Category Archives: Suicide

Cigarette Butts


What if the only person who could be Christ was an addict? A deadbeat?

What if redemption germinates in slime, shit and piss?

It’s worse out there than we think

It’s always worse

It’s always deeper

and yet also somehow less

So that we’d rather not know, not look, not slow our roll

But what if this brand of glory is some pathetic, anonymous moment?

Not martyrdom but nameless, faceless dissolution

Not ignominy but private shame

What if the crucifix is self loathing?

What if the aggregate of all our microscopic dread are the forces acting upon us

The stripes, the stigmata

What if the garbage in the street were relics for some busybody’s collection

and holiness is something far, far away?




Cattle Prod


It gets better

Although making an example of someone is the most primitive, totem-and-taboo method of maintaining order, it is a cudgel uniquely suited to democracy. In America, the buck simply must stop somewhere, for where human beings are reduced, scurrilous and simpering, to their uttermost state of servility, it becomes inconceivable to them that misfortune results from their own inadequacies, or—put differently—that our inadequacies result from nature.

So if this had happened to a white boy in a majority black school district, you can be sure it wouldn’t make the Washington Post:

A ham-faced Missouri teenager puts a squirrel-peeler to his humpty dumpty and squeezes…. Come to find out he was being bullied sadistically from just about sun-up, by dozens of classmates and by his supervisor at the local Dairy Queen, who is being charged with second-degree involuntary manslaughter, and is a woman. (Inadequacy: the apple doesn’t fall far from the woe-is-me, but do you think they’ll charge the parents who went on helplessly eating Dairy Queen while all this was taking place?) One look at him choking back tears in his school portrait and you can’t not pity the boy, so anyone remotely acquainted with him in person had to’ve known what was going on, if they wanted to. Either (a) the whole town is complicit in this young man’s Missouri, or (b) no one is. But local media and opinion say it’s both.

For example, the schools superintendent asserts that the bullying in his district isn’t that bad. How many people like him are superintending schools in this country? Rudolph Höss had a personal touch by comparison. State’s prosecutress April Wilson had this to say about her colleague in public, er… “service”:

We wanted to be very cautious and responsible. Both sides of the issue are extremely important. A young man is dead. But we also want to acknowledge that it’s not easy being in public education.

For the kid or the adults?

And is it easier to manage a Dairy Queen?

In other words, as long as we’re assigning blame arbitrarily….

Is this a justice that would satisfy the deceased Kenneth Suttner? From the looks of the victim and the fact he apparently never fought back, the kid probably didn’t have a vindictive bone in his body. At least, not yet. But on the part of others this utter lack of will is why no one intervened to help him. Nature culls herds of all species, but this is the behavior of prey.

A whole town. An entire race.

Requiem for an Honest Man

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shalom khaver

What if you had to choose between a bang and a whimper?

The bereaved father (Hebrew) of an only-child fallen soldier (English) committed suicide over his son’s grave. Did the comfort to be taken in sacrificing for the greater good turn out to be empty mockery? Well….

If the glib reassurances of the living don’t stick, it’s because they shouldn’t. As a father of sons I can absolutely relate to this man. Good for him. The paradox of a state that conscripts you to murder and be murdered, but forbids suicide, strongly implies ownership. With the best of intentions.

Camus said, “The only serious question in life is whether or not to kill yourself.” Either we affirm life or we negate it. Every acquiescence to hatred and fear is an acquiescence to death, a suicide in miniature.

At least actual suicide is honest.


The Examined Life: Robin Williams Edition


Quit bein’ so goddamned serious

“You’re just depressed.” But am I wrong?

“You’re overthinking things.” Really? Where’s the limit and who sets it?

“That’s just the way things are, you’re gonna have to get used to it.” am used to it. Is that not a reason to discern, to describe, to investigate? How long are we to maintain one opinion, or none? 

Don’t worry. We’re all here; we all care. We’re all… watching. You’ll get things right, no doubt. After all, there’s just one fix.

You have to be assertive, self-assured, domineering (more spur, more riding crop, more moxy!)


more tactful, sensitive, empathetic (more courteous, more caring, more moral). Nowadays the other man’s sensitivities can be myriad, you know, and you’ve got to anticipate everything.

So while you may not realize it, it isn’t questions you have, it’s a health issue. It’s not your fault. Lots of others have been where you are and come through productive, and carefree. I myself get paid to make these pronouncements.

So productivity is the end-goal of health? Of existence? Productive of what, exactly? And if it doesn’t matter, then why do my feelings? Wherefore uniformity in the things one ought or ought not to care about? Who decides? Do they have a mailing address? IS ANYBODY LISTENING?!?

The Pitfalls of War Tourism

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Ruins ancient and modern

There’s no shortage, in Israel, of Jewish brats from Anglophone countries fleeing broken homes, brace-faced first break-ups and 1.8 GPAs in the hope of attaining the swarthy ethnicity their progenitors’ progenitors discarded so recently and with so much relief. They mostly smoke hash and talk politics, about which none have anything new or insightful to say. Many offer themselves up to the Israeli army in much the same way that young Isaac was so willingly furnished to Father Abraham’s jagged rock. That’s okay with me—such decisions are an individual’s own personal business. Even if I were Hassan Nassrallah, I wouldn’t try to dissuade them. In fact, I’d probably say, “Bring it on, Fonzie. The more the better!”

Aside from the war tourism of such would-be Hasmoneans, Zion is also a well-concealed dumping ground for rehab drop-outs, nymphomaniacs, teenage homosexuals and the otherwise sexually-active offspring of religious families from the tri-state area, sent to seek “healing” at the hands of ghastly old Talmudists in off-the-map locales where the reverence such reeking sadists command is sufficient to deflect civilized scrutiny.

I used to live in off-base housing for Israeli army “lone soldiers” (enlistees with no immediate relatives in the country) in a Galilee kibbutz. The soldiers’ dormitory was on a windy, forested piece of acreage along a country road on one side and Lake Kinneret’s southern outlet to the Jordan River on the other. There were four of us and we were typically only there one weekend a month: myself and Danny, a barrel-chested Brooklynite stoner of gnome-like stature; Shai, a product of Catskills summer camp brainwashing and the teenage drug-bingeing such upbringings (in the best cases) result in; and Steve, a tersely caustic, irritatingly sober and fabulously, independently wealthy Canadian (though he played those cards close to his chest). A military history buff and military video game enthusiast, to this day he won’t admit that he never actually saw any action.

But I’ll grant Steve that he had one necessary attribute going for him that I lacked: he brought a high degree of conviction to our job, which was the only decent thing any of us could have done in that position (although Danny, who did basic with him, maintains Steve had doctors’ notes excusing him from all variety of hardship). I, on the other hand, learned the game too late and applied my newfound insights in one fell swoop. Toward the end of my service I began employing every trick in the book and managed to finagle forty-five days worth of sick leave (I was a medic) on totally false pretenses. Danny, being less brazenly manipulative than I, was merely AWOL. We passed the time smoking hash, watching DVDs, growing fat indulging our effete tastes at the local non-kosher Russian grocery and gorging ourselves on Chinese takeout from nearby Tiberias. One day, a couple of newcomers arrived: Dave and his brother, Len.

Now, of all the psychologically damaging features of an orthodox Jewish upbringing, divorce is probably the least common. Yet it was apparently by means of just such a family rupture that these boys had escaped from the depths of Brooklyn and the Ocean Parkway Taliban.

I’ve heard it observed that inbred communities like rural Arabs, Hasidic Jews and Ozark mountain folk occasionally distill the entirety of their evolutionarily advantageous traits into a single offspring, leaving his or her eight-dozen siblings to cope with T-rex arms, odd numbers of eyes and various palsies. That lucky one-off was Dave. Handsome, well built and extroverted, he was a boy scout of a paratrooper but also a ladies’ man, betraying nothing of his origin in medieval Long Island or its debilitating effects, which had been inherited entirely by Len, a moonfaced introvert with a squishy, womanly physique who rarely spoke except to make cryptic comments that only half-made sense if you gave him the maximum benefit of the doubt by taking a good, long five minutes to think about them, which one quickly discovered was not worth endeavoring. He spent his weekend leave watching television in the commons, where Danny and I verbally pounced on him one afternoon, offering unsolicited our sorry stories of disillusionment, interrogating him as to his motive for enlisting and trying to discourage him, convert him to a cynic and generally break his eerie silence, which we optimistically presumed a personality to be lurking behind. He didn’t really respond, which was just as well, since Danny and I were only thinking out loud, attempting to assuage our self-loathing over squandered years, clichéd dreams and our mutual inability to hack it in the face of Yaweh’s unquenchable thirst for human blood. But unlike Danny and me, Len had barely been a month in uniform.

It generally isn’t until about the six-week halfway point of a three-month basic training regimen that Israeli army conscripts are allowed off base with their weapons. Two weeks after Danny’s and my berating of Len, Canadian Steve returned home, on leave from his base, to an empty fridge. Deciding to go trolling for a Coke, he entered the first unlocked dorm room he could find and discovered flies buzzing around an inanimate Len, slumped in a corner, fellating an M-16, brains splattered three feet in every direction across the wall behind him. His pathetic suicide note revealed his unhappiness in the army (big surprise), his declining hope that the experience would relieve him of his sense of physical inadequacy, the fact that he’d never been with a woman, and that all he’d ever wanted was to be a tough guy in the Israeli army and to have a girlfriend.

Upon hearing the news I thought, “What a loser.” I couldn’t have said it better about myself. I mean, the only person who can get a self-esteem boost out of a plump, dweeby 26-year old virgin’s weepy suicide note is an even bigger loser. At least Len had the balls to ice himself—I guess he turned out to be a tough guy in the Israeli army, after all.