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by devnym

“… Let’s grow some balls people and start questioning this tradition, and keep our penises intact to match. Foreskin is a birthright, not a birth defect…”

“…Am I alone in wondering why the press acquiesce when professional political campaigners switch allegiance from candidate to candidate then argue vehemently for their newly adopted owner when just days before this new owner had vilified their previous meal-ticket in the most vicious and destructive way? …”

Toothless Bulldogs

Am I alone in wondering why the press acquiesce when professional political campaigners switch allegiance from candidate to candidate then argue vehemently for their newly adopted owner when just days before this new owner had vilified their previous meal-ticket in the most vicious and destructive way? Why are they – the campaign workers – not called out and skewered with this previous invective instead of being treated as if their present pronouncements were dearly held beliefs, put out in a sincere effort to get their new ‘once-in-a-lifetime candidate’ elected instead of just the latest in bought-and-paid-for spin. Make no mistake in this year’s frightening election cycle the press have significant blame. Of course they have to tread a fine line or else no-one will appear on their show (and you just know how the boardroom views that; no talking heads equals no viewers equals no ad revenue equals no more job for interviewer! Bring back The Newsroom). Of course as journalists they have to be impartial to be credible but surely chasing down a lie is legitimate journalistic tradecraft and not being intimidated is a primary requirement for credibility. And this includes all of the major outlets and their ’stars’. If the Fourth Estate has been totally neutered by the boardroom then we truly are fucked. Without some independent government-free watchdog shining a light in corners where it is not welcome and asking awkward questions on our behalf, bringing lies and outrageous behavior to book, we are heading for the pit and no amount of hand wringing after the event will matter.

Peter, journalist, Hell’s Kitchen

Penis Peer Pressure

Like father, like son? Ignorance is a huge problem in America. With the theme to Halloween playing in the background, circumcision can seem like a scene out of a horror movie. Some think of it as a rite of passage, a tradition dating back to ancient times, while others liken it to something of Freddy Krueger-like proportions. A topic with extremely divided stances, circumcision is causing all sorts of waves in the ocean of debate. With religious groups on one side and activist dubbed “intactivist” on the other, people are now starting to actually think about why, for so many years, we here in the US have been slicing up little boys. The slicing back of the foreskin of a perfectly normal penis, with a knife, is a tradition that dates back to the times of mummifying dead bodies, if not earlier. We haven’t kept the tradition of mummifying people anymore, so why do we continue with the tradition of circumcision? Thankfully, slowly, we are beginning to take a step back and shine a light on this horrifying practice. But are we shining a bright enough light? Many other countries have done away with having insurance companies cover the costs, why haven’t we? There is no absolutely necessary medical reason for circumcision, so why are we here in America so apprehensive to question this tradition? Are we afraid of what we might see? Are we, ourselves, the Freddy Kruegers? Let’s grow some balls people and start questioning this tradition, and keep our penises intact to match. Foreskin is a birthright, not a birth defect.

Philip, banker, UES


Most of us start feeding ourselves when we’re toddlers. By the time we start school, we can dress ourselves, tie our own shoes. But at some point between the glorious innocence of youth and puberty, we morph from real living, thinking human beings to brainless zombies, capable only of spewing forth the half-digested viscera that is public opinion and popular culture. It’s like a real-life horror story about alien forces taking over humanity, except we’re doing it to ourselves. “In my opinion…” How many times a day do we hear this phrase, or say it ourselves? It’s become one of those meaningless phrases like, “no offense, but,” and “in all honesty,” a preface to another sentence that is actually the exact opposite. It seems like no one actually has an opinion anymore, and if they do, it’s simply regurgitated from someone or somewhere else. Our ability to figure things out on our own is severely hampered by an ever-increasing influx of information, carefully crafted and manufactured messages from the media and our increasingly shameless consumer-centric society. Today, you can access information on anything at anytime. Need to find out what you should be wearing on Friday night? Curious about which of your high school classmates got fat? Wondering what color panties Lindsay Lohan was wearing to the club last night? It’s all right there for you, as long as you have an Internet connection. It’s reasonable that we would gather a lot of our information on current events from such sources as newspapers and books, even blogs and social networking sites. But when we are taking talk shows, Wikipedia and Twitter as gospel, we are no longer worried about the validity (or relevance) of the information we are using. Our affinity for being told what to do and think isn’t new – just look at religion. Look at politics. Look at high school! Since the beginning of time, we’ve craved guidance and direction and the freedom of not having to think for ourselves. We’re like lemmings in leggings and Ugg boots – just as ready to step over the edge as any mindless mammal.

Geoff, editor, Queens

Betty Boop

I have a friend who dazzles everyone she meets.  She’s luscious.  She has a big beautiful smile, a fantastic head of hair she just shakes dry in the morning, and a strong, healthy and curvaceous figure that most people want to take a bite out of.  My friend, however, has a gaping soft spot for trashy magazines… I mean really trashy, the kind that turns from page-to-page literally pointing to “imperfections” on famous women’s bodies.  Without her knowledge, I’ve watched these magazines transform the way this stunning young woman sees, not other people’s form, but her own.  While she says my love handles are juicy and delicious, hers she’s determined people will call fat.  “All men,” she says, “want tiny blonde girls.” (Notice she doesn’t say women.) This is insane.  All men want all kinds of women, and sometimes all kinds of men.  Some, it’s true, want tiny blonde ones.  As provocative as they can be, making the decision to not even open a magazine that targets women’s insecurities can change your body image enormously.  If one changes her own mentality about the way a woman should look and ignores the media’s interpretation she will soon finds she sees herself as beautiful.  If we begin to see ourselves that way, we see other women similarly and the worldwide perception of beauty changes.In similar fashion, there are television shows, as well as entire channels that we know we should steer clear of.  Do we?  Meh.  But do entire programs devoted to a panel of judges pointing out someone’s failings, or publicly humiliating its contenders, really make us feel good about ourselves?  It’s dubious.  Or any show that condemns a woman for putting on some pregnancy weight?  Come on now, inappropriate. We owe a duty both to ourselves and to others to lessen the harmful effects of the brain’s various shams whenever we can.”  Mute commercials.  Try a women’s magazine instead of a woman-hating magazine.  Flip the channel.  Be good to yourself.

Joan R, teacher, SI

Sensory deception

We live our lives in our heads and only in our heads. Everything we do, hear, and see is only taking place in our heads because it is only in our brains that we register anything. The full gamut, from extremes of pain and  pleasure, and everything inbetween we only actually  experience in our heads. As an example of where we get our kicks lets take the worst pain you can experience or imagine and note where the imagining takes place. It might be a result of a multiple fracture of your right leg with the bones broken in 10 places and the sharp ends sticking out  with the flesh in tatters. Take medication of sorts, a chemical which changes how your brain works, and the pain is no longer there. The leg is still broken but it doesn’t hurt. Every nuance or catastrophioc event in your life is experienced between your ears. This might seem like a no brainer (punny or puny?) but most people don’t appreciate the fact that they are absolutely in charge of their own destiny. That is to say whether they are happy or not with their lives, whatever those lives might contain. Just examine how a seemingly insurmountable problem – physical, emotional, mental, even financial – can be overcome by a simple readjustment in your head. Take god out of the equation and it’s not hard folks.

Simon, financial adviser, L I City

Slight in Shining Armour

Sugary sweet, overly sanguine, and altogether unrealistic, romance novels are just that: romance. Romanticized stories portray knight-in-shining-armor-type men sweeping women off their feet, wooing them with roses, proclamations of true love, even poetry. Gag me. Why do women still buy this bullshit? Because they do. Literally and figuratively. Women are still purchasing this stuff. And what’s more unsettling, they often hold onto hope that something like this will happen in real life! In a time when women strive for more independence and self-sufficiency than ever, it strikes me as rather backwards that sales of sappy, sentimental make-believe continue to soar. How can women expect to move past everyday stereotypes when they still cling to the very roots of them? Whether consciously or not, this stuff clogs our perception. In a novel where a woman is portrayed as a weak struggling lamb just waiting to be swept away by Fabio (who will surely provide her with sexual satisfaction and total personal serenity), a fundamental concept of independence is lacking.

Mollie, business owner, The Bronx

Thoroughly Modern Martha

Before I begin, let me set this straight: I am a relatively normal, well educated, well brought up (or at least this is what I like to think) female in my early twenties. And yet, as I partake in the ever so common “girl talk” amongst my friends about relationships, men, dating marriage and beyond, I am labeled either as heartless (my friends and family have aptly nicknamed me ‘Ice Queen’) or “a dude,” at least in my ways of approaching these subjects. Time after time, I listen to stories from young girls expressing their desires to get married, have children, and “settle down” so to speak and time after time I can’t shake the idea that all of these things sound terrible to me, at least for the time being. End to my freedom and youth, added responsibility, the feeling of being “tied down”? No thanks. But because I feel this way, I’m considered weird, emotionless, and altogether anti-female. Why are my opinions so wrong? Why is it expected that every young American woman love the idea of marriage and babies and growing old with one person? Maybe it’s just me, but I thought we had moved past the idea of women’s roles as wives and homemakers in the 1960s, and yet young women these days are still expected to love the idea of looking at bridal magazines and wedding ring catalogs. The more and more I talk with my friends in their early twenties, the more and more I feel like an outsider for not having my wedding colors picked out already or a cut of diamond in mind for my engagement ring. I’m 21 years old for christ’s sake! I hate to say it, but maybe this is why there are so many miserable, dependent women in the world these days. And maybe, just maybe, the world would be a better, happier place if young women would get their noses out of “Brides” magazine and consume their thoughts with more fulfilling ideas and thoughts than the type of dress their bridesmaids will wear. I’m sorry, but dreaming about bigger and better things than a big, fancy $200,000 wedding and a honeymoon doesn’t make me a guy or mean that I don’t have feelings… we’re living in 21st century America here, get with the picture.

Martha, pr, Midtown.

Smooth Stalker

Woah! You really think my ass looks great in these pants? Thanks, creepy man riding a bike on 7th Avenue! You made my day! You know, I was feeling really self conscious about my body today, so it was so nice for you to reassure me that you’d love to do a lot of dirty things to my behind. I was starting to give up on men! Seriously, I was! I was about to become a bona-fide lesbian until you came along and restored my faith in humanity. You know, you really should continue riding around the city screaming obscenities at women. We’re all pretty down on ourselves and you really know how to make a lady feel attractive by sexually accosting her. And after you finish doing some more of your  ground breaking work, how about you jump off a bridge and die? Because now that I think about it, that would make me feel a whole lot better.

Cassie, retail, Bed-Stuy

Jennie from The Block

Hello Famous People, can you stop confusing me? Every time I see you in Chelsea or slinking around the Village or shopping til you drop on 5th Avenue, I think I’ve found a long lost friend, only to realize, no I did not meet you at summer camp in 1999 in the Adirondacks and wait a minute you’re too old for us to have gone to college together.  Your ubiquitous face isn’t supposed to show up in my real life! Go back to your magazine spreads and billboards where I know how to recognize you immediately, and I’ll keep looking for my long lost friends on these busy streets (at least the ones I haven’t already found on Facebook).

Mary, server, Queens

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