Congratulations! You have been randomly selected to complete a survey on Job Satisfaction. The following questions have been expertly crafted by a team of professionals and by “team of professionals,” I mean “one person who decided that creating a survey on Job Satisfaction would be a great use of valuable work time to avoid doing anything that resembles real work.”

Please read the following questions carefully then choose the answer that best relates to your current job situation.

1. How would you describe your overall productivity at work?

    a. Very productive 
    b. Somewhat productive 
    c. Just passing the time until the season premiere of “LOST”

2. Of the following, which describes your general state of mind at work?

    a. Busy but happy 
    b. Busy and stressed 
    c. One step away from strangling your co-workers with the printer cable

3. On Friday afternoons, you feel:

    a. Satisfied with what you accomplished during the week 
    b. Confident knowing you put forth 100% effort into each and every project 
    c. An overwhelming sense of dread knowing that, in 48 hours, you’ll return to the living hell that is your job

Let’s see how you did!

If you answered A to any of the questions, you lied. 
If you answered B, see A. 
If you answered C, you hate your job. 
Then again, if you even bothered to answer the questions at all, you hate your job so much that you’ll gladly do anything to pass the time even if it means answering a survey or watching the video on YouTube where a guy, who just mixed Mentos and Diet Coke, gets smashed in the jewels with a Nerf missile.

The good news, Job Hater, is that you are not alone. According to a study that I just made up, 90% of people hate their jobs. I’m sure there are many reasons for this, such as bad bosses, hostile work environment, a paycheck that’s worth only slightly more than the paper it’s printed on, and others. However, for today’s discussion, let’s just focus on one area: meetings.

Meetings are like the Willy Wonka factory of the work world—people go in, but they don’t come out. Unless of course you’re a little boy with half a dozen grandparents, who are all 150 years old, carrying God knows how many diseases, and sleeping together in a small dingy bed whose sheets haven’t been changed since, well, never. If that’s the case, you’ll escape the factory eventually, but not before a lunatic with crazed eyes and a bow tie, who earlier caught you stealing Fizzy Lifting Drinks, explodes into a blind rage that, medically speaking, scares the bejeezus out of you. All in all, the whole ordeal will seem most annoying and time consuming. Just like meetings!

I figure that on any given day, I spend about three hours in meetings. “But Rob,” you ask. “Surely these meetings are productive!” [NOTE: That loud crashing sound was me falling off the chair laughing. That, or you just popped a gasket, in which case you should seek immediate medical attention and also find out what a gasket is.]

Really, “meeting productivity” depends on your personal criteria. For me, if I do a little doodling and write down my grocery list, I’m happy. Others, like the people I work with, expect—no, DEMAND— more from their meetings. They march into each and every meeting striving to attain the ultimate in meeting productivity…The Follow-up Meeting! 

BOSS 1: Great meeting, Fred! 
BOSS 2: Did we decide on anything? 
BOSS 1. Not a thing. I better schedule a follow-up meeting. 
BOSS 2: I’ll bring the pastries!

Funny enough, we are not the first to suffer from pointless meetings. According to a leading paleonscientologist, this plight goes as far back as the days of King Tut where, in the Great Pyramid, detailed hieroglyphics depict a man with grey hair, a banjo, and a fake arrow through this head saying, “You want another meeting? Well, excuuuuuuse me!”

So you see, meetings have been around a long time. And as long as there’s been meetings, there’s been the Meeting Weasel. You know who I mean. The dweeb that always sits next to the boss (ensuring optimal butt kissing) and loves making long-winded comments that, in accordance with the Meeting Weasel Code, always come at the most inconvenient of times, namely just as you’re dozing off or right before lunch. You may also remember Meeting Weasel from his other appearances in your life, such as The Guy Sitting Next To You On The Plane Who Won’t Shut Up and The Guy In Your High School Class Who Reminds The Teacher To Collect Homework.

Now in writing this piece, it’s become clear to me that there are still many important meeting-related issues to address. These matters are integral, thought-provoking, and (according to nine out of 10 dentists) critical in the fight against plaque. Tell you what, why don’t we schedule a follow-up article to discuss?

You bring the pastries.

“Fact check, Tyler! Was gorgonzola even invented in 1970? It (gorgonzola) seems like a more recent development (You should really check this out yourself, but I’ll ask your mother—you know how she loves cheese.).”

“Have you considered the implications your bank heist might have had if placed in the historical context of the Taiping Rebellion [1850-1864] rather than gangland Chicago?”

“I think you’d like to reconsider the line ‘The derelict howls that issued from under the subway platform brought his thoughts inexorably back to Vietnam.’ Ho Chi Minh City (previously Saigon, and before that Prey Nokor before being annexed by the Vietnamese from the Khmer in the 17th century) doesn’t have a subway and won’t have one until 2014, I think. Or is your narrator in New York now? Are we supposed to believe he was also in Vietnam? I thought that was another character with the same name…What’s going on here, son? Are you on pot?”

“Once again, I’m afraid, you confuse correlation with causation (didn’t I suggest a reading of Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature some time ago?) when your narrator says, ‘My father, I saw as if through a kind of gauze. He was there, but ephemeral, his head always in some arcane history book and his temper—if interrupted from his study—was legion.’ What a shit thing to say about one’s father, eh? Your narrator is an ingrate. Did you know that in China, if a child didn’t show sufficient filial piety he could be EXECUTED? Your narrator should think about that. Just saying.”

“Have you considered writing under a pseudonym? I know there are a lot of Smiths out there, and Tyler is not a common name. But it’s not an uncommon one either, and when you throw in your middle name (pretentious), people are going to know who you are and, more importantly, who I am. And that will embarrass the hell out of your mother. Which is not to say that this book will ever be published. Most books aren’t. I mean, the ones that are published obviously are, but works like this are tough, almost impossible, to get into print. Especially if you’re going to stick with the three names thing (pretentious).”

“Here’s a bit of something, son: Your narrator is a maudlin inebriate (like Churchill—but you didn’t hear that from me), so I naturally wouldn’t expect him to give great speeches on love. But Jesucristo: “We never knew if we were falling in love or just getting scared.” I mean REALLY. Have you forgotten my casual remarks at the dinner table on Plato’s Symposium when Aristophanes speaks so eloquently on the subject of love, and where Socrates gives one of the most compelling explanations of love’s origin ever recorded?  The Symposium did have a variety of dilettante drunks hanging about to enjoy the conversation, though, a role your narrator could conceivably fill, as he is both drunk and unskilled. Socrates’ speeches in the Symposium and in the dialogue of the Phaedrus are sublime, and infinitely more resonant than your generation’s post-modern formulas for love—you know, the ones that spring forth from our endless stream of capitalist infomercials and pseudo-intellectual brain candy, like “Men Are From It’s Okay To Cry/ Women Are From Attend My Seminar And Pay Me Money.” 

“Socrates on a scooter, Ty. It seems someone isn’t familiar with the expression “Barba non facit philosophum. Just because you spent some time doing acid and looking at Monarch butterflies at Esalen with your African-American girlfriend, doesn’t mean you’re Franz fucking Fanon. Then again, nothing ventured, nothing gained, I suppose. Speaking of ventures, how did you manage to spend $10,000 living in a “tent” in Palo Alto for three months? Were you building a superconductor? I guess when you were small and we’d say to you, “Son, you can do anything you want in life,” we didn’t really anticipate that you’d interpret “anything” as synonymous with “nothing.” I’m not trying to browbeat you, you understand. I just want you to recognize that a.) We love you very much no matter what and no your mother didn’t make me say that; b.) If you don’t tear up that credit card, I’ll tear you a new one (and I don’t mean another card), and c.) I think we’re doomed. How are the Rockets supposed to make the playoffs with this bunch of assholes? I have to question Tracy McGrady’s dedication. Call to discuss.”

“Fact-checked gorgonzola for you. It seems you’re off the hook, as my junior colleague Dr. Munz, who teaches HIST 351, Europe 4th Century C.E to The Crusades, says that gorgonzola was invented sometime after the sack of Argentia by the Huns, but before the wars between the Guelphs and Ghibelines. (I know, I know. There’s a 500 year window of opportunity between those dates. Pretty damned imprecise. That’s why Dr. Munz isn’t getting tenure, but you didn’t hear that from me).”

“Your mother says you should write a children’s book.”







Jason Chambers: The Three Guys first came across Roger Smith about a year ago, prior to the release of his first novel Mixed Blood. Read the whole conversation, where we all were in agreement, surprisingly enough, about the merits of his writing and this great book, loving the raw violence of the Capetown setting, and throwing around phrases such as “cinematic”, “great genre writing” and, memorably, “ghetto cozy”. Here’s what RS had to say about the books that hooked him:

Mixed Blood picadorlorezRoger Smith: I was reading American crime fiction long before I started shaving, but it was a book by Richard Stark (the pseudonym of Donald E. Westlake) that really turned my head: The Hunter /AKA Point Blank(1964). I still have it, a dog-eared little paperback with a plain silver cover sporting a bullet hole and a one-liner: a novel of violence. A tight piece of gutter existentialism – lean as a Brazilian supermodel – it follows Parker (no first name, no morals, precious little backstory) an ex-con out of prison and out for revenge. A sawed-off shotgun of a book.

My next major influence was Elmore Leonard, whose slangy, street-smart parables have been imitated by many – including Quentin Tarantino – but never equaled. The world of fiction would have been immeasurably poorer without his incredible input, and he continues to produce brilliant novels well into his eighties. It’s tough to pick out one Leonard, but I think Glitz (1985) ushered in more than a decade of classics. It is Leonard at his best: a multi-viewpoint narrative that moves like hell. Great dialogue (of course), a tough-but-vulnerable hero, a sick and nasty villain, with a good-looking woman thrown in. Is there anybody out there who wouldn’t kill to be able to write as effortlessly as this?

No crime collection is complete without Patricia Highsmith’s five Tom Ripley books (spanning 1955 – 1991) featuring the most seductive anti-hero series fiction has ever produced, starting with The Talented Mr Ripley. Forget about the limp movie version, and read this deadpan amorality tale from the fabulously understated Highsmith. Young Tom, struggling to make a living in NYC, is chosen by the wealthy Herbert Greenleaf to retrieve his son, Dickie, from Italy. Ripley insinuates himself into Dickie’s world and soon finds that his passion for a lifestyle of wealth and sophistication is something to kill for. Over the next thirty-six years Tom (married to the inscrutable Heloise) funds a life of bourgeoisie privilege in the French countryside with art forgery, blackmail and murder.

wake up dead lo rezWhenever anybody trots out the old saw that protagonists have to be sympathetic, I point them in the direction of Jim Thompson’s string of dark and subversive novels. My favorite is The Killer Inside Me (1952). The unreliable narrator, Lou Ford, is a small-town sheriff who appears to be a dumb, sweet, hayseed: “I’ve stood looking nice and friendly and stupid, like I wouldn’t piss if my pants were on fire. And all the time I’m laughing myself sick inside. Just watching the people.” Ford is a cunning, complex, madman, who plays cat and mouse with the world, fighting a nearly-constant urge to act violently, an urge Ford describes as the sickness. A Thompson classic. His characters sure as hell aren’t nice, but they’re damned interesting.

BIO: Roger Smith was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and now lives in Cape Town. His debut thriller, Mixed Blood, was published in March 2009 and will be released in paperback by Picador Crime in December. His second book, Wake Up Dead (Henry Holt & Co), is coming in February 2010. The movie version of Mixed Blood is in development – scheduled to start shooting in Cape Town in late 2010 – starring Samuel L. Jackson, with Phillip Noyce directing.

I always left the keys in the ignition overnight.One dawn, I made a futile attempt of starting the engine gently, to allow the others to keep snoring in the back and in the cabin over my head.The coast and shimmy of our home would lull them long enough to let me feel like a chance clueless steward of daybreak assigned to this return side of the continental divide.I had a little moment.The wilderness had little me.

With light yet to burst over the distant ridge, white fog hung in the forest we were emerging from, like ghosts had passed out only an hour ago and half-dissolved among the pines.Whatever else had happened, the wilds had taken over during the night all around us.

When my father and mother met in 1957, he gave her a fake name. John LaSalle, he called himself, claiming he was visiting from New York to help out a friend who had just opened a bar and needed an experienced hand. He was only in Chicago for a few weeks, he claimed, so obviously he wasn’t looking for anything “serious.” This was, apparently, good enough for her.

My mother was twenty-five, which seems preposterously young in 2009, but in 1957 most of her girlhood friends were already married with children in elementary school, whereas my mother lived alone in a studio on Rush Street, occasionally singing and playing piano in jazz clubs (though she could not read music), working as a secretary by day, and sometimes falling into pits of depression she describes as “black periods,” in which she wrote morose poetry full of lines like “the faltering foot of man who wades/into the guideless brew” and “go my chain.” She had, though you were not supposed to admit it in those days, been through her share of men, including a broken engagement in her late teens. She had traveled the country with two traveling salesmen who dined on steak and made her eat burgers, selling No-Doze machines to truck stops. In California, she had briefly worked as a ballroom dance instructor and been so poor she lived on Hershey bars, but now she was back in Chicago, where she had been raised, with a stable job. Though not thin by today’s standards, my mother was a beautiful woman, with a striking resemblance to a young Isabella Rossellini. Her boobs were something to behold. A semi-famous actor once tried to acquire her as a mistress, but she was not cut out for that life. She had too rigid a moral center, or too much fear, or both, to her betterment or her detriment.

Though this is not ostensibly “about” my mother, I guess what I’m trying to say is that she, while not perfect, was in my father’s estimations “above his station.” Even now that she is seventy-seven, he seems unclear what exactly she is doing with the likes of him . . . though as with most men, this does not mean he has always treated her well. Besides his lacking hair and being older, my father had never lived outside Chicago or even graduated from the eighth grade. More importantly, he was shy to a fault whereas my mother was—and still is—the type of person almost everyone immediately likes. She is outgoing and palpably kind, and she asks a lot of questions (which seem polite and interested if you don’t know her well, albeit bordering on Inquisitional if you know her very, very well.) She’s easy-going and accommodating, avoiding confrontation as though it were a venomous snake coiled at her heel, but that her eternal optimism makes her believe she can easily sidestep and outrun. In public in their early days, she was taken perpetually for his daughter: a mistake they milked with rare and comic perversity.

Yet for all her smiles and pleasantries, my mother is a deeply secretive, easily wounded person who prefers getting to know others to being known herself. She had always been popular as a teen, and into her early twenties—a party girl who won a contest for the prettiest legs; who danced on car roofs in the rain with other bawdy young girls and lived in apartments with a string of roommates . . . but by her mid-twenties, many of those friendships had faded away. Her relationships (platonic and romantic) seemed based more on surface fun than true intimacy, so by the time she met my father in 1957, she was acutely lonely, though she may not have put it that way, or even realized it. She was, as they say, “ripe.”

They met on a blind date. A friend of my dad’s (who was, incidentally, an ex boyfriend of my mom’s) gave him her number after my father chauvinistically proclaimed that women knew nothing about jazz—the fellow said my mother could give him a run for his money. So they met at a coffee shop at two in the morning, because that was when my father got off work. Their conversation lasted into morning, when they moved to the restaurant across the street for breakfast. Afterwards, I am fairly sure they adjourned to my mother’s apartment for sex, though I was (thank god) never told this explicitly. Certainly, they could not have gone to my father’s place, as he lived with his parents in the same small two-bedroom in which he’d been born, in a rundown Italian neighborhood far from glamorous Rush Street. My mother, of course, did not know this. She did not even know he was Italian—which, if you have ever seen my father’s nose, does not speak highly of her powers of observation. When a couple of weeks later, my mother once called him at his “friend’s” bar to tell him she’d be late for their date, she was told there was “no John LaSalle” there, but that the owner, John Frangello, might know who he was and where to find him.

Hence, my father’s ass was busted—my mother recognized his voice and slammed down the phone in fury. Later that night, my father showed up at her door with champagne and cheeseburgers, and for reasons lost to history yet eternal among lonely women in any time, my mother forgave him.

Four years later, they married. If they are both still living in August 2011, it will be their fiftieth wedding anniversary. My father would be eighty-nine.

Two quick details about their courtship, just because:

1) They not only met based on a lie of identity, but married based on one. In order to snag my mother a vacation from work—her boss was rather smitten with her and never gave her any time off—my parents told the man that they were going on a honeymoon to Europe. Only once the other secretaries at her office threw her a shower and gave her presents did my mother realize that everyone would expect her to come back from vacation with a new surname. She had two options: quit her job, or get married. As an Executive Secretary, her position was a coveted one for a girl with no college degree, so it seemed a shame to lose it. “Well then,” my father said, “we’d better get married,” and off to City Hall they went.

2) My father had a predilection for oral sex and was obsessed with giving it to my mother. (Why my mother told me this would obviously be fodder for another post, entitled “Too Much Information: Shit My Mother Told Me That I Never Needed to Know,” but there it is.)

But again, as this is not the story of my mother, neither is it the story of their dating years, their sex life or—later—the lack thereof. Those are stories that are fun, or at least funny, to tell, and that I have explored somewhat in my fiction. Today, however, is my father’s 88th birthday. And so, perhaps, this is a harder story to tell: one that eludes me even as I am beginning it. The story of how you get from point A to point Y. This is a story of knowing point Z—end point—is hovering nearby, forever around the corner, yet not precisely when it will hit. The story of the wild ride, and when, sometimes, that ride goes on without you, long after you are nauseated from the curves and would simply rather get off.

How do you tell a story like that? Apparently, here, you start with the easy stuff. You start off slow, and hope that somehow you can circle things around just enough to create a pastiche, a collage, a portrait that resembles a whole, even if it can never be exactly complete.

“Getting old is a kick in the ass, honey,” my father told me when he was maybe seventy. By then, he had already outlived all his brothers spare one (long dead now), as well as his parents and most of his male friends—old customers from his bar or other bar owners, musicians, or occasional Mobsters whom alcoholism, drug use, high blood pressure or violent lifestyles got killed early. His fifties and sixties were full of wakes, and by the time he entered his seventies, he was already a Last Man Standing of sorts. When our longtime neighbor, reputed Mob boss Joe Lombardo, was let out of prison in the late 1980s, he drove by my father’s house honking his horn and waving, making a loud show of his “respect” for my father, one of the neighborhood patriarchs.

Every night my father dreams of his dead brothers. His dreams are full of barren, frozen grounds and solitary old men, dragged off by hostile crowds in the back of carts. His dreams are full of death imagery and ghosts. He never dreams of me or my mother. In his dream life, he has been standing alone for nearly two decades now.

“The show’s over,” he’s been telling us for years. And then, in the next breath, looking at my daughters, age 9, “I wish I could be around to see them get married.”

Where am I going with this? Where am I going?

I have given myself the week to figure it out. This is the thing about “youth,” even middle-aged-youth: I can still believe in the luxury of time. And so I’ll try again tomorrow.

Move over, Pulitzer. Step aside, Man Booker. National Book Award? Pfft.

We asked our esteemed TNB editorial staff to nominate their selections for best books of 2009. The only rules were: the book had to be published this year, and books by TNB contributors were not eligible. The result is the first annual TNB Best Books of the Year award—The Nobby, for short.

Here are the Nobby winners, presented in alphabetical order by author:

Daffy Duck was my first role model, and probably my most enduring. Those who know me, will recognize in my person Daffy’s Quixotic optimism, his dogged determination, his wet and unstoppable verbal bombast—in short, his mania. Daffy is a blur. He completely and perpetually defies inertia. Daffy is tireless, his appetites never wane, his energy never flags. Daffy feels best with four hours sleep. Daffy can preach, wax, eat an entire buffet, drink twelve beers, preach some more, peel the labels off the empty bottles, stack the coasters, give you an unsolicited pep talk, tease, hector, and encourage you in the same breath, and when that’s done, Daffy can jump in his car and drive twenty-six hours straight to Tuscon, rouse his friend out of bed, and force him to go bowling.

I’m a man, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I like romantic comedies.  Notting Hill is my favorite, a picture-perfect execution of the boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-runs-after-girl-with-the-help-of-his-quirky-friends formula, but I even enjoy the lesser, second-tier jobs like Two Weeks Notice, Runaway Bride, or this year’s The Proposal.  I enjoy these films in the same way I like action flicks such as Die Hard or Crank 2: they abide by the genre’s blueprint and let me lose myself in their silly worlds for two hours.

If you’re a nudist, then you probably already know that the state of Oregon doesn’t ban nudity or have a crime of indecent exposure.

If you’re not a nudist, then you’re now either changing your airline tickets so you can spend a few extra days in Oregon, or you’re changing them so you can land in the state of Washington, because in your mind it’s practically the same thing.

But even without this state ban of public nudity, there aren’t herds of naked people grazing along the Oregon highways.

There aren’t basketball games of Shirts vs. Pants happening in the local park.

And there aren’t naked families chilling at the Drive-In, taking in double features in the bed of a reversed pick-up, arguing when it’s still safe to eat dropped popcorn.

Off of Mom, yes.

Off of Dad, judgment call.

Off of Adolescent Ned, not unless you like your popcorn topped with gym sweat and happy trail hair.

It should be noted that many cities and towns in Oregon have local laws banning public nudity in parks and in their downtown areas.

And that’s how it is in the town of Ashland, population of about 20,000. You can’t strut your stuff down Main Street and you can’t sunbathe without tan lines in one of their parks, but if you happen to slip off to a secluded area of Ashland Creek and do a bit of skinny dipping, no one is going to call the cops.

They may call their friends and they may call you names based on your physical haves or have-nots, but they’re not going to call the cops.

(Stick with the interview below for a link to some naked Oregonians.)

It’s been going on like this for a century or so.

But then a guy from the Bay Area, Tony Cooper, vacationed in Ashland this past summer in not much else than some sneakers and fanny pack.

The town’s folk were a little annoyed by the 66-year-old guy walking their streets in the nude, but then attitudes changed substantially when he unknowingly entered a school zone.

You know what they say: “It’s one thing if I catch a glimpse of your bobbing bird, but it’s another thing if my grade-school daughter sees it, comes home and draws its likeness all over her bedroom wallpaper, and then goes on to draw a big old penis on our favorite photograph of Grandma.”

They do say that.

Look it up.

Might be in Deuteronomy.

In response to Cooper’s school-side jaunts, Ashland thought it was time to legally ban nudity within 1,000 feet of a school, but the mayor sided with three of the six members of the City Council, asking that the people vote on the initiative themselves in the future.

See, this was just one instance of a nude dude around a school in however-long, and this nude dude has since gone on record apologizing for being near a school and promised the next time he visited he’d only go outside au naturale after 10 pm.

No reason to overreact, the mayor thought.

It’ll all blow over, many said.

Two years ago, if you remember, the small town of Brattleboro, Vermont, faced an eerily similar situation.

They were lax on their views of public nudity until, according to a Reuters story:

“The weather grew hot and a couple of dozen teens took to holding hula hoop contests, riding bikes and parading past stores wearing only their birthday suits. The disrobing has resumed this summer.

But many locals say it has gone too far. Some cite a case in which a senior citizen from Arizona strolled through the center of town wearing only a waist pack and sandals.

A fanny-pack wearing old man was fucking it up for everyone.

Just like this summer in Ashland, Oregon.

Brattleboro went on to ban public nudity altogether for 30 days, but the national attention of being called an intolerant town seemed to sway them into letting the ban lapse and letting the free-wheelin’ to continue on.

Ashland’s story continues up in the Pacific Northwest.

With yet another fanny pack.

Because the town did not go on to ban public nudity in school areas, a man from Minnesota went to Ashland to be purposefully be naked in front of their schools.


According to the Ashland Police Chief, the man intentionally walked around the high school naked, save for his fanny pack, while students were present, and then was later hanging around the school’s parking lot wearing clothes.

And now, tomorrow, the City Council is voting on banning nudity across the board.

No more skinny dipping in Ashland Creek.

No more sunbathing topless in the backyard.

No more carefree walks from the shower to the bedroom, because if the ban passes, Eric Navickas, City Council member, says that you could be arrested for indecent exposure in your own home.

I interviewed Navickas via email:

GB: Are you naked right now?

EN: Bare naked; ask what you want.

GB: Good. Glad to know you’re taking advantage of the opportunity while it’s still legal in Ashland. Aside from Ashland Creek and in front of their computers, where else have citizens of Ashland been getting naked that hasn’t caused a public outcry?

EN: There have been several events associated with nudity that have been generally popular. The first that comes to mind was the “Buns not Bombs” protest at the outbreak of the war in Iraq. About ten people marched through downtown with body paint on their bare bodies. Another protest around that time entailed about thirty nudes forming a large peace symbol out of their bodies in the front lawn of our downtown park. We’ve also had citizens celebrate the World Naked Bike Ride event; an international event to raise awareness to fossil fuel consumption. I’ve seen other events associated with the First Friday Art Walk that included nudity; usually again with body paint. All of these events seemed well received and resulted in little or no public outcry.

As well, we have many people who just enjoy nude sunbathing in their yards or hot tubs that would be affected by the proposed ban if they are visible from a public place.

GB: So no more nude hot tubbing in your backyard if this thing passes. Ashland would be going from naked peace signs in the park and naked bike parades to having to worry about getting arrested for walking in front of their front window on their way to the shower. Do you blame this guy from Minnesota for this, or do you blame the citizens of Ashland?

EN: I believe the Council is to blame for responding with a knee-jerk reaction to an unusual circumstance. We really don’t have naked people walking around schools every day. I believe it is important for legislators to maintain a level head in these circumstances and not immediately jump to passing another restrictive law that may have broader implications. More than likely we’ll never see another naked person walking around a school.

I’m disappointed this guy from Minnesota provoked the Council into responding in this manner.

GB: Have the discussions been civil or heated in city hall? I’m imagining something dramatic where someone arrives to a meeting in the nude and yells: “Look at me! I said, ‘Look at me!’ Am I a monster, or am I human? And could somebody check out this mole on my lower back? I think it’s gotten bigger but my wife says I’m crazy.”

EN: This round of discussions have been fairly civil and, unfortunately, Council has heard more from those with fearful attitudes toward their bodies who wish to associate nudity with sexual predation or indecency.

I found these old pictures, however, from the previous time the Council discussed this some years ago when they limited the ban to the downtown and parks. This protest was staged on the front lawn of the Council Chambers (NSFW): http://rogueimc.org/en/2004/07/2970.shtml

GB: You voted against the proposed ban around schools and you plan on voting against the city-wide nudity ban that’s coming up on Tuesday. What’s your biggest personal worry here? That the slope is as slippery as they say? Did you have a nude production of “Annie Get Your Gun” coming up and you’ve already sold out, and the thought of having to pay everyone back would be a major headache? Or are you worried that Ashland would look lame in the eyes of other Oregonians? Is Oregonians a word, or did I make that up?

EN: I will be voting against the proposed ban. I believe the healthiest society is one that is very disciplined in protecting civil liberties. Nudity in itself is entirely harmless and I’m proud to live in a community that to this point has been able to tolerate and even celebrate occasional eccentric behavior. Ashland is an artist community that is suffering from rapid gentrification. To myself, this is in many ways a symbolic death of our community as anything unique; we’ll now be another Fox News, Big Mac, fully dressed, all-American, normal town.

There is no damage to anyone, including children, in seeing a nude person. In fact, studies show that societies that have a healthy attitude toward accepting public nudity have many fewer social problems with unhealthy sexual behavior. I believe the establishment clause of the First Amendment that defines us as a secular state and restricts the establishment of religion limits our right to legislate morals. This moral legislation that has no place in a secular state.

In practice this law will simply be another tool to harass the counter-culture of our community. Conservatives and many of the business establishment in this town have a nasty history of finding insidious ways to “clean things up.” A couple of hippies playing guitar, the aging crystal toting neighbor with saggy boobs who likes to sunbathe, a couple of bike punks bumming change, or the single mom with tattoos going for a soothing skinny-dip; these are undesirable victims of this growing intolerant attitude in Ashland.

Also, Oregonian is a word; how about Chicagonian?

GB: It’s Chicagoan. You got a little ‘N’ and ‘I’ happy there, like me when I watch “Wheel of Fortune” by myself. Now the part that interests me the most about this story is this guy from Minnesota who came directly to Ashland to get naked in front of school children. I’ve gone back and forth on who this guy is. He is either 1.) Some dude who saw the opportunity to live out his perverse dream of letting little Sally and Timmy see his wang without getting arrested, or 2.) He’s some rogue conservative who is taking one for the team, showing you what happens when you purposefully don’t ban nudity around schools. I believe it was the latter. A guy was teaching you all a lesson so that you had no choice but to bring the idea of banning nudity back to a vote. What do you think?

EN: I’ve tried not to speculate as to what motive this individual had but the facts of the story are so unusual it leads one to speculate. The most conservative member of the Council brought forward the initial proposal to ban nudity within school zones. Most on the council felt that there was really no need to put this type of law on the books as we really haven’t had a problem with lots of nudes around schools. It seemed to be a means of framing the argument to build support for his personal issues and prudish attitude. We’ve seen similar tactics with some of the anti-homosexual legislation conservatives have brought forward here in Oregon that attempt to frame the discussion around “protecting children;” perverting their intolerance into an interest social good.

Anyway, several days after a majority of Council refused to support this proposal, a nudist claiming to be from Minnesota arrived and began walking around various schools. This lasted about two days and then he was gone. The action was so specific to the Council decision that it was hard not to think it was specifically contrived to provoke the city into banning nudity. There has been a lot of speculation as to whether the individual was paid, but that would be very difficult to prove; we are left discussing this in the context of having a real problem with nudists around schools. Perhaps our own miniature version of the Reichstag fire that we’ll never know the facts on.

GB: I wish you luck with your crusade to keep the town of Ashland liberal, free, and unique. Any final argument for someone who thinks public nudity is a one-way ticket to hell?

EN: I see it as nothing less than degrading to humanity as a whole to legally define the human body as something that is inherently le or indecent. I personally subscribe to the Platonic/Vitruvian view that there is something sacred to our form that we should celebrate not condemn.

The Ashland City Council votes tomorrow.

And from what Navickas has told me, it sounds like it’s going to be 4-2 in favor to ban public nudity.

But we shall see.

Check the comments on this post tomorrow evening, or follow along on their newspaper:  The Ashland Daily Tidings.

While I wait, I’m left with my conspiracy theory. I’m still trying to put the Arizona guy who almost ruined public nudity for Brattleboro, VT, in the same fanny pack as the guy from Minnesota who might have ruined public nudity for Ashland, OR.

If it’s the same person – if it’s one man who flies around the country on a mission to make small liberal towns fearful of the naked human body by getting naked himself, if it’s one conservative man who stares at the mirror and tells himself he’s a star, a big bright shining star, before he snaps that fanny pack on and terrorizes mothers and the Christian Book Store employees with his old penis – then I am in awe.

Then I want to make that documentary.

Then I want to write his book.

Then I want to recruit him to help me fight my causes, those who parade around with infanticide posters and those who use text/instant messaging shorthand.

We’ll fight them at the same time.

We’ll join the maniacs at a popular university intersection and wear white shirts and black ties, and we’ll attach blown up photographs of toddlers eating Big Macs and drinking Pepsi to long sticks, and at the bottom they’ll read: “MERICA 2 FAT :( :P” and “I DID HAZ Cheezburger LOL!1!”

And we can store our fliers in our fanny packs until it’s time to pass them out.