Prude Is the New Lewd

The Dr Frank Weakly Reader for 5.17.2019

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ello, good morning, and welcome to another Dr Frank Weakly Reader. It’s an index to my own stuff, that I must make myself because otherwise I’d never be able to find anything: in our internet world, the World of Nothing Works, the so called archives are all censored, out of order, hidden, and disappeared. I am well aware that this is something nobody cares about. That’s okay. I’m used to being the only person who cares about this, that, and the other. It’s kind of a hobby. And, I hate to gloat, but three years from now, I’ll be the only one who can find that one social media post about Groucho Marx whereas your three-year-old Facebook post about Groucho Marx will have effectively disappeared. I win, sort of.

Also, there are additional notes and introductory remarks.

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Now: “Prude is the New Lewd” — I thought of that phrase while riffling through the material and trying to guess what may or may not be Safe. (For work.) I do this in the spirit of ridicule as much as out of genuine concern or desire to be correct and follow the rules, whatever they may be. Tagging something “mature” or “expicit” or putting a warning label on it when it’s just an innocous drawing of a lady is most of all a passive-aggressive protest against the fact that Art is, possibly, no longer safe. But the maddening part of it is that along with outright censorship, galleries removing or covering up paintings, books being “unpublished” and the like, there is this nebulous, randomized internet suppression that seems to be happening alongside. Seems to be. You can’t know for sure what is or isn’t an example of it. Maybe it’s all a big misunderstanding. But if it is happening, the rules aren’t stated, so you never know if you’re doing it “right.” Sometimes, a statue of a lady with a clock where her stomach ought to be goes out just fine; other times, it gets invisibilized by some algorithm or behind-the-scenes flagging inquisition or “policy enforcement.” Or seems to have been. You don’t know, and can’t ever know.

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But, make too many mistakes and your whole channel could come down. Make even more mistakes and your whole persona gets erased. I don’t know for sure that twitter and/or Medium suppressed a thumbnail preview of the photo of John Waters and me because of the neon breasts in the background. (See below.) But I don’t know for sure that they didn’t, either. You can’t know. They do do stuff like that. And something happened to that preview.

Paradoxically, this system of a million unspecified, unknowable restrictions on what can be posted and viewed exists within cultural-rhetorical environs of unprecedented vulgarity and coarseness; as well, I would say, as a rather astonishing lack of empathy and goodwill from everybody towards everybody else. Art depicting cruelty is “problematic,” and must be dealt with severely, but literal, actual cruelty is, of course, just dandy. In fact, there’s no other explanation for the continued existence of twitter, that I can see. Literal, actual cruelty being just dandy, I mean.

People seem to like it that way, which I really don’t get.

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I’m fine with the vulgarity, by the way, though it’s self-defeating. Using “fucking” as an intensifier stopped working once it became mandatory. Now it’s just kind of sad, as in the scene in the film Time after Time where Malcom MacDowell’s H.G. Wells, thinking himself worldly and rather daring, mentions “free love” and Mary Steenbergen replies: “free love? I haven’t heard that term since the Eighth Grade.” All these distinguished middle-aged New Establishment blue check journalists feeling oh so edgy and audacious, tweeting about “the fucking Supreme Court” or the “Game of fucking Thrones”, sounding exactly like eighth-graders. The Cycle of Quaintness, it took awhile, but it even happened to “fucking.” And after all that, everybody’s still trying to shut everyone else up, police language, and take down art.

That’ll teach Lenny Bruce to die for your sins, you ungrateful animals.

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It’s the randomness and inscrutability of it that is most unnerving. Sometimes a naked lady, or a poem, or a, you know, trenchant observation, is okay. Sometimes the precise same item in the precise same context is not, and the difference in result is based on nothing you can ever determine with any reliability. Safest not to say or view anything, and I guess that’s the point, but I’m just not willing to give up on naked ladies or trenchant observations just yet. Have you seen Tumblr recently? It’s a wasteland of blank spaces. I expect that’s how everything will be before long. This whole internet was a terrible idea, and is its own punishment, but I guess it’s one we deserve. They’re coming for the Louvre next, mark my words. Get a good look at your Delacroix while you still can.

Anyway, prude is the new lewd. I thought it was cute. But of course I prefer lewd. And Free Love. I’m old-fashioned that way.

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Anyhow, on to the stuff.

FRONT BURNER

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— THE MR T EXPERIENCE? NEIN DANKE! Back in black, the shirt that is. Sounds Radical is doing another revival of an old relic on a new color and pre-ordering for the limited item began Monday. There’s a T shirt (including ladies’ styles and sizes), a “California style” zip hoodie (my favorite kind), and orders come with enamel pin while they last. Check it out.

—The Confusion and the Glory: here’s the Nein Danke design backstory, by the way.

MTX FOLLIES

— The Mr T Experience — “The Future Ain’t What It Used to Be” live in Genoa, Italy, October 1996, still falling short of close enough. The only video document of this song’s performance that I’ve ever come across, video on YouTube. A rather lengthy Song for Odin™ “minor secrets” write-up, in which I re-assess the song, sort of, may be found here. Other video of this ilk may be found on my YouTube channel: subscribe to it if you like. I do a post of this nature each week.

(By the way, that Bay Area Weather Event mentioned in the post, the one where an entire winter’s worth of rain would fall in a potentially cataclysmic single day? The Deluge? What actually happened was: a mild rain. The Deluge was an exaggeration, as was The Drought it was going to mitigate. Everything’s an exaggeration, and I tend to fall for it generally, though usually only a little.)

— …and your Friday morning “Sackcloth and Ashes,” from Trevor Keeth on the internet. Video on YouTube. And on the covers playlist it goes.

DOIN’ THE DR FRANK

— John Waters and Me (and some neon stripper breasts): I couldn’t manage to pull together a new Medium post this week, so I re-upped this old one about my song “You’re My Hostess Cupcake”, recorded by the Go-Nuts under the title “Bombay.” There’s a glancing reference to John Waters’s reaction to the song, so I used that photo of John and me in front of the Lusty Lady in San Francisco as the “featured image.”

For some reason, the Medium link on twitter substituted the pic of the Go-Nuts in the preview image. I can’t think why. This is the Age of Nothing Works, so it could just be a random malfunction. But if it is the result of an algorithm that finds neon stripper breasts in a link preview and instantly replaces such images with an alternate in order to avoid frightening the women and horses, that is one impressively effective and impressively stupid algorithm. Well done, I suppose.

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— “Beads” Portman and Me: I drank some beer out of my dad’s old fraternity beer stein. The beads referenced in the nickname are the kind found on a rosary. Possibly frat life has changed a bit since 1960, but possibly not. I wouldn’t really know. Cheers, Dad.

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— Groucho Marx and Me: I stumbled on this video of Groucho Marx appearing on William F Buckley’s Firing Line in 1967. Great interview, and one that sent me down a bit of a rabbit hole, if rabbit hole means what I think of it does.

Well, it was a shallow hole, perhaps. I watched A Night at the Opera and revisited the song “Everyone Says I Love You” — which was one of the earliest songs I ever tried to learn to play on the guitar. I suppose I saw myself, way back then, as a kind of punk Groucho serenading young ladies in boats, my sweet songs replete with off-kilter lyrics. Not so far off from what actually happened, though I’d never ever toss a guitar cavalierly into the lake like that. There are limits. The point is Groucho was my hero from an early age, and I posted the autographed photo I received when I wrote him fan mail at age eight or so. (Inset, if inset is the word I want.)

— Michael Collins and Me: Another childhood autograph collecting artifact, a photo signed by all three members of the Apollo 11 crew. Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong signed right away. Collins took awhile. My old buddy Dave pointed out this apt bit from Little Britain USA that I’d forgotten all about.

— And… just me, alone again (naturally):

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OTHER PEOPLE’S MUSIC

— Good morning, world: Marx Brothers — “Everyone Says I Love You”; Jerry Reed — “Halleluja I Love Her So”; Apples in Stereo — “She’s Telling Lies”.

— Just a feel-good story about an autistic kid who says “wow” after hearing Mozart in a concert hall.

— Mick Jagger is lookin’ good.

PICTURE BOOK

— Behold: les Malheurs de Sophie; Eisheligan; “favorite hims”; is it worth damnation?; God bless America; sad sand Lincoln; The Love Witch; Nrsimhadeva.

— Oh so mature, and NSFW (because modest is the hottest and prude is the new lewd): full frontal coffee sleeve art; Kozintsev’s Morning Tea; more coffee sleeve art.

— Rebirth: public art in front of abandoned storefronts in My Oakland.

— My Mother, My Rival: the obligatory Mother’s Day post.

— and finally: this sculptural allegory by Jean-Antoine Houdon, titled Winter, dates from pre-Revolutionary France. I used it to illustrate the feast day of “Cold Sophie” a/k/a Saint Sophia:

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IN THE NEWS

— Just a rather unexpectedly topical quote from Agatha Christie’s 1946 novel The Hollow:

…I must have a talk with you, David, and learn all the new ideas. As far as I can see, one must hate everybody but at the same time give them free medical attention and a lot of extra education, poor things!

David is the exemplary “angry young man” who would prefer to spend his time at the left wing bookshop run by another young gentleman of his acquaintance rather than stay at country houses getting mixed up in murders and things. “One must hate everybody…” Plus ça change…

— Obituaries for the Recently Cancelled, from McSweeney’s. Quoted by me here.

— Of interest primarily to minds.com users, but on a subject bearing on all internet platforms and services, my initial reaction to the Minds user jury moderation experiment. I don’t see how a virtual jury solves the problem without clearly-stated parameters on which to base their decisions. Sounds like it’ll just be a big mess. (Not that the alternatives aren’t. A big mess, I mean.)

— Grumpy Cat is dead at the age of seven. Here’s an obituary. And here’s this:

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I am Dr. Frank. I write books and songs. Mtx Forever.

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