There are cities that grow upon cities, piling them up and spreading them out; amoeba-like false feet reaching down the cold run corridors of transit Markets grow up through the cracks - some vast and hardy tumors of commerce while others are little card table kiosks kicked into corners The view becomes uniform & undifferentiated - like an ocean, sprawling to infinity in all directions; more complex than the sea but equal in its dispiriting sameness In some room or another, in that vast repository of rooms, everything that can happen is happening -- loving, killing, praying, torturing, healing, and so on Rooms are the city's cells; the buildings - its organs; the neighborhoods - its systems; and we are but molecules in the city's scheme.
blood runs to the gutters, flowing and whirling, a sluicing pink juice that circles and sloshes down the drain most did not feel the missing blood, but it came from each and every one of them - the locals, the exiled, the travelers, and the ne'er-do-wells - all bled into the city, and something grew from that protein slurry most contributed only drips & drops, but some hemorrhaged, giving their liquid selves for something they couldn't anticipate
5.) Jean-Jacques Rousseau: This French philosopher is probably best known for his ideas about social contract in governance. At least that’s what I knew him for when I was a student of the social sciences.
Unlike the Marquis de Sade, whose philosophy and sexual proclivities were intimately intertwined, one wouldn’t necessarily guess that Rousseau was a masochist into getting spanked by dominant women from his political theories. Although, all interest in governance is about who holds the whip and what the whipee gets in exchange for being subjected to it — figuratively speaking, of course.
artistic empire had a legendary libido — and not just in her youth. What interests people is not so much that she was sexually promiscuous, but that age didn’t seem to curb her desire for sexual conquest.
Even though her memoir is filled with discussion of her sexual dalliances, she is still more well known for discovering important 20th century artists and saving art from thieving Nazis.
This may seem far-fetched (not to mention grosser than the other proclivities discussed herein) but there’s even a Wikipedia page about it — so it must be true.
I knew from discussion of the movie “Amadeus” (which I, sadly, haven’t seen) that there was something unexpectedly scandalous about Mozart, but I never would have guess this was it.
2.) King Edward VII: It may be well-established that King Edward had some wild times, but the fact that he had custom sex furniture made tells you just how all-consuming his passions were.
1.) H.G. Wells: The author of “War of the Worlds,” “The Island of Doctor Moreau,” and “The Time Machine,” Wells was all for free love, long before there was a free love movement. He is said to have had sex atop bad reviews. While I knew him as an early sci-fi author who famously predicted the atomic bomb (Physicist, Leo Szilard, cited Wells’ “The World Set Free” as an inspiration), he was — unknown to me — legendarily promiscuous.
This post was inspired in large part by a tidbit about whiskey heir James Jameson (#1, below) in a book that I’m reading called “Crossing the Heart of Africa” by Julian Smith. It may have also been influence by having recently seen the surprisingly awesome “Wonder Woman” film, in which a central theme is the notion that good and evil vie for each person’s soul. (Note: I say “surprisingly” only because the DC movie universe has mostly been floating stinkers in recent years.)
I should note that when I started researching, there were an astounding number of candidates for the slots on this list, and so you may have a favorite example that didn’t make the list (please feel free to comment on any prime examples that I missed below.) As for criteria, I tried to avoid including people who just said horrifying things, who acted in an irresponsible or nit-witted manner that didn’t rise to the level of evil, or who were forced to make “lesser of two evil” decisions during time of war or national emergency.
I also didn’t have the time or energy to get into the he-said-she-said of politicians, because in America ideological types accuse people from the other party all manner of evil, constantly. So I didn’t wade into whether George W Bush personally flew the planes into the Trade Center towers via drone-style cockpit override technology, or whether Barack Obama had all nuclear spent fuel jettisoned onto the Arctic Circle to manufacture a climate change crisis. (Note: neither of those is a real thing, please don’t quote.) But, beyond that, I tried to pick candidates that would come as a surprise, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone that a politician did evil. (Frankly, people would be more surprised if they didn’t.)
5.) Chuck Berry: He had secret tapes made of women doing their business in the toilets at his restaurant. I don’t want to be moralistic and get into people’s kinky proclivities with this list, but this breach of trust rises above and beyond.
4.) Alexander Graham Bell was a dick to deaf people. The inventor of the telephone advocated for eugenics, and, specifically, trying to breed the deaf out of existence. Sure, if you invent the phone, the people who can’t use it might not be your favorites, but trying to eliminate them… that’s just cold.
3.) Mohandas K. Gandhi: I said I wouldn’t pick on purely verbal hideous acts, of which Gandhi had a number from suggesting rape victims were responsible to supporting honor killings to racial slurs against Africans (quite a shocker for someone battling British racism so vehemently.) As far as actions, sleeping nude with his under-aged great-granddaughter is pretty vile behavior. It’s said that he was trying to challenge his celibacy, but you don’t need to bring kids into whatever oddities you need to prove to yourself.
2.) Che Guevara: He had countless people executed without trials or due process. I included him because I assume that not all among the vast number of people who wear his face on their t-shirts are aware of this dimension of his character. Certainly, he was no worse than Lavrentiy Beria (Stalin’s Secret Police Chief), but I’m unaware of any idolization of Beria.
Is there a they?
Or is they us?
On the same old day,
riding a different bus?
Tilting heads at the same places.
Different route, same blank faces.
Electrified through the same lines.
Picking fruit amid the same mines.
Is there a them
amid your dreams
deep in the REM
the field of screams?
No. There you are each shadow monster.
The bright and the dark, indivisibly you.
You may wish to be not the mobster,
but you can’t ever cleave yourself in two.
Maybe “they” are an illusion.
A genetic glitch now passe.
A wanton act of collusion
to create an invisible they.
As you enjoy your weekend, if at any point dread of the work-week to come arises, take a moment to reflect on the fact that at least you don’t have this guy’s job carrying stones on your head up several flight of uneven stone steps all day – everyday.