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Please don’t blame Jim Carrey for Cathriona White’s suicide

The first person who I knew who committed suicide was named Brandon. I didn’t know him well, but I did know that he was very attractive, and was friends with the popular kids, and that he had been dating a pretty young ballerina in my grade. I had asked a friend of mine why I hadn’t seen Brandon and she said that he committed suicide. My first question was, Why?

Years later, when I was 32 years-old, I would return to that question after the suicide of my brother, Bill. The strange thing that happens after someone you love commits suicide is that you meet a lot of other people who had loved ones who committed suicide. Like the speech therapist for my son whose brother had committed suicide, or my old boss whose brother-in-law committed suicide…and then there were the people I met at the support groups who had loved ones who committed suicide. Some of them had done it out of the blue and without any warning. Others, like my brother, had suffered for years with a serious mental illness.

It isn’t unexpected that I would meet so many who had suffered the same type of loss. Suicide is, in fact, the sixth leading cause of death.

I saw on the news that Ms. White’s mother was suing Mr. Carrey with the implication that he had been the cause of Ms. White’s suicide. The story said that he had given her STDs and maybe prescription pills.

Hemingway said something to the effect that the world breaks us all, but that some of us get stronger at the breaks. Many people get STDs every year, or have awful break-ups and do not go on to kill themselves. So what is it that causes one person but not another to end their life?

I am writing this because I happen to know a little something about this question. After the death of my brother, I spent a lot of time struggling with it. Camus wrote that “There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide.” And he was right. This might very well be the only life that we get. Maybe there is nothing after this. Maybe this really is it. And even if there is reincarnation, it is probable that this is the only time that we get to live this life. Having been given such a miracle, why in the world would someone end it prematurely?

What I found in my struggle and in a long time in a dark place is that there is no logic to suicide. There were times that I wondered if I could have talked my brother out of his suicide. Was there anything that I could have said? Was there anything that I could have done? He had attempted suicide twice before he actually completed it. I hesitate to use “successful” in relation to a suicide attempt because nothing about it is successful.

Yes, we should do anything that can be done to prevent people from committing suicide. But once someone has really decided that he or she wants to commit suicide, it is unlikely that you would be able to talk them out of it. I realized that I would have had as good of a chance of talking my brother out of suicide (had I had the opportunity) as I would have had talking a healthy person into suicide.

There were times that I asked myself if maybe I had done something differently if it would have prevented my brother’s suicide. I never allowed my brother to meet my children. They were just babies and he had rambled on once during one of his delusions about tossing my son into a lake. I couldn’t take the chance of allowing them to be around him when he was not medicated.

Reason. We humans love reason. But the thing about suicide is that there is no reason to it. I spent a lot of time searching for that reason and that is what I found, that there is no reason. There is no logic to that decision. The only reason that exists is that the majority of people who kill themselves are mentally ill. The exception to this is terminally ill people who are speeding up the process so as to not suffer. It wasn’t any particular occurrence that made my brother commit suicide. It was his illness that killed him.

After someone dies from suicide, we want to find a reason. Our minds want to find blame. I remember seeing that pretty ballerina after Brandon’s death, and she had the same look on her face that I am sure that I had years later, and that Mr. Carrey had in the photos taken of him shortly after his girlfriend’s death. It is that look of shock and loss. But Mr. Carrey is no more to blame for Cathriona White’s suicide than the pretty ballerina was for Brandon’s death. Even if a terrible break-up had happened. Even if Mr. Carrey gave her ten STDs. There is never a good reason to kill oneself. Terrible things happen every day to people and they cope and move on.

I am not a particular fan of Jim Carrey, but now he is part of a group that I have been a part of for nine long years, a group of people who have lost a loved one to suicide. So in case you were considering placing blame on him, please take it from someone who has walked on that road and refrain. It isn’t his fault and any assertion that it is will only hamper his healing. And if you still have doubts about laying blame, think of this–if Mr. Carrey committed suicide after being blamed for his girlfriend’s death, would you take responsibility for making accusations that caused so much distress that it led to a person taking their own life?

Cathriona White did not commit suicide because of anything that Jim Carrey did. Cathriona White committed suicide for the same reason that the majority of people who commit suicide do it–because she had a mental illness and sometimes mental illness is terminal. It would be easier if there were a reason behind it. It would be easier if there were someone to blame or an occurrence to pin it on. But I will say it again: the only reason that most people commit suicide is that they have a mental illness.

If you have a mental illness, please, seek treatment.

Mary Jarrett Wilson is a caseworker and writer. She lives in Vermont with her husband, son, daughter, foster son, and Golden Retriever. She is the author of Edge Play X. https://www.amazon.com/Edge-Play-M-Jarrett-Wilson-ebook/dp/B004G8QZ92

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Who is Banksy? What is he?

Banksy

If you don’t know who Banksy is, you can join the club. Verification of his identity has not yet occurred, although there are photos which are supposed to be him, and conjectures about who he is.

Despite his anonymity, he is rapidly becoming one of the most famous artists in the world.

He leaves his art on buildings and no one seems to notice him doing it. Sometimes the city removes the art. Other times these works get sold even though Banksy does not seem to approve of people selling his work that was not created to be sold.

His work is technically simple, much of it created with just stencils and spray paint. Which might leave us to ask how in the hell a truly unknown artist became such a phenomenon.

Who hasn’t gone to go see a bar band and thought to themselves, wtf, this music is ten times better than the crap that gets played over and over on the radio, or seen art at a coffee shop that was as good or superior to work that sells in galleries for tens of thousands dollars.

As a writer whose reviewers often state that my book is the best they have read in years and that Edge Play X is better than the mega selling 50 Shades of Gray, but who still struggles to pay my bills, I appreciate the statement he makes about art, and success in art, not just in his work, but in his life.

He became successful outside of the machinery that creates success, machinery that leaves most of us behind.

Let’s face it, anyone who is able to think knows that fame in art is not always about quality or skill. Too often, success is based on marketing and convincing the public or anyone who buys that this song or art work is valuable.

Banksy rejects the pretentious art world. He understands its nature, that it is an illusion created by those with a monetary stake in the system, the power to control what is seen and heard, and the pretension to think they know better.

He lives anonymously, not going openly to art shows. I like to think that sometimes he attends them in disguise just to see how people react. He doesn’t seek to prop up his ego. He is the anti-Picasso.

He criticizes the art establishment. He is quoted as saying, “The Art we look at is made by only a select few. A small group create, promote, purchase, exhibit and decide the success of Art. Only a few hundred people in the world have any real say. When you go to an Art gallery you are simply a tourist looking at the trophy cabinet of a few millionaires…

Banksy is a ghost. His stand is against the consumer culture and the effect that is has on our psyches and our humanity. Banksy does not ask for permission because the companies do not ask for permission when they shove their advertising down our throats and into our heads. He leaves his work wherever he wants, work that forces us to question our culture, our rules, and the established way of doing things.

This is graffiti, right? Real art doesn’t appear on buildings for free. Isn’t the place for art in a gallery where rich assholes can buy it as an investment, convincing themselves that they understand the artistic statement? Aren’t famous artists ego maniacs? Who the fuck is this guy? He is an idea, a spirit. His statements transcend his identity. He has found a way to make statements without an identity, and without having to sell his identity.

It isn’t to say that artists don’t deserve to earn money from their work. But is the primary purpose of art to make money? Does art need to be pigeon-holed to specific areas? Why is it wrong for an artist to make us look at their work when we are forced to look at advertisements?

Artists become famous not just for their work, but also for how they live their lives. He lives outside of the system. He creates for all. Banksy is subversive and the nature of meaningful art is subversive.

Image

 

Thank you, Banksy.

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A Letter to JCP Customers on My Epic Failure I Mean Our New Way Forward by not the real Ron Johnson

Ok, I admit it, my presence as CEO of JC Penny’s has been difficult.  Employee morale is at an epic low, customers who used to love JCP don’t come into the store anymore, and we’ve lost a lot of money. I mean a shitload of money.  Just this last fiscal year we lost $958 million buckaroonis! I don’t even know how I still have a job. I’m not really all that worried about it, though, since if I get fired I’ll get like $20 million bucks or something, which is a lot more than all the JCP employees I’ve laid off got. Suckers!

A lot of people have been saying that I’ve been a failure for JCP. They’re wrong, though, people. Just because all my ideas so far about how to revitalize JCP have failed doesn’t mean that the rest of my plan will fail, too. Or maybe it does. I don’t know anymore. I thought I had it all figured out but I guess I didn’t really understand the middle-class consumer.

See, it was easier at Apple. At Apple, we basically sold a product that wasn’t any better than a PC, but we showed people how hip it was and charged 3 times as much and they still line up around the block to get the new IPad. That’s what I call success. We based that success on Design and The Illusion of Better Quality.

That was the consumer I wanted. The hipsters with disposable income who I could fool into thinking that they were getting a better product. And gosh-darnit, if I couldn’t get that consumer, I would create that consumer. Those millions of people who loved JCP how it was just needed to be educated into being the type of consumers they were meant to be.

Sure, my wife and I never shop at JC Penney. I mean, when you are a millionaire, your wife wants Fendi purses, not Liz Claiborne! Even so, I figured that I could understand what drove the middle-class consumers and convince them to pay more for the same product just like I had at Apple.  Just think of how much money JCP would have made if my plan had worked.

The first thing I did was eliminate coupons. Coupons are so…proletariat. I wanted to get those ladies off their coupon habit. Hip women don’t use coupons and I was going to make these people hip. Hip women go into the store and see what they want and say to themselves, yeah, that’s a fair price, that’s a cool, hip thing, and they buy it. No redeeming this little slip of paper to get $10 off or 15% off. Apple didn’t take coupons and look at all the money we made there. Plus, how could ten dollars matter to them so much anyway? I mean, I make like $10 a second or every other second or something like that. They were going to have to learn to live without their coupons.

The next thing I did was start my Fair and Square pricing. I thought it would appeal to these ladies. OK, then, you want a good price and don’t have your coupon to use? Well then, this shirt here is $15 dollars. That’s how much it should cost. And why should it cost that much? Because I’m Ron Johnson and I’m way fucking smarter than you, that’s why! Maybe you used to get it for $10 on clearance and then use your 15% off coupon, but those were the old days. I can make a lot more money on shirts if I sell them at $15 than if I am giving them away at $8.50.

So my next step was to convince these ladies that the shirt that they used to get for $8.50 was now worth $15. To do that, I had to make it appear that it was worth more, since of course it wasn’t really worth more. I thought that if I could just make the store seem like a cooler place to shop that the consumer would believe it was worth more. I have great ideas! I do! I’m going to put coffee shops in JCP and little boutiques but in the meantime I just moved out most of the product in the stores. When there is less to choose from, stuff seems more valuable. Those boutiques my wife drags me into aren’t crammed full of stuff. No. They have like five things to choose from.

JCP used to be crammed full of stuff, but not anymore! Now I could drive my Aston Martin through the aisles. I thought this was a really good idea. I did. Showcase the items. I guess I just hadn’t taken into account how other big retailers like Wal-Mart (puke-ola) make their money by volume. They move a lot of product and make a little bit of money off each thing that they sell. That’s how JCP made its money before. But this is the new world, people! Do you really want to function like Wal-Mart and not Apple? I mean, which is cooler, really.

I figured that the JCP customers were middle class because they were dumb, but it turned out that having to get by on so little had actually made them pretty smart about what was a good deal and what wasn’t. This is why they are different consumers than Apple customers. My biggest failure was not realizing this. Did I use the word “failure”? My plans at JCP aren’t a failure! They just need a little tweaking. See, it’s all about changing your perception! A few sentences ago it was a failure and now it’s just a “change in direction.” How easy was that!

I had a great plan. I did. I still don’t understand why all these shoppers started going to other stores. JCP was cool now. Do you want to save money or be part of the cool crowd? Losers.

I guess maybe I should have done a test run of my ideas in a couple states before I took this change nationwide, but it’s too late now. When you believe in yourself as much as I do, there’s no need for test markets because you just know that your ideas will work. Except that there’s just the little fact that they didn’t.

But they will, folks, by golly they will.

That’s what I’ve been saying all along, and if you say something enough, eventually people start to believe it.

Unless they are a middle-class consumer. I guess it takes more brains to make ends meet nowadays than I thought it did. Maybe these folks couldn’t be outsmarted after all.

Not yet, at least. Give me another year or two. I’ll make it work.

Sincerely,

Not the real Ron Johnson,

also known as M. Jarrett Wilson,

author of Edge Play X and former JCP Shopper

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The Curious Case of Ray Gricar

I hate to admit it, but I am fascinated by the disappearance of former District Attorney Ray Gricar.

Why? Well, I used to live in State College, and I suppose that’s part of it even though I only lived in the area until 1999. But the main reason I’m fascinated is because I’m a writer. The circumstances surrounding his disappearance are so mysterious and complex that I don’t believe I could have constructed such a plot.

Here is a rundown of the theories on what happened to him:

He faked his death and went on the run.

He was murdered by the mob/drug dealers.

He committed suicide.

He was a special agent.

He went into some sort of witness protection.

He was murdered by people involved with the Sandusky scandal.

There are some strange things about this case. First, the body was never found. Second, his computer’s hard drive was wiped and the computer was later found in the Susquehanna river. Third, there were cigarette ashes in his car, and he did not smoke. Fourth, Gricar did not prosecute Sandusky in 1998. Fifth, the local police didn’t do all that much of a search after he disappeared.

Ok. So the body was never found. While some people have theorized that he committed suicide, unless he did that and buried himself afterwards, I believe that his body would have been found eventually. So maybe he was murdered and his body was disposed of in a way that it would never be found. Or maybe his body was never found because it is still alive somewhere, sipping pina coladas in Mexico or some suburb in Ohio.

The computer is the truly odd thing about this case. Let’s say that he was planning on going on the run (from the mob or whomever), why wipe his computer hard drive? Why not just take the computer with him? Some people have theorized that he wiped the drive because there were naughty things on there, but I don’t believe it. If Gricar was searching for naughty, illegal things online, these searches could have been traced. If he wanted to disappear, why not just toss his computer into a garbage bag and into a dumpster somewhere in Kansas if he wanted to get rid of it for one reason or another?

Somebody wanted to wipe the drive on Gricar’s computer, and I don’t believe it was Gricar. But the searches for how to wipe a drive took place at his house. Interesting. But maybe it wasn’t Gricar who did that search. Maybe it was his murderer who did that search.

Let’s paint this scenario. Let’s pretend that Gricar hears a knock at the door on the morning of his disappearance. Since there do not seem to be reports of forced entry at his home, let’s assume that this person is someone who knows.

He trusts them.

He trusts them because the person is perhaps a police officer…

This person incapacitates Gricar (a taser? no reports of blood or struggle at his home…). Police are trained to restrain people and they carry tasers and handcuffs and all that handy stuff with them. Maybe after he is restrained, another person comes in to finish the act and take care of disposing of the body. There can’t be too much unaccounted for time for whoever might have known Gricar enough to get him to open the door.

A mob hit man (in the mind of a writer) probably would have just shot him and left him there. And if they wanted the computer, they’d just take it with him. A mob hit man also wouldn’t have any reason to believe that critical information regarding a case of theirs was only on his computer.

So why search on the computer at his home? Because there is something on that computer that is very, very delicate information and it isn’t enough to just destroy the computer.

Information that is so delicate that he wouldn’t have backed-up this information at his workplace because if that information got out it might cause a major scandal.

But Gricar investigates quietly because he is a straight-shooter. Maybe he tells one or two other trusted people on the staff, people who knew something about the case.

But it gets back to the people/person who are/is being investigated that the District Attorney is compiling some rather damning evidence. And somebody knows that this information is ONLY on his computer. Who else would know this but someone close to him? Someone he trusted enough to let into his house.

I’d never assert that a cop killed him since of course there are no such things as dirty cops. I mean, all that hearsay about the cops in State College escorting the drug shipments into town was just, well, hearsay.

But if there were some dirty cops and Gricar was doing some sort of internal investigation, well, that might be a good reason to murder someone. And that might be a reason why Gricar never saved any of those important, mysterious documents in the police station.

Or, perhaps Gricar was investigating some charges against a well-respected man and somehow this got back to the guy who is being investigated because, I don’t know, one of the cops is the guy’s buddy or neighbor or something. But stuff like that only happens in fiction! Since who in town would have the money it would take to get a cop to do something so gruesome?

But if I were an investigator, I might look into why the police didn’t investigate the case all that deeply. That’s kind of odd, don’t you think? Gricar was a well-respected man who by all accounts doled out justice evenly and blindly. If I were an investigator, I would follow the money. Maybe there were some large purchases or large transfers from accounts during this time period.

I don’t believe we’ll ever find out what happened to Ray Gricar. I believe that there are people still alive who know what happened to him, but as recent events in State College have taught us, people in the area can be very good at keeping their mouths shut when they have a good reason.

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The Counting of Words

Stephen King has written that he usually writes 2,000 words a day. He has a routine. He writes in the morning. In the afternoon, he reads.

I am unable to maintain a writing routine.

The most I ever wrote was 4 or 5,000 words in one sitting.

It took me three years to finish a sonnet.

I often write 200 words of fiction and feel rather satisfied.

20,000 words of non-fiction and 20,000 words of fiction are not at all the same.

One might take me four months, the other might take me four years.

I have not found E.B. White’s quote that, “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper,” to be true in my life.

Sometimes, with my fiction, like with Edge Play X, for example, which is my work most akin to standard fiction, I have pushed through on certain chapters or paragraphs. The technique is different for a standard work of fiction.

For my literary fiction, I wait. I cannot manufacture it. I wait for it to arrive. It makes the back of my neck tingle. I feel light-headed when it comes. Certainly this is one of the reasons my literary fiction is unsuccessful. It is not writing. It is a personal spiritual experience. Doesn’t that sound cheesy. I don’t know how else to describe it. Feel the spirit working through you, the guru says.

It isn’t spiritual. It’s psychological. It’s all these imprints in the subconscious coming forward. It is a representation of unspoken beliefs about society and people and how we love one another. My brother was a schizophrenic and I am a writer.

Afflictions like that tend to run in families.

It wakes me up at night sometimes when it comes.

How long now have I been working on this latest book? Not even 20,000 words long. So close now. Why do I not feel a need to publish my works of literary fiction? I wrote them for myself. It isn’t selfish, it’s cathartic, like popping a boil.

Ha. New writing quote. Writing is like slicing open a boil.

The best writing I have ever read was often smeared with bodily fluids.

I can’t be the only woman who has had sexual fantasies involving Dostoyevsky. Never about Nabokov. 

Fiction word count this week: 0.

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Is Ghost Adventures Fake?

You might be familiar with a show on The Travel Channel called Ghost Adventures. In this reality-show, three men go to different locations and try to catch evidence of otherworldly apparitions.

The show is hosted by Zak Bagans and he is accompanied by two other investigators.

So, is the evidence that they find faked? Honestly, I have no idea. I certainly have no evidence that they are intentionally faking any of their evidence. There are, however, certain factors that seem to suggest that some of their claims might be exaggerated. Before I am attacked by hordes of perfumed fans and bludgeoned to death with flat irons and blinded with hairspray, let me add that I am not going to say that the men are necessarily doing this intentionally. 

First off, let me say that I am a fan of the show and have been watching it since the first season. I once told my father as we were watching a rerun of the show, “You know, half of why I watch this show is that I think the host is cute.”

And it’s true. I used to date (aka hook up with) a guy who looked quite a lot like the host. He might have even been hotter, actually. Certainly my incredible charm and amazing personality is what drew him to me. Or, it might have been all the beer. Unfortunately, in his case, there was an inverse relationship between his hotness and his intelligence, but alas, whenever I watch the show, I am reminded of an exciting time of my life.

Based on the twitter followers of Mr. Bagans, this phenomenon is experienced by other females, as the tweets they send him very often resemble what one might expect to hear from teenage girls as they look at a fanzine. 

Fortunately, attractiveness is not always indirectly proportional to intelligence. Mr. Bagans seems to be reasonably smart and is certainly funny and charming, and these factors make him a good host for the show.

So, the show is entertaining. It has an attractive host, uses music in a suspenseful way, and every show, you are guaranteed that they will find something interesting and spooky.

And that’s the rub. It is simply highly unlikely that they would find evidence of a  haunting every single time.

It isn’t that I don’t believe in spirits. I used to live in a house that was haunted and personally witnessed (in the company of others) unexplained phenomenon like loud footsteps, lights turning on and off, and things moving of their own volition. I’ve seen two apparitions and there were some strange occurrences that a few of us witnessed after my brother’s death. I’m not saying that these things are fake.

I’m just saying that it is highly unlikely that these men would find evidence each and every time they go to a location. They do occasionally try to “debunk” noises or shadows, but one never begins watching Ghost Adventures thinking that this time the group isn’t going to find something. 

Why the hell am I writing this? Certainly it is the Febreeze I sprayed on the carpet just a few minutes ago.

I digress.

When I lived in a haunted house, sometimes there would be a lot of activity. Others times there would be nothing. It appears, from experience, that just as a watched pot never boils, a hunted ghost never appears. 

The Ghost Adventures crew would certainly have a good motivation for faking their evidence as they have each found a lucrative career and fame from hunting ghosts. It would be helpful to have a skeptic on their crew who was independent of their team, but I know that this will never happen. Still, the show is entertaining, it is what it is, and it wouldn’t be fair to call the men fakes.

They may, however, be experiencing a psychological phenomenon coined Orr’s law. It says, “What the thinker thinks, the prover proves.” This shows up again and again in Robert Anton Wilson’s Prometheus Rising, a fucking awesome book, but again I digress.

The point is that if these guys are going into the situation thinking that the place is haunted and thinking that they will find something, they will find something. Is it legitimate? Are they really finding something? Is there, in fact, anything to be found or is it all just a psychological phenomenon that springs from the human fear of death. Who the hell knows. Or, as the Dali Lama said when I saw him speak in 1999, “Sometimes you just have to say fuck it.”

He might have said “forget it.” It’s hard to tell with his accent.

Time to huff some more Febreeze. 

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The Paterno Statue, The Golden Calf, and Idolaters

Until the whole Penn State scandal happened, I didn’t even realize that there was 900-pound statue of Joe Paterno. This might not be surprising if it were not for the fact that I am a 1997 graduate of PSU. That’s right, I have Spanier’s signature on my diploma. Well, not his real signature. It’s some kind of stamp or something. I just paid off my student loans last year and all I got was a freaking stamp, but I digress.

I suppose I wasn’t paying attention to the whole statue thing. I guess it was just that football wasn’t a big deal to me. I went to a few games, not to watch, but only to work at the concession stand for my karate club.

It wasn’t that I had hard feelings against football, it was just that I had grown up with two brothers and a father who watched football quite a lot, getting excited and jumping off the couch when there was a touchdown, and I never got into the game until recently. I didn’t know the rules, the game seemed slow to me, and it was just another reason for the males in my family to hog the TV.

I was aware of the legend of Paterno and even proudly gave my brother a football autographed by Paterno. Personally, I didn’t see the big deal around the football team or Paterno. To me, Paterno was just a coach. Football was just a game. Until last November, I didn’t realize that the issue was that I had never been inducted into the Cult.

I want the administration and the Board of Trustees to know that some of us alumni are scarred by this. Of course, our injuries do not compare to those of the victims, but as a University, you have failed us, and by taking down the Paterno statue, maybe you can begin to make amends.

I was glad when Paterno got fired. It made me physically nauseous to imagine JoePa showing up on the field after the whole scandal broke and getting a standing ovation from the Cult. And that’s what would have happened.

Recently I spoke to an old friend of mine who is also a PSU alumni. I asked him if he had been following the news; he said no, that it was too difficult to read it all. He admitted that he had gone through his house and gotten rid of all of his Penn State paraphernalia. Months ago he admitted to throwing out his life-size Paterno cardboard cutout.

Turns out that people can be pretty tolerant of different religious views, sexual orientations, socio-economic status, et cetera, but for some Penn Staters one thing is more important than all that–the idolization of JoePa.

Case in point–shortly after the scandal broke, two of my cousins, one of whom is technically my Godmother, defriended me on Facebook after I had posted negative things about Paterno and the scandal. Sadly, they even defriended my mother. I guess it was that she had posted a video of John Stewart talking about the scandal.

It saddened me that they did that. It was petty and childish. But it also taught me a lot about not just them but the people who continued to defend Paterno even as more and more damning information came to light. I realized this–they were idolaters. When I realized that there was a Paterno statue, it finally all made sense.

An idolater worships idols. That’s logical. The Paterno sculpture, essentially, is a cult image.The Penn State Football Cult. When someone is worshiping an idol (like a statue) or an idol (of a persona) in place of God, he or she is an idolater. An idol doesn’t have to be a person, it can be a non-tangible thing like power or wealth or status. So in that sense, not only was Paterno an idol, he was also an idolater since he worshiped the idols of power and wealth and status, and as a result, the Penn State Football Cult sacrificed children.

Paterno would be familiar with the story of the Golden Calf. This was an image made by Aaron when Moses went to Mount Sinai where he got the Ten Commandments. See, the Israelites had been nagging Aaron to make a representation of God for them to have while Moses was gone, and he took all their fancy jewelry and made a Golden Calf out of it. It was supposed to be an image of the God of Israel.

But there is a problem with making images of God. Just like people can’t really seem to conceptualize God accurately, it seems that they also can’t make a reliable image of him/it, and sometimes the people start worshiping this projection, this idealized image, instead of God. God has no image, he has no name that can be spoken (so I’ve read). So when Moses came down from the mountain and saw what his people had done, he was so pissed off that he broke the sacred tablets, burned up the calf in a fire, pulverized it, mixed it with some water and made the people drink it.

The Paterno Statue, the God of Happy Valley. JoePa–the people worshiped him. They attributed God-like qualities to him. Somehow a few of them forgot was was really important–protecting innocent children. Maybe he just didn’t realize the gravity of the crimes that he had heard about. Or maybe he was too busy worshiping his own idols that he just lost sight.

Either way, Penn State, it is time to tear down your idol. I know that if you do remove it that you will probably donate it to the family and not destroy it, although that’s what I’d like to see. I’d like to see it melted and pulverized and served to every single PSU alumni who doesn’t want to let go of their idol. It will be a bitter drink, but it will have curative properties.

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What Really Happened to Ray Gricar (back by popular demand)

Now, I’m a fiction writer. And so what you are going to read is fiction (ahem), total make-believe stuff…

But this is what really happened to Ray Gricar…

So, in case you didn’t know, Ray Gricar was a District Attorney in Pennsylvania. I went to college at a place called Penn State, and I knew who Gricar was. I never met the man, but I heard from my friends that he liked to get the maximum for drug charges, so they didn’t like him.

You also might have heard about a scandal at Penn State involving important people and sex and kids, or maybe you were busy the last few months looking the other way.

But let’s pretend…

Since the thing that law enforcement so often lacks is imagination…

One thing about that pesky investigation, and that sickening Grand Jury report, is that it describes this assistant coach witnessing an anal rape of a boy, approximately 10-years-old, in the shower. The only reason we know about this boy is that this coach had to testify about it. I’d like to just state for the record here that this man, McQueary, is a really great example of the deeply moral character that was instilled into PSU football players, but that’s a different story. I digress.

So this kid never came forward. At least, he isn’t listed in the Grand Jury report as one of the victims.

He never came forward that we know of.

Let’s say that his poor kid tells his mom about what happened in 2002. The woman decides not to go to the Penn State police (since who would trust those sorry fucks!) and goes right to Mr. Gricar. The kid tells him what happened.

Yes, sir, I was being raped in the shower by Sandusky and that assistant coach walked in. McQueary. He saw what happened.

Did he stop it?

No, sir, he didn’t.

Gricar, knowing that this is a powder keg, starts asking questions, does a little private investigating. These are high profile men, and you don’t want rumors flying around.

So he sets up a meeting with Graham Spanier, whose name is on my diploma. He didn’t actually sign it. It’s some kind of stamp or something. All that money to Penn State and I can’t even get a real fucking signature.

Gricar says, So Graham, I have a delicate matter to discuss with you. You see, this young boy came to my office and said that he got raped by Jerry Sandusky in the Penn State shower. He said that one of the other coaches walked in while it was happening and didn’t do anything. I even talked to Mr. McQueary about this, and he said that he talked to Paterno and Curley and Schultz about this (which is why McQueary said that he did talk to police. He talked to Gricar but he doesn’t want to end up MIA). Were you ever told about this?

Mr. Spanier says, Why no, Mr. Gricar, I had no idea. This is quite an allegation. We would never let that occur here at our prestigious university. I mean, we bleed blue and white of course but not out of our assholes! I’m sure you understand that this is a very sensitive matter. Have you discussed this with many other people?

Gricar, as he taps his head: Mr. Spanier, I have everything up here, then Gricar taps his laptop, and in here.

Spanier smiles and silently laughs muhahaha.

Mr. Gricar, I promise I will look into this with Godspeed and get back to you.

So Spanier calls Curley and Schultz and Paterno into his office. Or maybe they go to that park near where Paterno lives and sit on the swingset and smoke cigars.

Spanier says: The gig is up my friends. The DA is investigating us. That kid in the shower told him what happened. He even talked to McQueary.

Curley starts to cry. Schultz pees his pants. Now they are going to have to stick to their stories like they practiced, just say that McQueary didn’t tell them anything, that he just said that it was horsing around.

Gosh, they didn’t want this to happen. When they were told about that kid getting raped in the shower in 2002, they were just trying to protect the university. There were those charges in 1998 against Sandusky, and sure he wasn’t charged with anything, but boy, if people find out that Sandusky was once investigated for child molestation, and here Penn State is letting him back on campus with little kids, and now he fucked one in the shower, boy, that will be hard to explain. Hard to justify that they didn’t have some kind of oversight. There are reputations to protect.

Schultz asks: Who else is involved in this investigation Grahamy?

Just Ray.

A voice pipes up. It’s almost angelic (or demonic). It’s hard to tell really.

I’ll take care of it boys. Who is your most trusted cop on staff Mr. Curley?

Flash forward to a laptop getting tossed off of a bridge. You see, there is a funny thing about that bridge. I know that bridge. My husband grew up really close to that bridge, and it isn’t the kind of bridge that you just stop on. That would get a lot of attention. People might notice a license plate or something. And then, nowadays, there are cameras EVERYWHERE.

But there is one kind of car that can stop on a bridge, or anywhere else for that matter, and not get noticed. It has flashing lights at the top and a really cool siren.

And this is a funny story, too, and I’m sure it isn’t true, since it was told to me by a couple guys who were really into drugs, I mean like dealing lots and lots of drugs, about how they knew about a shipment of drugs that was coming into State College. They knew it was coming in a big truck late at night, so they waited on College Avenue to watch it come into town.

And it did come into town, escorted by police cars.

But those guys were totally not trustworthy, and you should never believe a writer anyway.

So someone who believed in weird conspiracies might think that maybe a cop got put up to do some dirty work, and maybe that’s why none of the police departments around there really investigated when Gricar disappeared. Maybe somebody important knew about their fun police escorts late at night and gave them an ultimatum. Maybe they knocked right on Gricar’s door, and he let them in.

And this poor kid. Maybe he saw what happened and left town with his mom.

Maybe this is all bullshit.

I mean, these guys are totally innocent.

I think.

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What is Edge Play

What is edge play? Unfortunately, there is not a definition of edge play to be found in the dictionary on the shelf.  If one were to ask participants in the bdsm community what they considered edge play to be, one might get the answers of gun play, rape simulation, knife play, fire play, or erotic asphyxiation. Others might say that it would include “pretend” kidnapping or blackmail scenarios.

A term is not defined by its examples, however. A better definition of edge play would be:

Practices in bdsm that ignore the accepted rule of “safe, sane, and consensual” and pose a risk of death or injury, either physical or psychological.

The most common forms of edge play are practices that are potentially dangerous, or, at the very least, taboo. Gun play, for example, in its most extreme form, uses a loaded gun, a potentially lethal activity if the weapon is mishandled. Rape simulation is a form of consensual non-consent, which is essentially still a form of consent with the stipulation that the participant is agreeing to be “forced.” Knife play either risks or blatantly uses cutting, and fire play has the very serious risk of injury. Erotic asphyxiation is especially dangerous if not performed correctly.

As a writer of a book called Edge Play X, I am occasionally asked if I am involved in the “lifestyle.” I find this to be a funny and entertaining question. Yes, one of the main characters in my book is a dominatrix. The other two main characters are a CIA agent and billionaire, and yet, I am never asked if I am a CIA agent or a billionaire secretly living a modest lifestyle to figure out who my real friends are.

As far as I am concerned, what I do in the bedroom is a private matter, so I will neither confirm nor deny that I have or have not participated in any of these activities. And essentially, as a writer, it doesn’t matter if I have. My primary interest in these activities is related to the relationship of edge play to the sex drive and death drive.

The idea of the sex drive and death drive come from Freud. According to Freud, people have two primary drives—one toward life, survival, and sex, and the other toward destruction, or death.  Freud initially thought that people were motivated primarily by pleasure, but as his career went on, he found many examples of people purposefully creating distressing play scenarios (in the case of children) or found that people who had experienced a traumatic experience were sometimes prone to repeat the trauma. An example of this would be an abused child who later becomes an abuser. He theorized that an urge exists for life to return to its inorganic state. That is the death drive. Freud also associated the death drive with masochism.

The death drive was not simply about the urge for the patient to die, it was an urge that manifested itself in outward destruction or in controlling and destructive behaviors in the outside world. The sex drive and death drives are polar opposites. Freud saw the libido as an antidote to the death drive, writing, “’libido has the task of making the destroying instinct innocuous.”

Freud would be particularly interested in the practice of edge play, as these scenarios quite blatantly mix the sex drive and death drive. Could it be that through edge play that participants are using it in a therapeutic manner (consciously or not), in that it allows them to face dangerous scenarios and their own mortality in an environment where the libido is quite prominently displayed? Could it be that mixing the two drives is not necessarily psychologically unhealthy, because the libido is ultimately overriding the destructive urges? Perhaps edge play is not so extreme after all because ultimately, a neutral psychological affect can be achieved from mixing the drives, in the same way that mixing a base and an acid can neutralize one another. Yes, some reactions can be dangerous or lethal, but in the right environment, such reactions are rather innocuous. Too bad Sigmund isn’t around to give us his opinion.

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Addict

In many ways, being a writer is like being an addict. For an addict, it is difficult, if not impossible, to quit. They relapse. When they don’t have their fix it still occupies their mind. And even when they aren’t using they are never really “cured.” Once an addict, always an addict.

Writing, at least, isn’t as destructive as say, heroin abuse, and in rare cases it might even lead to fame and fortune. It might lead to long stretches of being alone or ignoring those around you or obsessive thoughts about particular paragraphs and sentences when a person should be thinking of more practical things like not putting the milk into the pantry.

I have tried to stop writing and have been unsuccessful. I kept going back to it like a smoker hiding in the shed, just a few paragraphs to get them out of my head, even though this piece will probably never be picked up by a publisher, or will maybe  get very far with a very good publisher only to be turned down, like my first work of literary fiction. And two years later all those paragraphs have added up to what I consider to be my best literary work yet, one created for no other reason than that I simply cannot help myself.

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