Thursday, March 15, 2007

I Came, I Saw, I Flatulenced

I thought something was funny--as in funny odd; not funny humorous--about last week's edition of The Montecito Journal. Turned out, my eye had noticed a serious omission: no column by Jim Alexander. We exchange columns by email, obviating the need for in-print reading. My own reaction not only to Montecito but The Journal is of great complexity. Last year, I reviewed a book by a noted scholar and emeritus professor of philosophy at Princeton. The book went on to become a cause celebre: On Bullshit. When the review appeared in The Journal, the title appeared thus: On Bull@#$t. My first thought was WTF, that immediate flare of anger inherent in overly explained criticism. "This is a family newspaper," one of the editors explained to me. As if, I thought, no member of a family had ever used much less heard the word bullshit before, as though the word bullshit was trucked in from Goleta or, worse yet, Ventura.

Turns out Jim Alexander's column had a farting reference in it. Not even a farting joke, a farting reference, an observation that time spent on the NutraSystem Diet tended to promote flatulence.

Two robins don't make a Spring. Do not think ill of The Montecito Journal or indeed the community it serves over two such instances, nor indeed of the man who stormed into my Saturday morning writers' workshop in the Community Room of the Montecito Library. "I did not spend twelve thousand dollars on new carpeting to have you people spill drinks on it."

It is true that on one stormy Saturday, Diane de Avalle-Arce's late dog, Sisquoc, did cause a cup of coffee to be spilled. Equally true, I have spilled coffee; my dog, Sally, has thrown up her breakfast on it, and someone, it may have even been The Cat Lady, herself; the remarkable Christina Allison, spilled soup.

Carpeting is not originally intended for having things spilled on it, although some carpeting actually advertises itself as spill-resistant or spill-proof. The message here in Montecito or anywhere, for that matter, is that Life Happens. People say bullshit. In fact, just listen to some of the Montecitans in the Von's Market at the Lower Village Shopping Center, when they are told that Von's is temporarily not stocking Special K or Evian water. I have heard the dialectic in each instance. The response to the information was: "Oh, bullshit." Shh, this is a family market.

It is our nature, we are in fact wired to be flatulent. Some years back, well, three and a quarter years back, as I lay in Cottage Hospital, post op after the removal of some tissue I'd been issued at birth which was now regarded to be cancerous, I was told that I could not have any water until I became flatulent, which was regarded as a healthy sign.

I will get you a copy of Alexander's column if you wish; it is too good to be missed, and not just because of the farting reference.

We so often fart and bullshit ourselves into the corner of moral dilemma, just as General Pace, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did when he published his personal beliefs about homosexual activity being immoral at the precise time we are trying to enhance the numbers of our armed services in order to pursue a war we began with a callous disregard for morality. But never mind.

Aren't there times when you would like to stop whatever it is you are doing--or not doing--and tell the entire universe: "Oh, go be fruitful and multiply yourself!"

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