Homo homini rodentius est

Sex and Death, cont.

It’s still here.

 

Another World AIDS Day passes, in the twenty-fifth year of the plague, and these are the sad facts:

  • 40 Million people in the world are infected
  • 3 Million people died last year from AIDS
  • In the US, to date 529,113 people have died. More than our battlefield casualties in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the first Gulf war and Iraq combined
  • While infection rates worldwide leveled off in the late 90’s there are pockets of resurgence: Uganda, the UK and among young gay men in the US

Fifteen years ago, when the plague was laying waste to a generation of gay men, the question was whether action could be taken in time to build a firewall around the epidemic until a vaccine or drug to eradicate the virus could be developed. Despite the profound and wrenching violence done to bodies, societies and sex itself, people still spoke of cures. We just had to be vigilant until the beast was destroyed. But we underestimated the threat from this pathogen and its infernal genius for destruction — a virus that doesn’t just lurk in the marrow of our bones, but also in the dark places in our brains where our deepest needs and desires are hidden from the earnest instructions of safe sex pamphlets.

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God’s Assassin

UPDATED 12/25: New York Review of Books’ take on The God Delusion (link at end of this post).

Forty years ago, Time magazine detonated a bombshell with [a cover story] on the decline of religion in America. Caused quite a stir back in the day. Reading it today, the article is remarkable for, among other things, the contrast with the world as we know it: back then not only were lay people comparatively unreligious (they quote a Harris poll showing that though 90+ percent of respondents professed belief in God, less than a third considered themselves very religious), but theologians and leaders of mainstream churches were actively moving away from the concept of a personal God in order to fall into step with congregants. Forty years later we know how long that lasted. And yet, just recently it seems, voices of radical dissent are bubbling up. Atheists like [Sam Harris], Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins are suddenly everywhere, writing books, giving talks, appearing on television and YouTube. Following them is a phalanx of suddenly animated scientists and intellectuals decrying the dangerous effects of religious faith. The New York Times, in a [story] on a conference of scientific apostates recently held at the Salk Institute in California, quotes Nobel physicist Steven Weinberg as saying, “anything that we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done and may in the end be our greatest contribution to civilization.” Deicide is the new new thing.

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Terror of Tiny Town: The Sequel

Right before Halloween I wrote a piece about the [New York designer Thom Browne], who has created weird boy-like suits for grown men that have started appearing on the streets of Manhattan. I joked that for $3500 you could pick one up as a Halloween costume. Then I found this — a short film produced by Browne to highlight his collection. Kind of compelling in an “M. Night Shyamalan meets the Children of the Corn and the children are all gay and… like… psychic” kind of way. Very spooky.

I don’t know what any of it means, but the next time I meet one of these guys on the street I’m not going to start laughing until after he walks by…

 

The music used is track 3 on the CD “()” from the Icelandic band Sigur Rós

Gawker Deathwatch: The Salted Peanut Theory

It’s not exactly Godzilla vs. Megalon, (more like Davis vs. Crawford), but if you take a run over to Valleywag you can see Nick Denton [swing a handbag] at Jason Calacanis, former enfant terrible of the blog media set. In a post today he suggests that Calacanis’ recent departure from AOL had more to do with sinking traffic numbers at the Netscape portal he was charged with saving than fallout from their recent shitcanning of Calacanis’ “mentor” Jonathan Miller. Calacanis took time out from watching The Price is Right to respond in the comments that Denton was engaging in “hit and run” blogging, explains the meaning of the numbers Denton bandies about, and then challenges Denton to write about the fact that he tries to get his indentured editors to publicly out people. Meow! Please, ladies, can’t we all just get along?

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SPY at 20

I attended a reunion of the founders of SPY Magazine, the publishing phenom of the 80s and early 90s that revolutionized satirical humor in this country and paved the way for many [lesser imitators] to come. The panel discussion with Kurt Andersen, Graydon Carter and editor George Kalogerakis was hosted by New York Times culture editor David Carr. The sold-out event was held in the ornate Celeste Bartos Forum in the main branch of the New York Public Library and was timed to coincide with the release a new book, [SPY: The Funny Years], an anthology of annotated greatest hits from the magazine’s salad days.

I’ve rarely seen a room so filled with sleek, attractive and thin people (the Upper East Side dame who sat in front of me couldn’t have weighed more than 90 pounds and balanced on the middle of her seat like a couture pipe cleaner). The SPY reunion brought out the NY media A-list, most of whom I knew not — though they all seemed to know each other. One person I did recognize was Gawker’s Nick Denton, who sailed in after many had taken their seats and made a circle of the room looking to get as close as possible to the front, where the machers clustered. He sidled up to a clutch of black-clad schmoozers and waited for them to acknowledge him as he made motions to claim a seat. They made way without breaking chatter for a moment, apparently not knowing who the hell he was. Well, at least I wasn’t alone in my anonymity.

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