The Catcher in the Rye



Tonight I finished this little book for 10th-15th time…I’ve lost count. As a serious, American writer there’s no way you can ignore Jerome. He has one of the strongest, loudest, most tightly controlled voices in all of literature (at least since Mark Twain). Even authors who hate him can’t help but acknowledge that he mastered his perspective. My favorite, indirect slap (but we all know that a literary insult is a form of tribute):

“In the same school are those modern writers who start with some assignment such as “a mood of adolescence” or “my search for the meaning of life in prep school.” When they write, the standard of selection is the mood of the moment. The result is the kind of story where you do not know why one incident was included rather than another, or what is the purpose of it all. Behind such a hodgepodge is always a writer who starts without a defined plan and then writes as his feelings dictate.”
-Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum (The Art of Fiction)

Since my mind is whirling with all I could say about this novel, I’ll start with some interesting facts:

1.) Published in 1951 when Jerome was 31. Despite being an established author who had published successful stories in The New Yorker prior to this book, The Catcher in the Rye was denied by Harcourt because the head of the trade division “couldn’t understand it,” and the editors thought the protagonist “wasn’t believable.” (Both valid criticisms.) When Mr. Salinger was told this face-to-face, he broke out into tears, grabbed his manuscript, and ran out of the publishing house. He went to Little, Brown instead. Since 1951, The Catcher in the Rye has sold 65 million copies and continues to sell about 250,000 copies every year. Good job Harcourt.

2.) Salinger was in WWII, stormed the beach at D-Day, was engaged in some of the bloodiest combat (letter home: “I’ve been digging my foxholes to a cowardly depth”), and freed concentration camps (he was half Jewish). Yet he never wrote directly about the war:

“I believe its the moral duty of all the men who have fought and will fight in this war to keep our mouths shut, once it’s over, never again to mention it in any way. It’s time we let the dead die in vain. It’s never worked the other way, God knows.” –J.D. Salinger

He carried around the first 6 chapters of The Catcher in the Rye during the war. No wonder the beginning is so damn good…the guy was writing it when he knew that he could die any day…and when his friends were dying all around him…you don’t mince words, emotions, or ideas if you’re on the edge of death and you’re trudging through horror. In a letter home during the war Salinger said, “All I have left is nostalgia.”

3.) Three men committed murder who either had a copy of Catcher in the Rye in their hotel room, with their few belongings, or on their person at the scene of the crime. The most famous murderer was the guy who killed John Lennon. He sat down and read from Catcher right after he killed Lennon. He read from Catcher in court as his defense. The bastard is still in prison.

4.) J.D. Salinger had one nut. He was also suave and good with women. He dated the beautiful Oona O’Neill (daughter of the famous alcoholic, playwright Eugene O’Neill) before he went to war. Then she married Charlie Chaplin during the war and broke Jerome’s heart. The character in Catcher named Jane Gallagher, who Holden is always trying to call but never speaks to, is Oona O’Neill. Like Oona, Jane’s father was “…supposed to be a playwright or some goddamn thing, but all ever saw him do was booze all the time and listen to every single goddamn mystery program on the radio.” More telling, Jane’s father was named Mr. Cudahy. Patrick Cudahy was the maternal grandfather of Charles F. Spalding, who was a scriptwriter for Charlie Chaplin.

5.) “A man’s got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book.” -Ernest Hemingway. During the war Papa Hemingway hung out with Jerome. He said Salinger had “helluva talent.” When Hemingway died one of the few books in his library by living authors was Catcher. Catcher is an extremely funny book…it is also disturbing…those two things in literature frequently go hand in hand. “Comedy is the mistress of sorrow.” -Jonathan Winters

So what is it about Catcher which makes it timelessly affect people so deeply? Every great work of art (especially books) has an element of mystery…but here are two reasons:

1.) “When you come down to brass tacks the value of a work of art depends on the artist’s personality.” -Somerset Maugham.

Salinger has a funny, ridiculous, wild, and enticing personality. And he hits on that extremely difficult balance of intimacy and independence. You want to hang out with the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, because he kindly brings you into his world…yet he doesn’t give a shit if you like his world. Readers enjoy the personality of the novel. Think of the funniest people you have ever met…they touch the deep tissues of empathy which you share with them…yet they are also unique, ridiculous, and rioting in their own sphere.

It’s impossible to analyze adequately…but while reading Catcher you intuitively think, “Yes, this is exactly what Holden would do/think/say in this situation. A high school drop out who’s a self-proclaimed liar and exhibitionist would try to get plastered in a bar and hit on women.

2.) The novel, structurally, is extremely self-contained and balanced. Holden interacts with a concerned teacher near the beginning and at the end of the novel. The teacher in the beginning “gets a big bang out of buying a Navajo blanket” and near the end Holden observes an Indian weaving a blanket in the Museum of Natural History. The teacher in the beginning reads Holden’s crappy final paper on the Egyptians and near the end Holden talks to two boys about how the Egyptians preserved their dead. When Holden interacts with the two nuns he accidentally blows smoke in their faces and near the end when Phoebe is riding the carrousel the song playing is “Smoke gets in your eyes.” In the beginning Holden is standing next to a Revolutionary War cannon and near the end Phoebe talks about playing Benedict Arnold in the school play. When Holden is in a taxi he talks to the driver about whether the fish survive in the ice during the winter and near the end Holden observes an Eskimo ice fishing. The first line of the book mentions David Copperfield by Dickens and in the middle Holden sees a movie where the protagonist is carrying Oliver Twist and near the end the neighbors of his childhood home are the Dicksteins. In the beginning Holden says that the weather is “cold as a witch’s teat,” and later he refers to three women in a bar as witches. In a memory Holden likes when Jane puts her hand on his neck and later Phoebe, when Holden is crying, puts her “old arm” around his neck. In the beginning the first teacher shouts, “Good luck” after Holden and at the end the old woman in the school shouts “Good luck” after Holden. There are numerous references to coats and dancing. All these little connections (there are many, many more) subtle strike out subconscious while we’re reading. They create a world where the parts add up to something greater than the whole.

My experiences with the book…

1.) I first read Catcher when I was 12. I thought it was boring and, for some reason, “sticky.” I remember two images standing out: a guy in a formless bar talking to himself. And a little girl at the end riding a carrousel. So what? I also remember thinking it was crazy and silly that the voice of the book was a teenager…because the book was written by a 31 year old man! (I looked it up)…that’s weird.

2.) I read it again in college. Hmm..there are actually some funny parts in this book. Still…big deal.

3.) After college I read it again…holy shit…there’s a lot going on here.

4.) Now I have to purposely restrict myself from reading it too much…I look forward to the future when I forget parts of the book so I can encounter them again with a fresh, different mind…I’ve had experiences in bars, with women, with lost innocence, with living in NYC, with pain…it feels good hanging out with Holden.

There’s a lot more I wanted to say…but since I have a tendency to talk too much….I’ll end with this….

Mr. Salinger is a friend.


Oh yeah, right after the war Jerome married a Nazi spy named Sylvia Welter.


And he had a beloved schnauzer named Benny who lived with him while he wrote his only novel.


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Part 2: A Brief, Calm Dialogue Between A Conservative And A Liberal On The Ford-Kavanaugh Testimonies

By Michael Thielen, Flickr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelmthielen/44722114052/in/photolist-2b8WwpW-MKVeRF-28CYcWh-2a6AtJZ-MN1CX8-28Sd939-28KCpAY-2amwThY-28qKNwh-MvdPoX-2bvXDkK-MN1LEx-2buPyp4-PgX69E-MJYhmv-28Cqtcm-P4GyFA-2bxUvCz-2aaovtR-2bwPZgr-MJSR1v-Pq3gBW-2a785gz-PaS2ay-28MLDXL-2btBido-2bqZ1FE-2aeKWqD-2a44FoK-PmtZXb-Pn96no-2aeKWhw-2bcJnpm-2bv8T6X-MN1CgD-2bxReJg-28MLDwL-28KCNms-2bcKtGD-2bxRjfR-MpebG4-2bpRhZo-2bkenVb-2buDbqp-MJTZVT-28MLHJU-2a5ZKoe-2asjMmN-2bty2Ym-MJDK6a

8.5 minute read, scroll down for today’s (10/2/18) conservative response 

This past week America has been politically torn in half by Christine Blasey Ford accusing Brett Kavanaugh, a Supreme Court nominee, of a sexual assault that occurred 36 years ago. An F.B.I. investigation of the sexual assault has begun, but I believe that it will be checked and halted by various political forces, and that nothing will come from it. The partisan divide in America has been made particularly clear to me through my Facebook newsfeed, which is about 50/50 conservative/democrat, and I’ve tried to engage in numerous dialogues with both conservatives and democrats. Here is the best one, that doesn’t devolve into conspiracy theories, hatred of the patriarchy, or personal attacks:


Something that I keep reading from conservatives regarding the Ford-Kavanaugh testimony is this: we need more evidence, Ford’s claims may not be true, so we shouldn’t acknowledge them to make our decision. For example, from a conservative article:

“That Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing is not a criminal trial is, of course, true. But this fact does nothing whatsoever to change the logic of how civilized, decent, truth-respecting people assess claims of wrongdoing, no matter how paltry or grievous.” -Donald J. Boudreaux

The fact that Kavanaugh is being interviewed for a lifetime seat on the highest court DOES change how people assess claims of wrongdoing. How? A baseless, evidence-less accusation of something heinous must be listened to. Why? Because it’s heinous and coming from someone reasonable, because it is someone coming forward about a sexual assault, putting her life and family through hell. Do conservative writers know what it takes to come forward about a sexual assault? What do they think her motivation is? Political? If they truly believe her motivation is political, then there’s nothing I can (or want) to say concerning that theory. But even assuming that Ford’s claim has ZERO evidence, the severity of her claim and the situation of the accused is ENOUGH to change how “truth-respecting” people assess claims of wrongdoing.

Every right-leaning response I’ve read on this issue seems unable (or unwilling) to hold those two ideas in the mind at the same time:

1) Kavanaugh is engaged in a job interview for a lifetime appointment as a judge of the highest court, so accusations of a heinous crime from a citizen MUST be listened to.

2) The act of coming forward about a sexual assault, despite a lack of evidence, means she should STILL be listened to.

Focusing incessantly on the idea “we need more evidence” belittles what it means to come forward about a sexual assault and ignores the special, highly-scrutinized nature of vying for a Supreme Court seat.


Jack, I will be the first to say that someone with an assault allegation needs to be heard, not ignored or belittled. That being said, saying “we need more evidence” is exactly what is needed when someone comes forward with an assault allegation, especially during a question about a supreme court seat! If you are willing to accept an accusation because of how sincere someone is then you are in the incredibly dangerous territory. You are willing to destroy a potentially innocent person on the word of someone because it was hard for them to come forward and a painful experience but fail to consider that they may be remembering incorrectly, have a false memory or recollection or, rarely, be lying, no matter how sincere they appear to be.

The Duke Lacrosse sexual assault allegation is ample proof of the problem of accepting an allegation without evidence – because that lady sounded super sincere and she lied about all of it (she admitted she made it up). But your logic requires that we should believe her, no questions asked – do you actually think, given her lie, that we were right to believe her just based on her accusation? Ultimately, the problem is, one cannot base their opinion on emotion or how hard something is to do, or how much grief it may cause. One also cannot base it on what position someone is going for, lifetime or otherwise. those standards are subjective, being different for each person or group. It is a dangerous way of thinking precisely because everybody can have their own story and those stories can be diametrically opposed, equally compelling, and yet, they cannot both be equally right.

One must have an outside standard against which everything is measured (this does not mean that the standard isn’t abused, but you have to have a standard). That is the point that is trying to be made. If you do not have a standard or that standard is a poor one (presumption of guilt for example) then you have lost your ability to objectively judge a situation. Using the logic of people who claim that we must believe people making accusations of assault simply because they made those accusations and that includes those without evidence, is the same logic that was used at the Salem Witch Trials in the late 1600’s (I’m not comparing sexual assaults nor sexual assault allegations to this historical situation, simply the logic of believing an accuser [no matter what the accusation is) and presuming guilt instead of innocence] – please do not misunderstand this). The difference is that men controlled the proceedings and not any women. The logic, however, is the same – the presumption of guilt, mob rule, hysteria, exaggerated grievances/concerns. It is just repackaged and given a more modern, emotional face to it so as to garner sympathy and support.

The logic (guilty until proven innocent because of the seriousness of the type of crime/allegation made) will ultimately lead to totalitarian state tactics, such as those that ISIS uses. It will lead to mob rule and fulfill the words of the high ranking Soviet leader, Lavrentiy Beria, who famously said – “show me the man and I will show you the crime!” His point being, name a person and I can convict him because guilt is presumed before innocence.

The point is, people may want to jump to conclusions based on emotion, they may have their opinion swayed by the severity of a charge, but at the end of the day they must take a step back and remember, you are innocent until proven guilty. They must remember that whatever their initial reaction, stepping back and reversing roles will bring a critical perspective and allow for seeing the logic and emotions from both sides. They must seek the truth, and to determine truth they must have evidence. Without which, an allegation is just that, an allegation, no matter how sincerely presented.

-Conservative (he desires to remain anonymous)



Hey J.-, two things to consider:

1) How are you and I both measuring the sincerity of the accusation? You write, “If you are willing to accept an accusation because of how sincere someone is then you are in the incredibly dangerous territory.” I personally, narrowly judge that Ford is sincere, despite a lack of evidence, for these reasons:

a) Ford discussed the assault and seemed to indirectly mention Kav with her therapist in 2012.

b) She wanted to remain anonymous.

c) She’s a professor at Palo Alto and a research assistant at Stanford.

d) She testified despite being terrified.

e) Her testimony seemed convincing to me/a reasonable human.

f) Everything I’ve read about Kav (heavy drinker, gambling debt, the Yale classmate’s full statement of Kav being aggressive and belligerent in college) and seen of his testimony (histrionics, anger) makes me think that he could have done this.

g) Coming forward about sexual assault is extremely difficult.*

Of course these reasons are extremely biased with logical fallacies (ad hominem, etc)., distorted by my limited experience, and would not hold up in a criminal court case (but this is not a criminal court case, this is a job interview, see reason 2). Do you not consider Ford to be sincere? Why not? I leave it to the senate to judge the sincerity of Ford. If you’re thinking, “But her sincerity doesn’t matter! It can’t be measured! There were no witnesses! It was a long time ago! Slippery slope!” Keep in mind that Kav is not going to be sent to prison based on someone’s evidence-less sincerity, he is going to experience really shitty publicity (a risk when you apply to the Supreme Court) and he may not get a job…(meanwhile don’t forget that Ford may, possibly, be telling the truth and have experienced years of trauma and suffering at Kav’s expense).

2) This is a job interview where there are other qualified candidates. You used the phrases “incredibly dangerous territory,” and “destroy a potentially innocent person.” But, again, we are talking about a job interview. I do consider that Ford may be remembering incorrectly….but this risk is justified by the fact that this is a job interview for the highest court. (And again please do not forget, she could be remembering correctly and could actually be the person who’s life had been destroyed.) Do you believe that Kav is being destroyed by this accusation, if it’s false? Are you subtly weighing his “public destruction” as more important and valid than Ford’s past destruction if she is telling the truth?

I don’t think your comparison to duke lacrosse is apt, because those players were not applying to become Supreme Court judges. And the allegation Ford makes is not to be accepted outright, but listened to and considered, amongst competing ideas and testimonies. In addition, a 2010 study by Violence Against Women found that only 2-10% of rape allegations are false, so I think it’s dangerous to focus on a case that is not representative of rape allegations.

You are right that when making decisions we must not be completely swayed by emotion or by grief laden stories that can be compelling, but false. But I disagree that an opinion cannot be influenced by the “position someone is going for” when this person is being accused. Why? If someone is going for a position that requires the person to be moral, just, and a leader of our country, then our opinions must be more sensitive to all kinds of accusations, even highly potentially false ones, opposed to someone applying for a job that doesn’t require them making decisions on what is justice for a nation.

*I want to end this comment with an emphasis on reason:

g) Coming forward to accuse someone of sexual assault, especially someone who is powerful, is extremely difficult. Do you not think so? Of course there’s a risk that she could be wrong. But aren’t you willing to take this risk if Ford is willing to put her life and family through such difficulties?

Again, I appreciate your response, and I hope you respond to this so I can clarify my thoughts, and better understand what many right-leaning people are thinking.*

 Today’s (10/2/2018) conservative response:


Jack, there were several questions mentioned so I’ll try to respond in two ways. First, I’ll give some consideration to Ford’s case and the question of sincerity vs credibility.


Second, some thinking about Kavanaugh’s side:

Lastly, some brief comment on the specific questions at the end.

Before I get into any discussion though I did want to answer the question related to comment 1g, related to the difficulty of coming forward. In short, my answer is, yes, it is extremely difficult to come forward, especially when it is someone in power and you feel that you won’t be believed.

While I cannot personally relate to an assault allegation I have had a time, a number of years ago, where I’ve had to bring concerns to management at work about my boss. This was a very difficult thing to do because I could not be sure I would be listened and that even if I was, the concerns would be taken seriously. I’m not trying to minimize coming forward on sexual assault to simply a work based concern but show that I can, in a way, empathize with the emotions that are involved in bringing an accusation forward about wrongdoing.
In regards to the initial question about sincerity, a few things need to be defined or clarified.


First, sincerity is not credibility. I’m not suggesting that you’re saying it is but there seems to be a confusion of terms coming up in a lot of these discussions that presupposes one’s sincerity or believability is equal to being credible and/or evidence of the validity of the claim (Specifically for Dr. Ford). You can be sincere and be completely wrong or mistaken.

Sincerity, as listed in the dictionary is the quality of being honest (slightly paraphrasing). In other words, you convey that you believe what you are saying. This doesn’t demonstrate that what you’re saying is true though. People who still believe the earth is flat are genuinely sincere in their belief (they really do believe the earth is flat even though overwhelming evidence would indicate otherwise). On this point, given the testimony of Dr. Ford, I would agree that she was sincere (as best can be judged) in her belief regarding the situation and events that occurred.
The reasons that you provide for her sincerity make sense. All of them (a-g) are valid reasons to accept that she was sincere in her testimony.

That brings us to the issue of credibility. Credible (the adjectival form) is defined as “offering reasonable grounds for being believed” (Online search – Merriam Webster – not linking because FB doesn’t handle multiple links well). Thus credibility (the noun form) would extend this definition to one being inspired to believe them based on their testimony, more specifically, the evidence offered to support their testimony. I would submit Dr. Ford’s testimony was not credible.


For the sake of balance, I would agree that her career and education level should be considered when assessing her credibility. However, I would suggest that several things weigh heavily against this and ultimately demonstrate that she should not be considered credible in what she is saying.

The best summary of the issues in Dr. Ford’s testimony is the material found Rachel Mitchell’s report (I highly recommend reading this report). It details the numerous inconsistencies and significant questions that arise from such a vague unprovable accusation. She shows in multiple instances where there is good reason to be suspect of her testimony, especially since she has offered no physical evidence to support her allegation and all of the witnesses named has rejected her allegation (while it may be semantics, stating under penalty of perjury that you do not recall the event and in one case do not even know the accused is essentially saying that it didn’t happen). The more people who don’t recall the events the less likely your statements are accurate (whether you believe them to be or not is irrelevant – memory is notoriously unreliable, which is why eyewitness testimony is such a weak standard of proof in civil and criminal cases).

While I will not rehash all of what Dr. Mitchell describes, a few of key things stand out that strongly suggest her testimony was not credible. Her details of the events are distinctly inconsistent, which lends to not believing her. The dating is especially problematic. For starters, she can’t pin down a year, month, day or time this occurred. That is highly suspect. Every single assault survivor I’ve ever heard remembers every single detail of the assault. One key question around this is that she says she suffered academically because of the trauma, but her last years in high school did not have any academic issues, this only occurred in college, several years after the alleged event (this problem could be solved if her first statement of the event occurring in her late teens is accurate – but then it couldn’t have been Kavanaugh cause he’d been in college at Yale).


Secondly, her memory of recent events was problematic. She stated several very strange things about the polygraph tests that were highly suspect. For example, she said she did not remember the exact day she took it. How can that be? This was only two months ago, and, given the public spotlight she was thrust into, it is very odd that you wouldn’t know these details – even if you looked them up the day before to make sure you knew your facts. Furthermore, her description of how the polygraph felt was abnormal. She described it as being a smothering experience on her whole body. What is odd about this is that Polygraph machines don’t have anything even remotely resembling a full body contraption. It’s normally just sensors on your fingers and a blood pressure type cuff on your arm, hardly a full body, smothering experience.

While I recognize the 2nd thing I highlighted is not the strongest of arguments, it was a rather unusual way to describe things and the limited memory was distinctly puzzling.
There are some things about the way this came about that are highly suspicious. One to note is that the weekend before she went public, she scrubbed her social media accounts? Why? That indicates she may have had something to hide, or perhaps that she wanted to hide her political activism, given that there are things that she has said which might hurt her case.

Lastly, it is highly suspicious that she did not have her therapy notes released. If her accusation is true, then would she not want to vindicate herself in every way possible? The best way to do this is provide all of the evidence or information you have. Since you have already opened yourself up to public scrutiny, releasing everything is the most plausible explanation. Why weren’t they released? Given the distinctly inconsistent, ever-shifting testimony, it leaves one to wonder if there was something in them that she didn’t want to be revealed.

Ultimately though, given the reasons outlined in Mitchell’s report, I think it is safe to say that her testimony was sincere but not credible.


Now, regarding Kavanaugh and some of the things mentioned. I am uncertain what the gambling debt is that you are referring to. The only thing I’m aware of is that he would pay for season pass tickets to a sports game for him and several close friends and then have them pay him back within a reasonable amount of time after – more specifically, all of that debt was paid off in a reasonable amount of time. Is there something else I’m not aware of? I’d be happy to investigate it more.


In regard to him being a heavy drinker. I’m not sure that I understand why this is such a character concern. For starters, it’s unproven (even the current news info isn’t suggesting it’s a current dynamic). Secondly, there are numerous witnesses throughout his life that have testified to his drinking habits, throughout his career and not one has suggested he is a heavy drinker. Third, I’m not sure that his drinking in college is something that should have a bearing on his life almost 40 years later unless a clear chain could be established showing that he is still that way (assuming he was to begin with, again, unproven).


Fourth, college-age drinking, even potentially heavy drinking is incredibly common, there are few who did not drink in college (I didn’t, and I never have had a drink, but I’m the exception, not the norm). Fifth, his drinking, heavy or not, doesn’t really have any bearing on him as a judge. Unless you could demonstrate that he was drunk or impaired in any of his legal opinions or during his work hours, it has no bearing on his professional life (he wouldn’t be a nominee if it did either). I know several people who drink, some perhaps heavily and yet there doesn’t seem to be any issue with their work performance because they are sober when they’re at work.


Finally, regarding his testimony on Thursday. I would challenge the assumption that him being angry shows a lack of jurist prudence. I take issue with this on several grounds. First, you have to look at this from his perspective, which is that he has been unjustly accused of something that, as far as he is aware, never happened. Furthermore, this unjust accusation (from his perspective) does not have any evidence to back it up. And yet this whole claim has been used to utterly destroy his life, his career, his family, his daughters. It has far-reaching implications for him and his life has been completely altered. (again, all of this is under the presumption of innocence because we don’t have any evidence to back up Ford’s claim). In addition to all of this, you are entering a scene with a very hostile crowd, the media has already declared you guilty without so much as a scintilla of evidence. Almost every single democratic senator has publicly stated that they are opposed to you and believe you are guilty (again, no presumption of innocence or at the very least giving him a fair shake on the issue). The leader of the democratic senators has publicly stated he will do everything in his power to stop you and numerous senators have called labeled you with horrible names without even considering the evidence. I could go on, but I think my point is made. In other words, against this backdrop, you would expect Kavanaugh to be angry, because he views this as fighting not only for the supreme court nomination but for his very life, career, reputation, family, and for the judicial code of innocent until proven guilty.


Secondly, there are specific things in Kavanaugh’s testimony that do not indicate guilt (and therefore him lying) on his part. The biggest reason is his inclusion of the prayer his daughter gave for Dr. Ford. Nobody who is guilty would have raised their daughter to pray for their enemies (this is an outworking of a principle taught in the Bible). The reaction you would expect from your children is anger, frustration, perhaps bitterness towards your accuser. But not love and grace.
Another key reason is that he has numerous women who back up his character all throughout his life. Including dozens of people who knew him well in both high school and college. This testimony is overwhelming when compared to Dr. Ford’s. (Dr Ford has very few if any people from her high school days who support her so emphatically [the myriad of alumnae who signed a statement of support were almost all before or after her time in high school]).


Furthermore, Kavanaugh has one of the best, if not the best record on supporting women in the workplace, as he amply demonstrates in his testimony. This is significant because it means two things. One, if his character was really how Dr. Ford portrayed it then there should be some indication of this later on, especially given how many women he has interacted with. But there has been nothing, not even a hint. Kavanaugh has undergone intense scrutiny for decades, multiple FBI background checks, and significant public exposure and not one thing has been brought up. This should count in his favor when considering the credibility of his claim to innocence.


Kavanaugh also has a significant level of support in his career from both sides of the aisle. This is seen in his support given by those from both sides and the fact that the supreme court has utilized his opinions numerous times. His opinions have been used quite extensively by them, which indicates the level of skill he has as a legal scholar and judge. He is known for being impartial, fair, and balanced.


Finally, I would strongly suggest to you that if Kavanaugh had gone into this hearing with the type of restraint he showed in his initial hearings, he would’ve been decried as a cold, heartless monster. Someone who does not deserve to sit on the court because of how he did not even try to defend his name in the face of the accusations. This just reminds me of the phrase “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”. This is not a fair standard to hold someone too, precisely because it is an impossible and duplicitous standard to hold someone too.
One last thing, I do not think that our standard should change just because of the office that Kavanaugh is going for. While he should be held to a higher standard, that standard should be based on credible events and actions, legal opinions and other dynamics for review. Given the stellar career Kavanaugh has had, the impeccable record, and intense level of scrutiny, these things should weigh heavily in his favor unless compelling evidence is brought up – to date there is none.To answer your questions then.
1. Is Ford Sincere? Yes – not credible however
2. Is Kavanaugh being destroyed by the accusations, if they are false? Most definitely, even if it’s just public perception. This is why Kavanagh stated he was defending himself and attempting to clear his name on Thursday. (I don’t know of anyone who denies this, liberal or conservative.)


3. Am I weighing his public destruction as more important and valid than Ford’s past destruction if she is telling the truth? I think this is a non sequitur – we’d first have to establish that we have any basis to accept her testimony as credible. In regards to the damage to both families, I don’t think that one is more important than the other – they are equally horrible. However, certain present indicators & history suggests that Ford’s life is not actually as ruined as we are led to believe. She already has a gofund me page setup with an astronomical 700k+ set aside for her. She will undoubtedly be made a star on the left as was Anita Hill after the 1991 situation.


Has any of this happened for Kavanaugh or his family? No, and for some reason, people seem to be content to let his life just be utterly destroyed by a (as it now stands) baseless accusation. We would all be outraged if this happened to us, or to any other person if it wasn’t for the office he is aspiring to. This should give us pause in our assessment of the damage done to both parties.




(I’m working on a reply. Feel free to direct message me if you’d like to give your input on this discussion)

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Fred and The Trap House



The nighttime chef at my restaurant is more hood than a pile of empty 40s and torn blunt wraps in the back of a stolen mini-van. He’s more hood than the Sunday morning ghetto noises of rusty church organs, wailing babies, thug music blaring from busted speakers, and toothless men sitting on stoops cat-calling passing women. He’s more hood than fried chicken doused in hot sauce served with Sunny Delight with a side of yo mama’s got a fat ass.

I’m not talking about the hood you hear about in radio-rap-pop songs, the ones associated with wasted white girls dancing in college…the ones where rich black men squeak their auto-tune nursery rhymes through diamond teeth while wearing tailored clothes and bright bling-bling, those lil johns, lil waynes, lil durks, young bucks, young jeezies, young dolphs…those little-young kids who sing their songs at nice burfday parties.

I’m talking about real hood, half a century of hood, 10 years in prison for manslaughter and nobody to help you or give you a record deal when you’re out…hood, working 2 minimum wage jobs, 6 days a week…16 hours a day in cramped, steamy kitchens…hood, can’t see your five year old son because your baby mama is blowing a guy who works for child’s services…hood, choked out on a subway by a police officer for looking at a white girl…hood, a lifetime of poverty, grinding with no end in sight, and oppression…hood.

That’s my chef. He’s real hood. We’ll call him Fred. Most of the time we get along quite well.

But Fred has his mood swings (10 years in prison for manslaughter mood swings). One moment he’s kind, friendly, and obliging…the next he’s screaming in my face (I don’t know why), convinced I’m racist, blind with rage, on the verge of attacking me, and storming out of the restaurant in his Tims.

I’m convinced he likes me, though. We’ve had many pleasant conversations.

Fred is 47 but looks like he’s 27 (black don’t crack…why? future blog post). I’m a curious person and when we take out the trash each night I like to talk to him about his life.

Fred has a wife who’s 23. One night I asked him, “How did you meet her?”

“At a trap house.”
“What’s a trap house?”
“You don’t know about trap houses?” Fred was appalled at my ignorance.

Before I give you Fred’s explanation, let me inform you that a trap house is NOT this:


This is that radio-rap-pop song trap house. “My trap house a waffle house.” Sure it is, Young Durk. But this is not real hood.

Even urban dictionary has it all wrong: “Term used to define a crack house, or the surroundings in which a drug dealer or (trap star) would use to make their profit.” Romanticism sometimes bastardizes truth.

When I later told Fred about this definition he laughed, “Yea, that’s the rap song trap house, the south trap house, in NYC it’s a whole different thing.”

In reality, or at least, in NYC, a trap house is a place where an older gentleman with money opens his doors for young people/partying people to come in and enjoy themselves with booze and weed. These young people get intoxicated and hook up until the sun rises. A trap house is a modern-day, ghetto salon. 

When Fred got out of prison he spent a lot of time in trap houses. One night he went to a trap house and saw a young woman who was sitting by herself in a corner. She wasn’t “all up on the other men,” like the other girls. “That’s the one for me,” Fred thought. “I will make her my wife.” They blazed, discussed various topics, discovered shared philosophies, and fell in love.

Their marriage has not been easy. Fred’s wife, let’s call her Martha, is still a 23 year old woman learning about the world. Martha likes to attend rap concerts with her girlfriends. Fred doesn’t go. “Why not?” I asked. “You think I’m gonna waste my time at one of them shows? Give my money I sweat for to Kanye or Jay-Z? Hell no. What has any of those niggas ever done for me? Nothing. You think I’m gonna give my cash to those niggas and stand around while those niggas jump around a stage? Na.”  Despite his mood swings, Fred has his own wisdom.

Fred also doesn’t go to the club with Martha. “I’m done with that shit,” he said. “I’m too old and tired for those games. It’s always the same shit. Females get drunk. Then they start flirtin’ with other guys. Then they men get angry. Then the men fight. Somebody gets hurt. Always the same shit.”

Sometimes Martha threatens to hook up with other men. Fred is 47 and has been around the block. “Look, Martha, if you wanna do that, fine by me, but I’m out. You know I can find my own pussy. I’ll go on backpages tomorrow and have 2 girls all up on me in no time. You think another man will support you like me? Pay your rent? Buy you shit? Na. Those niggas that givin you attention, they don’t care about you like I do. They goan sing you a song, tell you a story, bang you out, and kick you out the door the next day.” Again, Fred has his own wisdom.

What provoked this post was a conversation I had with Fred last night. Lately, after long shifts, I’ve been joking around with Fred and saying,

“After we close this restaurant down, I’m going straight to the trap house.”
“Haha. Crazy white kid like you in a trap house? They’d love you.”

So tonight Fred says:
“My wife and I were actually talkin’ bout the Trap House this morning.”
“Yeah, we was talkin about this video some niggas took of me and posted online. Shit was crazy.”
“What kind of video?”
“So it’s like 4am in the trap house, right? And everybody high as shit. This girl goes into the bathroom and comes out buck naked, “I want a nigga to eat my pussy right now,” she says, and sits on the couch. So I start eatin’ it and these damn niggas start taking a video of me. Then they posted that shit online.”
“Wait, were you married to your wife at this point?”
“Na. We was only talkin’.”
“And what’d she think of it?”
“She thought it was funny. She know I’m a freak.”
(Side note: Fred is a devout muslim who doesn’t drink.)
While helping Fred throw trash into a dumpster I start beat-boxing.
“Damn, that’s pretty good.”
“Practice.” Then I start to spit:

Quiet as a mouse
White kid sneakin’ into the trap house
He starts to beat-box

All the bitches drop (Fred chuckling)

They panties
Martha got a nice fanny
 (Fred: Woah woah woah)
Lookin’ for a pretty slut
Smokin till the sun comes up

While in the elevator Fred says,

“You gotta be careful, though, if you go to a trap house and start makin a scene like that.” (Fred often takes me more seriously than I intend.)
“Cause if all the girls start payin you attention, then the niggas will get jealous and try to fight you.”

Note to self: Do not beat box too enthusiastically when visiting a trap house.

Because this is not a rap video…

This is the hood.

Biggie smalls bedstuy


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True Love is rare…herpes sucks…part 2

Happy couple outdoor, summertime

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?!”
“No, I-”
“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.”
“Doesn’t matter.”
“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.”
“Rightfully so.”
“She said I betrayed her. That it was worse than the sexual assault. Even though I explained everything about my ex-wife.”
“Doesn’t matter.”
“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.”
“What happened?”
“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.”
“Oh Jesus.”
“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?”
“You did.”
“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.”


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The Dominican Death Trap



Last year my ex-girlfriend and I traveled to the Dominican Republic for a destination wedding. One morning we were drinking by the pool when this flying-boat-hang-glider soared by in the sky.
“That thing’s a fucking death trap,” I said.
“I’m going on it,” she replied. “Tomorrow.”
“I’m serious. After I finish this beer I’m going to go ask the concierge.”
“God damn it,” I said.

The concierge didn’t have any pertinent information. The next morning while on a run I found the captain of this suicide ship about a mile down the beach. He was a Frenchman and spoke no English. He was not affiliated with any hotel or activity organization. He was just a Frenchman with a flying boat. And faint muttonchops:

êtes-vous prêt à mourir?
êtes-vous prêt à mourir?

I told my ex-girlfriend about it and in the afternoon we walked to the flying boat. We each paid $70 for a 20 minute ride. The flying boat could only carry one passenger at at time. My ex-girlfriend went first. During the entire flight she kept leaning over the side and waving. She was a maniac. When it was my turn I pictured the hundreds of notebooks I’ve filled with scribbles over the last couple of years and wondered if anyone would go through them when I’m gone. Probably not.

Still though…it felt good to pretend. I sat in the flying boat and held on with a vice-like grip.

There have been 3 times in my life when I felt almost certain that I was about to die. This experience is one of them.

Captain Jacques Cousteau increased altitude and began gradually turning the craft so we could fly back the way we came. We were hundreds of feet above dry land and the wind picked up. I knew that this was the trickiest part of the flight. If the wind hit the wings too forcefully as we turned and Jacques didn’t adjust correctly the boat would keep on turning and head downwards.

In the video below it’s difficult to tell the level of turbulence with the camera attached to the wing. But between 7 and 15 seconds the flying boat began to jerk and rock. It was during the time that I thought, “This is it. I’m a goner.” At 13 seconds the boat veered to the left, then back to the right, and while I almost choked on anxiety Captain Jacques muttered something under his breath. I swear it was, “Vive la France.”


After the ride I ignored the horde of Dominicans trying to sell me trinkets and smoked a cigar to ease my frazzled nerves. My ex-girlfriend laughed and said I looked all shaken up.
“How come you never waved?” she asked.
“Because I was terrified.” We walked back to the hotel.

Later on at the tiki bar, people asked how it went. My ex said it was so much fun. I said it was the last time I would ever step foot in that Dominican Death Trap.

While my ex elaborated on the details of the flight and a friend showed her pictures he took from the ground, I left and walked back to our lounging chairs. I was happy to return to sipping corona and reading The Brothers Karamasov by the pool.

Girl Across the Hall


Published in Fall 2011 in
The Laurentian Magazine
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Read Now

Report: Man Discovers Meaning of Life While Scrolling Through Facebook Newsfeed

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.


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Who is more courageous?


Who is more courageous?

The man who quietly and patiently endures
his daily struggles and hardships
or the man who recklessly throws it all away
and explores?

The man who looks for beauty, hope, and truth
in the mundane, dreary routines of his life
or the man who refuses to settle, accept, and obey
and takes risks by journeying into the wild unknown?

The man who steadily waits through temptation and pain
for the opportunity and light to arise
or the man who seizes the day
and with desperate frenzy creates his own path?

Courage is the ability to do
something that frightens one.
It is the ability to fight through

What is more frightening?
Trying something new and leaving it all behind?
Or facing the challenges and difficulties of the day head on?
Do you know the difference between obstacles and signs?

I’ll never get tired of this…


She’s been waiting. She turns the hot water on and smiles.
“Born ready.” She laughs. I throw down my bag and step over to where she’s sitting. “I’ve been thinking about this all day.”
“Oh really?” I settle down, let my muscles relax, and the water envelops me. “You are ready,” she says.
“Good.” She’s from Russia, most likely fresh off the boat. Her accent is strong. Her eyes are dark.

She hovers over me and I shift into a more comfortable position.  Her hands grip the back of my head. She’s aggressive. She’s done this before. Yes, I’m paying. Yes, she doesn’t know me. But it feels intimate. It feels special. She grabs, scratches, presses, pulls, and massages during the whole experience. I keep my eyes closed because I think it would be inappropriate to look her in the face, especially since she’s on the job and concentrating. Soon, I’m blinded by ecstasy. My eyelids flicker. I don’t want her to stop. But stop she must. I’m not the only one…

I stand up and she hands me a towel.
“Thank you,” I say.
“You’re welcome,” she replies.
“I’ll never get tired of this…I mean…that.” She laughs again.
“Feel good?”

My hair is washed and clean. I walk away. It’s time for a haircut.


Email to Boss


Dear Scrooge Kanish,

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.

-Casey Smith

PS: Do you have my check from last week?



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