The winner of the Literary Death Match was Lisa Suckdog, hands down. She took something as esoteric as getting fired for discussing piss-drinking and turned it into an inspiring manifesto anyone can get excited about. Namely, why is everyone such a pussy?
The winner of the Literary Death Match was Lisa Suckdog, hands down. She took something as esoteric as getting fired for discussing piss-drinking and turned it into an inspiring manifesto anyone can get excited about. Namely, why is everyone such a pussy? American Anarchists go to demonstrations with their faces covered while Iranian students talk straight to the camera telling barefaced truths. All these anonymous commenters are so petrified of being identified they’re actually doing Big Brother’s work for him, hiding in the shadows like closeted homos at Oral Roberts University.
Anyway, that’s not exactly what she said. This is exactly what she said (add hecklers in your head for authenticity)…
This week, I got fired by a SEX MAGAZINE for describing what pee tastes like.
The editor found that not “relatable” enough to preserve their “delicate relationship with the advertisers.”
What? Like people who buy cars and coats don’t want to know what pee tastes like?
That’s ridiculous! Everyone wants to know! That’s what they read for!
Have you noticed how crappy and recycled and watered down and mysoginist and DUMB magazine articles are these days?
We are in a climate of unnamed fear where everyone tries to guess what everyone wants, or doesn’t want, and no one just DOES what they DO want.
There is NO relationship anymore between art and business, delicate or otherwise. Everyone is on the same side: writer, publisher, editor, advertiser, backer, reader: the side of money. Of not offending.
My friend Mike Edison said to his editor at SPIN: “Why do you even hire writers anymore? Why not just let the publicists write the stories — that’s what ends up happening anyway.”
He WAS writing for SPIN until he said that.
I WAS writing for Nerve until I said what I said about urine, and when they told me to tone it done, I would not back down. The world needs to know! Please don’t drink the first pee of the day. Nor after the pee-er has taken B-vitamins. Tender mouths everywhere will greatly benefit from that warning.
You know how you can be in an abusive relationship for YEARS and never be SURE it’s abusive? And then one day they beat you up, and you’re so happy because now it has physical dimension, now it really happened. They did something bad to you. You’re not crazy.
Well, that’s what happened in late 2008 to make me realize the abusive muffling of the writer really WAS happening. I walked out of the gynecologist’s and two men followed me to my car. One looked like the cop in The Terminator — lean, craggy, penetrating ice-eyes. The other was nerdy in a white shirt and tie; he hung back. The icy one said, “Secret Service,” and handed me his card.
It had the state seal and raised, blue lettering.
I was so excited. An article I’d written about my boyfriend’s Enron-like ways had brought this very REAL misfortune on my head.
Ice-Eyes said, “We’d like to talk to you about So-and-So.”
I met So-and-So exiting a Mercedes Benz S-class in a P. Diddy suit, ICQ glasses, toting a satchel with 16 guns in it. We were going shooting. And then we had $200 a glass champagne.
I grew up on welfare with a dad in and out of prison. I left home at 16, burrowed into the underground, dated schizophrenics, and never once had a normal job in my whole life. I never cared what anything looked like or what the rest of the world considered status.
Meeting So-and-So was so thrilling to me, so new. This hunter, this polluter, this hyper-masculine cigar-smoking surface-dweller. I fell madly in love.
Sex with So-and-So was interesting. He is not a liberal, if you know what I mean.
That was 2007, when things were just starting to fall apart in the arts. It’s good I had something to distract me, because my world was imploding. Freelancers had to go back to being teachers, editors now did the job of three editors AND all their writers. Everyone was bewildered. No one wanted what I had to say anymore, because I’m pretty shameless, that’s all I know how to do, and suddenly everyone felt… not ASHAMED exactly, but… wary. There was no room for me.
The collapse of our DIY civilization was all so ephemeral, so euphemistic. No one would come right out and say what was happening: self-censorship. That’s why the ’08 Secret Service visit was so satisfying to me. It, and my friends’ reactions, made everything REAL.
Ice-Eyes asked me if I was married to So-and-So, and I said No, why?
He said, “I’m glad to hear that, because that means I can call you to the grand jury.”
I saw the Sopranos episode — that’s a fallacy. Being married to a criminal does not protect you from testifying against him. I said, “What are the charges?”
He said, “Against you? None. Yet.”
What a manipulative creep! I meant against So-and-So! I didn’t do anything! All I did was write an article! Ice-Man went on: “There are a lot of victims involved, Lisa. So-and-So is a well-known con artist and a dangerous man. He has several exit strategies in place. Are you aware that your boyfriend has almost one million frequent flyer miles? Ask yourself: Why would someone rack up that many? Now, I need you to keep this conversation between us. Don’t tell ANYONE. Call me when you’re ready to talk.”
It’s funny, but that tell-no one thing does work. Just like every writer I know is being hit with the veiled threat of “maintaining our delicate relationship with the advertisers” and they say nothing.
When you repeat the implied threat out loud, it dissipates into the thin air that it really is. What are the advertisers going to do if you go ahead and publish what pee tastes like? Pull their ads?
Same thing with the Secret Service. If you speak up about them following you around and harassing you, what are they going to do? Lock you away? It’s EXPENSIVE to keep people in jail. They can’t put EVERYONE there.
No, they rely on fear to cause US to police EACH OTHER — to do their job of censoring and fear-mongering for them. And that’s exactly what is happening.
Of course I, having a big mouth, immediately told everyone I know.
I belonged to this internet group of independent filmmakers, writers, radicals, feminists. I told them about the Patriot Act and how the Secret Service can come in your home or in your office and photograph your stuff and tap your phone without a warrant, without ever telling you.
And these people — my friends — told me to shut up. They didn’t want our group to come under the attention of the government. So-and-So has never even been charged with anything! This internet group complains all day about censorship, stupidity, the government. Right up until trouble comes to their door.
So-and-So and I were disinvited to another friend’s wedding. We already bought them their stupid warming plates on their Bed Bath & Beyond registry! The bride was afraid the Secret Service would show up.
They probably would have, too. Those guys are always showing up at weddings and funerals. I would love that to happen at my wedding! Or funeral.
I tried to sell the story to all the places I’d been working for — National Public Radio, NY Times, Toronto’s the Globe & Mail. No one wanted to touch it.
I refused to speak ever again to any one of those people who took the side of the bullies against the bullied. Even slick CEOs like So-and-So are innocent until proven guilty. Because it is the ones who allow being silenced to happen who are truly evil, in my book.
The Secret Service, the advertisers, the police, the conglomerate corporations — they’re all just doing their jobs. They are who they say they are.
OUR job — the citizens, the artists, the LOVAHS — is to question, to safeguard reality, to keep our neighbors’ freedom, and strangers’, and that of people we don’t like. That’s the balance: Their side is supposed to pull at freedom, and we are supposed to push back. Instead, all around me, I am seeing the open-minded half of society truly nervous for the first time in our lifetimes and, for the first time in our lifetimes, shutting our own mouths and others’.
The self-love, the bravery, the in-your-facery that made America great in the way it was great…. Walt Whitman, Anne Sexton, flappers, expatriates, talk shows — that all came from the boldness of being a nation on the ascent. This is the descent, and we don’t know how to do it; we don’t have the manners that helped the Brits retain grace while losing their empire. Confused, we look for enemies… who did this to us? This is how the police state begins. From within.
It has become a cowardly world. WE DON’T HAVE TO ACCEPT THAT. Fear is a self-created, self-sustained mirage. We can walk out of it.
Without advertisers, we won’t starve. We’ll work out some method of distribution. Human beings need art, need ideas! We don’t need much money to live. But without US, they — the advertisers, the government — WILL starve. They need ALL our money, and all our fear, to keep their giant machine running. THEY need to accept OUR terms! Don’t be a collaborator in your own demise. We can say and do anything, be what we want. Fuck business! They need us. We don’t need them. Fuck silence!
Live Free Or Die!
And by die, I don’t mean us. I mean them.
Viva La Literary Death Match!
The Truth is dead!
Long Live Death!
And this was my reaction as a judge