2:34 p.m. September 7, 2012

Memo from the Salt Lake City compound

“Father?” “Yes, son” “What does regret mean?” “Well, son, a funny thing about regret is: It’s better to regret something you have done, than to regret something you haven’t done. And by the way, if you see your mom this weekend, don’t forget to tell her: SATAN! SATAN! SATAN!” — Gibby Haynes

Paul. NSFWCORP colleagues. Gentiles.

I have some explaining to do. As you know, I went missing for roughly 36 hours — no phone, no email, no nothing — roughly from the time of Clinton’s Satanic speech Wednesday night until the time which you receive this. First, let me tell you that I am fine, alive, and though a bit shaken up and haggard looking from sleeplessness, I was not mistreated or molested in any way.

In my last panicked correspondence to the outside world, I was begging Paul Carr to arrange some sort of commando mission to Charlotte to rescue our man-on-the-ground there, James Kotecki. I was terrified that the Tracy Flickites who gathered in their numbers in Charlotte would get into James’ brain and swallow his soul. That if James so much as fell asleep for five minutes, the Flickites would sneak a pod next to our Convention Correspondent’s bed, and he’d wake up full of hope and optimism. Or worse.

So as dusk approached Wednesday evening here in the greater Salt Lake Basin, and I was racing down I-15 to my secure hilltop location after playing poker with a bunch of middle-aged local jazz musicians, I fired off a series of increasingly panicked emails to Paul: “We need to get him out of Charlotte ASAP. Send him to Chicago to cover the teacher’s strike, where they’re fighting Rahm Emanuel and Arne Duncan. Or maybe that’s too close to the heat: Send James to the Caymans to get some rest. Or to Moldova, or Costa Rica. Anywhere but Charlotte! Whatever we do, don’t let James go to sleep!”

I realize now that it wasn’t James I was panicking over. It was me. As soon as Clinton took the stage Wednesday night, blathering for hours about how he and Barack Obama had done everything the Republican Right had told them they should do, only better and more competently than the Republicans themselves manage, so why aren’t the Republicans happy? Why aren’t they patting Bill and Barack on the head and telling them “Good job, Bubba!” — feeding them Milk Bones treats like they promised? When I heard Clinton tape-looping that same rancid 1990s New Democrat theme, that’s when it all came crashing down for me.

Let me step back a moment for our readers. Some of you might be wondering what I’m doing in Salt Lake City.

Well, that’s mighty kind of you to ask. I came here to the Mormon Zion to plant myself in Mitt Romney’s spiritual backyard for the duration of the campaign — longer if Romney wins, maybe a lot longer. I’ll explain more another time — for now, just be aware that a Romney-Ryan victory is going to seriously suck for all of you gentiles out there — and by “gentiles” that includes you Jews too.

If Romney wins, one of the little side-effects will be that Jews officially become “gentiles.” Long story, but basically since Joseph Smith’s time, it’s been prophesied that when a Mormon is elected President of the United States, it will trigger the long-hoped-for apocalypse, the Last Days, the return of Jesus Christ (who’ll be teleported to a cornfield in Missouri, according to the prophesy, where he’ll wander around making crop circles and seriously fucking with some poor farmer’s head), and the establishment of a Thousand Year Mormon Reich, with President Romney on direct hotline call to Jehovah and some of the other Mormon gods. As a crafty Jew, I figured that the safest place for your humble dispatcher to be in the event of a Romney victory and the Last Days apocalypse is here in Salt Lake City. Wearing our Magic Mormon Underwear.

Under the Romney Victory scenario, not only does President Romney instantly transform into Pope/Prophet Romney ruling over the planet as Jehovah’s Earth Czar, but all political and theological power is transferred into the competent and waiting hands of the roughly 13 million Mormons spread across this globe. I figure if I play my cards right, I should be ruling over a tiny little Mormon Caliphate of my own — I figure a district in Southern Ukraine would suit my ambitions fine, those people really need to be raised up morally, and I’m just the god to do that. And quite frankly, let’s be honest: You bums don’t deserve to rule anything. You’ve had your chance, and you screwed it all up. Time to step aside and let us adults run things for awhile — yes, in our Magic Mormon Underroos. What, you gotta problem with that? You wanna make something of it?


You think about these things when you’re alone and without sleep in a hillside location 5,000 feet above sea level, overlooking the Salt Lake Basin below. Behind my building, the Wasatch mountain range slopes up to Ensign Peak, where Brigham Young supposedly stood and mapped out his future Mormon Jerusalem.

The story my hippie landlord tells me is that Brigham Young chose this place out of desperation and haste — not too unlike how I wound up here. Young was ill, exhausted and convinced he was dying. You would too if you went from the cushy life of a sex-gorged cult leader in your own Illinois fiefdom, living like Axl Rose, banging everyone’s wives and daughters “because the Lord commanded me to, not because I want to” — to harried stagecoach passenger on the lam for months on end, hemorrhoids swollen up like a giant cluster of seedless Concord Grapes about to burst in his magic underwear ... In this wearied and paranoid state of mind, as soon as Brigham Young spotted the massive lake, and the dramatic, jagged hills surrounding the lake like a natural fort around an oasis — and most importantly of all, empty as the moon, not a single human inhabitant anywhere, neither Lamanite (Indian) nor White Man — Young immediately announced his “vision” and declared this area the Mormon Zion (called the "Deseret") that they had been hoping for.

He didn’t think to check the water first. Always check the water before divining, folks. There was a reason why this giant lake valley was as barren as the moon: As the name implies, the Great Salt Lake is all salt, no lake. If you boil a quart of Salt Lake’s water, it’ll produce half a cup of salt. It’s basically a glorified sewer, nearly 3000 square miles of mud flats and salt marsh that never gets deeper than about 10 yards. Only difference is that this lake is far more hostile to life than most sewers. The only things that live in Salt Lake are a single species brine shrimp, two or three species of brine flies (who hatch by the billions), and algae.

And Mormons, it turns out.

The sewer analogy works in another way: Rancid rotten-egg odors waft up from the Great Salt Lake. Even up here in my NSFWCORP compound on the Capitol Hill slopes, miles away and hundreds of feet above, the burrito-fart odors of decomposing brine shrimp corpses, billions of decomposing brine fly larvae — and the tons and tons of bird shit frosting over it all, thanks to the gazillions of migrating birds who dine on the brine shrimp as they travel from one livable spot to another — all of this godly incense fills the Great Salt Lake basin, wafting up to the valley rim, up to the NSFWCORP Compound windows, and into my apartment.

“Was that me?” I kept wondering when I first smelled it. I’d been twice to the Red Iguana already, who knows?

Turns out, a whole lotta organic matter had to die to bless me with that odor. Either that, or the angel Moroni had Nephi pull his finger. Mormons like to think of themselves as big practical jokers.

A Utah government web site describes of the putrid Salt Lake graveyard on a “fact” page headlined “OOOhhhoooh that smell!” No matter how hard this fact page tries to “laugh it off” or adopt a chirpy American tone, it’s hard to read this and think, “Wow, Elohim must really love us if he told us to settle here!”

“Many who occupy the Wasatch Front complain about the rotten egg smell that occasionally wafts across their nostrils, especially when a northwest wind is afoot. What causes that smell? Most hyper-saline environments favor bacterial sulfate reduction and one of the byproducts is hydrogen sulfide — the culprit that smells like rotten eggs ... However, we wish that was all that was involved in the lake's smell. Sewage facilities on GSL unload their processing effluent into the lake. Researchers found that Farmington Bay specifically has far more productivity (i.e., algae and bacteria) than any of the other bays around GSL. That means bacteria have to work overtime to decompose effluent nutrients in addition to bird, brine fly, and brine shrimp waste! Thank goodness that the brine shrimp and fly populations peak around mid-May to consume as much algae and bacteria as they do, or the potential smell during the summer months would be unbearable. Yay brine shrimp!”

When you’re reduced to cheering on brine shrimp, you really need to ask yourself what you’re doing.

“Yay brine shrimp” would be a scary enough way to end this description, but just in case some reader might get the wrong idea and think there’s some reason for optimism, a silver lining to this Salt Lake ecoboneyard, some responsible official decided to add this bit of Schopenhauerian cold water:

“Suggestions have been made to attempt diluting the overflow of sewage to help lessen the smell and bolster tourism. Even then, there would be residual (though probably not as overwhelming) smell from brine fly pupae casings, brine shrimp and decaying algae that are continually washed up on the shore in enormous decomposing piles and are made worse with the heat.”

Ah, Intelligent Design — how do you think this shit up?

You have to assume at this point that Moroni was just fucking with Brigham Young when he (or whichever angel it was) whispered that “revelation” to settle in Salt Lake. Moroni’s like, “Hey, Nephi, check this out. Watch, I’m gonna whisper in Brigham’s ear a vision. After I do that, pull my finger again! Hey Brigham, you smell that? Yeah, that’s the smell of the Holy Spirit! Hope I haven’t crimped your sex life, you greedy dickhead! It’d suck if you had all those wives lying there, and the smell of rancid farts wafting into the Master Harem every night wouldn’t it? Bwah-hah-hah!”


And yet as putrid goes, this is nothing compared to the decomposing Democratic Party politics and bullshit wafting out of Charlotte. Whether it was Clinton whinging for hours on end that he and Obama have done everything the Republicans said we should do — and by golly, not even a thank you kiss? And golly, the Republicans themselves never live up to their own vision for America, they just go all crazy ‘n’ stuff — but Barack and I, we’re the only ones carrying out the Republican right program! We killed welfare; I deregulated banking, while Barack upped the banking bailouts and completely screwed millions of homeowners after promising help; we both presided over massive increases in wealth inequality; I, not the Republicans, created NAFTA and destroyed American manufacturing, while Barack Obama has been working tirelessly to expand free trade agreements to ensure that Americans never work anywhere but as Wal-Mart store greeters ever again!

"You Republicans talk about busting unions — heck, Barack Obama has done more to bust teachers’ unions than any y’alls! How do we know that we’re more anti-union than you while pretending to be pro-union? Just look around you: Almost every union is boycotting this convention! [APPLAUSE, HIGH FIVES] While Republicans talk about cutting the deficit, I’m the one who slashed welfare and turned the deficits into surpluses [CHEERS] While President Obama’s deficit commission laid out the first real Republican rightwing blueprint to privatizing Medicare and Social Security, and you and I all know that when Barack Obama is re-elected, he will privatize every last fucking social program in existence [CHEERS ON THEIR FEET] Because We. Are. The. Real. Republicans [APPLAUSE, CHEERS!]. It’s that simple. Barack Obama created the framework for the Republican dismantling of every last program with the Simpson-Bowles Commission, and guess what? Paul Ryan voted it down. Really, who’s the Republican Right-winger here, huh guys? America, I ask you: What else can we do to prove how Republican we really are? For forty years, we’ve been trying to score a date with the Republicans, and they just keep spurning us and saying mean things about us, and treating us like we’re weird stalkers hanging outside their houses all the time. Well, guess what? The more you spurn us, the more Republican we’ll be. It’s almost like you want us to be this way or something, god you folks are really dumb! Like it or not, we’re gonna just keep trying to be Republican, America! And that’s why you oughtta vote for Barack Obama!”

I’m paraphrasing of course — the real text was far more sinister than that. It’s why I went missing for those 36 hours. You can’t listen to that, and be anywhere near “the grid” if you want to keep your sanity. This grotesque '90s-retro is worse than cultural stagnation. And pandering to the worst, wrongest failures this country’s elite has every produced.

The pandering to the Republican right-wing vision is everywhere, even areas we’re starting to take for granted. Like MSNBC — everyone on the “progressive” side decided that the answer to FoxNews was not better, smarter, meaner, tougher journalism, but rather, “a liberal FoxNews, only done better and more competently.” In other words, exactly what the Democratic Party is to the Republicans. In fact, MSNBC’s coverage of the convention was a fucking atrocity — it looked just like the shameless groveling propaganda TV coverage in Russia of Putin’s United Russia party conventions. Uncritical (except for Chris Hayes), fawning (Chris Matthews, the poster child of American cultural stagnation, wet his pants on cue again for Obama — he actually called Obama’s speech a “Home Run”), degrading.

It’s insane, actually, and frightening, and delusional — and as doomed as it is smug, like a serious earnest version of that atrocious self-congratulatory “Rally for Sanity” event from a few years ago. That event celebrated de-politicized, disempowered middle-class liberal know-it-alls on the theory that they “get it.” It was in fact nothing but another advance in sophisticated marketing masquerading as substantive politics. The perfect genetic code for the Democratic Party of Barack Obama. So they took the worst of the “Rally for Sanity” without even the few funny parts, extracted its DNA, made it as awful and vapid as it could be, and the message came out loud and clear: “We’re the real Republican Party, we’re just the sane version, ha-ha! We’re sane Republicans and you’re not! Joke’s on you! Ha-ha! Boy are we competent and smart, and boy are you folks dumb and crazy!”

Clinton’s act was bad enough, but my mental health was already fragile after Michelle Obama’s performance the day before, when she pulled a Bernie Bernbaum act on America. Bernie Berbaum was the John Turturro character in "Miller’s Crossing" — a sly, lying thief “who ain’t got any etics” as the mob boss who wants Bernie Bernbaum whacked says.

So as Gabriel Byrne’s character death-marches Bernie Bernbaum out into the forest to whack him, Bernbaum breaks down crying and begging for his life, falling to his knees covered in slobber and tears: “Look into your heart! Look into your heart!”

That was Michelle Obama’s pitch to America: Forget about how badly we’ve screwed you, forget about how we completely poisoned progressive politics with our bait-and-switch of the past four years. Instead, she squirted a few with a “Look into your heart! Look into your heart, America!" performance that deserves a Golden Globe. But letting off a lying scumbag just because they've learned how to an squirt a few on cue is a fatal mistake, as Gabriel Byrne’s character learned: As soon as he looked into his heart and let Bernie Bernbaum go, Berbaum turned around and did the only thing he Bernie Bernbaum knows how to do: Blackmailing Gabriel Byrne for letting him go rather than killing him as the mob boss ordered, and as Byrne should’ve done.

Like the Obamas, Bernie Bernbaum couldn’t plead his case based on his record — he’d’ve been shot before he got out of the car if he brought it up. Same went with the Obama speeches: Skip over the record of lies and fraud over the past four years, and instead beg voters, with tears running down your face, “Look into your heart! Look into your heart!”

In fact the Team Obama/Dem Party “Bernie Bernbaum Strategy” is summed up neatly later in the film, when Gabriel Byrne once again fails in his mission to take out Bernbaum. It was at this moment that Turturro’s Bernie Bernbaum revealed his true self: Glaring at Gabriel Byrne with pure, utter contempt (sort of the way the Democrat Establishment must view the idiots who still vote for them), and Bernbaum says: “What were you gonna do if you caught me? I'd just squirt a few and then you'd let me go again.”

So they squirted a few — and we’ll probably let them go again.

In the movie, Gabriel Byrne’s character overcomes this weakness and whacks Turturro on his third try— but that’s just Hollywood. In 2012 America, despite the worst economic crisis in 80 years and nothing fixed, Team Obama has clearly calculated that all it needs to do is squirt a few, and he’ll get away with the past four years of ratfucking his supporters, and be given the opportunity to do it again to the same suckers.

There is a way out, of course, but you gentiles may not like it. The sad fact is that we only have two choices in this country, and one of those choices involves becoming part of a structure that will soon rule the world, then after this life is done, marrying a shit-ton of dead women and teleporting to the next gig as “god of [NAME OF PLANET OF YOUR CHOICE].”

As a planet-god, I would run my planet like a CEO and not like a career god — my role model is Cohagen from “Total Recall.” To me, Cohagen represents real leadership, the sort of planet god who’s not afraid to make difficult choices ( “Should I cut off the Mutants’ oxygen supply? How much will I save if they suffocate?”) and tell the hard truths (“Um, you’re going to die? So that I can get more profits? Yeah, sucks to be you, but hey, at least I get points for my courageous leadership, I heard David Gregory talk all about it on Meet The Press ... ”). Lots to look forward to, folks.

So once again, apologies to all you gentiles out there in readerland, and especially to Paul, for leaving him with the editorial load while I traveled to a little place inside my insomniatic mind called “Hell.” I’ll make sure to get a bottle of sleeping pills before the next bout of sleeplessness strikes, promise.

- Mark