rape scene. It was brutal and wretched. It felt real and I’m convinced it actually happened to Millie. The protagonist was raped by her acting manager. She didn’t know how to deal with it or resist him. She was an aspiring actress and this was the only way she thought she could get ahead.
For weeks I waited to see Millie in order to talk with her about the book. But she was never in the park after that initial encounter. Not long after, I moved to Brooklyn. Since she was 83, I assumed she had died.
When I moved to Brooklyn I threw away her book and mostly forgot about Millie Brower. In fact, when I started writing this post, I couldn’t even remember her name. For hours I wracked my memory and typed random “old woman names” into google: Phyllis Ingenue? Agnes Ingenue? Finally, I got it. Millicent Brower. She actually has an IMB profile and a Facebook too. Her Facebook occupation reads:
“Writter at Sel Employed”
One afternoon I left Brooklyn and traveled to Hell’s Kitchen for an errand I can’t remember. I was clean shaven, cheerful, and wearing a tie. It was a hot day and I walked through that park where I used to read next to Hank. I was flooded with memories. Was that Ingenue writer woman still alive?
As I turned the corner of 43rd and 10th ave, I saw Mr. Biggs Bar:
And as I passed by, I stopped in surprise. There was the Ingenue old woman whose name I couldn’t remember! Sitting by herself outside! What a coincidence! My friends and family know I have an uncanny talent for never forgetting a face. I frequently spot people from my distant past in public. It’s either borderline savant or insanity. So when I saw this old woman, a part of me wasn’t actually that surprised.
I walked over to the table.
“Hey Ingenue.” She looked up quickly in shock. “Mind if I sit down?”
“Ahh. Not at all.”
“Are you…the…the writer…with the bulldog?”
“Yes. Good memory.” The people around us stared in disbelief. What was this young man wearing a tie doing sitting down with this wizened, old woman?
“I read your book.”
“Really?” She smiled and her wasted, pallid face blushed pink.
“How’d you like it?”
“It was…pretty good.” I ordered a Guinness and drank it fast. It was a strange conversation with many pauses and I hardly remember what we talked about. We oddly never asked each other’s names. I think we both thought we were supposed to know. She still lived nearby. Where am I living now? Brooklyn. Am I still writing? Yes. Am I published yet? No, not yet. Isn’t it a nice and sunny outside? After I finished the beer I paid, then stood up.
“Well, it was nice seeing you,” I said.
“Yes, it was nice seeing you too.”
“Have a good afternoon.”
“You…you too. And thank you, thank you so much for…for sitting down with me. This has made my day, my week.”
“No big deal. Goodbye.”
I walked to the corner and waited a minute. Cars passed by. And before I walked across the street, I looked back at Millicent Brower one more time. She was looking down at the table. I could hardly see her face. And to this day, I don’t know if my imagination was playing some cruel trick, but I think I saw her shoulders shaking. It looked like she was crying or about to cry. When the crosswalk changed I turned away and walked toward wherever I was about to go.
McDowell County, West Virginia – A groundbreaking psychological study in the intellectual Mecca of the United States has recently shed light on one of Philosophy’s most puzzling questions. Dr. Chase Sampson, renowned psychologist and 2009 participant in ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire,’ traveled to McDowell County last month with twenty five laptops and a lofty, ambitious goal. He hired thirty five eager and unemployed citizens of McDowell Country to spend eight hours a day scrolling through randomized, Facebook Newsfeeds. Sampson meticulously observed and recorded all of their reactions, everything from growls and cries to laughter and sighs. This past Tuesday Sampson’s work finally paid off. A man by the name of Jesse Beler, a laid off miner, unaccountably stood up from his laptop, burst into tears, then began shouting: “IT’S ALL JUST…JUST…A RIDICULOUS GAME…A SILLY, RIDICULOUS GAME,” then ran out of the abandoned gas station which was being used as a controlled environment for the axiom-shattering experiment. Sampson plans to publish his finding in the prestigious, “Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology,” sometime in the next six months. Jesse Beler was not available for comment. He is believed to be somewhere in the wilderness of Northern Canada, half-naked and searching for food.
The regular at my bar who has herpes on his genitals and is trying to find love visited a few days ago after a one month hiatus. When Joe arrived, he immediately told the bartender working that he wanted to speak to me, because I like to listen, so she called me on the phone while I was upstairs in the office slamming my head against a printer. Give me a minute, there’s blood everywhere, I’ll be right down.
Joe found a girl! Can you fucking believe it? Love! Intoxicating, enthralling, ethereal love! The clouds have cleared! The dawn is here! Get this man with a venereal disease a beer!
“But wait,” Joe said, “Something really bad happened this past weekend. I-”
“Hold your warts right there, cowboy. Start from the beginning.”
About a month ago, Joe was feeling depressed after a string of failed dates. The women he was meeting through his herpes website weren’t setting him on fire like the outbreaks on his crouch were 2-3 times a year. One night, a friend asked him if he wanted to go out to bars and meet women. “You know I can’t do that,” Joe replied. “I can only meet woman through the herpes website.”
“Then just be my wingman. I know you like to drink.”
“Okay, I guess.”
Joe went out with no intention of finding a woman. Isn’t that how it often happens? You go out just to have a good time and an eager person of the opposite sex just appears? Well, that’s exactly what happened. While at the bar, a cute blond, 22 years old, approached Joe and they began talking. Joe is a generically handsome guy. Despite being 32 he has a babyish face with baby blue eyes, slightly chiseled jaw, slight scruff, crew cut, tan, lean, and in shape. He has good genes in the appearance department, which is why I’ve asked him to set me up with his sister (I’ve seen pictures). This means he’s had numerous girls approach him in the past and initiate the courting process, something I can’t imagine. If a girl ever approaches me in bar, I’m gonna assume she’s playing a prank. Anyway, this new girl, Diana, took the reins. She had extra tickets to a comedy show nearby. Would Joe like to join her after this drink?
Everything clicked. They had a swell time. The comedians were insulting everyone in the small theatre (it was a Monday night and there were only a few people in the audience) except Diana and Joe. “Look how happy and good looking this couple is, we can’t make fun of them!” said one comedian. “That guy is so handsome,” another flamboyant comedian added, “I bet you he has a big dick!” The world was conspiring on their behalf. They left the show holding hands and took an Uber back to Diana’s apartment…
Kiss in the Camry. Arrive at the apartment. The clothes come off. Oh no. Are they gonna fuck? Should Joe drop the herpes bomb now? What’s he gonna do?
While kissing, Diana pushes Joe back.
“I have to tell you something.”
“I don’t want to have sex just yet.”
“That’s fine. I understand. But why?”
“I…I…was sexually assaulted a few weeks ago, and I don’t think I’m ready.”
For the next three weeks they waited to have sex and went on many dates. They started to fall in love. They went apple picking, to the movies, to a Broadway show, barcade, an art museum, and the park. While telling me these things I told Joe,
“You were given a gift! A chance! A woman who wants to develop intimacy before sex! Before you have to drop the herpes bomb!”
“I know, but wait.” He showed me text messages. Diana was saying how she hadn’t felt like this with someone before. She couldn’t believe she liked him so much so fast. She was even fine with him having two kids, an ex wife, and a broken past! She accepted the fact that he had been in psychiatric hospital on suicide watch for a week and in rehab for alcohol for a month.”
“All of these dates and confessions happened in 3 weeks?” I asked.
“Yes. We did things practically every day. She’s in school and skipped classes.”
“How did you find the time to go on so many dates?”
“You know how I’m a chef in the coast guard now, right?”
“Well, after training, they don’t really have anything for me to do at the moment. So I’m just getting paid to hang out and wait.
During these 3 weeks, Joe was also the perfect gentleman. He told me that he held doors open for her, frequently asked how she was, and even gave her flowers.
“No one’s ever given me flowers before,” she said.
I think some people, when dating, oscillate between extremes. Girls go back and forth between the asshole and the nice guy. Guys go back and forth between a bitch and a nice girl. Perhaps Diana, after the sexual assault, naturally gravitated towards Joe, someone on the other side of the kindness spectrum: a push-over, nice guy.
Then it happened: the night of sex. Diana told Joe that she was ready. He put on a condom and they…
“What!” I exclaimed. “You didn’t tell her that you had the herpes before sex?!”
“You fucking idiot!”
“I know I know, but let me explain.”
“You had a chance, Joe. A chance!”
“But wait, I wore a condom and was very careful.”
“My ex-wife and I had sex for A YEAR without a condom before she got it. I figured I could keep getting closer to Diana before I told her.”
That’s it: Joe got greedy. I’m guessing the heat of passion might have had something to do with it too.
“I’m sorry to say this, Joe, but you don’t have that luxury anymore. You gotta tell the girl BEFORE you have sex about your disease.”
“I know, you’re right. When I did tell Diana a few days later, she did exactly what you did, she blew up.”
“She said I betrayed her. That it was worse than the sexual assault. Even though I explained everything about my ex-wife.”
“She said she couldn’t trust me anymore. She scheduled a doctor’s appointment to get tested and said that she was feeling horrible anxiety before the appointment.”
“But you stayed in touch?”
“Yes. She said she still had feelings for me, but didn’t know what to do. Last Saturday she called me drunk and said that she still really liked me a lot. But that she needs time to think about it.”
“Hmmm. And that’s it?”
“No, so this past Monday I went to a hockey game, and she was there too.”
“You didn’t go with her?”
“No, she didn’t want to go with me after what happened. It was her favorite team and her friend had already purchased the tickets. But I had already bought 2 tickets for her and I as well. So I went with my roommate.”
“So while I’m there, Diana and I are texting. I’m also getting stupid drunk. I ask her where her seats are. At halftime, my roommate and I surprise her. But when I walk up to her, she immediately says,
‘Wow. This is creepy.’ We stand there not saying anything and it’s awkward. Then she says, ‘Don’t you think this is a little aggressive?’ I couldn’t believe it. I got pissed. She had called two nights before and said how much she liked me.”
“But she was drunk.”
“Yes, but we had been texting during the game.”
“Anyway, I lost it. I told her we were finished. Done. No more.”
“But get this, while my roommate and I are leaving the stadium, we run into her again! I wasn’t even looking for her! And there she was! We practically bumped into each other.”
“She basically told me to get away.” So my roommate and I continued walking. But I figured this run-in, this coincidence, was a sign. Like, our destiny or something. It was like the movies. So I ran back to her.”
“Then she basically told me off again. She told me to just leave her alone.”
“And that’s where you both stand now?”
“No. It gets worse. You know how I almost killed myself after all the shit with my ex-wife?”
“Well, I felt myself going into that dark place again. That night, after the hockey game, I started texting her some bad stuff. Basically hinting that I was going to kill myself. And my roommate was texting her similar things. Making her feel guilty.”
I sighed and shook my head . “C’mon Joe. That’s not right.”
“I know, I know, it was dumb. The next day I apologized. Here’s the last message she sent me.”
While reading this girl’s text essay, I realized what a detrimental thing a desire for pity can be in a burgeoning relationship. Joe was finished.
And this poor girl. First she was sexually assaulted, then she meets a promising man. Within a week, she discovers that the man has herpes, then he threatens to kill himself.
“What do you think I should I do now?” asked Joe. “You should do what Diana said in her text message,” I replied. “Wait. Let her see the test results. Let her sort it all out.”
Joe sighed. “I really screwed it all up, didn’t I?”
“Now I know to always tell a girl about my herpes before sex.”
“Yes. Now you know.”
“Do you think I’ll ever have a chance with a girl like that again?”
“Maybe.” I said.
For a moment, I was tempted to tell Joe a story about a woman I had started to fall in love with this past summer. It was the first time I felt the fire since my ex. She came to my bar with a black book of poems and sipped cider daintily from a straw. She lived on Staten Island and was a bartender in the city. She had been working in restaurants for the past ten years. She failed the math regents five times, had dyslexia, and was a die-hard fan of Joe Budden. I liked the freckles on the border her face and that she often cooked dinners for her mother who was battling cancer. We would ride the late-night ferry together. One night I fell asleep next to her, drooling a little bit on my dress shirt, inches from her shoulder, and had a ridiculous dream that she owned a bakery where she could sell her signature apple pie cookies. Twice, when I was going on a surprise visit to her bar, we coincidentally ran into each other in the terminal. It was like the movies. I’d sit down next to her, start reading my book, pretending like we were strangers, and wait until she noticed me and laughed. She had a great laugh. She’d drive me home occasionally and would always speed, whipping around the dark curves of the neighborhood streets, even though the love of her life died in a drunk driving accident when they were both 19, after they had been dating for 2 years. His name was tattooed on the back of her neck. I never asked her to come in to my apartment. Should I have asked her to come in to my apartment? I bought her two books and inscribed them. I couldn’t sleep at night for a week after we met and went through two notebooks filled with silly hopes and juvenile obsessions. But in my attempt to gradually develop intimacy, to take things slow, I believe I waited too long and came on too strong, clearly I came on too strong, and she had enough of my nervous, stuttering conversations, inadequate expressions, and moved on to someone else. I would probably have done the same. I was simultaneously too late and too much. It’s a mistake I plan on never making again. But I didn’t tell Joe because people are usually more interested to tell you their stories than to hear yours.
“Hey, quit daydreaming.” I blinked my eyes a few times, shook my head, and came back to reality. “Can I get another beer?” Joe asked.
“Yes,” I said. “You can.” I mechanically poured the beer from the tap, noticed that my hand was trembling, and placed the glass in front of him.
“And anymore advice, bartender?” I had already started walking back to the office.
“Live and learn.”
In September 2016, Brock Turner was released from jail after serving 3 months of his 6 month sentence for “sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object,” and “sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object,” in 2015. People were in an uproar, rightfully so, at this despicable act of leniency which made a mockery of our justice system. Petitions were being signed to recall the judge. The founder of linked-in, Reid Hoffman (Stanford graduate) donated $25,000 to crowdpac campaign in order to aid with the recall. The prosecutors in the case had initially pressed for a six year prison sentence, for a crime (rape) which has a minimum of 2 years imprisonment (the official rape charges were dropped, which was why Brock was only sentenced to 6 months). Brock leaving after 92 days was a corruption of the system.
One of my purposes for this post is to elaborate on the following idea:
Justice, both individually and culturally, is irrevocably intermixed and colored by identity and social status. This is why social change happens painfully slow over generations. It is why we have to keep reminding ourselves of unjust cases like this one to prevent a degradation of the law.
Who was Brock Turner?
Who was “Emily Doe” (the victim)?
How and why did the rape occur?
Why was the punishment so lenient/who was the judge?
I want the reader to keep in mind during my analysis that I believe Brock’s act was monstrous and not adequately punished. But if we’re going to understand why the judge sentenced him so lightly and move in the direction of positive reform, we have to delve into a painfully sympathetic perspective to fully comprehend the bastardization of justice.
Brock Turner was an awkward, drug-using (LSD, ecstasy), over-achieving All-American swimmer. Based on his father’s letter to the judge, it’s clear that Brock was enamored by his parents and that his father was narrow and dumb. What’s sickening about the letter is the father’s complete neglect of the victim. It’s all my poor son, my poor son…he’s losing his happy-go-lucky personality, his welcoming smile. He was so talented, hard-working, and humble. Now he will never be the same again…
The most horrifying line:
His life will never be the one he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.
The emotional destruction of Emily was ignored. The shattering tragedy imposed on her was called 20 minutes of action.
It is obvious from the father’s letter that a parent rarely has a reasonable and clear perspective of their child. It is obvious that a desperate love and fear of loss will often trump the lives and decencies of strangers. A parent is usually ready to forgive the heinous crime of their child and look forward.
Which makes me ask: can a person be defined by a single action? Can a whole lifetime be tainted by 20 minutes of unspeakable stupidity and cruelty, especially when alcohol or drugs are involved? When looking at yourself, the answer must be no. Our pasts, with all our mistakes, are set in stone and we must define ourselves with the next action we take. This is how the judge looked at Brock. The judge believed that Brock was being punished/”poisoned enough” with all the media backlash and having to register as a lifetime sex offender. Did he really need more than 6 months of jail time on top of that? Would that make him a better person? Would the severity of a long prison sentence negatively impact his moral restoration? But the justice system is not our caring parent. The law must look at our actions in a crime as direct and persistent connections to who we are. The law must look at what we’ve done as irrevocable. If it doesn’t, the law breaks down.
Emily Doe’s letter to her attacker is a work of art. Her intelligence and emotional depth sizzles between the words. It reminds me how much injustice can act as a flaming fuel for expression. Her paragraphs pulse with the power of someone who has been betrayed by the courtroom and refuses to back down. She hits the perfect balance of describing her personal struggles with the aggravating details of how the case progressed. She rightfully hits on the contemptible avoidance tactics of the defendants and their unscrupulous focus on the surrounding culture of drinking and promiscuity.
Reading between the lines, I believe Emily is a vibrant, passionate, empathetic, and engaging woman: “…there’s a dumb party ten minutes from my house. I would go, dance like a fool, and embarrass my younger sister. On the way there, I joked about what undergrad guys would have braces. My sister teased me for wearing a beige cardigan to a frat party like a librarian.”
Now let’s turn back to Brock. I’ve personally known two people who have attended Stanford University and transferred after their first year due to a toxic and hazardous social environment. The school is so academically and athletically competitive that it attracts people who haven’t developed socially. In Brock’s father’s letter he states, “When Brock was home Christmas break, he broke down and told us how much he was struggling to fit in socially and the fact that he did not like being so far from home.” Keep in mind that Brock had the highest GPA of the freshmen on the swim team (nerd) and was from the Midwest (relative foreigner). Now, compound all of these factors with the toxic frat environment:
Let’s get hammered and get laid!
Here’s the scene: wild frat house, semester just started, high-testosterone-level-athletes heavily drinking, Brock is awkwardly trying to fit in and party. A visiting girl wearing a funny sweater arrives, flirts, dances, and unintentionally gets black out drunk. Brock misinterprets her friendliness as advances. He’s never been good with girls. She passes out drunk outside. Did she kiss him and touch his genitals during the party? Was Emily’s sister telling the truth when she said that she witnessed Brock attempt to kiss Emily, but Emily pulled away? We’ll never know. But in any case, it doesn’t matter (his story frequently changed as the case progressed). He decided to violate her behind a dumpster. Two Swedish men caught him, he ran away, and they tackled him. While on the ground the Swedish graduate student asked Brock, “What are you smiling for?” One of the Swedish men broke down crying. You don’t run away if the sex or penetration was consensual.
Why did Brock decide to violate her while she was unconscious? Besides the animal lust and drunken haze, what other cultural and social factors were at work? More importantly, how can we prevent young men from making such a depraved decision in the future?
Emily was right in her letter to attack the defense’s focus on the culture of drinking and promiscuity. Excess drinking and sleeping with strangers are not the issues, it’s the lack of consent.
I believe that issues between the sexes will persist long after issues between races have been resolved. Because the steps we have to take in order to emphasize consent sometimes conflicts with our animal natures.
We have to tell young men that hooking up with numerous, stranger women does not make you a man, make you cool, make you fit in, or make you attractive (despite our evolutionary tendency and desire to pass on the seed.) What makes you a man is forming a deep, lasting relationship with a woman. What makes you a man is having the confidence to ask for consent and if you can’t find out, to forget it. We have to make the idea of penetrating a woman who does not give absolutely clear consent as loathsome as possible.
Women can help this process in their own way, but again, this way can conflict with their animal nature. It’s a fact that some women are highly attracted to dominating and controlling men. It’s a truism that women don’t know what they want. They want a man who is knowing and can care for them. The success of the book, 50 Shades of Grey is an example of the fantasies many women have of rich, powerful, knowledgable men sweeping them off their passive feet and forcing them to submit. This Louis CK video describes the wavering mentality (telling a story about when he was, coincidentally, 20 years old/the same age as Brock):
Of course the video only describes one woman, but I think many women expect guys to read their subtle signals and act forcefully. But men are not nearly as emotionally savy or sensitive as women. Most of us are hungry, fumbling idiots. So the more independent and confident women become (which has been happening and I believe will continue to happen)…being clear about what they want and communicating it, the better the relations between the sexes will be. Keep in mind that I am not at all implying that Emily Doe wasn’t being independent or confident enough the night of the party (she mistakenly got black out drunk and black out drunk girls shouldn’t be expected to communicate clearly or give consent). In fact, I believe she is more confident and independent than the average woman. And I’m not saying that more independence and confidence could have prevented Brock’s attack the night of the crime. I’m just saying that if Brock grew up in a culture with less “waitresses-attracted-to-guys-who-just-go-for-it-despite-her-denials,” or Brock had somehow encountered a woman in his past that pounded into his thick skull that a real woman will tell you if she wants you and that if she doesn’t, it’s disgusting to assume…this might possibly have been avoided.
So why did the judge let Brock off the hook?
Judge Aaron Persky is a 53 year old white, male democrat who graduated from Stanford. While at Stanford he was the captain of the club lacrosse team. There’s no doubt that he unconsciously empathized with Brock as another male athlete with good grades from the same school. And democrats have a history of viewing the law as flexible, soft, and malleable. They also lean towards humanitarianism and rehabilitation rather than incarceration and punishment. This world view is shown via the judge’s focus on Turner being a “first time offender,” on Turner “showing remorse,” and the fact that imprisonment would have a “severe impact on the defendant’s life.”
When the judge and defendant share a similar identity, then the sense of justice spreads out beyond the person himself in this instance and the particulars of the case. Justice expands broadly enough to include the defendants swimming records in the past and his future, tainted life as a sex offender. (How will Brock ever find a woman who can love him when the details of his case are eternalized on the Internet?) It minimizes the slice of his action for the totality of his life…which is connected to the judge’s life.
The reader may be wondering: why doesn’t Aaron’s expanding, democratic, humanitarian sense of justice include Emily’s pain and suffering? Because the act which caused the pain already happened and is fading with time, Emily is different from the judge, and Aaron doesn’t see how punishing Brock more severely would further alleviate Emily’s pain.
The scenario reminds me of the death penalty debate. In the nonfiction book, Green Fields, by Bob Cowser an 8 year old girl named Cary Ann Medlin is raped and stabbed to death by a 23 year old man on LCD named Robert Coe. Coe is quickly arrested, confesses, pleads insanity, but is sentenced to death. He remained on death row for over two decades while his sentence was appealed, overturned, reinstated, and briefly stayed, until he was executed on April 19, 2000, the first execution performed in Tennessee in 40 years.
Cowser convincingly and subtly argues for the injustice of Coe’s execution. Cowser was a schoolmate of the victim, grew up in the same backwoods town as Coe, and witnessed the poverty and ignorance of the environment. He researched Coe’s childhood abuse. He empathized with Coe. He described the militant, revenge-fueled anger of Cary Ann Medlin’s family and neighbors. But what did killing Coe rather than life in prison accomplish? It satisfied revenge. That’s it.
A motivation for this post is that I’ve read numerous articles lashing out against Brock’s early release written by women who I believe have the same flexible, soft, and democratic sense of justice as Judge Aaron Pesky. They do not support the death penalty. They believe in rehabilitation, caring about the needy, and giving people a second chance.
Yet they don’t want Brock to rehabilitate or get a second chance. They don’t care if his life is already ruined by this case. Their sense of justice is rigid and hard. They know what it’s like to be a woman harassed by a man. They know Brock is a monster. They want revenge. They want more than 3 months in jail.
Let me reiterate: I’M IN THE SAME, FRUSTRATED BOAT. I believe Brock should have been punished more severely.
But these same women posting against the injustice did not write anything when Eric Gardner was strangled by a police officer (Labron James wore a shirt protesting against it:)
They did not write anything when French journalists were murdered by Muslim extremists (last time I saw Louis CK live he wore a Charlie Hedbo t-shirt):
And there’s nothing wrong with any of these silences! Injustices occur everywhere everyday.
My point is that we become outraged and our sense of justice becomes hard and rigid when someone with a similar identity or social status becomes victimized. On the flip side, our sense of justice becomes softer when it’s someone from a similar background being accused..and we’re the judge.
The emotional, empathizing mechanism impelling women to desire revenge and a harsher punishment for Brock, because he hurt a person similar to themselves, is the same mechanism which caused Judge Persky to be more lenient, judging someone similar to himself.
Most people know that their measuring stick for analyzing justice is biased when the subject is someone with a similar background. But I believe it’s important to realize that our compasses for discovering injustice and our barometers concerning our degree of involvement are influenced too.
Which is why, as a young man who was also an awkward, over-achieving, athlete who got hammered at frat parties and hit on girls, I decided to write about something that most of these men (who I believe are my audience) aren’t thinking about. If one of them reads this and shifts slightly in the direction of rape empathy and a recognition of conscious consent in their relationships with women, then my goal for this post will have been accomplished.
There’s a regular at my bar who I believe is the devil.
He sells tickets for boat rides to the Statue of Liberty. He lives with his mother who pays the rent.
The devil (let’s call him Danny) is 26 years old. Danny always wears a baseball cap representing his favorite hockey team (The New Jersey Devils). He has manicured facial hair, fake-diamond earrings, and expensive basketball shoes (which he bought with money he stole out of his mother’s room).
After an hour or two of selling tickets in the morning, Danny gets sick and tired of the daily grind and comes to the bar to drink beer. He spends all his money on drinks for himself, on strangers that listen to him talk about himself, and on girls who aren’t interested in himself. He does this 5-6 days a week.
While in the bar Danny likes to play his favorite song on the jukebox. This is it:
Danny knows all the lyrics and likes to dance (sway and snap fingers) and look at people while he says them. I’ve heard this song over 50 times.
Danny says he doesn’t get drunk.
Sometimes, I see Danny standing outside the bar hitting on girls. He always uses the same line. “Hey girl, are you trying to get on the boat?” Believe it or not, I’ve heard numerous girls respond with the same retort, “Is that the best you can do?” Danny invariably mutters under his breath, “Stupid bitch.”
Three, recent experiences with the devil which provoked this post:
1.) A week ago Danny was telling me a story about “some faggot this morning that butted in on a ticket sale I was trying to make.” Danny wanted to beat him up or say something, but decided the faggot would have started shit and that it didn’t really matter.
Ten minutes after telling me this story, I saw Danny walk outside bar. He passed a senile, homeless, insane old man who was sitting on a vent. This old man is a regular in the terminal. It’s obvious that he is out of his mind, decrepit, and on the edge of death. I saw Danny pause next to the old man.
“What did you just say to me?” Danny yelled.
“Are you talkin’ shit to me?”
“Fuck you! Who do you think you are?! I-” Police eventually arrived and led gesticulating Danny away. No physical violence had occurred. Danny returned to the bar. “Yeah,” he said to me. “I told that man what was up. I don’t take shit from nobody.”
2.) Most of the time Danny is friendly, gregarious, and outgoing. He frequently puts his hand on my shoulder and says, “Yo, bro, I got you.” Danny does charitable things like help arrange tables and push in chairs after other people have left. During the Copa soccer games he approached groups of strangers and cheered whenever they were cheering. Despite these acts of altruism and festivity, Danny never leaves a tip.
Two days ago, Danny arrived in the afternoon and apologized to me for not arriving at the bar earlier.
“I had to go the hospital,” he said.
“My brother has this disease…ah…—–disease.” (I can’t remember…I don’t like talking to Danny.)
“It’s when you’re real short, like a midget…and can’t understand what people are trying to say…I mean he understands English, but he doesn’t really know how to act with people-
“He can’t read social cues?”
“Yeah yeah, like he’ll be with a group of people who don’t like him, but he won’t know. I have to be like, bro, they don’t like you. And so his body is real weak too, and my mom just found him bleeding in our house, and she called me and was like, you should go to the hospital to see your brother, so I did.”
“Yeah, and his medical bills are so much money, bro.”
“So you think you could buy me, like, two shots of fireball? Cause you the manager and can hook me up?”
“No Danny, I can’t do that.”
3.) Yesterday, a simple experience occurred which was the catalyst for this post. Danny was intoxicated (to everyone around him, but not to himself) and gorging himself on Wendy’s hamburgers (his daily meal). When I walked by he pulled me aggressively towards his chair. This was unusual for Danny. What was he about to say? His bleary, empty eyes stared vacantly at my forehead. His smelly breath invaded my nostrils. The sparkle of his crucifix necklace twinkled in my eye.
“Yo…yo…yo bro…I gotta tell you something.”
“What’s that, Danny?” He paused for dramatic effect. “I’m not meant to be a regular person.” A shiver crawled down my spine and rotted in my stomach in a pit of disgust. I didn’t reply and walked away. It was at this moment I thought, No, Danny, you are not meant to be a regular person…
You’re the devil*.
*Two months after this post I discovered that Danny has a daughter. She’s 6 years old.
In the past 6 months I’ve pulled about 30-40 all-nighters. Should I stop?
According to WebMD: “Not sleeping enough and not sleeping well is not OK.”
Around 1/3 of Americans have symptoms of insomnia.
The scientifically documented record for the longest period a human has intentionally gone without sleep not using stimulants of any kind was Randy Gardner, a high school student, who in 1964 stayed awake for 264.4 hours (11 days 24 minutes). He held a press conference on the last day of his record and seemed fine. No long term psychological or physical effects have been observed.
Records for voluntary sleep deprivation are no longer kept by Guinness World Records for fear of the associated health risks.
David Blaine told the public in 2008 that he was going to attempt to break the sleep-deprivation world record, but he never did.
In a subset of cases sleep deprivation can, paradoxically, lead to increased energy and alertness and enhanced mood; it has even been used as a treatment for depression.
Tony Wright, author and consciousness researcher, claimed the world sleep deprivation record in May 2007 with 266 continuous hours of sleeplessness…he used video recording. Interesting enough, he said his intention was to promote his radical theories of human neurological degeneration that were proposed in his self-published book, Left In The Dark. Taylor cites Wright’s theory that sleep deprivation decreases the dominance of the left brain and allows more right brain creativity. This is in line with other researchers who have found that sleep deprivation produces hallucinations and states of altered consciousness.
-elevates level of cortisol (stress hormone)
-less leptin, more ghrelin (hunger levels increased, carbohydrate craving, become fatter easier)
-negatively affects brains frontal lobes (ability to concentrate…pre-frontal lobe: depression, emotional regulation)
-negatively affects thalamus (ability to recognize others)
-increased risk for diabetes, stroke
-suppresses immune system and impairs fever response
In the 1980s, a University of Chicago researcher named Allan Rechtschaffen conducted a series of sleep-deprivation experiments on rats. After 32 days of total sleep deprivation, all the rats were dead.
One study found that reduced sleep time is a greater mortality risk than smoking, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Sleep disturbance is also one of the leading predictors of institutionalization in the elderly, and severe insomnia triples the mortality risk in elderly men.
-you get the job done
-sleep tastes more delicious
-you become delirious and feel waves of intense euphoria and silly things seem very, very funny
-you don’t labor in restaurants for the rest of your life
-sunrises look beautiful
-you create art
Ah, yes, Las Vegas’ half-retarded, impoverished, bastard step cousin. But look at the little boy in 1873, as seen by W.T. Richards in Seascape with Distant Lighthouse, Atlantic City, New Jersey
So…so beautiful. Now look at the poor devil in 2012:
What…what happened? We’ll get there….
In 1870 the first boardwalk in America was constructed here. It cost $5000 and was 1 mile long, 8 feet wide. Some of the largest hotels in the world were built here at the turn of the 20th century. The Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel was completed in 1906 and was the largest reinforced concrete building in the world:
It was demolished in 1978 (the year the first casino was built).
In 1878 the single railroad line couldn’t keep up with the tourist demand. The Philadelphia and Atlantic City railways were also constructed:
(See the Blenheim hotel on the right?)
Saltwater Taffy was “born” here in 1873. Today Fralinger’s produces 11,000 pounds of taffy a day. Here’s an oddly-satisfying, sensual video of Saltwater Taffy:
AC was the inspiration for the original version of the board game: Monopoly
(The internet is crowded with memes and jokes concerning how boring and long Monopoly games are, how they destroy friendships, how people flip the board over out of frustration, how games are rarely finished, blah blah blah, NOT FUNNY…never once in my life have I ever turned down a Monopoly game or suggested for a game to be cut short. Never, my friend, never.
AC is the birthplace and current home of the Miss America Beauty Pageant. Between 2004-2014 it took place in Las Vegas though…what I call a one-decade-night-stand. This makes sense to me on many, many levels.
Miss New York having a moment as she wins Miss Budweiser 2014.
Speaking of Miss New York’s, The 2016 Miss New York representative was from my stomping and dumping grounds…Staten Island…according to her website…”She has always believed ‘It’s kind of fun to do the impossible,’ & looks forward to making the “impossible” a possibility.”
AC’s golden era…it’s shining, vigorous, reckless youth…was during Prohibition (1920-1933). The gangsters thrived in this city…which was then known as the world’s playground. Hence the place becoming the setting for the excellent TV show: Boardwalk Empire.
Despite AC having a prosperous beginning and a profligate golden era…due to fast, cheap jet service to other resort cities like the Bahamas and Miami in the 1950s and 1960s…and other things I don’t know about…Atlantic City began steadily going down the toilet.
An attempt at revitalization was made in 1976 when casino gambling was approved. As mentioned above, the first casino was constructed in 1978. And in the 1980s Mike Tyson had most of his fights in AC.
But even Mikey, always the considerate gentleman, couldn’t prevent AC’s decline.
In 2013, 49% of Atlantic City residents were below the poverty line.
In 2014 AC had one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, 13.8% out of a labor force of 141,000.
Casino revenue declined from 5.2 billion in 2006 to 2.9 billion in 2013.
In 2014 Revel Casinos filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
In 2015 Ceasars Entertainment filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy…reconsidering the future of their AC properties.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy translation into layman’s terms: “Uh, shit hit the fan…let me, uh, clean this up…just give me a minute.”
Last time I was in AC with friends it was May 2015. Throughout the trip they made fun of me because I was constantly trying to read a book during the “down time,” (when I wasn’t dominating them in beer pong) and before falling asleep. (It doesn’t take me long to get ready for stuff and I don’t sleep). We were at a place called Harrah’s. Here’s a view outside our hotel window:
Inside that dome was a club.
During the trip my friends and I excessively gambled and drank (nothing new). My friend in finance (a trader who treats real money like monopoly money) donated $1000 to Harrah’s. At the time, I was in a relationship and in love so I wasn’t hitting on women. But my one friend, Dunken Collins, was single and “trying to get his dick wet.” So I volunteered to be a shameless wingman.
There was a pretty woman sitting alone at the bar wearing a bowler hat (I’m serious) and drinking a brown-colored liquor: neat. I fumbled through introductions then she started dancing sensually (like the salt water taffy) with me and my friend. She asked, “Do you guys have a hotel room?”
“Uhh…yes, yes we do have a hotel room.” I felt a flare of lust. No, J.W. Kash, no. Down boy, down. But I had a suspicion…
“Are you a prostitute?”
“Ah.” She was nice though, and we danced and talked some more. I started grilling her about her occupation and drunkenly informed her that I have zero negative judgments about her chosen path in life. She started to leave. “But wait…hypothetically, how much do you charge for the night?”
“The whole night?”
“$300. That’s not usually what I charge though. I’m from NYC. I’m here on vacation.”
“Ah. So what do you charge in NYC?”
My friends and I returned to the blackjack table.
So, despite Atlantic City (nickname: Always Turned On) going down the drain, there’s at least one redeeming feature about this metropolis cesspool…
For the last decade of my life I’ve averaged a nosebleed once a week. Sometimes I’ll go a month without having one, other times I’ll have them everyday for 1-2 weeks.
No, I don’t abuse cocaine. Although the last time I sniffed nose candy I remember the morning after…I was on a bike ride and I had one of worst bloody noses of my life. I had to pull over and lean over a creek. I bled steadily for 37 minutes. No more cocaine for J.W. Kash.
Here are some stats:
40% of people never experience a nosebleed during their life. The majority of nosebleeds occur for people ages 0-10 and 50-80.
90% of nosebleeds are anterior (front part) of the nose.
10% of nose bleeds are serious.
The three, major causes are a cold, dry climate (my alma mater was located 20 mins. from Canada…my nosebleed glory days), trauma (I bump into doors and hit my nose a lot), and irritation (I aggressively pick my nose when nobody’s looking).
WebMd steps for treatment:
1) Stay calm (and bleed on)
2) Sit up straight
3) Lean your head forward. Tilting your head back will only cause you to swallow blood
4) Pinch your nostrils together with your index finger and thumb for 10 minutes. Have someone time you to make sure you do not release your nostrils earlier.
5) Spit out any blood in your mouth. Swallowing may cause you to vomit. (But it…tastes…so…good.)
In high school I dated a girl who was scared of blood. During the second date she revealed that in the past she had passed out unconscious upon seeing blood and that she couldn’t handle the sight of it. After the third date we were in my bedroom making out. I felt a nosebleed coming. Oh no. (For those 40% of you who have never experienced this, it’s like a slug is sliding down the back of the bridge of your nose). I start sniffing and leaning my head back.
“J.W., are you alright?”
“Yes. I’m fine. Allergies.” Luckily, it was a mild nosebleed and I was able to prevent a heavy flow through sniffles. But when I looked at my girlfriend I saw little smears of blood on her cheeks and neck. I started kissing the smears and attempting to subtly lick them off. My girlfriend thought I was being tender. I was merely preventing a catastrophe.
WebMD post bleeding suggestions:
-Try to prevent any irritation of the nose, especially sneezing or nose blowing, for 24 hours (I often forget this…hence them occurring repeatedly for 1-2 weeks).
-Ice packs on the bridge of your nose constrict your blood vessels, limits flow.
My favorite nose bleed experience occurred during a one-night stand in college. The girl and I were having rough sex and our heads knocked into each other. My nose started bleeding. I ignored it. Soon, there was blood dripping on her tits and on her face. After a couple of minutes the gore became too much. I was fornicating with a crime scene. It was me who ended up pausing mid-coitus and saying, “I’m…I’m bleeding all over you.”
“Don’t worry. I wanna become a doctor. Blood doesn’t bother me.” The romping continued.
(Thanks to fb, our knowledge concerning what happened to past acquaintances is readily available…now she’s a doctor).
In Japanese anime and manga having a sudden, violent nosebleed means that the bleeding person is sexually aroused. What?
Anime is silly.
But they aren’t the only ones with this naughty notion…in the oral history of the Native American Sioux tribe there are references to women who experience nosebleeds as a result of a lover’s playing of music…implying sexual arousal.
“Play me another song, Jack.”
“I’m gonna make your nose bleed on this one, baby.”
In the Finnish language, “begging for a nosebleed” is an abstract way to describe self-destructive behavior. An example being when you ignore safety procedures and deliberately aggravate a stronger party.
“Why is Jack wearing a gorilla suit and throwing water balloons at passing cars?”
“I’m not sure, but he’s begging for a nosebleed.”
In Filipino slang, to “have a nosebleed” is to have serious difficulty conversing in English with a fluent or native English speaker. It can also refer to anxiety brought on by a stressful event such as a job interview or an examination.
In the Dutch language “pretending to have a nosebleed” is a phrase that means pretending not to know anything about something, when actually being involved in some way.
“Hey Mr. Dutch Settler! How was colonizing the Americas? Did you get along with the natives?”
“Natives? What natives? We…we just minded our own business…didn’t see any natives.”
“You’re pretending to have a nosebleed, aren’t you Mr. Dutch Settler…”
To conclude…why does my nose bleed so frequently? Is it because I’m always sexually aroused? Engaging in self-destructive behavior? Anxious for impending examinations? Feigning ignorance of my involvement in questionable situations? Violent nose picking?
My sister is an ER doctor and says the most likely cause is just the structure of my nose. The anterior of my nose likely has large, fragile, weak blood vessel(s). The prominent vessel on my septum is probably faulty. These deformities combined with a thin lining and a dry nose contributes to my bleeding susceptibility. My sister told me that surgery is an option: a doctor will treat my septum with silver nitrate or electric cautery to shrink the vessel and thicken up the nasal lining.
“Want me set up an appointment with an Otolaryngologist?”
“No thanks, hold off. I don’t mind it that much.”