Tag Archives: bush

The Tragic Art of George W. Bush

5 Apr

merkelToday, former President George W. Bush opens a public exhibit of his works – more than 24 portraits of world leaders he met while president. Painting has been the primary extra-curricular activity of his post-White House years; he paints daily, and receives a lesson once a week. Bush told his art instructor to help him “unleash his inner Rembrandt,” and these 24 paintings are the result.

A friend remarked to me that is was nice to see the former president “humanized” by this new hobby. But to me, this turn of events seems downright sad.

Certainly, there’s the tragic waste of potential. Former President Jimmy Carter travels the globe building houses for Habitat For Humanity, eradicating disease, and fighting for human rights in third world countries, for which he received the 2002 Nobel Peace prize. Former President Bill Clinton may be a spotlight-seeking fame-junky, but he’s wielded his influence to the tune of 2,800 Commitments to Action, worth $88 billion, to improve some 430 million lives around the world.

George W. Bush has spent 5 years creating an amateur pastel of Angela Merkel.

Now, unless you get sentenced to community service, no one is required to do good things for others. But being a former Leader of the Free World is a rare opportunity. Spider-Man once said that “with great power comes great responsibility.” For George W. Bush, with great power comes a ranch in Texas where you can golf, clear brush, and paint.

Perhaps it is the stark contrast to the image he presented as President that makes this new artistic pursuit so queer. George W. Bush was a cowboy. He was The Decider. The Commander-in-Chief who proudly stood in his flight suit in front of a “Mission Accomplished” banner after his rousing military conquest of Baghdad, liberating the people of Iraq.

Of course, those images were always something of a ruse. Bush was not a cowboy; he was born in New Haven, Connecticut and attended Yale and Harvard. He was not a warrior; he had avoided deployments to Vietnam while his peers fought and died. He did not liberate the people of Iraq; on the contrary, hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis died in the bloodshed following the American invasion of that country. Bush was a man who, whether aware of it or not, seemed to be wearing costumes that did not fit the reality of the skills and passions he actually possessed. Perhaps we should not be surprised then to see him abscond from power and turn toward other pursuits. While his old contemporary Vladimir Putin still gets to invade countries and command armies, George has slinked off to the sidelines. He is no longer an invader; he just paints them.

This image — of a man fleeing from his towering station, and turning to, of all things, art — seemed eerily familiar. And then it struck me: We’ve seen this character before, in none other than Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. The book’s primary antagonist, architect Peter Keating, is a spoiled rich kid who skates though school, rising to the highest levels of society through nepotism, cronyism, and the guiding hand of a powerful parent, despite having no real talent of his own. While he is rewarded with wealth and accolades, he winds up empty inside, knowing he was forced into a profession that others chose for him, when what he really dreamed of all along was to become a painter. Late in life, after years spent causing misery and even death, Keating brings his artwork to his architectural rival, Howard Roark, desperate for his opinion:

“I haven’t shown it to anyone.” His fingers fumbled, opening the straps. “Not to mother or Ellsworth Toohey … I just want you to tell me if there’s any …”

He handed to Roark six of his canvases.

Roark looked at them, one after another. He took a longer time than he needed. When he could trust himself to lift his eyes he shook his head in silent answer to the word Keating had not pronounced.

“It’s too late, Peter,” he said gently.

Keating nodded. “Guess I … knew that.”

When Keating had gone, Roark leaned against the door, closing his eyes. He was sick with pity.

He had never felt this before … the complete awareness of a man without worth or hope, this sense of finality, of the not to be redeemed. 

For better or worse, George W. Bush will be remembered by history. Presiding over 9/11, two wars, hundreds of thousands of dead and the near collapse of the global economy will earn you that honor. But through it all, he seemed to be more pawn than king. Not an evil man, but a man miscast by history, in a role he never fit and was eager to abandon. So it comes as only half-shock that while others go on to play large roles in world affairs after leaving the White House, Bush is showing us that he has other things to offer society, passions closer to his heart. Like painting. This, it seems, is what George W. Bush may actually have been destined for, had fate not played a cruel joke on him, and I suppose, the planet as a whole.

Bush has embraced this new opportunity. What’s done is done; he’s ready to be true to himself, to start fresh. He has put his art on display in Dallas for all to see. He wants to know: what do we think?

It’s too late, George.




Dear Society: Grow Some Pubes

28 Feb

shaving-pubic-hair-3The year was 1997, I was a freshman in college, and had on the previous night had the pleasure of hooking up with a girl from my dorm. Of course, the next morning there was the requisite grilling by my buddies and divulging of details, as young men are want to do. And inevitably the question arises: “Muff or shaved?”

“Totally shaved!” I exclaim, to hoots, hollers, and hi-fives in recognition of this rare and beautiful creature. Forgive our immaturity; I was 17, and could count the number of vaginas I had seen in my life on one hand.

Fifteen years later, and things have certainly changed. I’ve long since graduated, nobody hi-fives anymore, and to count the number of vaginas I’ve seen now, I’d need a Chinese kid and an abacus. But most importantly, a completely hairless vagina has become more common than Kings of Leon on the radio and, in my opinion, just as played out.

I didn’t know it back then, but the nineties marked a cultural transition in women’s body grooming in Western society. If you’re lucky enough to know a collector of Playboy Magazine back issues, take a stroll down mammary lane. Centerfolds in the 70s consistently had a healthy afro of love between their legs. In the 80s, it had been pared down somewhat, but the classic bikini line crew cut was still the norm, or for the truly adventurous, maybe the slimmer “landing strip,” or even my personal favorite, the Valentine’s Day pube heart. Then, in the mid 90s, something happened. Women started shedding their coats faster than a German Shepherd in a sauna. By the mid 2000s, bare was the norm. The last time I saw a real bush was when he left office in 2008.

I blame a lot of things. Porn is probably the biggest culprit. The shaved look has always been popular with the adult film stars, and when Internet pornography exploded in the last decade, a lot of women who would never buy an adult DVD were suddenly exposed to free smut on the interwebs. They must have seen all those sexy shaved vaginas and said “Wow, is this what other girls look like? Is this what guys find attractive?”

The sad answer was yes…guys did find this attractive. Most still do. In my discussions with fellow vagina aficionados (we have a magazine!), I’m hard pressed to find a man who prefers hair, any hair, to a cleanly waxed vajayjay. To even utter such a preference is to invite ridicule from your male friends, one step removed from wondering what penis tastes like.

Well let me come forward and be the first, but hopefully not the last, to take a stand and request with pride: LADIES…PLEASE GROW BACK YOUR PUBES.

Surely, this is not an unfair request. I can’t imagine women enjoy the tedium of shaving or the pain of waxing. Not to mention the time and cost of the grooming, or what I assume is the mild awkwardness of having a Vietnamese woman rip sheets of hair from your panocha. If you’re doing any of this for my aesthetic benefit, I’m begging you, please stop.

Pubic hair is there for a reason. Our primate ancestors were covered in hair, and with the exception of Robin Williams, modern man has shed most of it. But we keep hair in certain places: on our head, to keep us warm, and to reduce cranial trauma. And when we reach puberty, we grow hair under our arms and around our genitals.

Why? It is an indictor of sexual maturity. A hairless male or female has not reached puberty and is not of childbearing age. Back in the caveman days, if you were horny for sex and baby-making, which we all are in our late teens and beyond, then a hairless member of the opposite sex would not have offered you any reproductive benefit. Having “grass on the field” was an important indicator of maturity before IDs and driver licenses, or for that matter, before human beings could talk or have birthdays or remember how old they were. For the same reason a woman finds Colin Farrell’s scruffy beard attractive, we should, in theory, be aroused by the sight of a vaginal hair hat.

But there’s more. Human beings, like many animals, release pheromones to attract the opposite sex. As I’ve discussed in this blog before, humans can smell attractiveness in prospective partners. Where do we release pheromones from? You guessed it: Under our arms and our genitals. Pubic hair acts like a sort sponge, retaining these valuable scents in a way that hairless bodies don’t. Contrary to popular belief, pubes literally make you smell sexier.

How did we get away from this simple but effective piece of organic clothing granted to us by natural selection? Homo-Sapiens have been around for some 200,000 years, and until the last decade or so, pubic hair was the norm. I’d say that qualifies as a “short-term fad” in the grand scheme of evolution. So let’s get back to our roots, literally. Pubic hair is natural, keeps your private parts warm, and reminds me I’m not having pedophile sex with a ten year old, something I can’t say for your creepy, fully-waxed twazart. The only time I should see hairless genitals on my lover is if my wife has ovarian cancer, the chemo makes her hair fall out, and I’m cheering her up with a quick bang between hospital visits.

Men, this will be better for us as well. I’m going to let you in on a secret: about 10% of the times a woman wouldn’t have sex with you, it was because she was embarrassed because she hadn’t gotten around to pruning her hedges in a while. Ask your female friends. If we just let them grow the damn thing out, this won’t be a problem.

And I’ll tell you something else. I’m getting a little sick of trimming my own short-and-curlys. Despite all my anti-shaving rhetoric, I still do a pass with the clippers once every week or so to keep the foliage manicured. Clearly, I have bowed to peer-pressure, just like everyone else. Pubes, balls, sure. But do I trim my upper thighs as well to make the length uniform? Taint? I’m half Persian, for Christ’s sake! We’re a sexy, albeit hirsute people. If I have to spend hours grooming my genitals, I won’t have time to get drunk and show them to anybody!

Look, I’m not saying shaving isn’t without its benefits. As Larry David discovered in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, pubes can be an obstacle during oral sex. And the decline of pubes is also linked with the decline of pubic lice, which is certainly a good thing. On the other hand, shaved genitals has also been linked with increased occurrence of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. Bet your waxer didn’t tell you that!

So let’s give this obsessive body grooming a rest. Show some appreciation to those ancestors who passed down their successful genes, including the hairy ones. You don’t have to go full-on Amazonian right out of the gate. Honestly, I’d settle for a Hitler mustache at this point. But if your vagina has the same haircut as Dr. Evil, you’re doing something wrong.