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(Editor’s note: This is the first post by Cultural Capitol writer J. D. Oxblood.)

On Dining with Strangers

By J.D. Oxblood

I live on a small island off the coast of the United States of America. That may be technically untrue, but it’s more true than the truth. I live on the Island of Long, in a small corner that is vastly different from the rest of the island and—like the neighboring island of Manhattan—the rest of America.

This is a story, like all New York stories, about what makes us different, if not exactly special. We live in tiny, tiny apartments and pay anywhere between a third to half of our income on rent. This is alarmingly obvious to New Yorkers, but if anyone’s reading this out in flyover country (that’s right, I said it) read that sentence again. It’s insane if you really chew it over, and yet we do it, year after year. And as I was recently reminded whilst dining with out of town guests, it’s always all about the rent. As my visitors were wondering why we were paying $15 for a cocktail, I noted the address: we’re half a block from Rockefeller Center. Guess what—while the cocktails are weak, the service is crap, the décor is overdone and like something some rube from the suburbs would call “so New Yorky”—these people have to pay the RENT.

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The penis graffito is probably the oldest symbol in the world.

BTW, This is a close runner up: ({}).

There are many, many examples of the penis graffito, but for the sake of space (and sanity) we’ll just look at two from the Clinton-Washington G train stop. Both of them seek to impose sexual power on the person in the poster, and the only difference between the two — and it’s a slight one at that — is the gender object of the power.

Poor Moonshadow! He looks happy, but size of that member cannot be very satisfying.

Is it pornography? If it is, what can a concerned citizen do about it? Public decency is absolutely necessary — no one would argue it is OK for men to walk the streets wagging their membri viri at passersby. But how can you stop someone from stamping a symbol of male power on a poster in the subway? You could have the cops check everyone’s bag for Sharpies. Giuliani introduced paint-proof trains to get rid of unsightly graffiti. One rider took the matter into her own hands and attacked the vandals on their own turf:

This is from the Lorimer L stop on the Manhattan bound track.

Obviously Kathy Griffin is laughable. That’s why they chose her to host the show. The question is, is a Hitler mustache always funny, never funny, only sometimes contextually funny? It is the easiest form of graffiti, but it must be offensive to the many, many Jews living in Williamsburg. Or is it? The “Void” stamp on her forehead critiques both Griffin’s imbecilic smile and the black smudge on her upper lip. (Could they be the work of the same hand?) The entire picture says “American TV is liberal fascism ultimately void of content.” If we were going to place this on the political spectrum, is this the kind of thing Jonah Goldberg would say? Or Jello Biafra?

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