The Labyrinth 2.0

17 07 2008

What brutal sprawls of twisted deathmaze encroach on our precious isle of Manhattan!  What beast-infested nooks and crannies where taxis dare not roam!  What great food-trapping beards that outgristle and outgrease any post-coital Minotaur!  What cheap and chokesome wat’ry beers!  What uninspired zombie throngs that barely conceal contempt for opening bands that aren’t half bad!  What bony, unwashed sternums unearthed by plunging V-neck collars!     

Sign marking the condemned’s entrance to their existential Inferno

To think, that even I, Caligula, could find myself in that phantom world of non-dreams and overshopping at Trader Joe’s, merely by falling asleep on the B train en route to Urban Outfitters, is too hellish an ordeal to dwell on. The human disease, thy name is Brooklyn. I shall have to put the episode behind me if I stand any chance of recovery. But the memories of clove-breath and misappropriations of irony, the gnarled syntax and pizza parlor stabbings, will haunt me for a lifetime, nay, into the afterlife.  

To say nothing of the short stories that hold together about as well as a fistful of diarrhea.  

—Caligula





Reader Response #1: Pegging The Peggers (Who Never Get Preggers)

9 06 2008

Any emperor worth his Oriental throw pillows will tell you he is nothing without his people—he doesn’t mean it, of course.  It’s just that these sorts of statements prolong your inevitable assassination a bit. Nevertheless, I am honored to answer the denizens poring over this blog in any queries or quibbles they may have, queer quests they undertake, or quaffing quorums they invite me to attend.

Caligula fan David Freericks writes:

“I am writing a leaflet on abherent paraphilias in the tri-state area and was wondering if you would share with us your personal experiences with strap-on sex, or pegging.”

Oh, Davus, if only I could condense that knowledge further than I already have in my forthcoming book, “Ménage à Blah: Why Paraphilic Sex In New York, New Jersey and Connecticut Just Doesn’t Work” (HarperCollins, $24.95). But I think you can judge by the title itself the central flaw in your otherwise promising leaflet’s conceit.

Because let’s face it: strap-ons and pegging, brutal/fun/hair-raising as they may be, are nothing without the thrill of adventure, perversion and transgression.  The tri-state area, though, has given us shock-jock radio, Albany and Joe Lieberman.  In other words, your cookie-cutter kink ain’t gonna cut it here. 

New Jersey in particular barely bothers to hide its cesspools of vice 

My advice is to up the ante.  Something groundbreaking, not the same old anally-receiving-a-fake-hard-plastic-penis-worn-by-someone-without-a-real-penis gambit.  The Marquis de Sade was violating himself with a whittled wooden phallus over two centuries ago, for crying out loud (he probably was).  And if you’re really wedded to this whole idea of artificial sex organs, I have a hint: think toasters.

—Caligula





Urban Ennui

5 06 2008

The emptiness of this city.  You feel it with every issue of the New Yorker—that piece of fiction about a family trip to the beach in 1973 simply too boring to finish, the glossily eroticized spreads of Swiss watches that are unfashionable by the time you’ve caught a glimpse.  In every Sotheby’s auction where they theorize that Rembrandt himself probably painted only the nose on this particular portrait, apprentices responsible for the rest.  At the seal show in the Central Park Zoo, these pathetic creatures squirming about for the amusement of mentally stifling families with no grasp of contraception—

Wait a minute.

Those seals are kissing!!  

That is SO FUCKING CUTE!!  

I LOVE SEALS! I LOVE ALL GOD’S CREATURES WE ARE MEANT TO LIVE IN HARMONY AND ONLY AT THIS MOMENT HAVE I REALIZED ALL THIS PERVADING MELANCHOLY WAS A SELF-INFLICTED WOUND THAT I NEED NOT

Hold on.

What the hell is that?  Did that thing get all its face skin torn off somehow?  UG. LEE.  And it’s eating a twig it just pulled off its own butt.  

What?  How dare you!  I didn’t evolve from this piece of shit!  He’s crass! He’s a slave to his appetites! He—oh, well, that temper tantrum is something I might—and using a rock to masturbate…OK, fine!  I’m no different from this brute.  Are you happy?  

Because I could not be more depressed.  Again.

—Caligula 





Vintage Verbiage

28 05 2008

Q. What’s worse than a plagarist?

A. A time-traveling plagarist.

Close friends have been reading countless drafts of my nearly-complete debut novel, American Emperor, a pseudo-pornographic odyssey through the last years of the 20th century with an effortlessly awesome Manhattanite postmodern Caesar, Baligula (too obvious?  constructive criticism welcome), at its center.  And well they should re-read this manuscript in its myriad incarnations: it’s a burgeoning, blood-spattered masterpiece. The deposed and down-on-his-luck emperor resurrects himself as high society’s most divine pillar by establishing cutthroat professional “friendships,” ensconcing himself in über-expensive fashions to the point of obsession and gruesomely torturing those who may or may not have slighted him in the past, recording every tedious detail along the way.


Intellectual thievery, thy name is Bret.

All this work only to have the hacks at Random House tell me they see unmistakable echoes of a book published 17 years ago and want no part of the inevitable legal hoopla I’m inviting.  I suppose they mean my pending lawsuit against Mr. Ellis, who is recklessly abusing his apparent ability to hopscotch through history and, frankly, flattering himself by passing off my fictions as his.  I say: “fine!”  I will take this cad on by my lonesome.  How dare he re-write my happy ending!

Just the same, I have the feeling we might hit it off. 

—Caligula





Caligula’s Dreamlog #3: The Ritzy Underbelly

15 05 2008

How quaint! I dreamed I was a man of moderately less power and stature, which is to say, some obscenely wealthy and naïve fauxhemian metro with a Gucci axe to grind. It was an odyssey of Homeric—er, maybe Spielbergian—uh, small quirky Sundance film proportions. Who knew how perfectly ridiculous it was to see the world through the reductive psyche of the modern aristocrat wannabe?

The Dream:

Steve Forbes had lodged one too many hasty wagers at the Hampton Classic, and I grew altogether weary of his delinquency in tendering the final—and rightfully beloved—Fabergé egg. This was no slight tiff: my Segway had been sitting sans worthwhile hood ornament in my spare closet since I first finagled a prototype of the awkward thing, waiting patiently in a cocoon for the embellishment that would transform it from gauche scooter into chariot-fit-for-Apollo.

The price of Forbes’ weakness for long-odds horses

Setting out towards Steve’s on that gyroscopic claptrap, my valet Bernard driving, I gripping his pelvis for dear life, I was suddenly struck with a profound craving for vitals, i.e., bourbon, in some unfamiliar ghetto or other. A Xanadu of Oriental delights awaited: We wandered into an establishment staffed by the largest and most muscled women one could care to gaze upon, who, after plying us with saccharine libations and cuisine apparently fused in Asia, went about joshing and lightly embarrassing various patrons in the middle of their meals, occasionally bursting into inspired song. All this was executed with a wit so barbed and bawdy Oscar Wilde’s pallid cheeks would burn. I assumed these mercurial hosts had absorbed rumors that suggested this tastemaker’s penchant for entertainment of the decadent and bacchanalian sort until one turned to Bernard and inquired whether I was his boyfriend, sending my poor manservant into a dreadful stutter, which only served to magnify his discomfiture and mine. The rest of the ride to Steve’s and all the pelvic contact there entailed came bundled with a silent tension I won’t soon forget.

Analysis:

Apparently my nocturnal alter-ego had never been to a drag restaurant. Oh! The innocence of it all! Which reminds me, I haven’t been to Lucky Cheng’s in ages.





On Immunodeficiency

13 05 2008

What’s all this about poor people having allergies too? Last I checked, such elitist immune systems were the pride of the nobler class; they made your body a gated community unto itself, setting off all sorts of biological alarms when an outsider grazed the perimeter fence. Why, everyone knows that the Qing dynasty in China had the first peanut-related death on record, and that Imhotep of ancient Egypt would sooner free the slaves than think of wearing a latex condom.

Emperor Maximillian I of Mexico was famously allergic to firing squads.

The point is, the underclass isn’t supposed to resist infection, but quickly succumb, decreasing the surplus population. That’s the point of A Christmas Carol, as Dickens was at pains to argue. But the sneezing, the watery eyes, it all signals an intent to fight back! Sure, today it’s only pollen and cat dander—soon they’ll be rebelling against visible matter, a designation even I (unfortunately) fall under. For now.

Proof of how we see the average 21st century allergy sufferer?

Oh my god.

Are you telling me I have to wait in line, at a pharmacy, behind a bald person wearing part of a common toolbench on his head, all for a $20 box of Claritin or the generic equivalent? I’d have to already be high on NyQuil. Which I am.





Giving

23 04 2008

To say I, Caligula, have never been moved to act charitably is an outsize vilification.  Often, after witnessing a stranger endure injury or a medical emergency on the street, I have done the unimaginable favor of stepping over the invalid rather than kicking said out of my way.  And do I receive thanks for this unsolicited service?

Does a Christian survive ten rounds with a Lion in the Colosseum?

That’s why I’m overjoyed to discover a charity whose coffers I can be proud to line with coin: The Emperor Has No Clothes Fund.  As an emperor who has gone through depositions before (having my throne usurped, being subpoenaed), I know there is nothing harder than having nothing and no one, especially when you used to have everything and everyone.  Vagrancy is one thing to a commoner, perhaps even a vulgar sort of thrill, but another to an erstwhile God-king, it nothing short of pure hell.

Many artists have been inspired by the plight of down-on-their-luck despots.

So won’t you do the right thing, and contribute The Emperor Has No Clothes Fund?  This isn’t some misguided fashion statement those sad crowned men on the street are making—there’s nothing stylish about having to sell your cape for a bite of caviar.