Friday, June 22, 2007


My friendly neighborhood pharmacy, a locally owned establishment notable for its vaguely pervy seasonal window displays - most recently, a summer desert panorama with a dehydrated manikin languishing bound in several velcroed muscle restraints (a back brace, pelvis/jock strap, ace bandages and an arm sling), with a case of bottled water sadistically out of reach – has on this same window put an ad for ANTI-NUCLEAR RADIATION PILLS. And like the creeping eyes of a family portrait, the ad’s block letters, ghostly gray against a black background – follow me even as I’ve passed it by.

There is something Total Recall to me about this sign. I get a similar hunch about subway ads for conserving energy and directions for emergency evacuation, and envision a time in the near future when Ms. Subway beams at us from video billboards instructing passersby on how to don their hazmat suits on ozone free days, and the group shower hours for when we’ve used up most of our water.

To make sure the Anti-Nuke Pill ad wasn’t for portable chemo therapy or camping equipment, I did a little radiation research on the Web- an article in the New York Times from 2004 commented on The 2002 Bioterrorism Act requiring a study by scientists on how to store and distribute these pills, of potassium iodide, a drug that protects against the radioactive iodine, which would flow from ground zero in the event of nuclear attack and was the largest problem in the fallout from Chernobyl. YES. NUKE PILLS DO EXIST.

This led to the site where many Americans (1200 a day according to the site) are learning all about anti-radiation pills and the sources to buy them on the Internet. The site is run by a gentleman named Shane – and don’t we need more good Samaritans like him? Thank you Shane. Shane and his colleagues offer several helpful, practical guides to surviving nuclear annihilation including an article (written by Shane) titled: “THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT NUCLEAR DESTRUCTION!” And the free nuke prep primer: "WHAT TO DO IF NUCLEAR DISASTER IS IMMIENENT!”

I have studied the nuke prep primer and taken it to heart (and you should too) and am considering cleaning out the unused Nair hair removal kits (speaking of radiation, this Nair stuff is suppose to melt or otherwise make your leg hair fall out?!) and the accumulation of cheap makeup (bought with such great hope for its transformative powers) from the cupboard under my bathroom sink, in order that I may use this space for storage of supplies from the Nuclear Shelter Suggested Product List. Shane insists that, yes we can survive nuclear attack, with the right prep work and supplies.

Am also considering purchase of: NukAlert™ - In January of 2003, Shane and the folks at site ki4u introduced at the National Health Physics Society Annual Convention their new product, the NukAlert™. A patented, matchbox sized, key-chain attachable, personal radiation monitoring and alarming device. With a ten year battery warranty!! This handy high-tech widget will beep when it detects evidence of a nuclear explosion – just in case the user isn’t tipped off by the collapse of buildings, ball of fire, blast beam, dead people, etc. - Don’t be left out in the cold – ahem, I mean nuclear winter.

The nation was run by alarmists after 9/11, helpful, small-pupiled, camo-wearing neighbors selling duct tape and self-foaming lather by the crate to anxious New York apartmentites and ex-Navy Seal fathers of Texas high school football heroes (I believe, if you’re interested, you can also pick up a shield to protect your family's personal space from crazed refugees fleeing on the Staten Island Ferry) - but many of us consider ourselves too smart to be drawn in and too resigned to what-will-be-will-be.

Yet, the government has deemed, if not the NukAlert, than the radiation pills at least, a good idea - a veritable sanction for people like me to get crazy scared. Recently up in the Whitehouse, Bush and his advisors shot the shit over whether, like Encyclopedia Brown retracing his steps for a clue, the FBI would be able to figure out, after NY has been blown off the map, who sold uranium to the folks that hit the red button.

Governments world wide stockpiling the anti-nuke pills apparently include, Japan, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Sweden, and Russia – though not the US - which is only purchasing the pills for high-ranking military personnel and some really excellent strippers.

Health officials warn that taking the pill may cause other problems...Yet I am drawn to that sign at the pharmacy and the DYI S and M manikin in the window. At 20 cents a pop, what are a few anti-radiation pills among friends? If you need some, I’ll be in my bath tub, under the mattress, my NukAlert beeping, popping radiation pills with condensed milk, while everyone else has moved to Alaska and gone back to worrying about America’s next top model.

Do you secretly harbor the urge to stockpile? Have you warned your friends to get their emergency evacuation kit ready? Considering a move to Scottsdale, Arizona, America’s second safest city according to a Forbes guide. Do you think we have a false sense of security, or the opposite – are we a nation crying wolf, henny penny with a reinforced steel umbrella?

Let me know if I should pick you up some pills. I also hear Valium's good and there are certain kinds of Hawaiian pot that can really take the edge off a nuclear attack.

Scaredy Cat

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Fear Fashion

My pitch for the next trendsetting glossy mag: Its Vogue meets the Koran, Esquire and GQ do Islamabad. Don’t know what to wear to a cave soiree, confused by kaffiyehs, the best burka for your buck, get ready for: Terrorist Chic, for the fashion martyr martyr.

Years ago, when a high school peer of mine was asked by our history teacher why she wore a hijab, the traditional Islamic headwrap – because it must be so hot in the humid Chicago summer – her reply was certain: Not so hot as the fires of hell. This girl is obviously not a terrorist, nor are wearers of modest Islamic garb, and we understand the virgins promised to martyrs are metaphors for the ineffable joys of the afterlife. But it all got me thinking…as did those hip pomo gorilla style Bid Laden and decapitation videos, who did they get to direct? I have some Indie pitches I'm shopping around.

Premiere Issue articles include:

Killer Accessories:
Strap on bombs. These belts will hold anything in place. Cummerbunds for the most most cumbersome DYI ball bearing explosive. Leather and pleather with plastic buckles, won’t set off metal detectors.

Centerfold Fashion Spread 1:
The roomiest burkas for hiding bombs. Breathable fabric and a variety of colors so your big bang can be beautiful.

Article 1:
The Jihad Jam: Our resident DJ gives you these explosive tracks to get you in the mood to detonate.
Chart toppers:
The Rocky Theme Song
The Best of the Koran, Chants Disc 1
Borat Throw The Jew Down The Well

Quiz: What Kind of Martyr Are You?
A) Your wife made you do it.
B) Your best friend killed more Jews than you.
C) You want peace and prosperity for all.
D) Did someone say virgins?

Sex Advice Column:
The best positions to make love to your many virgins.
How to keep your energy up:
Don’t worry about wearing yourself out in the afterlife. l-Suyuti (died 1505 ), Koranic commentator and polymath, tells us that “The penis of the Elected never softens. The erection is eternal; the sensation that you feel each time you make love is utterly delicious and out of this world and were you to experience it in this world you would faint. Each chosen one will marry seventy houris, besides the women he married on earth, and all will have appetizing vaginas."

More to come…

I offer Terrorist Chic, as a corollary to a New York Times article in this past Sunday’s Week in Review, which discusses jihad etiquette:

Permission: The Guidebook for Taking a Life

Also interesting, there seems to be something of a fatwa free-for-all of late as Muslim religious scholars wrestle to balance faith and modern life.

In an effort to better understand Islamic culture the NYT offered up this gem – here is an excerpt followed by the link.

"CAIRO, June 11 — First came the breast-feeding fatwa. It declared that the Islamic restriction on unmarried men and women being together could be lifted at work if the woman breast-fed her male colleagues five times, to establish family ties. Then came the urine fatwa. It said that drinking the urine of the Prophet Muhammad was deemed a blessing.
For the past few weeks, the breast-feeding and urine fatwas have proved a source of national embarrassment in Egypt, not least because they were issued by representatives of the highest religious authorities in the land.

The conflict in Egypt served as a difficult reminder of a central challenge facing Islamic communities as they debate the true nature of the faith and how to accommodate modernity. The fatwa is the front line in the theological battle between often opposing worldviews. It is where interpretation meets daily life."

Now, it should not go without saying that the breast-feeding fatwa meant to alleviate the necessity of a woman wearing a veil in public, was lampooned the land o’er, on local TV, etc…and while there was a woman who drank the prophet’s urine (I don’t know how this is possible, I thought the prophet had passed away centuries ago) but many people do not like drinking urine and so this is an unpopular fatwa.

The full NYT article can by found at:


Your Scaredy Cat

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Tested Testies

I was recently with a man who survived testicular cancer. A young man, 28 years old, who did not deem it of import to reveal this before we got into bed. As my fingers traveled in the dark, under the covers, and I felt, or didn’t feel that something, testicular cancer was not the first thing that popped into my mind – I just thought he had really flat balls. Flat balls didn’t seem like an impossibility. After all, I haven’t been with a lot of men, I don’t know all the varietals of balls – some women are flat-chested, why not some men flat-balled.

Not that cancer didn’t occur to me. When I have any bodily discomfort I immediately leap to the conclusion that it’s cancer or a tumor or a rare blood disease. I am familiar with the possibility that a man may be missing a ball or two. A friend of a friend who had the cancer, and then an implant, enjoys taking out the sensory-less sack and setting it on the coffee table during cocktail parties. But I wasn’t going to go there with this guy. That would be crazy I said, testicular cancer, bah, I’m sure he just has flat balls.

Later, a full day or two later, as he talked about his life and I learned the truth, he also revealed that its his general policy just to let the woman figure it out on her own – should the opportunity arise. He wasn’t sure how far we were going to go, we didn’t go far (only far enough for the flat ball thing to be an inconclusive diagnosis). He didn’t want to disrupt any potential sex with the potentially unsexy heads-up about the missing ball. Ultimately, I didn’t find the lack-o-ball a turn off – I’m neutral about it – just the initial late night discovery was confusing.

Far more troubling, was the fact that here was a CANCER SURVIVOR. A man that from his accounts was really DYING, bedridden for a year and a half and who is now, as far as I can tell, healthy and strong, creative and happy. I’ve seen a picture of him riding a donkey – a testament to his full recovery. His cancer has made him valorous. And he is proud. And he should be. I tremble under his valor. He has experienced an incontrovertible trauma and survived. And he hasn’t come out of it feeling fragile and broken, but tough and, of course, lucky. Resilient! Wow.

I live in a world of fears both real and anticipated. Worry really is what it is. It is hard to imagine coming back from bedridden, it is hard to relate to the very non-fictional, not imaginary fear this man went through, the very nearness of death, and the very realness of recovery. Illness has always spoken of permanence to me. Injustice and permanence and inevitability. Who doesn’t have cancer? Everybody has cancer!

An actress I particularly admire – a woman who does one woman monologue shows – is a cancer survivor, and is now back on stage. I am humbled and intrigued by this…as with illnesses, the woman suffered immense losses of ego and dignity – an actress needs ego to stand alone in front of a crowd and demand attention. After the vulnerability of sickness, to be able to pull it together and step into the spotlight again – that is a survivor.

Cancer isn’t sexy. And while friend and comic writer Michael Feldman, says that death is more effective for weight loss than the South Beach Diet, it’s the mortis in the rigor that turns me off. It scares me that he’s been there and back and I don’t know why.

When he was maneuvering to spend the night, so that we could get to know each other better, I suggested that perhaps he just wanted to get laid (and I'm not against this) - he having picked me up with a one-liner in a coffee shop earlier that day. He was offended that I would make this assumption (and even more so when I said no to sex). And then, in a way that I thought was somewhat self-righteous (though these are not his exact words), he said ‘you don’t know who I am and what I’ve been through’ – and he’s right. I should have known that cancer survivors are much too deep and wizened to want cheap, casual sex. I insulted him, and his cancer-valiant-ness.

Bleh. I don’t know what I am, impressed, amazed, ashamed, humbled, we’ve all got our shit to get through, but yeah whatever, this guy had fucking cancer. My shit is so much less tangible. Certainly not as tangible as a missing ball.

When confronted with something as concrete as this man’s experience, I start to question – well first thing I’m not sick and that twitch in my eye was not a stroke – but half-assed hypochondriac fears aside – I question my worth, my own survivor myth, what have I been through, what has it made me, am I victorious too or just full of myself and whinny?

So, today’s question: does surviving cancer make you a more worthwhile human being? (we know from Chuck Klosterman that dying makes B-level rock stars more famous) Or better, what’s the most important test we take?

ALSO, this is weird and hilarious and has to do with testicles:
Woman jailed for testicle attack
A woman who ripped off her ex-boyfriend's testicle with her bare hands has been sent to prison.

Your Scaredy Cat