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I was in a taxi speeding south on the FDR at 3 in the morning. The water to my left was a great expanse of black in the darkness; the buildings to my right flecked with spots of light whizzed by. I was between worlds, drunk and wretched with a broken heart.
From the front seat I heard a ‘pfffffffffffft’ ending in a faint high-pitched squeak. The radio was on an AM talk show and maybe because of the bourbon in my veins I wasn’t altogether sure what I had heard. Don’t know why but I needed to verify it.
“Hey, did you just fart?” I asked pulling myself off the door against which I had slumped and leaning forward to peer through tired eyes into the obscurity of the front seat and my shapeless driver.
“Excuse me, sir?”
What was that accent? I looked at the nameplate; it read, ‘Colo.’ Great - a taxi driver with one name.
“I asked if you had just farted. Probably none of my business. I mean, it’s okay if you did, not that you need my blessing to rip one off. Look, I’m sorry I asked. I’m in a bad way.”
“It’s okay, sir. Yes, I just farted. I apologize. At this time of night I just drive lost in thought. I guess I forgot myself and let it go.”
The taxi hummed along past 34th St.
For no other reason than I just needed to talk, I said to this farting stranger, “I fell in love with a woman in 2 days and 2 days later she dumped me. I cried for 2 days straight then hit the bourbon pretty hard. Tonight I went to this bar and you should have seen the bartender. She was 6 feet tall with a full head of long brown hair and the fullest, gravity-defying bosom you’ve ever seen. A cleavage goddess. I bought her a bourbon and when she leaned across the bar to take a sip her cleavage was everywhere heaving in my face. She told me that drinking bourbon reminded her of sucking cock. She said it all mischievous-like and holy crap I almost fell off my barstool.”
Colo trumpeted a loud, sharp fart and the faint scent of burnt hair reached my nose. He chuckled softly. We came up over a hill and the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges hoved into view with the entire of downtown behind, an enormous, crowded huddle of monolithic structures. Because of the size and the distance it looked like downtown was spreading out slightly but not getting closer as we approached.
I slumped back against the car door and realized I had a stiffy going. I let a warm, humid, swampy silent one go myself and felt my buttocks stew while watching downtown spread out before me.
Date Written: January 27, 2005Comments:
Author: John Slocum
Average Vote: 3.8571
02/4/2005 Jimson S. Sorghum (4): Nice mood piece.
02/4/2005 Ewan Snow (4): agreed
02/4/2005 Mr. Pony (4):
02/4/2005 The Rid (5): I have no choice.
02/4/2005 Phony Millions (3): This has a few moments, but doesn't do much for me. It sounds like a true story.
02/4/2005 Dylan Danko (4):
02/4/2005 Will Disney: agree with brad.
02/4/2005 anonymous: Sometimes I'm glad I stay up late. The things we do/have done when we get sick are important and there is probably a reason but I don't know what it could possibly be; ego, hubris maybe, it doesn't matter. Non-users have often accused me of acting like I know something that they don't - not lately, mind you, I'm a good man these days but back in the day, I was more than a twice accused of taking a superior tone for that reason. It was suggested that I behaved as if I held some immense secret, some romantic vision of dirty humans that the normals don't get to see, maybe a touch of holier-than-though designed to mask a confident shame locked into a junksick haze of self-rightousness. So what, I do know know something that you don't and I'm not telling. It's because the people who use enough to get sick enough and are smart enough to know better discover a lot about themselves in those quiet moments of fragility. my anonymous five won't count but please consider it just as valid just the same.
02/4/2005 anonymous: That is to ask, a true story like this one?
02/4/2005 Mr. Pony: Do you have a fever?
02/4/2005 Dick Vomit (4): I'll follow that comment!
02/4/2005 Mr. Pony: I know it's been said before, but I think it is abundantly clear that the author of this piece is concerned with addressing, using anecdote and parable, how we are experiencing and engaged in experiencing the fragile and specific nature of our unique human condizion. That describing-the-bartender paragraph hurt a little; I think I would have liked the whole thing a little more if that paragraph had been more abstract. That's right, you could have squeezed just a little more pleasure out of me by compromising your vision.
02/4/2005 anonymous: My vision is about -5.25. I won't compromise that.
02/4/2005 Cyrus (5): Nothing needs to be said here.
02/4/2005 anonymous: Author, what are you, a junkie in recovery?
02/4/2005 anonymous: No, my first comment should have been in quotes, but only in the sense of quoting someone.
02/4/2005 Jon Matza: anon user a: why do you assume drugs are "cool"?
02/4/2005 anonymous: "cool" as in temperature?
02/4/2005 Jawbreaker (4): Nice
02/4/2005 Jon Matza: "Cool" as in Colo
02/4/2005 qualcomm (3): i find this a bit corny. i don't like the narrator's aesthetic. especially the description of the bartender, which sounded like the beginning of a penthouse forum letter. and this strange tone the author himself is taking with lines like "It was suggested that I behaved as if I held some immense secret, some romantic vision of dirty humans that the normals don't get to see" really rankles my chancre too. this tone is too self-consciously writerly. i want you to stop it. and when i find out who you are, i will have pony kill you and eat your tendons.
02/4/2005 qualcomm: i also dislike the narrator for falling in love in two days. no you didn't; you just wrote that. what a dick.
02/4/2005 Dylan Danko: Hey guy, I think the author's comment from 10:56 was a comment to another short. I think the author of the comment and the author of the short was Brad, though I could be wrong. How's Cali, dude?
02/4/2005 anonymous: Qualcomm: my first commment was cut and pasted from an anonymous comment on a Brad short (see link in my second commment and scroll down), which I believe you ascribed to Brad himself. I was using that old comment plus the link to the short as a way of responding to Brad's comment. The direct response would have been: "Brad, don't you draw from your own experiences to write shorts, like we all do, at least indirectly?" In fact, this is not a true story, but I've ridden in a cab down the FDR at 3am and I've seen tall bartenders with big tits.
02/4/2005 anonymous: And you've trained your gigantic boner ray at the city of poopopolis.
02/4/2005 anonymous: Next time, I'll just be direct Qually-Wally, so it's easier for you.
02/4/2005 qualcomm: so was that comment, and the short itself, intended to be corny?
02/4/2005 anonymous: Yes, the short was meant to be corny, juxtaposing something serious with farts (probably nothing new). Originally it was going to be them trading philisophical crap and farting, but it morphed into a 'mood piece.'
02/4/2005 anonymous: The comment wasn't meant to be corny, I was using it as a weapon.
02/4/2005 anonymous: Matza, I don't think I suggested drugs are "cool."
02/4/2005 Phony Millions: That anon. comment on my short that you pasted below was absolutely not from me, author. I felt a little strange and didn't respond to that comment in my own short because it seemed..serious. Someone, or a few people including Vomit, were rankled that I found humor in the situation that I described in my short, but we know that already if we revisit the comments below my short. I assumed that the anonymous comment was from someone just dropping in on Acme, but it could be one of the authors who didn't want other people to know about his or her drug history. In lieu of that, what is your point bringing it up here? I was surmising that this short of yours was true or based on a true experience. I was not in any way denying that a short could be good if it's based on real life, across the board. This particular one though, is still a 3 for me. It's not horrible; it's just a three. I can break that down more if you'd like.
02/4/2005 Dylan Danko: The plot thickens. I really want to know who wrote that comment.
02/4/2005 The Rid: Which comment? The first author comment? The long one?
02/4/2005 Dylan Danko: The plot thickens. I really want to know who wrote that comment.
02/4/2005 anonymous: Brad: impossible to argue with the first half of your initial comment, that the short doesn't do it for you. But it sounded like you were saying that it didn't do it for you because it sounded like a true story, ie. self indulgent. I immediately thought of your hospital short with the anonymous comment, and the day that came out, qualcomm seemed to attribute it to you. Since he knows you and I don't, and since you never refuted it, I sort of assumed it was you, although it bothered me at the time that the writing was unlike yours. I was going to link to your short as an example of a short that might have some fingers in reality and the remembered the comment and it's (I thought) self-indulgence (ass of you and me, much?). Anyway, the whole thing is a bit silly and I meant no offense, comments about weapons notwithstanding. Grolsch?
02/4/2005 Dylan Danko: Armagnac?
02/4/2005 Jon Matza: Go ahead anon-user a--snort skang, smoke gangua shooters, whelp amphetamines, whatever. It's your body, right? Maybe you'll wind up in jail and fuck up a few lives along the way. But who cares, right? "As long as I 'plum my groove' I'll seem 'cool', so fuck everything and everyone else." That's your motto, isn't it?
02/4/2005 Mr. Negative: Hey, I'd say this short sucks, but it doesn't. What the fuck is everyone's problem?
02/4/2005 anonymous: No, Matza. Two things. 1) I'm a different anon_user_a from the anon_user_a in the short that this short's author linked to below. 2) I make no judgments on a person's substance intake/non-intake. It's been my experience that people do what they wanna do, regardless of what I say. Therefore I don't say anything unless asked. I just wanted to know if the author is junkie/drunk in recovery. 'Scuse me!
02/4/2005 Dylan Danko: Hi Jimson!
02/4/2005 Jon Matza: No, excuse ME for making the outrageous suggestion that it's possible to have a worthwhile/meaningful/enjoyable life without poisoning one's blood with methylene 'rockets', freebase pellets, "crazy spinners", "pot", gamma accelerators, x juice, "lurm", and the like...you sick fuck!
02/4/2005 anonymous: Matza, I never thought I'd say this: I don't find you funny right now. I can't believe that you're taking this exchange seriously, so I end it thus; I don't believe you. Nyah!
02/4/2005 anonymous: This author IS a junkie....a junkie on clean livin'!!!
02/4/2005 qualcomm: what about hash oil?
02/4/2005 Jon Matza: Sorry, I just don't consider the glamorization of drug abuse (e.g., 'lude cocktails, jamboree powder, fizz leaves, glurpo gunners and so on) "cool" or something to brag about like certain people I could name...ANON USER A!!!
02/4/2005 anonymous: As a drunk in recovery, I agree that clean livin' is the best kind of livin'. For me, anyway.
02/4/2005 Dylan Danko: Let me tell you something, Robin, that hash oil makes you crazy!
02/4/2005 anonymous: Matza, seriously, stop being so serious about this. It's starting to really freak me out. Can't you lighten up and make a joke?
02/4/2005 Jimson S. Sorghum: Gee....hiya, dillyo.
02/4/2005 Jimson S. Sorghum: Yeah, Matza! And, incidentally, what are those "Mellow Mints" you're always foisting upon your brethren made of? Herbs, I guess? (oooooo, I think I smell braised piggies....)
02/4/2005 Ewan Snow: What the F are all you guys talking about? The thread below is a poor showing, I'd say. I will also say for the record that the anon comment on Brad's old short is not me either, if anybody was thinking that. I thought it was sort of dumb, not because it was so stupid in and of itself, but because who cares? Like if the author had written a short about cars, and somebody decided to post a reminiscence about his first set of wheels. Matza, your admonition regarding "crazy spinners" et al is valuable. But it doesn't mean a guy can't drop an ampule of "gonzo goo" now and then, does it? Also, I can see what Brad and qc are saying about this short, and agree with it entirely. What I liked about it was pretty specific; I have several recollections of driving down FDR in the back of a cab late at night, drunk, while the city spreads out through the blur of the window like a patient etherized upon a table. There’s this sentiment about it which this short captures.
02/4/2005 The Rid: Is it weird that I have memories of zipping south on FDR late at night, also, but I in fact live on the Upper West Side? Morningside Heights, even?
02/4/2005 qualcomm: i have memories of traveling in a northwest config on trout brook road, in a school bus, without my cleats.
02/4/2005 Ewan Snow: you never had cleats, you, you...liar!
02/4/2005 qualcomm: that's what i said: without my cleats.
02/4/2005 Ewan Snow: "my"!
02/4/2005 qualcomm: well, if i had cleats, they'd be mine, wouldn't they?
02/4/2005 Dylan Danko: Thank god for that last exchange. I wanna know why QC is on acme when he's supposed to be on vacay.
02/4/2005 Phony Millions: I mean, yeah...cool. LIVE AND LET LIVE. Let's toss out some slogans...
02/4/2005 Ewan Snow: Huh? What's that in reference to, Brad?
02/4/2005 anonymous: maybe my invitation to a grolsch? Btw, Brad, I'd love if you broke down your vote more. Feel free.
02/4/2005 Phony Millions: That's a recovery slogan, you dry drunk! But hey, it's all good bro. I'm clean and serene, and I'm keeping my side of the street clean. Those that mind don't matter and those that matter don't mind. Got that brother?
02/4/2005 TheBuyer: I wrote the goddamn comment.
02/4/2005 TheBuyer: and Snow is right, who cares. Just something I felt like getting out and no, I'm not a friend of Bill W.
02/4/2005 Phony Millions: Just kidding around everybody...Buyer, 'thanks for sharing' as they say in AA. I appreciated your comment on my short; it just threw me for a minute because of its incongruity - it was sincere and the tone here is mostly tongue and cheek. I hope you don't feel dissed that we're talking about it and that I didn't want someone to think that I wrote it - it's just that nobody wants to have words put in their mouth.
Author of this short:I'm sure this has been addressed already, but do other people find it hard to choose between 3 and 4? I mean, here's the thing: 3 shouldn't be stigmatized. Three for me is solid. 4 is really good. 5 is very very good. Often it seems to be a toss up between a three and a 4. This one for me was a three because it didn't go anywhere; there wasn't a pay-off per-se. But at the same time, Ewan and Jimson liked it for the same reason, and described it as a 'mood-piece'. I can dig mood pieces in general - in music as well, like Miles' 'Kind of Blue', where you have the feeling that an atmosphere is being created in broader strokes. Something is evoked, but there is not an expicit theme or moral.
I can dig that actually, and as I read this more it grows on me and I like the picture it paints - there's some detail with the bodily excretions and the patter between Colo and the narrator that's good. I guess I went with a three instead of a four because it wasn't so funny for me.
Here's the problem I have with criticism in general, and although this site bypasses and pokes fun of a lot of bullshit because of its fun character, it is nonetheless a critical microcosm: When someone goes to criticize something, are they taking the author (or musician, or painter, or whatever) on his or her own terms? In this case, my criticsm of your short, author, generally put, was that it was sort of aimless. But I'm not taking it for what it is, then...Do I take someone's shorts on their own terms, accept them as such, and then adjust my criticism, or do I judge them according to my own standards, which, honestly, are very shifting from day to day, hour to hour?
02/4/2005 TheBuyer (4): anyhow.
02/4/2005 TheBuyer: Brad, no worries, no offense taken, de nada, cheers, all that.
If there were a 3.5 vote, I would use it in place of many of the hundred[s?] of 4 votes, the gap between 3 and 4 is huge.
02/4/2005 Ewan Snow: Brad, I think that the very nature of criticism (and this site is no exception, though it’s got a few greasy layers of irony) is personal. As personal as the art is to the artist, in a way, even if it isn’t as “good” as the art, in my opinion. I’ve heard you say the same kind of thing, and don’t claim this to be anything particularly insightful, but for instance, your short yesterday was highly introspective to the point of navel-gazing, actually beyond the point of navel gazing. But that is what it was going for. So if you don’t like that kind of writing, then you won’t like that short. And so the votes come in almost like a survey of the readers, defining their tastes, rather than the quality of the short. In other words, DV’s 3 and my 5 say more about our tastes than they do about the short. Now there’s a point where this may not really be true, where a short (or art of another kind) goes for some particular thing and fails, the simplest case on acme is trying to be ha-ha funny and not getting there, or trying to be surprising/weird and coming out clichéd. But still the votes are just a survey of the readers; a reader who never came across the cliché might still find it surprising. The difference in that case, however, is that it shows a certain amount of ignorance on the reader’s part if he doesn’t know the cliché, so one could say his assessment is uninformed. Whereas in the case of your short yesterday, it is much more a matter of taste. My only point is, given this, we should treat votes (when giving and receiving) as entirely subjective. I don’t think there’s a point in trying to say something along the lines of “I don’t like shorts like this, but this short seems to accomplish its goal.” Even though that sounds like the fairer way to approach it, I think one can only vote based on how much they like the short. If the reader doesn’t like the short for oddball reasons, that’ll come out in the wash, and the author has to sort of take that into consideration.
02/4/2005 TheBuyer: also, I'm not the anon_a from this short, which I read as kind of Brad Evans fan-fiction that missed the mark. The two guys sharing a fart in a taxi worked for me, but the part where the narrator just needs to talk didn't really do much for me.
02/4/2005 Dick Vomit: Hey, Ewan, that's a real bingo on my 3 of yesterday.
02/4/2005 Ewan Snow: Hey, DV, from now on, when you make a point, please make it clear instead of, you know, unclear. I have no idea what you mean. And if I was wrong about you not liking the short because you thought it was too navel-gazing, please say so. Or perhaps your last post wasn't ironic, and you meant that it was in fact a "bingo". Either way, I can't tell. Thank you.
02/4/2005 Jon Matza: Vomit, it takes five numbers to make a bingo. Are you saying Snow's comment is comprised of five numbers?
02/4/2005 Dick Vomit: Apologies. What I meant was: Yes, "the very nature of criticism is personal" and "DV’s 3 and my 5 say more about our tastes than they do about the short." Bingo.
02/4/2005 Jon Matza: Vomit: why do you assume bingo is "cool"?
02/4/2005 Ewan Snow: Thanks, DV. By the way, I just re-read my comment on Brad's dope-sick short and realized I was saying the opposite of what I argued below. Specifically, I was saying that that short should be judged based on what it is going for, because in that case The Rid criticized it for not being funny even though it wasn't trying to be. Hmmm. Not sure what I believe. Both seem true. Pony, help me resolve this apparent paradox.
02/4/2005 anonymous: So, wait, I have a question! Brad, are you a member of "The Fellowship"? "The Program"? Etc.?
02/4/2005 Mr. Pony: I must object to the phrase, "...it takes five numbers to make a bingo". "Bingo" is the name of the game, and not its victory state. True, people do tend to call out the word "Bingo" when they have achieved the game's victory state, but these people are wrong, as well as short-sighted and foolhardy.
02/4/2005 Mr. Pony: Working...
02/4/2005 anonymous: anon_a, shouldn't you be on your way to a meeting?
02/4/2005 Jon Matza: Pony: when you play Yahtzee and you get five of a kind, what's it called? (Sorry to waste you.)
02/4/2005 anonymous: I went to a meeting this morning. 8:45 AM at the 96th Street Workshop.
02/4/2005 Jon Matza: Bingo lovers all unite, lets be friends, we will not fight.
It's not a sin if you should win, although it's hard to wear a grin.
Let's all gather here next week, to try again ~ the bingo game we seek.
Perhaps it will be one of us, to head for home ~ our purse a plus.
02/4/2005 Dick Vomit: Matza. You are not really asking me why I assume Bingo is "cool".
02/4/2005 Jon Matza: Go ahead Vomit--play all the bingo you want. Maybe you'll wind up in jail and fuck up a few lives along the way. But who cares, right? "As long as I 'make a diagonal zinger' I'll seem 'cool', so fuck everything and everyone else." That's your motto, isn't it?
02/4/2005 Dylan Danko: Hey, Matza, thank you. You've been cracking me up all day although I'm "on" lurm...or is it "in."
02/4/2005 TheBuyer: Fuckin 'marker heads' make me sick. Sick.
02/4/2005 Benny Maniacs (3): This one felt unfocussed and kind of inauthentic, especially the graff about the bartender with "a full head of long brown hair", and the sucking cock business.
02/4/2005 Dick Vomit: No, asshole! That is not my fucking bingo mot-. Yes, that is my motto.
02/4/2005 Mr. Pony: There is no paradox. The difference you are looking at is in the varying degrees of what is declared by the critic. Picture, if you will, a continuum of criticism, ranging from "I liked/didn't like this piece" to "a fact in this piece is incorrect". It is difficult to argue the first end--if someone says they don't like something, well, that's sort of that. This is what you describe below. Criticism at this end is personal, and simultaneously irrefutable and undefendable. At the opposite end, the more technical criticism (spelling mistakes, factual errors, etc) is measurable and testable, and ultimately indisputable. Most criticism, however, falls between the two extremes, and is characterized by how much information is offered by the critic. The critic may say, "I didn't like this because it was too long," or "I didn't like this because it was too long, and this specific paragraph should have been cut," and so on. The more information the critic gives about his or her perception of the work in question, the further along our continuum we move, and the more subject to further criticism the initial criticism is, until finally, it is simply true or false. Therefore, the more information the critic gives, the more disputable and testable the criticism becomes. Your critique of the Rid's criticism falls neatly into our continuum. Essentially, he said that the piece failed to live up to its intention of being funny. He offered information that can be reasonably tested for. There is no paradox here. From "I don't like oranges," to "This is not an orange" there is a continuum of criticism, both reasonable and ridiculous. "This orange has too many seeds." "This orange has grown rotten." "I don't like this orange because it doesn't taste anything like an apple." Etc.
02/4/2005 Mr. Pony: (Matza, Yatzee is not Bingo, and I would expect a man of your calibre to understand that. You are, apparently, the worst kind of racist.)
02/4/2005 Ewan Snow: Thank you, Pony. Very well thought out. I was pretty sure I was right in both cases, but am glad you were able to confirm this.
02/4/2005 Jon Matza: Oh, I'm a racist, Mr. "This orange has too many seeds"?
02/4/2005 The Rid: Pony. I love you.
02/4/2005 Phony Millions: I like both Ewan's response to my query and Pony's rejoinder, and sorry I had to split for dinner (euro-time)and miss the thread after my spouting. But nevertheless, aren't we trying, when we mount a criticism, to convince people that what we're saying isn't subjective, that there's some sort of objectivity floating around the truth-value of what we're saying? If someone really felt that their own critique of a short was entirely subjective - or let's say, if they accepted that fact - then why would they bother to mount the criticism?
02/4/2005 Mr. Pony: I think that we are also trying to convince one another that those things we value subjectively are objectively effective.
02/4/2005 Phony Millions: Yes, Pony that's also it: If I'm listening to some great Beethoven, I have to think that there's something objectively great about it, lest I perish. That's a form of solopsism though - it just reflects back on me. I'm getting in over my head though with my parlour chair subjectivity/objectivity dualism and I have the feeling Pony is more well versed in such matters.
02/4/2005 Mr. Pony: Whoa, whoa; hang on a second there--I don't know what I'm talking about. I'm making this up as I go.
02/4/2005 Phony Millions: But it sounded all fancy and nice! No, but it actually made sense. The question is, why do we want to 'convince one another that those things we value subjectively are objectively effective'? What need does that answer?
02/4/2005 Mr. Pony: I don't know; maybe because doing so makes us look and feel like we have our fingers on the pulse of the Universe, which both validates our existence to ourselves and legitimizes the imposition of our own will on others? Why do you think?
02/4/2005 Phony Millions: More or less the same. But I'd probably use different language: I'd say that it's to escape our mortality or something. That's just because I'm obsessed with death. Anyways I'm off to bed. Later Pony!
02/4/2005 Jon Matza: Re imposing our own will on others: Falsely accused! Not guilty! Object to being spoken for in this way! Was satirizing this tendency/urge--which I disapprove of--at 4:20:16pm yesterday!
02/4/2005 Jon Matza: (apologies for ruining my streak of nuisance comments w/a real one)
02/4/2005 John Slocum: I feel like we validate our existence and avoid our mortality by cutting ourselves and bleeding. But then we might bleed to death, which would bring us closer to death. Maybe avoiding our mortality is dangerous.
02/5/2005 cuntry (3): i like the moody, but content fell short
02/5/2005 Mr. Pony: Matza--I'm not sure what you're going on about, but when I talk about imposing one's will on others, I'm not necessarily talking about it in a negative way. Some folks call it leadership. Slocum, blood is blood is blood, but it clots. It clots.
02/5/2005 Litcube (4): This one took me a while, and I've come to the conclusion that I’m fond of it. For whatever reason, the mood captivated me, and I found it potent. Maybe this clip seemed familiar, and perhaps the way in which it was told felt fresh. The farting I didn't find funny, yet neither did it detract from my adjusted frame of mind. I’ma four this because I liked it. A high four.
02/5/2005 Mass Ass: I like the mood too. I agree with what others say.
02/5/2005 Phony Millions: That's cute.