Persephone Syndrome

To some, myths are stories. To others they are facts as real as any figure or number in a text book. To others still they are allegories or intuitive attempts to make sense of humanity. I belong to the latter category and I’ve long had an obsessive interest in religion and mystery cults largely inspired by the nightly reading of Greek mythology was blessed indeed to receive as a young child. It filled my imagination and did provide a guide to making sense of the confusing and conflicting acts of those around me and the confusion of my own consciousness.

The story of Persephone has been running through my mind as of late. Most know of it as an agrarian allegory. To the uninitiated, I shall summarize though bear in mind that her tale varies from tradition to tradition, time to time, and place to place. Greek mythology holds a stronghold in the imagination but this tale predates their dominance in the historical record. Most commonly, Persephone is the daughter of Demeter and Zeus and she is often know simply as “The Maiden.”

Persephone was a gorgeous little hippie baby, totally raised on organic food with lots of time in the company of nymphs and her mother Demeter who was a great goddess of fertility. Things were working out for them as the fields were vast as the sky and the world was warm and fruitful. Persephone had been gathering flowers and singing songs when she came across one she’d never seen before: a narcissus. When she plucked it from the ground a cavernous hole emerged with the thunder of a great chariot pulled by four terrible and beautiful black stallions driven by Hades, the god of the underworld. He had struck a deal with Zeus pointing out that someone had to be the keeper of the place where souls go and this was a shitty job, so far as godly duties go.

Hades wasn’t evil, he just tended to the more unpleasant part of life. There were no blue skies, golden rays of sunlight, or pretty little singing maidens for him to be sure. Moreover, his social life sucked. Everyone was polite when he made an appearance but no one really wants the god of the dead to arrive at their parties. He asked for a wife and Zeus, the patriarch that he was, told him to plant the Narcissus and to snatch his daughter Persephone when her mother wasn’t looking.

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Women By The Wayside

I just read a fantastic essay called ” Green Screen: The Lack Of Female Road Narratives And Why It Matters” by Vanessa Veselka. One one hand, I had to smile and nod at the writer who questioned the lack of female road narratives because in so many ways she’s also describing the invisibility of whores with agency. What else is the street based sex worker but the quintessential “woman by the wayside?” Veselka introduces her piece with the shockingly large number of “Jane Does” recovered at truck rest stops and questions why the women who work at the businesses with the dumpsters where they are found never seem to recall any of these incidendents. I read between those lines with the solemn knowledge that sex commerce, either as a profession or an immediate survival tactic, is probably in the background of these stories.

Covering a fourteen-county area, I asked every senior truck-stop employee I could find about a hitchhiker found in a dumpster, but no one had ever heard of her. I broadened the scope of my questions: Had they heard of any homicides in any area truck stops over the past thirty years? They didn’t remember a thing. But what I was learning from the FBI painted a landscape of extreme violence, one that matched the world of my memory. By 2004, so many women had been found dead along the interstates that the FBI started the Highway Serial Killers Initiative to keep track of them. There were girls found in dumpsters, behind truck stop diners, off the side of the road on truck turnarounds—the national database listed over five-hundred Jane Does in or near rest areas and truck stops alone. Some of these were the very truck stops I was now passing through, and yet I couldn’t uncover even rumors of past murders. The strangeness of this crystallized when I visited a Pennsylvania truck stop where I knew for a fact that two women had been killed, one found only yards from where the woman I was speaking to worked. Still, she “had never heard of anything like that.”

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The “Don’t Call It Hitachi” Magic Wand

The Hitachi Magic Wand

The Hitachi Magic Wand

The Hitachi Magic Wand is an institution unto itself. It was introduced to the massage market in the 1970s and it looks it. Hitachi never updated the style of the “Cadillac of Vibrators” because it never really needed to despite its giant microphone look. It did have its downsides. It’s common knowledge that much like vampires, no two Magic Wands die the same way. I’ve had friends whose vibrators put on sparking displays of fireworks at their death while others exploded in flames. They sounded like the neighbors could hear them. Yanking them out of the wall right before coming was a common annoyance. Those in the Magic Wand cult now that the pleasure that comes with this piece of machinery far outweighs the few frustrations. Vroom, vroom! It’s the go to in my sex box to drive me over the edge during sex and I’m in good company.

It’s been a well known  secret that Hitachi was secretly ashamed of their miracle body massager. It wasn’t really designed for sex, per se. Human bodies happen to have a lot in common in their fundamental structures. Those 5-6K RPM vibrations that could ease away muscle knots in the shoulders were also great for the tension down on the pelvic floor and the clitoris and the penis. High end mall and airport vibratory massager purveyor Brookstone gave up the ghost and started carrying the Lelo line along side their vibrators that are actually the size of Cadillacs but the manufacturing firm Hitachi finally caved into their squirming modesty and has stripped the Hitachi label off their famous “neck massager.”

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Pride and Shame

Bradley Manning pride contingent from a past parade.

Bradley Manning pride contingent from a past parade.

I don’t get out to the BIG San Francisco events these days. Where once my eyes looked up and watered over from hope and stray glitter, now they tend to look elsewhere for SF Pride and Folsom Street. There’s all the waste, the trash, the dominating force of Big Booze ™ shilling Absolut Vodka and Budweiser, and the huge crushing crowds, terrible food, and the heart palpitations all of this gives me. No, I don’t care to see a parade of massive corporations demonstrating how tolerant they are despite whatever implications their brand and profits might mean for people, animals, water, and the globe at large. No, I don’t care for the tons of plastic crap manufactured with pride.

Daniel Ellsberg

Daniel Ellsberg

Pride and Folsom have had brave sexual components because of the illegality of what they were displaying in public. It was a protest. I’m all for Bacchanalia, believe me. It’s also important to remember that it was about taking something that people were being arrested and brutalized over and putting out in public view. It was about challenging how and why people were being marginalized for what they were already doing in private. Blowing someone in public was the reminder that the sun didn’t turn to blood, the streets weren’t suddenly cracking open, and there was no legitimate reason why people were being pulled from their bars and bedrooms and subject to a criminal record and all the damages therein.

I heard about “Gay Shame” when I was in college and I didn’t disagree with them totally but I wanted to have my day in the sun, a party celebrating something that had isolated me as a kid and a teenager, and most of all a good goddamn time. I wanted to put down my politics, pick up a beer, and just let it all go. Those Gay Shamers seemed a little uptight and political to me. Sure, corporations had some pretty bad policies but having Bank of America come out to the parade meant that others would to, right? Mainstream acceptance meant safety. If those stodgy old banker dudes could see why an event like pride where they knew there’d be drag queens and naked guys in cock rings and little baby dykes stomping around in their first pair of big black boots and a miniskirt trying on subversive in public for the first time ever then surely “we” were winning, right? Right? There were too many politicians in convertible cars waving to the masses for us to be losers.

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Link Love

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Bawdy Storytelling Photos by Neuoptik Photography

Masters of psychedelic art: My household growing up had a lot of Peter Max and I always enjoyed the bright tertiary colors and flowing lines. Not surprisingly, art that appeals to someone tripping also appeals to kids. Although a lot of folks might want to decry this genre because of its illicit associations there is a tremendous amount of skill and theory applied here. It’s worthy of study and appreciation in all states of consciousness. It’s also had a massive impact on popular art since its inception.

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No fap isn’t a challenge, it’s a way of life.” As a logical counterpoint to Reddit’s constant stream of ‘fap material’ is a forum of young men dedicating their time and energy to not fapping as a new take on the old idea of preserving masculinity by abstaining from masturbation.

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100% Men is a Tumblr dedicated to depicting companies and corporatations whose leadership is 100% male.

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The Mysterious Island Of The Dolls in Mexico is creepy and compelling to look at.

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Men should read Hegel before dating is a short video from the coming documentary “Monogamy and its Discontents.”

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High school student calls out Pam Stenzel for slut shaming. Her school principal is a total tool with bad ideas on educating teens who engages shaming behavior of his own. Wellesley welcomes their incoming student after the debacle over Twitter. I wrote about Pam Stenzel in 2009 after bearing a grudge from having to watch her horrible “Sex Has a Pricetag” videos in junior high and high school. Pam Stenzel is a lying liar who lies to teens about sex. She makes students feel bad about themselves and their sexuality. May she be known for what she is. I wrote about Stenzel in 2009.

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Salvador Dali’s wife Gala was known as the “demon pride” and is said to have outdone him with her own set of sexual perversities, megalomania, and lust for cash.

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The Revolution Will Not Be Funded is an anthology that questions the impact of the non-profit industrial complex on enacting social change. I think it’s crucial to consider this and I’ve certainly had my own clashes of this nature.

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The Mating Octopus in photos. For all you cephalopod lovers out there.

ImageTriptychs by Mattie Brice explores labels and labeling through the lens of gaming and other personal identifiers. As always, she’s brilliant voice in the gaming community and radical bloggers at large.

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Fancy Hippie Coffee

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I am a coffee fiend. I grew up with parents who had long since ditched their automatic coffee maker for the very sexy Chemex hourglass and the sounds of beans grinding in the morning cued the start of the day. Fresh coffee and fresh orange juice helped me get my day started and old habits die hard. Forgive me, I am a coffee snob.

Coffee is a sacred substance in many cultures and it’s amazing how industrialized it is in the US. Most of us need the caffeine more than the fruit of a coffee tree. Preground tins are a staple of American living and we all know the Folgers jingle by heart. Diner coffee is pretty much an institution onto itself. We’ve also seen gourmet chains dotting the streets offering sugary drinks and endless disposable cups. Meanwhile, coffee snobbery and fine cafes are popular in urban centers and hipsters have declared the barista a spiritual leader. Coffee, however you take yours, is a cornerstone of life here in the US. Here is one of my favorite methods of making fancy coffee for myself or friends at home.

Please note: I rarely use measuring cups when I’m cooking. Your mileage may vary for taste, preference, and ingredient availability.

Ingredients:
Cardamom
Cinnamon
Nutmeg
Mace
(Spices can be finely pre-ground from the store or fresh and coarsely ground with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder)
Vanilla pods
Cocoa nibs
Coffee beans

Tools:
Coffee grinder
Spice grinder/mortar and pestle
Coffee maker of choice
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Of Sex And Drugs

Despite the porn, I’m terribly naive about why our society has conniption fits when it comes to talking about sex and drugs. Both are very taboo and subject to numerous pieces of legislation and come with deep currents of conscious and unconscious stigma.

Trying to develop a career as a “professional” in either field is a tenuous path. Semantics mark the difference between the suit and coat crowd and the plebeians or worse yet the crackpots. Those who aspire to join the suit and coat crowd can be spotted at their industry’s events with marked civility to the crackpots by their subtle but very nearly ritualistic social performances best described by Roland Barthes and an avian behavior graduate student sharing drinks at happy hour.

In the drug world, the people talking about sex are regarded as the way to ruin the legitimacy of things. The ones who don’t get “the bigger picture.” In the sex world, those who talk about drugs can also ruin the legitimacy of things. Legality is a major issue. Drugs could blow the whole house down.

When you already have to speak in sotte voce about a very fundamental reality, the introduction of another pretty much leaves you to the fragments and the faintest lines of symbols creating galaxies of the inferred. This is the blend of religion, and of disease. The orbit is farther out with a much more tenuous grasp on gravity. The stakes are closer to death and not because of something inherent to them so much as their relationship to codified law that has a very class distinct application on the masses. Having “made it” is so often defined by the cocaine of an appealing ass. It’s not the Benz, it’s the room for a buzz that never ends and never has consequences.

Class is marked by the consequences you face for your own humanity.

Sexuality has been my trade but I keep my personal cards kept more keenly to myself. I do think ones pleasure practices are as sacred (for whatever that word means) as ones spiritual practices. I don’t think I really get a say over how any given individual choose to guide their perception of the world by chemical, religious, technological, biological, material, or what-have-you-tools so long as there aren’t material world consequences on other non-consenting people. You can’t just steal some shit. You can’t just instantly use someone as a tool of your experience. The fact that we imprison people for getting high is, in effect, a thought crime.

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