Sunday, February 29, 2004


This Korean girl was extremely attractive, and nude, if you like that sort of thing. At first she was a great conversationalist. She told us about how she moved from Korea when she was five, and how she hadn't had a chance to go back. I got my friend to tell her about the Paul Bunyon incident, and you could tell she was impressed. It saved him a couple bucks, that's for sure. She was very easy to talk to, and you wouldn't even notice that she was a stripper, except that your eyes were still open. That's when the problems started. Right around the time that my friend was wrapping up the old Paul Bunyon yarn, I should have made him tell the story about the guy playing kickball with the kids in North Korea. It was just as good a story, and would have been a good follow-up, too. But the fact of the matter is that I forgot all about it. The truth is that right around the time my friend was wrapping things up, kickball with the North Koreans was the last thing on my mind. It's a real shame, too, because it gave my friend a chance to choose his own topic of conversation. The problem with my friend choosing his own topic of conversation was that I already had an idea of what that topic of conversation was going to be. It was going to be the one that landed us all in the poorhouse.

"So how come everytime I've tried to get your attention tonight you acted like you were in a bad mood?"

"Really? Well, I've been having a bad night. You guys have to throw dollars if you want to make a girl's night."

I started to think that maybe she wasn't that great of a conversationalist after all. "You mean you didn't like the Paul Bunyon story?" I asked.

"Oh sure, hon. But Paul Bunyon doesn't pay the bills, ya know?" She started acting very flirty, all of the sudden. I decided I needed to stabilize the situation. But before I could stabilize the situation my friend started interrupting with all these expensive ideas of his own, like whether she was dating anyone, or if she would ever date someone who wasn't Korean. He was on a real high-priced roll, too.

"Well, I have a boyfriend who's from here."

"He's from here," said my friend.

"No, not here! I wouldn't date anyone from here."

"You mean you met him in the States?"


"You mean he's American."


"Cool. So, how much is a lap dance?"

Friday, February 27, 2004


At the same time, it's only natural to pick favorites. Mine is the German girl for her shiny-poled feats of derring-do. I'm not normally into blondes, but this girl has talent. My friend is particular to an Oriental whose background we cannot decide. She may be Southeast Asian--Cambodian? She's too dark to be Japanese. Japanese are whiter than I am--and I sprout cancer on my derma like a vampire. Oh, by the way, "Oriental" is not an appropriate term to describe a person of Asian descent. It is used to describe inanimate objects from the region. (This what my Oriental girlfriend told me in high school--before she told me was pregnant with another man's child. No, she wasn't, really. She was Asian.)

It turns out she's Korean. She's frequently mistaken for Southeast Asian, though, for precisely the reasons we hypothesized.

"Well, I go to tanning salons," she told us.

"Yeah, I was going to say--I went to Korea last summer and people were surprisingly light-complected," my friend said.

"Thank you!"

"You're very beautiful."

"Thank you!"

I decided to interject a less expensive topic into the conversation, on account that my friend was blowing it. "My friend here is visiting us from Japan for the week." This had the effect of stabilizing things. I will tell you one thing that doesn't require stabilization--a 23 year old Korean stripper's breasts. And I will tell you another thing--you would swear they were Cambodian.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004


You would think I might be a little self-conscious being poor in a strip club, but it's just like being poor anywhere, except that you feel pressured to give naked women your money. It didn't bother me too much though. It wasn't that I didn't have any cash to give either--I had my tax money, after all. Having lots of money like that usually goes straight to my head--I will buy 100% fruit spread instead of preserves, for example. That's for my pancakes, which I enjoy every morning. The thing is, when you enjoy something everyday, like whole-wheat pancakes, it's a lot easier to deny yourself something you never have, like a lap dance. I'm not even much of a bargain shopper, either. Even if there was a great deal on lap dances--like three for the price of one--I would probably still be thinking about eating pancakes the following morning. This is because I am frequently hungry at night.

I don't know what to say about the men in the club. I cannot know any man well enough who does not long for pancakes after a certain hour, or who by virtue of his station in life is afforded the means to have women disrobe in his presence. This always seemed to me the purpose of foreign exchange programs, or becoming a congressman. I just don't understand these men and their disposable income.

It's hard not to judge people in these contexts. That's when I started thinking about Jesus. Jesus was a great friend to sex workers in his day, even though I presume nary a lap dance could be rendered in his presence. Jesus is hard to understand. He had such a sympathy for people who seemed to do all the wrong things, who had the worst judgment, who had the least redeeming qualities. These are people who I avoid because they are too petty, too uninspired, because they make poor choices for themselves and have little to offer anyone as a result. Jesus was constantly doing the opposite of what you would think. You could walk into a strip club and say to yourself, 'Thank goodness I have nothing to do with this,' and then Jesus would get angry with you while he talked with everyone else. No wonder the disciples were such a mess. The best you could do around Jesus was hope to screw up somehow in order to keep his sympathy.
A Risk-Free 'Nader' in 2004

“I still urge Democrats in the primary to support him. I’ve worked with him for 30 years. I would love him to be the Democratic nominee.”

--Ralph Nader

Read who he's talking about here.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Untie! 5

It's easy to have strong feelings about sex workers. I've had some strong feelings about them myself. My problem is that I can't be in the same room with them when I'm having strong feelings. I'm not a very natural performer, is what I mean. I don't mean stripping, I mean being entertained. Maybe it would be different if there weren't a hundred leering jerks around, but I doubt it. Even if I was the only leering jerk in the world, I would probably be lousy company.

On my first trip to a strip club, there was this crazy blonde who grabbed my crotch and asked if I was gay. I told her if I wanted that kind of treatment I would have gone to my senior prom. One of the problems with being witty in strip clubs is that nobody makes any money off it. Then this pimp came over and tried take our picture. He must have thought we had really hit it off, because he was very enthusiastic. He kept saying that you can't keep a trick, but you can keep the memories, and then he'd do this little jig where he'd shake his whole body starting from his ankles and going on up to his head. It was the same crazy clown who announced the girls when they were about to dance. Very theatrical. In the meantime, the girl had jumped in my lap and started making faces at the pimp while he hollered "electric!" like a lunatic. He had this chintzy little Polaroid for which he charged ten bucks a pop. I didn't even like the girl, so I told them I was broke on account of being a college student. "Come see me when you've got some bread, son," he said. The stripper gathered herself and gave me a cold look. "You may be in school, but you need some smarts."

Show and Tel is much less of a production than the place I went in college. When we first showed up, I was sort of expecting that kind of experience, with aggressive girls and the shystery staff pimps getting mixed up in everything. But it was much tamer by comparison. Maybe three girls approached me in all, with one being a man--and only the man came back after I snubber him once. Other than that, I had only to avoid eye-contact with the dancers and not yawn too much. There was a guy announcing the dancers but I never saw him. There was a bouncer at the door and the rest of us fine gentlemen; but thankfully there weren't too many of us, either.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Untie! 4

Most of my friend's stories about Japan were pretty good. He's been teaching English over there since college, and I guess he's got a different perspective on things now that he's made a new life for himself in a foreign land. For instance, he says that Americans are fat and loud, and that Japanese girls are very subdued. He's had a couple of Japanese girlfriends so he knows all about that. The last one just broke up with him not too long ago. I tried talking to him about her but I couldn't pronounce her name. So I just let him talk about her. She was already in a lot of his stories anyway.

One of his best stories didn't have anything to do with Japan. It was about Korea. He took a trip there last summer, I think. Anyway, one of the places he got to visit in Korea was the 38th Parallel, the border between North and South Korea. He said the South Koreans don't actually run the demilitarized zone--the Americans do. So his tour guide was an American named Hernandez. He said Hernandez couldn't answer many questions, but he showed some slides and told this story about something called the Paul Bunyon incident. The Paul Bunyon incident was something that happened during the cold war, where American soldiers cut down trees in the DMZ so they could stare better at the North Koreans. That's pretty much all anyone does in the DMZ--stare at Koreans. The South Koreans stand in Tae Kwon Do stances and stare, in order to intimidate the North. They're kind of like the Royal Guard in Great Britain. You can take their picture and climb all over them but they won't budge. Anyway, the Americans were cutting down these trees so everyone could get a better look at the North. Then the North told them to knock it off, but the Americans didn't. So the North took a bunch of axes and hacked down some American soldiers, and that's what history has catalogued under the Paul Bunyon incident. Hernandez had some black and white slides of it and everything. It was a pretty good story, we both agreed.

Another thing that was interesting about his tour was that he had to dress up so the North Koreans couldn't take pictures and use it as propaganda, saying that South Korea was poor. Also there were many tunnels underground where the North tried to invade the South, even though the North says the South tried to invade them. The South has all these markings showing where the tunneling blasts came from. Then he told me about how a friend of his actually went to North Korea once and said it wasn't that bad. I mean, it wasn't as bad as you would think, although it's poor. His friend said the kids there were nice and he played some games with them and nobody hassled him. I don't know what he was doing there, and my friend didn't know either.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Untie! 3

Show and Tel on Delaware Avenue isn't particularly fancy or anything. It's kind of lame. But at least it's not dirty or anything like that. I would say it's probably a middle of the road sort of joint. It's just a big space, really, with this L-shaped bar where the girls dance. You have to bring your own beer, though.

The dancing Sunday night was pretty uninspired, except for this German girl who could spin really fast on the pole and hang herself upside down. She was fun to watch because she was good at it. My only problem was that whenever she looked at me I had to pretend to be thinking about something else. So I sat kind of sideways and watched her when she was turned around.

The other girls didn't dance so much as they reclined in your field of vision, at which point you, provided you were not me, threw wads of cash on "them." My friend also found this objectionable. So we talked about Japan instead, on account that my friend was visiting from there.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Sex Workers Untie! 2

For some time I reposed with my compatriot at the bar. Several strippers engaged our conversation, similarly hoping to exact a breast tax. My friend provided them with the dollars, but I did not agree to such a tax. I will tell you a story. In college I attended a strip club. It was my first experience. I was greeted at the interior by a topless woman for whom I harbored no passions. She intercepted me in her arms and I took hold of her ribs, which were very prominent, I remember. Then she requested monetary compensation. I had only just paid to get in. I was a little low in disposable income.

"I'm sorry," I told the untrustworthy stripper, "I didn't mean to hug you."

"You got somethin' for me, sugar." She didn't ask me like a question. She asked me like I owed her.

"Well, no, you see that's just the thing. You guys chiseled me coming in the door. I didn't have it in mind--"

"You got somethin' for me, sugar." She hung her head at a very sarcastic angle.

"Well, look, I wasn't very interested in purchasing any of your services, in fact, I didn't even--"

"Hey, Big Daddy, fella here making a fuss." She was talking to the bouncer.

"We don't want any fuss now, bub," he said, like a real champ.

I retrieved my wallet and gave the door hag her ill-deserved recompense.

This created in me bad faith towards unsolicited stripper-folk who use all manner of chicanery to earn a living.
Do the Electric Vindaloo!

Last week the Bush administration celebrated the loss of computer jobs to
India, saying it would benefit America. The Indians are really good at
computers and they're willing to work for a few dollars a day. People who
studied computers in this country will be losing their jobs. This is good
because American companies will be able to make even bigger profits than
they already were. American companies save a lot of money when they don't
hire American.

This week Mr. Bush announced his plan to create American jobs. The plan
will be to retrain laid-off workers for other jobs. They probably won't be
computer jobs, since America won't have as many of those; but there are lots
of fast-food jobs available everywhere, and ample opportunity exists for any
programmer or systems analyst to work longer hours for less pay and no
benefits, with the right training.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Sex Workers of The World, Untie and Take Over

I cannot tell you the last time I attended a strip club. Yes I can--it was Sunday night. But I cannot tell you the last time I attended a strip club other than Sunday night, because I honestly don't remember. The only thing I remember are the naked women, vividly, as though it were only yesterday. It was yesterday. No, it wasn't.

I have a problem with strip clubs, if you can believe that. My problem is that they are too goddam expensive. This did not keep me from attending one last weekend, however. I should tell you the story of how I found myself at Show and Tel last Sunday around midnight. A friend of mine lost his ornamental Japanese scarf on the Show and Tel premises Sunday afternoon. He came to me later that night and said, "Will you come with me to retrieve my scarf?" I said, "Where have you left your scarf?" He said, "At Show and Tel." I said, "Okay."

Normally I cannot be found traveling in taxis to strip clubs. But I should not justify my motives, because that only complicates the story. Finally we arrived at the strip club. My friend retrieved his scarf while I waited in the adult materials shoppe. I had many judgments there. When my friend returned, he paid for me to enter the ''showroom." Why did he pay for me to enter the showroom? Only because I was not prepared to enter the showroom. I will not say any more about that.

Inside the showroom were many naked women. I felt very judgmental. For one, I had no money to contribute to anyone's drug habit. You witness my judgmentalness. Also, I imagined being very unpopular amongst the stripper women, because I had no money for them to buy drugs with. I will stop saying that. But you should not attend a strip club with no money. I imagined this fact very prematurely.

My first stripper to approach me was tall and blonde. She was very attractive. She told me, "My name is Desire."

"Desire?" I judged her name very harshly. "My name is Ryan."

"Do you have something for me?" She was indicating with her hands that I should insert currency in her breasts.

"No, thank you." I did not believe in the breast tax, after all.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

The World Takes Review in CMJ

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Bin Laden's Entire Family Escorted to "Safety" After 9/11

In his new book, Michael Moore investigates business connections between the Bush and bin Laden families, as well as other powerful Saudis such as the royal family, all of whom have extensive US oil-industry investments and business history together. Immediately following the 9/11 attacks, The New York Times reported that Saudi Arabia "supervised the urgent evacuation of 24 members of Osama bin Laden's extended family from the United States,"* even though many maintained close ties to the #1 suspect. The FBI checked passports, but was otherwise prohibited from detaining or questioning the family.

"Imagine, in the hours after the Oklahoma City bombing, Bill Clinton suddenly started worrying about the 'safety' of the McVeigh family...and then arranged a free trip for them out of the country.... One FBI agent I spoke to told me that the FBI was 'furious' that they were not allowed to keep the bin Ladens to conduct a real investigation--the kind police like to do when they are trying to track down a murderer."**

Moore also questions the idea that bin Laden was able to orchestrate the 9/11 attacks from a cave in Afghanistan--the official administration claim--when the al Qaeda leader is reportedly suffering serious health problems, including possible kidney and liver failure requiring dialysis; that the 9/11 hijackers were flight school students who hijacked and then flew precision attacks into the World Trade Center and Pentagon buildings, and not perhaps military pilots trained in the Saudi air force, who represent the anti-western faction of a dissolving Saudi power structure, but that Saudi investments in the American economy are so far reaching, and our dependency on their oil so acute, that the US government regularly forgives them their trespasses--funding and sponsoring terrorism being one of the most widely acknowledged. Consider also the unflagging resistance the White House has displayed to any open inquiry into the 9/11 attacks (yesterday's post).

*Patrick E. Tyler, "Fearing Harm, bin Laden kin fled from US," The New York Times, September 30, 2001.

**Michael Moore, "Dude, Where's My Country?," pp. 20-21

Monday, February 02, 2004

Yay for CBS (News)

Okay, so they didn't air's ad during half-time because it was inappropriate; instead they aired Janet Jackson's celebrity teat, which gave its own rousing call for a better America.

The network's news division did cover the complete controversy during Friday's evening program, suggesting to me that someone in the network still cares about the integrity of their own organization--probably quite a few people, in fact, who most likely felt alienated by their own leadership. has encouraged people to acknowledge this effort by writing CBS here.
Budgets of Mass Destruction

Boy, you know when Tom Friedman turns his rants against fellow conservatives it's going to make for an interesting election year:

"I want to ask every American, young people especially: Is your future better off now than it was four years ago — now that you are saddled with these large new liabilities and the higher taxes that must eventually accompany them?"

The New York Times

Also, a good editorial about Bush efforts to block the 9/11 independent commission.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

US Officials Knew In May Iraq Possessed No WMD

The Observer