Bums Away!!!

By Patrick Russell

Okay, I’ll cut right to the crux of the biscuit here…

We need a National Naked Week and we need it now. Immediately.

All right… not immediately, maybe. Strutting around in nature’s own in the middle of winter is likely to suck vast, copious amounts of uncut ass for most folks. A nationwide epidemic of frostbitten bits isn’t exactly going to make National Naked Week a rousing same-time-next-year success. There’s really no way to sell the concept of a schnutz-sicle to the general public, and don’t think I haven’t tried!

So when it gets warm outside, when the arctic blasts have let us be for another year, I think it’s high time that we introduce National Naked Week to the people of this fair land. Now, I know what you’re all thinking… no, actually I tell a lie here. I haven’t the foggiest notion of what you people are thinking. I can’t really do that. I’ve been asked about that before, you know. “Russell, when they were handing out Super Powers, why didn’t you go for something useful like mind-reading or X-ray vision or something cool like that?” To that, I must simply say that my almost Kryptonian ability to sit on my ass and make time pass by with almost lightning speed has served me well, and I stand by my choice.

But here’s what I think y’all might be thinking: “National Naked Week? Hot pieces of ass walking around buck naked? ALL WEEK??? Where do I sign up?” Well, just hold it there for a second Wankenstein, I’m talking about EVERYONE walking around naked, and not just the likes of Benny Affleck and Jell-O. I’m not suggesting this out of my own libidinous self-interest here. I genuinely intend this to be a much wider public service than that. There’s a much greater benefit to be gained from everyone everywhere spending a week trotting around bare-assed than there would be if only those above a certain level of attractiveness were to participate. No, dear friend, this is about something much deeper than the simple satisfaction of that age-old urge of “gotta see some hotties naked!”

Now, when I say that there’s no “gotta see some hotties naked!” self-interest in this proposal, I mean, of course, that there is a certain amount. I’ll admit, part of me really wants to see attractive women walking around stark raving nude. Boy howdy would I dig that! I mean, who wouldn’t? Except for gay fellas, I guess. And women… uh, except for lesbians, cuz they might wanna look too. But if everyone ditched their clothes for a week, then everyone would have somebody to look at… erm… well, except maybe for those God Jockeys out there who are honestly afraid of sex. They aren’t all Catholic priests, after all—though there still are a few of those around too, despite their own best efforts.

Where the fuck was I?

Oh yeah, Naked Week. See, my thought on this is that most people have a decidedly less-than-realistic view of other human beings, and much of this comes from the fact that we cover up everything with clothes. This allows us to create skewed, idealized views of others based on the image they project to the world, and that image basically comes down to the concealment of flaws and the avoidance of the very basic fact of life that, to coin a suitably down-home phrase, there ain’t no one here but us chickens.

It’s the old “Prepare for a public speech by imagining that the audience is all sitting there in their underwear” deal. Only I’m saying ditch the skivvies as well! There’s nothing that will bring somebody down off of a pedestal faster than the general public learning that they’ve got a chronic problem with boils on their ass or that they’re hung like a prawn. And isn’t that a significant problem in terms of our ability to relate to one another on a realistic level? Not the boils on the ol’ semprini, mind you, but the whole pedestal thing? Some schmuck makes a record, gets a part in a movie, wins an election, grows a potato shaped vaguely like The Bronze Age, whatever it is… and suddenly they become superhuman in the eyes of the general public. Last week, young Jimmy was struggling to remember the day’s specials at whatever nameless piece of shit restaurant he waited tables for, couldn’t get a date to save his life, and this week… he is CELEBRITY MAN! His every move, gesture, word, and odoriferous emanation is now of dire, dire importance to the rest of the country because it may provide us mortals with clues as to how we could elevate ourselves to the lofty cultural, financial, and sexual heights in which dwells Celebrity Man!

And, of course, when we finally realize that we aren’t going to follow our beloved Celebrity Man into this shimmering, imagined “promised land”, we have no choice but to wrap ourselves in a ball of depression, get whacked out on prescription medication, pick up a boat hook (because we all obviously have a lot of boat hooks lying around our pathetically normal little homes), and go on a psychotic rampage at the local Chuck E. Cheese… thus gaining our own little moment in the televisual sun.

Obviously the key is to nip the thing in the bud and just stop with the pedestal trip already, and it’s my contention that National Naked Week would go a long way towards weaning us off of this particular compulsion.

Here’s what I mean… ever ride the bus?

Ever do that thing where you scope out the crowd on the bus or on the train and play “spot the hottie”? Y’know, “Okay, if I had to sleep with one person in this crowd, who would it be?” (Yes, you’ve done this. Just admit it and move on.)

Have you noticed how often you can’t make that decision, not because there are too many attractive people on the bus, but because… well, let’s be honest, because there’s not a single person on that bus that you find even mildly attractive? It’s a fairly full bus, but it happens to be filled with people that you wouldn’t particularly want to see without their clothes on? That scenario?

Okay, well during National Naked Week they’d all be El Buffo. Every last one of them.

I realize that the notion of demystifying nudity isn’t exactly a revolutionary one. The idea of taking a good, hearty dump isn’t exactly revolutionary either, but periodically it becomes a necessity, and avoiding it only makes things worse. Our society is just tweaked out on way too many levels at the moment, and people are willing to go to all sorts of lengths to try and hide that fact. We take far too many random loons seriously and lend entirely too much weight to their opinions on… well, just about everything. The point I’m getting at is that it’s a lot tougher to take somebody seriously if they’re standing there naked.

Michael Jackson, for example. Why is anyone still even the least bit concerned about anything this guy has to say? I have yet to find a single solitary individual capable of explaining this to me. What possesses people to want to turn on the TV and watch a lengthy interview with him, and then to switch over to another channel to see the outtakes from that interview? Wrap your brain around that one for a second. I keep hearing him referred to as “The King Of Pop”… does he even record music anymore? I mean, really, when the most recent thing you’ve done is to dangle an infant over the edge of a balcony railing for the benefit of the paparazzi, I hardly think you’re still taking the pop charts by storm, y’know? But for some reason there are still enough people that take ol’ “Jacko” seriously that a TV interview with him is somehow perceived as a major cultural event. Does this strike anyone else as slightly odd?

Now then, does anyone doubt that Michael Jackson without his clothes on probably looks an awful lot like C. Montgomery Burns in a bad wig? Hold that image in your mind for a little while, and try perhaps to eat a meal while picturing… that. Still want to know all about Mr. Moonwalk’s sex life now? Hanging on every word, every detail? Thought not!

It’s not just Michael Jackson I’m picking on here, though. Across the board we simply take the whole celebrity thing far too seriously for it to be considered healthy. There is, for many people, an almost a cult-like obsession with celebrities, and this is never a good idea when relating to other human beings because… well, we’re all people, and people are by and large out of their gourds and certainly not the type of entities which deserve unswerving devotion from the masses. That certainly carries over into politics as well. (Oh shit, Russell’s skewing off into PoliticsLand again! Yeah, okay, well when have I ever NOT? Y’know? If you’ve stuck with my jabbering this far knowing this to be the case, no fair suddenly making with the eye-rolling and head-shaking just because I’m “going there” yet again.)

The good news is that the spooky cult of personality surrounding George W. Bush is fading a bit. His little P.R. sycophant Ari Fleischer was literally laughed off the podium at a White House press conference recently after he tried to imply that the Bush administration wasn’t attempting to pay off the Turkish government in exchange for allowing the U.S. military to base itself on Turkish soil for the coming invasion of Iraq. In fact, the Bush administration DID attempt this, and this was public knowledge by the time Fleischer tried to dissemble his ass off about it to the suddenly-not-as-lapdoggish-as-they-were-the-day-before Washington Press Corps. As if this weren’t silly enough, when the Turkish government voted to deny the United States the military access it demanded, Bush actually insisted that they vote on the issue again!

When George W. Bush is insisting on a recount, there’s a worm beginning to turn somewhere.

He’s managed to push his Iraq obsession hard enough to alienate most of the UN security council, as well as plenty of rank-and-file UN member nations, and not only has he managed to create a diplomatic crisis between the United States and Germany (how, might I ask, does one do that in this day and age?) but he’s also got France growing a heretofore undisplayed nut and threatening to veto a final ultimatum/approval for invasion. (What’s the Republican response to this, by the way? To snidely vote to have the French fries and French toast in the House cafeteria renamed—and I can’t believe they publicly did this—“Freedom fries” and “Freedom toast”! Boy, as if we didn’t already look like a nation of petty schmucks to the rest of the world.) Even Great Britain is on the verge of bailing on him as pressure mounts against Tony Blair from a British public which has no problem telling the local pollsters that they find George W. Bush a bigger threat to world peace than Saddam Hussein—by about a 70% margin. Outside of the United States, the sentiment at this point seems to be overwhelmingly in favor of telling Ahab to go away and hunt his friggin’ white whale and leave everyone else the hell out of it.

And yet somehow there is still a sizable chunk of the American public that is still in thrall to the beating of the war drums and the cartoonish chest-pounding emanating from the White House. Many people turned to the “Great White Father” in Washington after the Trade Center attack, understandably afraid and appalled at what happened that day in September, and unfortunately they’ve bought most everything Bush and company have told them ever since, even when the clear aim has been to exploit and intensify everyone’s fears of terrorist attacks for political purposes.

Case in point… duct tape.

Did anyone actually believe that duct-taping their doors and windows shut was going to be of any help whatsoever in the event of a terrorist attack? Well, apparently plenty of people did, because the second Tom “Scary Old Fucker” Ridge and his people let that little bit of faux “wisdom” out to the masses, there was a run on duct tape and plastic sheeting across the country. “The Gummint said it? Well hay-ull… it MUST be true! Gimme twelve!”

Of course, nobody seemed to consider the fact that almost every residential dwelling in the country has at least one vent in the roof. Unless somebody is going to take the time to pull a Christo on their house and hermetically seal the damned thing (which, reportedly, at least one eminently well-balanced soul chose to do), there’s not much that sealing your doorjambs is going to do… other than to give you something with which to occupy yourself in a time of stress, much like boiling a shitload of water when a woman’s in labor. Personally, I can think of about a million and six better ways to distract oneself in the event of a chemical attack (and no, masturbation is only about thirty of ‘em). But what’s the government’s solution?


They truly are stuck in the ‘50s, these people… aren’t they?

Then again, about 40% of those polled still believe that Saddam Hussein was personally responsible for the Trade Center attack, so we’re not exactly dealing with a widespread outbreak of common sense here.

Bush himself is beginning to fray noticeably at the edges, though, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore this. His completely scripted, no-follow-up-questions-allowed “press conference” on March 6… now THAT was pretty difficult to take seriously. And yet, plenty of die-hard Bush cultists still managed to do so. Even so, the nation’s editorial pages the next morning were full of speculation as to what type of medication Bush might have been on during this press conference. He was about as sharp as a lump of Play-Dough, seemed utterly lost half of the time, actually chided a reporter for going off-script at one point, and… well, let’s go to Sir Smirks-A-Lot himself for a few words about why he feels the UN inspections of Iraq have been such a dismal failure:

"...There's a lot of talk about inspectors. It really would have taken a handful of inspectors to determine whether he was disarming—they could have showed up at a parking lot and he could have brought his weapons and destroyed them. That's not what he chose to do."

Bring his weapons to a parking lot and destroy them?

"That's not what he chose to do"???

What's Saddam going to do, load his nation's entire arsenal into the back of a pick-um-up truck, drive them over to a top-secret meeting with UN inspectors at the nearest Piggly-Wiggly, dump them in a pile, and wait for Hans Blix to call "Ollie-Ollie Oxen Free"?

Bring his weapons to a parking lot and destroy them? What is this, a book-burning? I think Bush is letting slip a slight Goebbels-Ashcroftian preoccupation here.

This is exactly the problem I have with this guy, though. Here we’re talking about the complex notion of the full disarmament of a country, and Bush is insisting on acting as if it were nothing more complicated than heaving a few bags of dog food into the Family Truckster and driving it across the pike to Grand-ma-ma’s house. Now add to that the fact that he’s basically told Iraq that we’re going to invade no matter what they do, because he’ll always be able to insist that they’re hiding something and must be blown off the map because of that. As useless a bag of skin and organs as Saddam Hussein is (and he really is), I can’t say I completely blame him for not wanting to turn in his country’s entire stockpile of weapons in the face of an American invasion that will occur no matter what. But he’s supposed to show up to some fabled “parking lot” like a gangbanger with a satchel full of Saturday Night Specials and turn them all in to the cops and that’s supposed to be that. Hey, maybe if they told him that with every third gun/rocket/tub of deadly goo, he’d get a free gift certificate to Islamic Fried Chicken or perhaps some sort of suitable-for-framing “Good Dictator Award” embossed with his name and covered in gold stars and smiley-face stickers… maybe THAT would persuade him to disarm himself just in time to be invaded by the biggest, deadliest military force in the world. Hell, somebody get Tariq Aziz on the horn! I think we’ve got this deal hammered out and ready to put to bed! It’s Miller Time…

Meanwhile, the third leg of Bush’s “Axle of Elvis” trifecta, North Korea, not only actually has nuclear weapons, is openly making more, and has apparently already sold at least one of them to Yemen, but they’ve also flat-out threatened to start a nuclear war if we so much as breathe on them weird. That, I would tend to think, qualifies as a real, serious threat not only to this nation’s security, but also to the security of the world in general. But no, ol’ Shrubbie is flushing this nation’s diplomatic legitimacy down the crapper for the sake of his bizarre obsession with a little piece-of-shit country in the middle of the desert that has been more or less surrounded and contained for a dozen years, because someday they MIGHT be able to lob a barrel of mustard gas 150 miles or so.

But y’know, as much as the Bush administration is just completely fucking up as far as foreign policy goes, at least I can sleep tight at night, secure in the knowledge that Ashcroft and his Godstapo have at long last arrested Tommy Chong for selling hash pipes.

No, actually what I meant to say was that Pakistani intelligence has arrested Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the senior al Qaeda member who was supposedly the “mastermind” behind the Trade Center/Pentagon attack. Of course, George W. Bush’s loyal followers are predictably insisting that the success of Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency in apprehending Mohammed is somehow simply further proof of Bush’s brilliant leadership in the war on terrorism. Then again, these are the same people who bought the “terrorist pretzel” story last year when Bush showed up for work one Monday morning with some serious party pizza on the side of his face. Trust the Bushites to go and blame Mr. Salty for what is clearly the work of Messrs. Beam and Daniels.

But the important thing is that one of bin Laden’s top lieutenants has finally been caught after a year-and-a-half on the run. At this rate, we ought to work our way up to bin Laden himself in less than a decade or so. Now, after seeing the three-days-of-interrogation-and-then-smile-for-the-camera mug shot of Mohammed that was splattered all over the news in early March, the irony of the fact that the guy who fucked us on September 11, 2001 looks suspiciously like porn actor Ron “The Hedgehog” Jeremy was certainly not lost on me, nor was it lost on half of the Internet. But it gets me thinking, now that I look at Mohammed’s photo—a snapshot from which one can almost literally SMELL clouds of eye-piercing B.O. emanating.

Maybe, just maybe, the aesthetic drawbacks to National Naked Week would tend to outweigh the potential benefits. I mean, sure, there’s healthy perspective to be gained on nudity and our perceptions of one another based upon that, and perhaps our overly-neurotic society does need a good dose of this perspective right about now before they hero-worship us into a smoking crater.

But then I think of getting on a bus full of naked people on a hot summer day and ending up sardined in next to THIS guy for 40 or 50 blocks…

Well, you can see the problem as well as I can, can’t you?

The thing is, we still really need to come up with a way of un-tweaking the national psyche and stemming the tide of this penchant for obsession over and pathological idealization of celebrities and leaders that the American public just can’t seem to help but to engage in on a regular basis.

Say, somebody call Tommy Chong’s lawyer! I think I have the perfect community service for ol’ Chong to perform… something that will tend to hit the same cultural reset button that National Naked Week would have, only without running the risk of killing the appetites of those who rely on mass transit.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Moms and Dads, us and them, bachelors and bachelorettes, Methodists… in association with Tommy Chong and “Dave’s Not Here, Man!” Productions… I proudly announce to you all… the Next Big Thing:


(Send all queries and correspondence to Patrick Russell, Camp X-Ray, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.)

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Copyright© 2003 by Patrick Russell.

1st photo: buttsacrossamerica.com. 2nd photo: AP.

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