Rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.
Monday, July 18, 2016
Diasporic Dining XXXXI: When the Shit Hits the Fan
chemical toilet in Baghdad (photo: Chitrapa)
Have you ever pulled into a roadside stop and faced the
dreaded, “restrooms are out of order” and advising you to use the portable
potty out back. That’s what drivers who sought refuge at the Cumberland Farms off exit 70 on the LIE faced on a recent summer’s afternoon. Remember the most
horrifying scene from The Shining
when Jack Torrance is axing through the door behind which his wife and children
cower. The terror, drivers who had seen the film experienced, was probably a little less than the sight of
the angry piles of shit, steaming amidst a heatwave, that covered many toilet
seats outside. They undoubtedly felt a little like Alice searching for rabbit holes, but without success. Where was the portal that would
finally provide relief? Actually, the shit (and other waste) on the seats in many of the
stalls, which management had shown scant effort in having removed, was a little
like the intractable problems of the world.Terrorists left scores killed in Nice and 140 dead in Baghdad. The coup
in Turkey had failed. Police officers had been killed by snipers in Baton Rouge
in vengeance for the killing of an innocent black man, Alton Sterling, and then, of course, there were the killings of policemen in Dallas and the killing of an another
innocent black man Philando Castile, in the suburbs of St Paul, by police. There were undoubtedly motorists who felt a thank you was in order to Cumberland Farms. No headline could have been as powerful as the
statement on the seats of those portable toilets. Is the sewage problem outside
of Cumberland Farms more indefatigable than the problems facing our world?
Francis Levy's debut novel, Erotomania: A Romance, was released in August 2008 by Two Dollar Radio.
His short stories, criticism, humor, and poetry have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Village Voice, The East Hampton Star, The Quarterly, Penthouse, Architectural Digest, TV Guide, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, and other publications. One of his Voice humor pieces was anthologized in The Big Book of New American Humor (HarperCollins). He is presently the Co-Director of The Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of Imagination (philoctetes.org), where he supervises roundtable discussions on topics as varied as “The Psychology of the Modern Nation State” and “Modern Traffic Theory, Behavior, and Imagination”.