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Hardback Religion & The New Pornography March 21, 2011

Posted by markswill in About me, Navel Gazing, Politics, Schmolitics.

In response to my last outburst, Obamara-sceptic and probably the world’s wittiest investment banker (though frankly there can’t be much competition), Terry Kreuger berated me for spending too much time claiming that the inexorable rise of digital books would have grim economic and cultural consequences. Instead, he chided, I should’ve concentrated on the lamentable demise of the hardback book which he and presumably only a few hundred of his fellow Americans can still afford to buy. He doesn’t actually read them of course, but as a sort of upscale pornography for the illiterati, these big, fat tomes look damn good on his wood-paneled library shelves. Trouble is, fewer and fewer publishers are bothering to produce them and so his reputation as a faux intellectual is therefore in jeopardy.

Well he has a point of course, and along with out mutual friend, Barry O’Connor (the thinking man’s Fred West), I also rue the day when only copies of Katie Price’s and possibly Alan Titchmarch’s latest oeuvres will be available between something stiff and impressive. But with even venerable authors like Hilary Mantel publicly voicing their enthusiasm for digi-books, I wonder how long the hardback can last? And since I myself can’t really afford them, at least not when it’s a toss-up between buying Howard Jacobson’s latest, five litres of Super Unleaded for the Lancia, or a Mega Bucket of Chicken McNuggets for my latest glittering soiree… it’s still the local charity shop’s 50p bargain bookshelf for me.

A similar dilemma occurred this week when a major study (aren’t they always?) revealed that obesity is not the threat to bring down the Health Service that our loyal servant-masters would’ve had us believe. Apparently although we, or rather the yanks whose socio-cultural footsteps we obediently follow, are getting ever fatter thanks to crappy diet and sedentary lifestyles, we are still living longer. Up until now I’ve been able to justify my vocal disdain for the ill-dressed fatsos who waddle around not just the streets of London (where a Tesco and fast-food outlet on every corner gives them slightly less excuse), but increasingly even the artisan sculpted pavements of my illustrious rural nook (where we all run at least five miles a day and eat nothing but organic salad) on the grounds that the NHS will be unable to cope with the rising tide of obesity-related ailments unless taxes are raised and/or we sack all bureaucrats. Actually that last assertion is entirely fallacious, but since our Great Leader, Mr Cameron, is increasingly given to blaming bureaucrats for almost everything that ails the nation, then why shouldn’t I?

So I am now pretty much exposed as simply being fatist, and thus is revealed one of my least attractive traits which, as Messrs. Kreuger and O’Connor frequently point out in our increasingly acerbic email exchanges, are somewhat legion. (Though obviously anyone who carries extra weight for genetic reasons or as an unfortunate consequence of a medical conditions should ignore this divisive and bilious outburst). Bereft of the longevity and healthy living excuse, I must now admit that I am simply vain and shallow, qualities unattractive in a middle-aged man, especially one who these days almost exclusively favours the cheapo Japanese chain Uniqlo as his personal outfitters, thus attracting further opprobrium of the mutton’n’lamb variety. Indeed whilst the fact that I can still squeeze into a 32in waistband when all about me are pushing 38 – and we’re not talking age-gaps here – had hitherto been something of a badge of pride, it must now be seen as a rather pathetic effort to cling onto a sartorially avant garde youth I never really had.

Before the International Journal of Epidemiology’s aforementioned report was published, I took occasional comfort from fellow fatist travelers, most recently the rakish (and rake-like) husband of a dear (and I hasten to point out, svelte) ex-girlfriend with whom I animatedly discussed our mutual antipathy towards middle-aged spread… whilst she rolled her eyes and tutted. I do  of course acknowledge that our metabolisms slow down as we age and we all tend to put on a few pounds, but surely that’s no reason to revel in it?  And thus followed my long-held vanity-maintenance regime which includes twice weekly gym visits and an addiction to Sweet’n’Low, but I do now reluctantly realise that I’m on a hiding to nothing. This is because television and press ads now feature fuller figure models posing as the delightfully content  parents of tubby tweenagers – as opposed to waif like singletons gnawing distractedly on Ryvitas in achingly minimalist apartments that I once so admired – and we as a nation have become obsessed with quiz and reality t.v. programmes in which everyone is fat and badly dressed.

The norm has thus become the enormous, although before my feminist critics dip their virtual pens into their vats of digital poison, I would simply ask them if being overweight has become so damned desirable, why are there no fat pornstars, upscale or otherwise?

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1. Misstokes - March 22, 2011

Hmmmm…well…yes, a deep subject…
first off, hahaha, yes, you are funny, which is one
reason i read whatcha write…and, also you know
I’m not adverse to things “stiff and impressive”…
but wherever you go, there you are…and where I am
in Yank-dom, there is a major correlation between
illiteracy and obesity….and poverty.
A plastic bag of Organic greens (for salad) is
roughly 1/4 the price of a bag of weed….so…what would jesus do?
However…the fat situation is self-limiting, what with food prices going off the charts, it won’t be long til folks here won’t be able to afford it anyway.
As for being badly dressed, well…gawd yer picky…whatcha got against swets and flannel?
Thumbs up, tho, shallow n vain n all.

markswill - March 22, 2011

As ever, Prof. Stokes highlights another of life’s cruel little ironies – i.e. drugs being cheaper than food. But what to do? Smoking dope gives you the munchies, the munchies make you fat, so stop smoking dope. Which begs the question, how cheap are speed and coke in Oklahoma?

And me, being picky about sweats’n’flannel? You wouldn’t get into my London club wearing ’em, Professor, and that’sobviously what matters to me.

2. Pete - March 22, 2011

Demise of hardback books? (thinks) He’s a writer and knows what he’s talking about….
Changing metabolisms in the middle-aged? (thinks, with some rueful solidarity) He’s in that age range and knows this from gradual experience…
No fat porn stars? Er, is this on-going research, Mark?

markswill - March 22, 2011

Well thanks Pete, I guess you’re grudgingly agreeing with me. And yes of course my research is ongoing…’ twas ever thus!

3. David Cobbold - March 22, 2011

Hi Mark. As another ageing anti-flab I sympathise and agree. Luckily for me, here in France the obesity tsunami (I know, poor taste)has been held back by a complex set of factors, but it is on its way, make no mistake. There are, I believe, more McDonalds in France than in any other European country.
To show that your research efforts in the field of porn should perhaps be extended to other realms, I am sending you a piece of evidence from the world of two-wheeled fun to which we both pay tribute from time to time. Unfortunately I seem unable to copy photgraphs into this reply system, so it will come by mail. Best to you. David

4. markswill - March 22, 2011

Look forward to seeing you again in Paris David, where we can munch together on Big Macs and Super Flurries.

5. Alex Ramsay - March 22, 2011

Though I speak as someone whose 34″ waist is largely down to the skimpy living I make from hardback books, I’d say don’t write them off just yet. If we were only prepared to produce them as they do in the USA, beautifully bound at sensible prices, I think we’d see a revival.

6. misstokes - March 22, 2011

I think Ron Jeremy is kinda tubby…

7. markswill - March 22, 2011

My dear old pal Ron IS certainly on the rotund side, but then he is also long retired from the skin trade, is he not? (I have a particular, ahem, soft spot for the t-shirt he wore which announced ‘This ain’t a beer gut, it’s a fuel tank for a sex machine’. What a witty guy).

8. barry o'connor - March 22, 2011

As a overweight and bald lifetime member of the Church of LDS I feel it incumbent upon me to respond.
On a recent church business return flight from SLC and too wide to enter the planes gangway I was seated opposite the exit. This enabled me to make my very slow and ponderous exit to reach the baggage corousel at it’s most crowded.
So imagine my horror seeing my suitcase the first to emerge with it’s zipper torn open, my strapon brazenly poking through the opening and my spare rug perched astride it’s bulbous top.
Ah, the comforts of the Holy Spirit and curling up with a good Kent Hovind book.
May God continue to bless you Mark and the work you do.

markswill - June 4, 2014

I try my best, Barry, I try. But have you considered a transplant? That syrup of yours was always a bit of a monster…

9. Hod - March 22, 2011

I’ve been watching my kids’ habits closely. They’ve been buying hardbacks all along. After the Harry Potter books they turned to the “Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest” series and the like. Hardbacks everywhere. But we were lucky here in that our Connecticut town has a program in the schools called “Sustained Silent Reading.” When they were aged around 10-13, the kids would start every day sitting quietly reading a book. No comics, no electronics, no schoolbooks. Just a book. It made mad readers of all of them.
Last Christmas I gave a Kindle e-book device to the most serious reader among my kids. She loves being able to haul three or four books around on trips on this little device, so it’s getting high marks from her. But now it’s coming out that the owners of the devices are able to track your progress on these books, and if it has a GPS device built-in, they know where you’re sitting when you read. I haven’t yet figured out the dangers of this sort of thing. When the Kindle broke, they sent her a new one — and it arrived “open right to the page” of Huckleberry Finn that she was reading when the last one broke. So they were able to follow her reading progress.

The publishers seem to be doing everything they can to stanch the bleeding endured by record companies when music went digital — and free. You can’t just hand someone your treasured book over to a friend. Among other things, this means your friends can’t see where you wrote “How true!” in the margins of the dirty parts.

markswill - March 23, 2011

But Chris, you CAN write ‘How true’ in the margins of a self-indulgent, incredibly offensive blog! Nevertheless I find Kindle’s ability to track you daughter reading habits deeply sinister… here come the Thought Police?

10. WTK - March 23, 2011

Yes indeed you hit upon another hot topic that has gotten us off our fat and poorly dressed arses for a little computer aerobics. Now, as I slither about the keyboard with my 34″ waist firmly tucked in, as described in Step Three of the “Computer Aerobics” DVD, I must tell you that I no longer buy hardbacks for my well-oiled den shelves. I’ve found a supplier of gorgeous leather-bound faux book jackets that dispense with all that weighty writing between the covers. I must save at least 200,000 words per shelf AND I get to pick the titles and binding. And it’s much easier to move and cart these embossed leather ‘panels’ around than books with pages.

Pornography? I think investment bankers are pornographic, and stop picking on Ron Jeremy as he was a bit of a tub in his prime. I’m sure the hair on his back alone must weigh 30 pounds. (I caught your double-entendre of “stiff and impressive” by the way.)

I’m going to state it here for all to read: I visit Walmart just to see the fatsos ride between the double-wide aisles in their electric carts. Imagine being so plump that you can’t even walk and then scooting around grabbing food from the shelves? Do you have any idea what a petite rose tattoo looks like after you’ve gained 150 pounds? It’s as big as a rose bush. And if fatness, education, and poverty are interrelated as a previous Dear Reader wrote, then how do these Wide-ette families get through those tiny doors in their trailer homes? Makes you wonder.

And lastly, obesity causes a greater drain on health services than do smokers, and speaking of ‘drain’, since more males die each year of prostate cancer than women die of breast cancer, why aren’t there little blue ribbons, and blue labels, and prostate-approved blue products on the shelves? And Bono hasn’t even mentioned it. Face it, mature, white economies produce fatsos and emerging economies produce starvation and child deaths. And I’m warning you, don’t get me started on the inherent racism in climate control and the Tokyo Accord! ‘Accord’ as in ‘accordion’—as in squeezing the life out of developing nations.

There, I feel better. Now I have to trundle off to divine a way to further fleece people, as in skinning them alive.

markswill - March 23, 2011

Terry wisely if inadvertently raises the investment opportunities in electric ‘mobility scooters’. Personally, I’m putting my pension pot into ’em right now and am working on my next magazine launch accordingly. (Since Terry was in at the start of Bike back in ’72, he’ll know how infallible are my instincts when it come to trends in wheeled transport. Which if course is why I’m still a titan of the publishing trade).

Apart from that, leather-bound faux book jackets also sound like a good investment (can I get in on the ground floor, Tezza, pretty-please?), and I’ve already commissioned a run of 1000 t-shirts emblazoned with ‘This is a fuel tank for a Sex Machine’ that Ron ‘The Tubster’ Jeremy used to wear at the porn trade fairs we both used to visit back in the 90s. But to emphasise my final point, Ron is no longer in the stroke movie trade… possibly because he can’t see his dick anymore.

11. Paul Blezard - March 23, 2011

No fat porn stars? Admit it Mark, you haven’t really done your research on this now have you? Start by googling BBW and take it from there…….
(Not my particular cup of Rosy Lee, I hasten to add, but it seems to do the trick for lots of folk!) PNB

12. Barry O'Connor - March 23, 2011

As an overweight lifelong member of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints a recent incident might shed some light on WTK’s prejudices.
On a visit to SLC to meet with Church elders on local church business, I and the local bretherens ministry’s current concerns are reducing the number of stray dogs in our compound and marrying off at risk teenage girls, our breeders.
As I’m too obese to enter the planes gangway the attendants placed me in the seat opposite the exit.
On arrival I made my slow and ponderous way to the baggage carousel where I forced my way through the crowds to await my suitcase.
Only, my suitcase emerged with it’s long zipper brutally torn and broken, my ‘strap on’ boldly peering aloft through the rent and my spare pompadour rug perched atop it’s brazen head.
At times like these who doesn’t take great comfort in the Holy Spirit and winding down with a good Kent Hovind book?
May God continue to bless you Mark and the work you do. B

markswill - March 24, 2011

Thank you Barry, and I can now admit that it is your tireless challenging of social mores that inspires and propels me ever onwards. Kent Hovind is, however, an author unknown to me? Is his oeuvre by any chance similar to that of the great Aleister Crowley? And can you recommend a suitable tome of his to start with?

Your experience on the baggage carousel sounded hideous, but frankly no worse than than what was revealed when my surgical corset burst in JFK on April 11th 1997.

Barry O"Connor - March 24, 2011

The Beast and Great Satanist Crowley’s mantle has now safely been passed on from Jimmy Page to Justin Bieber.
One of the reasons I’ll never travell with WTK again is his 4 gallon capacity colostomy bag.
A good place to start with Dr Hovind is The Adventures of Dino the Dinosaur in The Garden of Eden.

13. misstokes - March 23, 2011

Goddamit….my computer keys are all stuck together from my drooling of high-fructose
cornsyrup on my lap-top,well,ok,tummy-top,
but the thing about prostate cancer vs breast cancer, or leastways AMA spin doctrine onnit
is… PC is ‘normal’ more 80 yr old men have it than don’t. and though they’ve got it, wasn’t wot killed them. (Frank Zappa was given it by US government, tho) Also, yer odds are worse if you seek treatment for pC….and…excuse…i need to run down to walmart n get more candy floss

14. markswill - March 24, 2011

Not sure where your prostrate vs. breast cancer argument came from Dr. Linda, and what that’s gotta do with obesity. But of course you are a respected medical practitioner and I merely a cosmic entertainer.

Needless to say, I have been taken to task for (potentially) offending people who are seriously overweight through no fault of their own, i.e. with genetic or other medical conditions but I’d hoped careful reading would’ve made it clear that sloth, over-indulgence in crap food and lack of self-esteem were what I was criticising.

15. Neil Murray - March 24, 2011

There are a few authors I’ll buy in hardback rather than wait for the cheaper, and later, papperbok. Peter Hamilton. P.J. O’Rourke. Bill Bryson. Terry Pratchett. I always snapped up the latest Flashman, by the sadly missed George MacDonald Fraser, one of the finest historical novelists I can recall (his research and accuracy were formidable: I know one history student who was actually advised to read him, to get a perfect picture of whatever issues she was studying at the time). Anyway, while paperbacks I generally regard as freely disposable, in that I’ll lend and borrow them with little hope of getting them back or returning them, I always put my name and date of purchase on the flyleaf of a hardback. I wonder what my first edition of The Satanic Verses will be worth, one day?

16. Frank W - March 24, 2011

As MrsW3 is a Noted Reviewer, my modest maison is bulging with hardback books, as are the tear-stained walls of our library, the garage, several sheds and the compost heap. My only real disappointment in life is that the words inside said weighty shelf-benders are the same as those in flapperback versions, as read by the surely less literate. I take it that Kindling copies are more like those marvellous Reader’s Digest efforts, with weighty nonsense as read by fat buffoons comme moi-meme reduced to mentally manageable proportions suitable for the light-flight-of-fancy like Mark?
Mind you, that sad discovery was as nought compared to that regarding said Reader’s Digest, which I had always thought would be edible literature, suitable for boosting the belly to more manly dimensions. Oh well, back to writing rubbish…

17. WTK - March 24, 2011

This is an off-the-top-of-my-head investment idea, but I’m going to fund a ‘skinny’ mirror manufacturer so no one will be fat and offended any longer. I’ll then add a ‘take-along’ travel mylar line, with gold mylar the upmarket product.

18. markswill - March 24, 2011

I’m in Terry. Fuck the nest-egg I put aside for my bijou suite in the Rubber Undersheet Retirement Complex, what’ll $100k get me?

19. WTK - March 24, 2011

Good lad. It will get you wealth and a social service peace of mind. You stud, you!

shakira osbourne - March 26, 2011

As a bisexual blackwoman who suffers from obesity, a wife, mother and caregiver to my severely incontinent 90 yr old father, I cannot express how insensitive and offensive I find the last few comments.
So characteristic of the insecurities of sexually repressed, corduroy wearing white males.

markswill - March 26, 2011

I gave up corduroy years ago. And as you share an e-mail address with the Rev. O’Connor (of the Evangelical Tunnel of Dreams Institute), I suggest that you take this matter up with him at one of your nightly prayer sessions.

20. Sue - March 26, 2011

A fellow sizeist, nothing worse than a skinny hairless man who looks and feels like a plucked chicken. Hairy meaty men are obviously more tasty. Don`t get me wrong a person wouldn`t want to be engulfed in folds of lard but a roundy tummy is a comfy resting place.
Charity shops are infact treasure troves a haven from the endless rows of shops full of identical, generic tat. Fashion is indeed just like designer food….tomorrows cr*p.
As for books, a recent declutter has led me back to the place I first loved the written word, the good old public library.

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