Saturday, August 20, 2016

Jack Scott writes

Death by Claustrophobia

Part I

My first remembered dream:
I’m trapped inside a red
terra cotta drain pipe,
sausage in a bloody casing,
feet and head protruding
arms pressed tight to my sides.
I fought against this,
but was powerless.
My first word was
inarticulated, Tight! 
This technicolor anguish
clung to me past infancy
through youth into maturity.
Even now, describing it,
it wafts up to clear recall:
with me all these years -
tree hiding in a forest.
Sometimes a cigar
really is a penis.


If you believe in Mother Earth,
a cave’s not just a hollow.
You’d best not go into her mouth;
she might decide to swallow.


Clement weather
comes like teatime sandwiches:
tasty tidbits, delectable to eat,
between thick slabs
of cardboard bread.
There is no sustenance
in nature’s cruel whims,
seasonally preponderant.
Too red in “tooth and claw,”
winter’s fangs rake comfort
from refuge deep in bed,
its howls probing
like Freddie’s fingernails.

Summer is its partner,
not its opposite,
showing none of heaven,
“more than we want
to know of hell.”
The canapes we’re given,
savory hors d'oeuvres,
are too scanty to be filling. 


If you must read Aku Aku,
beware of Easter Island.
Peruse it in the open air
upon the plainest plain
under cloudless sky,
or better yet, don’t read it,
your mind just might get stuck.


Squeezed into my wetsuit
while out to spear my dinner
I know I might resemble
something in a condom,
but that’s of less concern
than looking like a morsel seal
to that esophagus with teeth -
a hungry killer whale.   
As a final caveat, 
if you fart inside it
it will be lurking
to come out with you. 


If you break or bend the law,
there’s prison to consider:
jaywalk in carefree saunter,
repent at longer leisure. 


Gloves may seem a small concern,
but I tend to think my fingers
are like little people
who, for their protection,
I dress for the season
and their situation.
Although I empathize
with the discomfort
of these little acorns,
father oak knows best.


Tight clothes squeeze out
what they can’t squeeze in,
which is most uncomfortable,
and not a pretty sight.
Spandex forces us to look at
what we don’t want to see.


Boots are on the border line -
the tighter ones have crossed it,
especially those boots from hell, 
Gravity, so-called.
Use them at your peril!
Once you’ve contorted into place
you may end up calling 911,
if you can reach the phone,
to holler Help, 
I’ve fallen up
and can’t get down.


Now the problem of the hat,
the little hut atop your head
that warms you in winter,
shades you when it’s hot,
holds your hair in place,
shields you from snow and rain
and cushions dropping things.
One size does not fit all;
there are bigheaded people,
and pencils don erasers.
Hair grows and takes up space,
which, you get back, when cut.

It must be snug enough
to cling on in a stiff breeze,
without causing headaches
or bulging out your eyes.
Since there is no man for all seasons,
there is no hat to fit him.
He will need four,
each the proper fit
for its proper season.
Since this variable apparel
is closest to his brain
it should have full benefit
of his best consideration.


Some things aren't meant to spend their lives 
trussed in a hammock,
hogtied like feet
of obsolete
Chinese brides-to-be.
Not to seem indelicate,but I can’t omit
a form of torment, intimate,
yet unbeknownst
to half the human race,
nicknamed tighty whities,
and their kin, the jock strap.
The word wedgie 
might elicit empathy.
The Family Jewels,
aka the Trinity,
were not designed to be
less than unencumbered
within or without clothing,
except when welding
or picking blackberries.
This barbaric practice was brought to us
by the folks who gave us circumcision.

Give me Liberty and give me Boxers!
I’ll be a nicer man.



  1. The Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation was founded in Boston in 1914 by W. Burton Wescott, Herbert Kalmus, and Daniel Frost Comstock, and W. Burton Wescott. Kalmus and Comstock had received their undergraduate degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and were later instructors there, which inspired the "Tech" in their company's name. Most of Technicolor's early patents were taken out by Comstock and Wescott, while Kalmus served primarily as the company's president and chief executive officer. “Technicolor” became the name of a series of color motion picture processes, the first version dating from 1916 (though Britain's Kinemacolor had been the first such process) and was the most widely used color process in Hollywood from 1922 to 1952. Initially it was most commonly used for filming musicals such as “The Wizard of Oz,” costume adventures such as “The Adventures of Robin Hood” and “Gone with the Wind,” and animated films such as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” because of its highly saturated color, but as the technology matured less spectacular films also used it, even, occasionally, film noir movies such as “Leave Her to Heaven.”

    “Red in tooth and claw” has become a proverbial description of natural violence, referring to predators callously covering their teeth and claws with the blood of their prey when they kill and eat them, and became a common trope in nature writing after Charles Darwin published “The Origin of the Species” in 1859. The expression (which was already in use with its current meaning) became widespread after it appeared in Canto 56 of Alfred (Lord) Tennyson's 1850 “In Memoriam A. H. H.,” though in the poem it referred to Man:
    Who trusted God was love indeed
    And love Creation's final law
    Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw
    With ravine, shriek'd against his creed

    Freddy Krueger was a demonic figure who used a metal-clawed brown leather glove he wore on his right-hand glove to kill his victims in their dreams. Originally played by Robert Englund, he was the star of a series of horror films beginning with Wes Craven's “A Nightmare on Elm Street” in 1984. In “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors” it was revealed that Freddy was conceived when his mother, a nun who worked at a mental hospital, was accidentally locked inside over the Christmas holiday and gang-raped.

    “Aku-Aku: the Secret of Easter Island” was Thor Heyerdahl’s book about the Norwegian Archaeological Expedition's 18555-56’s investigations of Polynesian history and culture. In it he revived the theory that some of the island’s settlers had come from Peru.
    Spandex, a polyester-polyurethane copolymer known for its exceptional elasticity, was invented in 1958 by DuPont chemist Joseph Shivers at its Benger Laboratory in Waynesboro, Virginia but not marketed until 1962. The name is an anagram of "expands.”

  2. Gravity boots were ankle supports that let someone hang upside down and became a common fitness tool in homes across the United States in order to relieve back pain and headaches and to increase oxygen flow to the brain to facilitate thinking. American physician, osteopath, and chiropractor Robert Martin, Sr., developed an inversion therapy system that his same-named son commercialized via his company, Gravity Guidance, which was featured in the 1980 movie ”American Gigolo.” By 1983 the firm was second among the “Inc. 500” fastest-growing companies named in “Inc. Magazine.” However, success was ephemeral; plagued by injury lawsuits and medical concerns over stroke risk and ocular pressure, the firm went bankrupt.

    The United Kingdom experimented with a national emergency telephone number as early as 1937, but it was not until 1967 that the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice recommended the creation of a single number that could be used nationwide to report emergencies; in 1968, the Federal Communications Commission and AT&T agreed on 911, since it was easy to remember and dial and worked well with existing phone systems. However, the number did not become widely known until the 1970s, and many municipalities did not have 911 service until well into the 1980s. Since then, in almost all American and Canadian locations, dialing the number from any phone will link the caller to a public-safety answering point (PSAP) which sends emergency responders to the caller's location; in most cases, an Enhanced 9-1-1 system automatically pairs the caller number with a physical address. Other nations have similar systems, though not necessarily the same numbers.

    In 1989, an American medical alarm and protection company called LifeCall began running TV commercials featuring an elderly woman who had fallen down in the bathroom getting help after speaking into the company’s medical alert pendant, "I've fallen, and I can't get up!" The line quickly became a universal punchline that was applied to many comedic situations. The line, and variations, became a registered trademark.

  3. Jack gives a sneering "Biblical" interpretation to his reamrks about his genitals, referring to the Trinity of penis and gonads, and blames the Jews for inventing both circumcision and and clothing, as in the Adam and Eve story from "Genesis." He also paraphrases a hero of the American Revolution, Patrick Henry, who insisted, “Give me liberty, or give me death.” All-around-elastic undershorts have been called “boxers” in English since 1944, named after the outer shorts designed by Everlasat founder Jacob Golomb in 1925 to replace the leather-belted trunks worn by pugilists and allow unhindered leg movement ("footwork"). Since the testicles are outside the body for cooling, because sperm production operates at a slightly lower temperature, and the compression of the genitals in briefs may cause the temperature to rise, some studies have suggested that tight underwear (“briefs”) and high temperatures may reduce fertility. Boxer briefs (“trunks”), a hybrid which were long in the leg but tighter fitting, were developed in the 1990s by the head of Calvin Klein’s menswear design, John Varvatos, who later said, “ We just cut off a pair of long johns and thought, this could be cool..." In 1975, a Sears catalog featured a defective photo which seemed to depict a partly exposed penis, the basis of Zoot Fenster's single "The Man on Page 602" (written by Helen Ann Fischer, Eugene F. Strasser, and George Dedson Winters):
    Hey, have you heard the latest story that's bringing on the smiles?
    It has caused some blushing laughter and some anger for a while.
    For those who shop by mail for all their family clothes,
    In the fall-and-winter catalog, more than fashion is exposed.

    n the fall-and-winter catalog on page six-hundred-two,
    I see this advertisement that makes me come unglued.
    The picture's got me out of sorts 'cause I don't understand:
    Are they advertising boxer shorts, or are they trying to sell the man?
    (I don't know.)

    I'd send them all my money if I could make a wish come true.
    I just wish I was that man on page six-oh-two

    (Look and see. You'll agree. He's got personality.)

    You know, when these wish books are delivered, anxious people start to look,
    And when they price them there boxer shorts, they suddenly get shook.
    Some say it's all in error. Some say all in fun.
    He could be tarred and feathered, or maybe even "hung."

    In the fall and winter catalog, or the wish book, so it's called,
    In my mind, there's no question of what I'd like most of all.
    I'd send them all my money if it would make a wish come true.
    I just wish I was that man on page six-oh-two.
    Yeah, I just wish I was that man on page six-oh-two.

  4. Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis and a dedicated cigar smoker, was said to have cautioned his colleagues not to overzealously ascribe phallic symbolism to every case, saying “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” But there’s no evidence that he ever said it. In 1922 “The International Journal of Psycho-Analysis,” with the motto “Directed by Sigmund Freud” on its cover page, featured an article by Eric Hiller which included typical Freudian interpretations (which presumably Freud was warning against): “Cigarettes and cigars can symbolise the penis. They are cylindrical and tubular. They have a hot, red end. They emit smoke that is fragant ( = flatus = semen).… I refer to the reason, or at least one of the reasons, why people start smoking (and, of course, why they go on), that is the phallic significance of the cigarette, cigar and pipe. It is thus a substitute for the penis (mother’s breast) of which they have been deprived (castrated, weaned).” But in 1950 Allen Wheelis apparently invented the quip and ascribed it to Freud himself, in a footnote to “The Place of Action in Personality Change” in the medical journal “Psychiatry;” although conscious aims may often be a camouflage for unconscious aims, analysts should not always make that assumption. “This is still an occupational hazard of psychoanalysis—thirty years after Freud’s famous remark that ‘a cigar is sometimes just a cigar.’”
    As Lord High Chancellor of England, Sir (St.) Thomas More, the author of “Utopia,” about ideal political systems, opposed Henry VIII’s assumption of Supreme Head of the Church of England and the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he could marry his mistress Anne Boleyn. After refusing to take the required Oath of Supremacy, he was convicted of treason and beheaded in 1535. He was supposed to have remarked, "I die the King's good servant, but God's first." In 1520, “Vulgaria,” the Oxford grammarian Robert Whitington had praised him as “a man of an angel's wit and singular learning. I know not his fellow. For where is the man of that gentleness, lowliness and affability? And, as time requireth, a man of marvelous mirth and pastimes, and sometime of as sad gravity. A man for all seasons." The final phrase became the title of a popular British drama by Robert Bolt, which had originally been a BBC Radio play in 1954, an hour-long TV drama in 1957, and then a theatrical success in 1960 before becoming an Academy-Award-winning film in 1966.
    “Father Knows Best” was a long-running American situation comedy starring Robert Young. It began on NBC Radio in 1949 and ran for 203 episodes before being cancelled in 1955; meanwhile, it also became a TV series on CBS in 1954. When its radio run ended, NBC revived it for television for three more seasons. After a second cancellation in 1958, CBS picked it up again and aired it until 1960, when Young left after 203 episodes in order to work on other projects. Nonetheless, CBS ran prime-time reruns until 1962, and ABC from 1962 to 1963. In 1977 the TV cast (whiuch was different from the radio series, except for Young) reunited for a pair of TV movies on NBC, “Father Knows Best Reunion” and “Father Knows Best: Home For Christmas.”

  5. The Shang (or Yin) dynasty, the earliest in Chinese history to be archaeologically attested (according to calculations made at the turn of the 1st century by historian/astronomer Liu Xin, the founder of the Old Text school of Confucianism, the Shang ruled from 1766 to 1122 BCE, while the Xia–Shang–Zhou Chronology Project, a late-20th-century multidisciplinary endeavor headed by Li Xueqin, placed it at ca. 1600-1046 BCE) ended when its last ruler, Zhou, became cruelly tyrannical and neglectful of state affairs due to his infatuation with his consort Su Daji, who had been possessed by an evil nine-tailed fox spirit. Since she had a clubfoot, she asked Zhou to make footbinding mandatory for all girls in court, thus making her own deformity the standard for beauty and elegance. The 5th-century Southern Qi.emperor Xiao Baojuan also had a favorite concubine, Pan Yunu, whose walking was so elegant that Xiao Baojuan bade her to dance barefoot on tiles of golden lotus patterns so he could flatter her by saying "lotus springs from her every step!" and thus compare her to Padmavati, under whose feet lotuses also sprang forth. But the practice of binding the feet of young girls to prevent further growth did not develop in China until the reign of poet Li Yu, the last ruler (961-976) of Qi (Southern Tang), when he had his concubine Yao Niang use white silk to tie her feet into the shape of a crescent moon and dance on her toes on a lifesize golden lotus decorated with precious stones and pearls. Her dance was so graceful that upper-class court dancers tried to imitate her by binding their feet. Li concentrated on artistic and literary pursuits, developing the ci (lyric poetry that used poetic meters derived from a base set of about 800 patterns, in fixed-rhythm, fixed-tone, and variable line-length formal types) by broadening their scope from love to history and philosophy, creating the 2-stanza form, and contrasting 9-character lines with 3- or 5-character lines. (In 1983, superstar Teresa Teng set three of his poems to music for her album “Light Exquisite Feelings.”) He probably should have devoted more attention to the growing strength of the Song kingdom to his south; its ruler, Taizu, invaded in 974. After a year-long siege of his capital, Nanjing, Li surrendered and spent two years in captivity in Kaifeng before Taizu had him poisoned in 978 after writing a veiled poem alluding to Taizu’s rape of Li’s wife.

  6. However, ci and foot-binding became the cultural hallmarks of the Song Dynasty. Having “lotus feet” indicated status, since women in wealthy families did not need their feet to work. In the 12th century, in the first known discourse on the practice, Zhang Bangji insisted that a bound foot should be arch-shaped. By the 16th century, the big toe was bent upwards and the feet were not allowed to be larger than the "three-inch golden lotus" (about 4 inches or 10 cm). In Sichuan, the "cucumber foot" was standard; the four toes were folded under, but the heel was not forced up and the ankle was not tapered. Some women remained bound throughout their lives, others were only briefly bound, and others were bound only until their marriage, while some working women in Jiangsu only pretended to have their feet bound. By the end of the Song dynasty, men drank from a special shoe whose heel contained a small cup, but during the succeeding Yuan (“Mongol”) dynasty (1271-1368), they drank directly from the shoe itself. This "toast to the golden lotus" lasted until late in the Qing (“Manchu”) dynasty, which fell in 1912. Due to the erotic sensations the dainty feet produced in men, Qing Dynasty sex manuals listed 48 different ways of playing with women's bound feet. By the 19th century, in Guangdong it was customary for lower-class families to bind the feet of the eldest daughter to be brought up as a lady, while her younger sisters would grow up to be bond-servants or domestic slaves; by then, 40-50% of women had bound feet, and almost 100% of upper-class Han Chinese women, since it had become an expression of Han identity after the Mongol conquest. The Manchus did not bind their feet, but they wrapped them tightly to give them a slender appearance and eventually, in order to emulate the peculiar swaying gait caused by excessively small feet, they invented "flower bowl" ("horse-hoof") shoes that had a 2-to-6-inch platform in the middle.

  7. The binding process began before the arch of the foot could develop fully, usually between 4 and 9. Binding usually started during the winter months, when the feet were more likely to be numb and the pain less extreme. Each foot was soaked in a warm mixture of herbs and animal blood to soften it, and long cotton bandages were soaked in the same mixture. The toenails were cut back to prevent in-growth infection, or removed altogether, and the toes on each foot were curled under, then pressed with great force downwards and squeezed into the sole until they broke. The broken toes were held tightly against the sole while the foot was drawn down straight with the leg, and the arch was broken. The bandages were repeatedly wound in a figure-8 movement, starting at the instep then carried over the toes, under the foot, and around the heel, tightened at each pass around to pull the ball of the foot and the heel together and to fold the whole foot at the arch. The feet would be periodically unbound, washed, examined for injury, kneaded to soften them, and soaked in a concoction that caused any necrotic flesh to fall off; the nails would be carefully trimmed again, and the soles beaten to make the joints and broken bones more flexible. Then the toes were folded back under and the feet were rebound even tighter than before, with fresh bindings. Rich families did the rebinding at least once a day, but poor peasants did it two or three times a week. If the toes became infected due to poor blood circulation, the infection could enter the bones, causing them to soften and drop off, but this was regarded as a benefit because the feet could then be bound even more tightly, so shards of glass or pieces of broken tiles might be inserted within the binding or between her toes to impose deliberate infection. Perhaps 10% of girls died from gangrene and other infections, and the risk of medical problems grew as they became older, including paralysis, muscular atrophy, and broken hips due to falls since it was difficult to balance securely. Uncovered foot gave off a foul odor since various saprobic microorganisms would colonize the unwashable folds. But any attempt to restore the natural shape entailed the same pain as the original process.


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