Nothing like a somewhat obscure caricature fulfilled

For years I’ve had a character that’s gotten me out of many uncomfortable silences (and caused a few): Gay redneck, loves NASCAR and dick with equal fervor.

Ronnie Sproles, Gay Redneck’s Christian name, drives a Ford truck with a sticker of a boy pissing on a Chevy right next to a rainbow flag decal. Today I got behind a guy in a Ford pick-up with a NASCAR decal affixed aside an equality sticker.

“I don’t give a shit what anyone says I do what I want to …”

Sexual assault with a rogue Crayola

I was probably 5 or 6 when I received my first doctor’s kit but was disappointed with the thermometer. Always the resourceful tot, I turned to most trusted accessory.

No one got more use out of crayons. I used to mash up the gold, silver and bronze ones into a fine powder, passing  out portions of the waxy dust to girls I fancied. The gold dust went to the A-listers, silver to the B-listers, and so on. Most were fooled.

I was emboldened.

Now I trust everyone remembers the freezing jolt of the anal thermometer, a most peculiar rite of passage. A stickler for accuracy even as a child, I insisted on administering the Crayola thermometer rectally. My patients were the two little girls who lived on the same cul-de-sac. Fevers got a red crayon; otherwise, blue. Out if respect for Mother Earth, I recycled (but only for future temperature-taking).

Again, I was 6. The phrase “unwanted advance” meant nothing to me.

So why share this precious anecdote, ATLmalcontent?

WISC-TV, the CBS affiliate in Madison, reports that Grant County, Wisconsin, District Attorney Lisa Riniker, who charged a 6-year-old boy with first-degree sexual assault becaused he played doctor with a 5-year-old girl, has obtained a gag order that prohibits his parents, who have sued Riniker and two other county officials, from talking about the case. Iowa County Judge Bill Dyke issued the order last Monday, forcing the boy’s parents to cancel a planned interview with WISC. The station spoke instead with their lawyers, who are not covered by the order:

“That behavior by a prosecutor is outrageous,” said Christopher Cooper, an attorney for the boy’s parents. …

“She [Riniker] bypassed the parents and sent a 6-year-old boy a summons, on which is a threat that the 6-year-old will go to jail for failure to appear,” Cooper said.

The attorneys said they have sought the opinion of many experts who said that children “playing doctor” is not a sex crime.

I hope the 6-year-old destroyed his crayons before D.A. Lisa Riniker could dust for prints.

I’m not above quoting Rex Reed

Particularly when he’s critical of a certain Oscar-winning screenwriter‘s new film, “J. Edgar”:

For now, we have another miscalculation in a bloodless film about a monster more pathetic than dangerous, with an odd, rambling screenplay by Oscar-winning writer Dustin Lance Black (Milk) that meanders all over the place unable to tell a story with any kind of narrative coherence.

Actually, I don’t hate to say I told ya so

A new biography on the life of Walter Payton alleges that the NFL Hall of Famer numbed his maladies by robotically ingesting the painkiller Darvon during his playing days, was involved in extramarital dalliances and fell into a depressed state that included heavy self-medication after his NFL career ended in 1987.

I interviewed Payton in either ’88 or ’89 and found him to be anything but sweet:

After he kept me waiting for an hour, I was finally summoned. Ascending the steps of his customized trailer, I was shaken by the sound of crushing glass, or, in this case, sunglasses. Payton informed me they cost him $275. He sounded as if he expected to be reimbursed.

The interview went even worse. No matter how benign the query, Payton responded with, “Yes, no or I don’t want to talk about that.”

I tried to engage him on some training camp controversy involving ex-teammate Jim McMahon, but that just made him more agitated. “What the hell do you think I’ve got to say about that?” or words to that effect.

As if it wasn’t obvious enough how little regard he held for me, “Sweetness” lifted his leg to emit a loud stream of flatulence. He repeated, twice.

My sister’s rehearsal dinner

When my older sister married her husband, families from opposite ends of the good fortune chain uncomfortably merged. His was born into old money; hers (mine) born in holes, equipped with shovels.

The rehearsal dinner was at a navy blue-blooded private club in a Buckhead high-rise. I was seated next to my late Aunt Babs, a truly gifted color analyst and functioning alcoholic. Had his second wife Zelma not been with him, I would’ve probably ended up beside my grandfather, born, bred and buried in Middle Georgia. He liked telling stories about his miseries, failures and misdeeds; his effortless folksiness, and usage of discarded colloquialisms — “What do you mean, pussel gutted?” “You know, pussel gutted.” Quizzical look. “Pussel gutted (while rubbing extended tummy.” “Oh, you mean fat.” “Yeah, pussel gutted” — made the woebegone tales amusing.

Zelma, quite pussel gutted herself, was proudly humorless, well-practiced at killing the party. Every year they’d come for Thanksgiving dinner, and every year Zelma would announce, right before turkey carving, that she was full from their big lunch at Davis Bros. in Madison. My dad barely hid his contempt for “Pretzel,” also known as the woman my grandfather “courted” while my grandmother was being treated for cancer.

The rest of the family, not so memorable. I’ve seen my uncles a combined dozen times in my life, if that. The older one used to be in a loosely organized motorcycle gang before he settled down as an arcade manager, the guy who would change out your quarters for one of the thousand tokens jangling in his pocket vest. This would mark my only encounter with Paula the hairdresser, wife number four. To hear Babs on her fifth glass of champagne tell it, Paula preferred the ladies — “them bull dyke types,” said the veteran forklift driver. My mom’s sister also had short hair and was really pussel gutted, though her five marriages were enough to discourage the typical assumption.

The much younger uncle said little, though he did enjoy brief chats about the Phils and “Iggles.” I’m told he once tried to bite off his tongue on an acid trip. I guess his wife, a high school math teacher, still had her tongue, though she seemed to regard conversation as a barrier to daydreaming about math.

My mother wanted to have her mother, the aged party girl, seated next to the paternal grandfather (see above) at the head table. Of course, that would upset my fragile grandmother, who thought her third husband deserved a front-row seat.

Ralph looked just like the “time to make the donuts” guy on the old Dunkin’ Donuts commercial, though he was seldom jolly. He could always be counted on for a whopper, insisting, on several occasions, he had lunched with Colin Powell and Dan Quayle. You can imagine ol’  J. Danforth driving all the way to the Shoneys in Ft. Wayne to break bread with a 64-year-old TV repairman. Maybe he shared Ralph’s appreciation for the Scott Baio flick, “Zapped.” (The lies continued even after Ralph’s death; in his obituary he claimed to be a Korean War vet, odd since he was 13 when the started and 16 at its conclusion.)

Ralph — really, really pussel gutted — arrived the dinner in a foul mood, claiming the suspension on his car was compromised after “hauling Mister Boone and Zelma’s fat asses around.” Ralph, nicknamed Guido by the bridesmaids, would’ve shopped at Big and Tall stores had he not spent all his money on porn. He got the Playboy Channel, he said, because it came with basic cable.

At one point, my brother-in-law’s father, a well-traveled patrician, playfully asked Ralph how he could’ve ended up with such a beautiful (step) granddaughter. “You ain’t no prince yourself!” Ralph snorted.

By that time he had already complained about the small portions, an outrage, he said, for such a ritzy joint. Paula, barely able to stand, collected the food off her and my uncle’s plate, advanced to the head table and transferred it to Ralph’s dish. He grunted and resumed eating. Paula would later stand to toast the couple-to-be with a mangled toast she probably picked up at bingo night at the VFW: “Birds do it in the sky, frogs do it and die …”

Don’t remember much else, save for my intoxicated sister planting a wet one on Ralph, who, best-case scenario, was once in the Mob. He had biological kids, but for some reason he agreed to let their mother tell them he’s dead. I hate to ponder what would make one consent to such an arrangement, though, when I have dared wonder, “Mafia hitman” is always the most preferable rationale.

Ralph’s parting words, “Let’s pack up and get the hell out of here.” Agreed.

Deceptions (best of)

Happy Birthday!

I’ve written before about the coffee table Bible and the prudish stripper, my two most ingenious fibs.

Today I was reminded of two others.

Roughly 12 years ago today my friend Ms. Ellie was expecting a very special visitor. What started as an outlandish joke evolved into a false promise that she would be paid a birthday visit from Richard Simmons. In her office. It was mostly persistence, as I recall. I kept selling and, finally, she bought, even letting others in on her birthday “surprise” that wasn’t.

“I should’ve known better,” she told me today, “being the victim of the coffee table Bible hoax.”

No one is immune, not even relative strangers.

The victim: Former mayoral candidate Mary Norwood

The scene: An annual gathering that draws some of Atlanta’s top powerbrokers. For some reason, I was also there. So, too, was disgraced former Mayor Bill Campbell, fresh from a stint behind bars for tax evasion.

Post-prison, one of Campbell’s earliest appearances came in August 2009, when he attended a Houck birthday celebration, posing for photos and greeting old friends.

I seized the opportunity for mischief.

Me: “So, I guess congratulations are in order.”

Norwood: “What for?”

“The Bill Campbell endorsement.”


“Bill Campbell, endorsing you for mayor. I just heard.”

Norwood, a nice woman for whom I hold no ill will, almost spilled her Chardonnay on ice. Had we been friends, I would’ve let the lie fester for awhile.

Miley Cyrus is SEO friendly

I’ve been invited to a speak to a group of bloggers tonight during one of the Malcontent’s more pronounced lulls. Perhaps I’ll speak on selecting a new template, aka Redesigning your blog, OCD and me.

Let’s see:

Debt ceiling. Pass.

Michele Bachmann. Still crazy.

Weather. Still hot.

Summer movies. Still lame.

Ah, here we go. Billy Ray Cyrus’ daughter got a pro-gay tattoo on her middle finger. Discuss.

‘Six-time local Emmy award-winning weatherman, bearish top, Boy Scout leader’

Andrew Sullivan asks, “When did you lose your Internet cherry?” My story:

I was the first of my friends to purchase a PC, a massive Compaq that set me back nearly $2,000. I was freelancing at the time, typing stories on a word processor, which I would save to a floppy disc then drive to whatever publication was paying, where they would upload it. Not very efficient.

The ‘net was a virtual clean slate back then, a godsend for budding entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, I lack the money-making gene. I am, however, quite skilled at making mischief out of nothing.

The social networks back then were Prodigy, CompuServe and AOL. Soon I discovered the M4M chat rooms, fertile ground for a troublemaker.

I created a schizophrenic profile in the guise of one of the many voices in my head, disgraced six-time local Emmy Award weatherman Levon Dukes, 62: 39, Sunday school teacher, aggressive top, six-pack abs, Boy Scout leader, bear, bourbon drinker, etc.

Screen name MrDukes would enter a gay room with guns blazing, admonishing chatters for their “degenerate lifestyles” while IM’ing crude come-ons. I had an accomplice, Levon’s nephew Tiny, who would “accidentally” stumble into the lobby: “Mr. Dukes, is that you?” MrDukes would then rip into Tiny with a torrent of merciless, unprovoked insults. On cue, the rest of the room would rush to Tiny’s defense, blowing the whistle on Mr. Dukes’ closet-bound hypocrisy.

I miss chat room takeover.

How did I end up here?

I’ve found myself in some strange places over the years, including:

  • Kate Jackson‘s bed, minus Kate Jackson;
  • An “old-fashioned cross burning” at the home of Howard Stern’s favorite Klansmen, Daniel Carver. Work, not pleasure;
  • On the telephone with Gallagher. Work, not pleasure;
  • Reviewing Partridge Family memorabilia on a picnic table at Road Atlanta with Brian Forster, aka drummer Chris Partridge. See above;
  • Riding shotgun in a pick-up truck, lost, with Elvis Presley’s evangelist stepbrother;
  • Alone, in a church where the members spoke in tongues;
  • A youth karate tournament in San Francisco de Macoris, D.R. (I was looking for a restroom);
  • In a tricked-out SUV driven by ex-big leaguers Tony Pena Jr. and Willy Mo Pena;
  • The 70s-era apartment of Jose Canseco’s ex-girlfriend. I was asked to leave.
  • Jerry Clower’s dressing room.

Are gays catching on?

A certain nurse won’t like it, but my views on gay pride (here and here) no longer exist in a vacuum.

Would gay pride parades be more effective if participants wore suits and street clothes, instead of leather thongs and ass-less pants? Cord Jefferson at The Root says yes. Just as African Americans took extra pains to dress conservatively—with crisp shirts tucked in to dress slacks and skirts—during the civil rights marches of the ’50s and ’60s, perhaps the LGBT community would inspire more empathy if they did the same.

I’m inspired to engage in this linguistic activity because the annual “Pride Week” for usgays and lesbians is soon at hand, and I’m particularly interested in knowing what it is, exactly, that I’m supposed to be proud of.

Welcome aboard, my self-loathing comrades.

Lies and the lying liar who tells them

For someone who takes pride in his ability to mislead without malice, this essay was very reassuring (via Andrew Sullivan).

“If you can lie, you can act,” Brando told Jod Kaftan, a writer for Rolling Stone and one of the few people to have viewed the footage. “Are you good at lying?” asked Kaftan. “Jesus,” said Brando, “I’m fabulous at it.”

My best deceptions:

The coffee table Bible
Victim: Ms. Ellie
Source: Wedding gift from the in-laws

As her marriage to Bobby Bubbles drew nigh, I convinced Ms. Ellie that Bobby’s parents would be handing down the oversized family Bible. Believable, in that Bobby hails from strongly religious stock, just like the Malcontent. I let that one fester for about two months until Ms. Ellie threatened to confront her fiance.

The stripper, the gossip and the drunk
Victim: Al Kosa (unintended)
Source: Too much booze

This one’s a bit more complex, but it demonstrates my uncanny ability to lie on my feet. There’s this gal Al and I know — let’s call her Trace — who is not our biggest fan. (She accused me of pretending to be queer just so I could make fun of gay people). Said prudish female had previously accused Al of being a gossip — far from the truth.

So I’m a party where I find myself chatting with Trace. An opening presents itself and I just can’t resist: “Al tells me you used to do some stripping on the side.” Predictably, modest Trace blew up like a bullfrog, turned and left. I never had a chance to tell her I was only kidding — not that I tried.

Flash forward a couple of hours. I had passed out. Al arrives solo at the soiree, all happy-go-lucky, until he’s confronted by Trace’s boyfriend: “Why are you telling everyone my girlfriend is a stripper?” Al had no idea what he was talking about.

I could’ve cleared everything up but, as mentioned, I had retired to the boudoir. I haven’t seen Trace since — last I heard, she was plotting my demise — but the anecdote survives.

The Rapture and me

Despite accepting the “invitation to receive Christ” on more than one occasion, I wasn’t convinced of my salvation. I was only 11, after all — unprepared to handle the implications of eternal damnation.

My family’s 1981 summer vacation was preceded by a Southern Baptist revival. For those of you lucky enough not to be raised Southern Baptist, revivals feature out-of-town pastors imported to scare the hell out of congregants. I remember a ruddy-faced man with fat cheeks and a bad toupee painting a vivid portrait of life on Earth following the Rapture. I would’ve gone forward again had my parents not stopped me.

It was nearing sunset on Seagrove Beach when I experienced what I thought was the Rapture, complete with swarms of locusts descending from a fiery sky. Or so it seemed to my vivid imagination, which veered into overdrive when I couldn’t find my parents. I went down to the beach. Nothing. I called their names inside and outside the house. Nothing. After about five minutes my worst fears were realized. They’d been “raptured” while I was left behind to deal with the Apocalypse.

Naturally, I went into hysterics, circling the perimeter of the house repeatedly, my arms flailing, screaming for mommy and daddy. Neighbors ventured outside to watch, unsure of how to handle an 11-year-old raving lunatic. They kept their distance.

Finally, my parents emerged from the basement I didn’t know existed. They were clearly disturbed but I couldn’t tell them what had caused my nervous breakdown. I can’t recall my story but know that I’ve always been a gifted liar.

That evening they took me to Panama City to see “Cannonball Run.” I welcomed the distraction though I couldn’t help but wonder: would Burt Reynolds be left behind like me?

I resolve not to believe in omens

I could blame a harried week at work, or perhaps my advancing age. No, that’s too depressing. Whatever the reason, I celebrated the new year alone.

Plans were made and I anticipated a good time. Ah, and “North by Northwest” was on TCM.

That was six hours ago. I didn’t even make it through the end of the movie.

At least I woke up before midnight — 11:45 to be exact. Depression loomed so I rushed to mix a cocktail, which I proceeded to spill all over my various remote controls.

Still, it wasn’t my worst New Year’s Eve. That would be the last night of 1996 (my first year in Los Angeles), spent with the two most boring gay men on the west coast. I was home before midnight.

Actually, 1997 turned out pretty well for me. Perhaps 2011 will be even better.

Right again, ATLmalcontent

'What do you do for a living?' 'Fierce gatekeeper, you?'

I’m an excellent judge of people I’ve never met, a gift that revealed itself once again after scanning the program description for a reality show about Russell Simmons, who’s always struck me as a big phony. It read, almost verbatim:

Russell and his posse journey travel to Los Angeles to launch their rap-themed game and visit Russell’s children. Elsewhere, Simone sets out to spice up her life, and that includes partaking in some pole dancing with (product placement alert) singer-actress Aubrey O’Day.

I assumed Simone was one of his children but, just to make sure, I consulted the show’s website (which refers to Simmons as a yogi, among other titles):

This group of valuable colleagues on “Running Russell Simmons” (Oxygen) include Simone and Christina, who serve as Simmons’ closest confidantes, fierce gatekeepers, philanthropic czars, business liaisons and more.

I think I’ll make this a new feature. And yes, you’re right to ask, “If you’re so insightful, what are you doing reading program descriptions of reality shows?”