Thursday, December 09, 2004

Stupid Human Tricks

I came across this on a blog I sometimes read:

"Have you ever run across the 19th century French music-hall star Joseph Pujol? He was quite a phenonemon, a huge star who was known as "le petomane," or "the fartiste." That's right: Pujol was a specialty act, and virtuoso farting was his specialty. He had a long and busy career, and performed his act all over France. He had his greatest success at the Moulin Rouge, where he outgrossed (if that's the right word) the legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt.

Here's a description of Pujol's opening night at the Moulin Rouge:
Then Le Petomane performed some imitations, using the simple, honest format of announcing and then demonstrating. He displayed his wide sonic range with tenor, baritone, and bass fart sounds. He imitated the farts of a little girl, a mother-in-law, a bride on her wedding night (tiny), the same bride the day after (loud), and a mason (dry-- "no cement"). He imitated thunder, cannons ("Gunners stand by your guns! Ready-- fire!!"), and even the sound of a dressmaker tearing two yards of calico (a full 10-second rip).

After the imitations, Le Petomane popped backstage to put one end of a yard-long rubber tube into his anus. He returned and smoked a cigarette from this tube, after which he used it to play a couple of tunes on a song flute. For his finale he removed the rubber tube, blew out some of the gas-jet footlights from a safe distance away, and then led the audience in a rousing sing- along."

This reminded me of a guy I used to lifeguard with in Stone Harbor, who could fart on cue, and would often note his attendence at morning roll call by "tearing two yards of calico." It seems he was a wrestler in high school, and while doing some strange stretching and warm-up routine, he discovered this ability; at first, he would actually have to roll around in this warm-up to be able to produce the effect, but with practice was able to do it merely while sitting.

He was the youngest of three brothers, all of whom were guards. The eldest of the three was cut like a rock, had dyed blonde hair and a surfer doo, and was perhaps the vainest guy I've ever met - although admittidley with good reason. While in law school, probably no doubt already leveraged to the hilt, he bought a Porsche to see if he couldn't set a record for debt accumulation at a young age. The joke about him was that he would excuse himself from intimate female company when events seemed to be heading in a certain direction, retire to the bathroom, drop and do 50 push-ups, and return with a bit of a pump. For all I know it was pure fiction - but like the best of pure fiction, it was extremely credible.

The middle brother lacked both the ability to fart on cue and the ability to do fifty push-ups as a warm-up for intimacy. Like me, he was a graduate of Lehigh, so his talent consisted primarily of being able to drink beer in many different ways - from a funnel, while doing a hand-stand on the keg, from a two-story funnel (for which his fraternity was rightly famous for having invented). As a male Lehigh student, there was little need for him to develop the pre-sex routine of his brother, and the ability to fart on cue would probably not have brought much distinction, especially within his particular fraternity.

We didn't know each other while at Lehigh, but I once was an accomplice to an old running friend trying to steal a painting from his fraternity after drinking in their bar until 3 am; earlier that day, he had won the conference indoor 3000 meter championship, but liquored up, he didn't make it more than 100 yards from the fraternity before being walked down by a fat guy named Puddles. Puddles was a good sport about it - no hard feelings - stealing things from fraternities is a time honored tradition that he had probably taken part in himself, so there was no need to get pissy about it. And that was characteristic of his fraternity in general - they were drunk degenerates, but they were good guys.

All of the brothers, to my knowledge, became lawyers, following in the footsteps of their father. The youngest once told me that the three of them were dining with their father one night, and when the waitress queried if they'd like to have a round of waters, his father quickly responded that fish piss in water, so bring us a round of beers. Probably not an original joke, but that was the first time I had heard it, so it has stuck with me to this day, and I think of it always when being offered a water in a resturaunt. Of course, beer has certain agricultural products as ingredients that are no doubt fertilized with cow manure, so though I prefer a beer, it is not for the same reasons some reject water.

As economists are wont to say - there is no accounting for a person's taste. There is even a fancy Latin phrase to that effect that I forgot minutes after having heard it from the mouth of Professor Ket Richter, which gave it a life slightly longer lived then everything else he had said in that class. In any event, even economists don't believe there is no accounting for taste, they just know that such accounting will not really involve any sophisticated math that will impress their colleagues - so why bother accounting for it? That is, after all, why sociology was invented - for those who don't understand math.

I always fear with posts like these that I am straying from a consistent theme to my blog, which principally consists of making fun of liberals. In the interest of having a common thematic thread, then, I will end by saying that liberals are turds.


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