Wondering... I Have Tattoos That Are Older Than You
Photo by Jonathan Johnson
So I’m writing a new column for VICE. It’s called "Wondering…" I know this may sound gay but a) I am gay and b) I don’t care what you think. The reference is supergay: in Woody Allen’s 1978 masterwork, Interiors, cerebral but conflicted Joey (Mary Beth Hurt) tells her complex, intellectual sister Renata (Diane Keaton) that she recently read a poem of hers in the New Yorker called “Wondering.”
“It was very beautiful,” she offers. “It’s an old poem,” responds Renata. “I redid it. And now that I reread it, I find it much too ambiguous. I may redo it again.” That’s usually how I feel about my own writing: much too ambiguous.
I’ve written several contentious articles for VICE in the distant past: a spirited defense of the burqa; a how-to guide to injaculation; a battle cry for homosexuals to try their hand at straight-bashing. How seriously to take these rants is open to question, but as a rule of thumb I’m generally known for being sarcastic when I sound like I’m being sincere and sincere when I sound like I’m being sarcastic. As sincerity is largely dead in Western culture, you may find me erring on the sincere side, but not necessarily.
I also got a lot of flack recently for my exhaustive VICE interview with The Kaiser, Karl Lagerfeld. You try to conduct an almost unedited 6,000 word interview with a famously mercurial fashion star and see how well you come off. Based on the interview, a bitchy UK Guardian scribe compared me (unfavorably) to Peaches Geldof. I still don’t know how I feel about that. What can I say? I tried to argue that the flamboyant billionaire is anti-materialist. It takes a leap of faith to follow anyone on such a claim. I suspect you’ll be expected to do so often in some of my future jeremiads.
A word—a preemptive strike, as it were—to the haters, a subgenus that VICE seems to attract in inordinate numbers. Look, everyone has an opinion. That’s what makes you an individual; it’s what defines your personality. But not all opinions are equal. And you don’t have to be a dick about it. My friend Mykel Board had a column for many years in Maximum Rocknroll called “You’re Wrong!” That about sums it up. Save the hate for the people who are currently oppressing and brainwashing you into abject subservience. You know who they are. Mr. Board also had a song with his band, Artless, called “When You’re My Age You’ll Be Selling Insurance.” That also about sums it up.
I have tattoos that are older than you. Furthermore, at least three of them were done by a neo-Nazi skinhead who would blast Skrewdriver from his boom box while jabbing the needle into my arm and scowling at me, an obvious homosexual. You see, there were only two tattoo shops in Toronto then, so he was pretty much the only game in town. But don’t make me wax nostalgic. That was then and this is now, and now is so much more monumentally fucked up than we ever guessed it would be that it’s really a whole new ball of wax. I’ve already come to terms with that, a long time ago.
Going forward, don’t worry, this won’t always be a straightforward, hectoring column. I may publish photographs, stream of consciousness ramblings, conceptual art or cut-ups. I may conduct interviews or straw polls, write obituaries and hagiographies. My role model, however, is and always has been, since 1976, Howard Beale. Hopefully I will become imbued by the same kind of spirit, because I truly am tired of all the bullshit.
Next week: Bad Acid Trip