I like my art-fag hat that looks like a tarboosh.

I like my Mao button on my art-fag hat that looks like a tarboosh.

This is adangerous combination of Communist trinkets and suspected Islamic haberdashery in Central Oregon.

People in Central Oregon do not like art-fag hats that look like a tarboosh.

People in Central Oregon do not like Mao buttons on art-fag hats that look like a tarboosh.

(An Islamic sartorial FYI: A tarboosh comes from the Persian words sar, meaning head and poosh, meaning cover. Kaddafi wears a tarboosh. A tarboosh is not a kafi. Arafat wore a kafi, before he was covered with six feet of dirt. Neither a tarboosh nor a kafi is popular in Central Oregon.)

People in Central Oregon like beer, fishing, hunting and shooting furry woodlands creatures, and pickup trucks, and they don't care that Mao liked guns and shooting and said really cool things about them such as, "Power comes from the barrel of a gun."

Beer, fishing, hunting and shooting furry woodlands creatures, and pickup trucks and guns go together: Beer goes well with fishing; beer goes well with hunting and shooting furry woodlands creatures; beer goes well with guns; and pickup trucks run on beer. 

Mao and art-fag hats that look like a tarboosh do not go well with beer; Mao and art-fag hats that look like a tarboosh do not go well with fishing; Mao and art-fag hats that look like a tarboosh do not go well with hunting and shooting furry woodlands creatures; art-fag hats that look like a tarboosh do not go well with guns, again, never mind Mao's affection for guns and having nonfurry woodlands creatures called people shot; and Mao and art-fag hats that look like a tarboosh do not go well with pickup trucks at all. 

Really big pickup trucks are really big in Central Oregon. Their drivers, however, are not really big into using their turn signals, most likely due to their belief that "This is America and nobody is going to tell me that I have to use my really big truck's turn signal and if they do, I will shoot them." Really big pickup trucks are also really good at running over the furry woodland creatures that their drivers haven't previously hunted and shot.

It probably doesn't help matters that I prefer to wear Wayfarer sunglasses—which are very "God Bless America" I might add—with my art-fag hat that looks like a tarboosh with a Mao button on it, the ironic and hypocritical choice of eyewear of 9 out of 10 Death-to-America Islamic fundamentalists.

Death to America but not their sunglasses!

What am I doing in Central Oregon dressed like target practice anyway?

I'm an art-fag; more accurately, I'm a fake art-fag since I am neither gay nor an artist. I just play one in an art-fag hat that looks like a tarboosh with a Mao button on it in Central Oregon; even more accurately, I'm a playing one in an art-fag hat that looks like a tarboosh with a Mao button on in it playing Hemingway in Central Oregon.

I'm not a Maoist either, but I digress.

Push comes to shove, I guess I'm not a fake artist either since my son's French school directory lists his father's occupation as artist, and my mom always told me, "Son, you can't argue with a French school directory."

Just because I'm not a fake artist, doesn't mean that I'm a good not fake one; in fact, one way-less-than-enthusiastic observer wrote me to say that my art and I are "black holes sucking the life out of everything."

My first black-hole-sucking-the-life-out-of-everything art show starred Hitler with his jodhpurs around his ankles and upset a lot of Hitler fans and non-Hitler fans alike; my second black-hole-sucking-the-life-out-of-everything art show starred Napoleon with a "kick moi" sign on his 

back and upset a lot of Francophiles at my son's French school; my third black-hole-sucking-the-life-out-of-everything art show starred Jesus and his last meal and featured large-scale prints, four-by-seven feet to be exact, and a large number of them, 44 to be exact, depicting each step in a paint-by-numbers of the Last Supper that upset Christians, restaurateurs, gourmands, crucifiers, paint-by-numberers, copyright lawyers and one reviewer who said I had "gilded the bejesus out of Leonardo's lily."

He also suggested I stick to bad guys.

Which leads me to my fourth black-hole-sucking-the-life-out-of-everything art show and my art-fag hat that looks like a tarboosh with a Mao button on it: Mao Home & Garden.

But, I digress again, first: Mao was a bad guy, right? Does 70 million deaths, give or take a couple million, and the whole-brink-of-nuclear-holocaust thing and the line "The atom bomb is a paper tiger used to scare people; it looks terrible, but in fact it isn't" and the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution with some other nastiness and assorted no-nos sprinkled on top really make Mao a bad guy (and we're not even bringing up that he never brushed his teeth)? 

Yes, it does.

70,000,000 deaths (+/-2,000,000–4,000,000) 

+ The brink of nuclear holocaust thing

+ Odd thoughts about atom bombs

+ The Great Leap Forward

+ The Cultural Revolution

+ Some other nastiness

+ Assorted no-nos

+ Poor dental hygiene

= Mao is a bad guy.

It also makes him a really funny guy. 

Right now, unless you are a Maoist, Nazi, French or Home & Garden comedian, you're probably asking yourself, "What's so funny about Mao and all his unpleasantness, Hitler and all his unpleasantness, Napoleon and all his unpleasantness and home & garden products and all their unpleasantness?"

A fair question, yes. Allow me:

I grew up a 98-pound weakling.

In elementary school, Johnny Trasnosky beat me up religiously.

In junior high school, Phil Keller took over for Johnny Trasnosky.

In high school, Bob Newell replaced Phil Keller. Bob Newell's beating-up-Jim-Riswold efforts would have made Johnny Trasnosky and Phil Keller proud. Somewhere between Bob Newell pummelings, I came to the conclusion, despite Charles Atlas's best efforts and a modest weight gain, that I would always remain low on the he-man food chain.

Trouble was, I really wanted to fight back. I'd pray every night, "Dear Jesus, please help me kick Bob Newell's ass. Amen." 

It didn't work. Maybe Bob Newell prayed harder.

"Dear Jesus, please help me kick Jim Riswold's ass even more than I did today. Amen."

Somewhere, during Bob Newell's answered prayers, a couple things happened. First, I took Mrs. Harding's humanities class and met some of her dearest friends with names like Ionesco, Swift and Voltaire; and I learned some really fabulous new words like satire, sarcasm, sardonic wit and hubris. Second, I discovered the absurdist wit of Monty Python.

I did some funny math—I have always been funny with math—and learned something from this strange tonic of rhinoceroses, modest proposals, best of all possible worlds and very funny jokes about the very unfunny Spanish Inquisition.

I learned to laugh at the bad guy.

And I'll let you in on a little secret: Bad guys don't like to be laughed at; that's part of what makes them bad guys. Bad guys take themselves so seriously.

Mussolini, a bad guy, said, "This is the epitaph I want on my tomb: ‘Here lies one of the most intelligent animals who ever appeared on the face of the earth.'"

Mussolini did not get his wish; his bullet-ridden corpse was hung upside down in a public square and then burned.  

Not to be outdone by his funnily dressed Fascist friend, Hitler, also a bad guy, boasted, "I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."

If so, the Lord really does work in mysterious ways.

Napoleon, another bad guy regardless of what the French say, returned to Paris, abandoning his soon-to-be-defeated army in the Middle East on October 16, 1799, and told France, "Follow me, I am the god of the day."

France followed Napoleon and 5,398 days later, it was bankrupt, one million Frenchmen were dead and Napoleon lived on a crummy rock in the middle of the Atlantic. On the crummy rock, he spent his days dictating his memoirs noting, "I have worn the imperial crown of France and the iron crown of Italy, and now England has given me one grander and more glorious—that worn by the Savior of the world, a crown of thorns."

Mao, a bad guy with bad dental maintenance, said, "People like me sound like a lot of big cannons." 

FYI: Cannons blow stuff up and kill people.

Braggadocio epitaphs, so-called missions from God, self-proclaimed gods and self-comparisons to cannons—it's called hubris. 

However, we are told not to laugh at these people. Mocking them, laughing at them, satirizing them, we are told, trivializes their crimes. Obviously, I disagree. I would argue that only speaking about the Hitlers and Maos of the world in deadly serious tones actually pays the fools the reverence they so crave.

They don't mind being called monsters, but they sure don't like being called fools.

So, by all means show Hitler with his pants around his ankles; put a clown nose on Mussolini; slap a Kick Moi sign on Napoleon's back; give Mao some onion gum; put a whoopee cushion under Stalin. Descended pants, clown snouts, kick-me signs, joke gum and whoopee cushions don't mix well with the overbearing pride that is hubris.

Toys do the trick as well. The dictator enjoys his monuments, his pageantry and his spectacle; that's why he's a dictator. (Healthy doses of hubris, charisma, paranoia, ruthlessness, vanity and immorality also come in handy.) The oversized monument, choreographed pageantry and grand spectacle inflate the importance of the dictator. On the other hand, a toy—defined as an object, often a small representation of something familiar, as an animal, object, person, and so on, for children to play with—deflates its subject with its very smallness. Instead of providing—as monuments, pageantry and spectacle do—grand expositions mythologizing the dictator, toys, by definition, make their subjects seem small, childish and trifling.

If bad guys don't like being called fools, it stands to reason they would not care too much to be seen as small, childish, and trifling. Now, I'm not saying all we have to do to deal effectively with the lunatic bad that is, say, Kim Jong Ill, is sneak Louis Black into North Korea with a Kim Jong Ill bit and a megaphone, but it wouldn't hurt; unless, of course, you are Louis Black and you get captured and thrown in a dank prison and tortured.

Research says some good may come of doing so. Once I started mocking Bob Newell and his pugilist ways, he soon lost interest in beating me to a pulp.

Go figure. But I think he stopped his bullying because I no longer paid him the reverence of fear.

After all, Mrs. Harding, a bunch of dead writers and some extremely unbuff British comedians had my back, and they could kick Bob Newell's ass. 

Maybe they prayed even harder than Bob Newell.

But enough about Bob Newell and fancy-pants words like hubris and choreographed pageantry, let's talk about Mao and me and my art-fag hat that looks like a tarboosh playing Hemingway in Central Oregon.

I like silly words; I really like a lot of silly words; I really really like to write a lot of silly words for my art shows. For the Himmler's Homework in my Goring's Lunch, I—actually Herr Himmler—wrote, "One basic principle must be the absolute rule for the SS men—we must be honest, decent, loyal, and comradely to members of our own blood and nobody else. What happens to a Russian or to a Czech does not interest me in the slightest. What the nations can offer in the way of good blood of our type we will take, if necessary by kidnapping their children and raising them here with us. Whether nations live in prosperity or starve to death interests me only so far as we need them as slaves for our culture; otherwise, it is of no interest to me. Whether ten thousand Russian females fall down from exhaustion while digging an antitank ditch interests me only so far as the antitank ditch for Germany is finished."

Le Chapeau de Napoléon, from Napoléon 1769 et 2005, featured these silly words, "Napoleon had a famous hat. It was called ‘the little hat.' He bought all his hats from Poupard et Cie for 60 francs apiece. Napoleon complained he paid too much for his hats and always tried to get them for less. He failed."

And to make them even sillier, it featured them in French: "Napoléon portait un chapeau célèbre appelé ‘le petit chapeau.' Napoléon achetait tous ses chapeaux chez Poupard et Cie 60 francs pièce. Napoléon se plaignait de les payer trop cher et essayait toujours de les obtenir pour moins. Il n'y réussit pas."

Mao, being Mao, demanded his own silly words; especially since a significant portion of the Mao Home & Garden show featured a silly small statute of him in his silly Great Helmsman pose in his silly green outfit with his silly green hat standing atop silly miniatures of extremely overpriced and silly designer chairs.

Eames Rocking Chairman Mao

Heart Cone Chairman Mao

Zigzag Chairman Mao

Coconut Chairman Mao

Marshmallow Chairman Mao

And so on.

Same Chairman Mao, same Great Helmsman pose, 63 different designer chairs for the Chairman and his Great Helmsman pose.  

Chairman Mao. Get it?

Long live Chairman Mao and his silliness!

Again, the Great Helmsman cried out for words of great silliness; and what Mao wants Mao gets. After all, you don't want to let a man down who said, "Revolution is not a dinner party, not an essay, nor a painting, nor a piece of embroidery; it cannot be advanced softly, gradually, carefully, considerately, respectfully, politely, plainly and modestly."

In order to give Mao the full attention he craves, I went into hibernation with my art-fag hat that looks like a tarboosh with a Mao button on it in Central Oregon.

I got up at 5 in the AM and was writing away, like Hemingway.

I put the pen down at 11:30 in the AM, like Hemingway.

I treated myself to a moveable feast at noon sharp, like Hemingway.

(Mao said revolution was not a dinner party; he did not say it was not an exquisite lunch.)

I was dead drunk by 16 minutes after noon sharp, like Hemingway.

I think I may have tried to shoot myself, like Hemingway, but I was either too dead drunk to remember, or I missed.

Even better than missing while trying to maybe shoot myself, the silly words about Mao kept coming, 63 pages worth, leading me to believe that the surefire cure for writer's block is to write nonsense about poorly dressed paranoid dictators who don't brush their teeth. Capital-S silliness is bound to happen if you combine Mao's silly blurbs from the Little Red Book and speeches with silly titles like "To Be Attacked by the Enemy Is Not a Bad Thing but a Good Thing" with silly and pretentious and even some made-up words glorifying silly and pretentious chairs and silly slogans from silly Chinese propaganda posters. To (dim) wit, the words for Organic Armchairman Mao

Mao said, "Our purpose is to ensure that literature and art fit well into the whole revolutionary machine as a component part, that they operate as powerful weapon for uniting and educating the people and for attacking and destroying the enemy, and that they help the people fight the enemy with one heart and one mind."

Eero Saarinen said his purpose was to destroy "the underside of typical chairs and tables that makes a confusing, unrestful world." 

He succeeded. His 1937 collaboration with Charles Eames led to the Organic Armchair. It was made from plywood and foam rubber and earned its place in chair history as the first three-dimensional bucket-shaped armchair.

$1,270.00 + free shipping in the continental United States.

Please allow 8–12 weeks for this special chair to be created and shipped to your location.

Rely on the Helmsman while sailing the seas; rely on Organic Armchairman Mao thought while making revolution! Eschew the worlds of literature and art and become familiar with the lives of workers, peasants and soldiers!

And to further (and dimmer) wit, Heart Cone Chairman Mao words:

Mao said, "The Red Sun is in our hearts."

Indeed, the Red Sun is in our hearts, but supporting our backsides is vibrant red upholstery supported by a brushed stainless steel base: The Heart Cone Chair. 

In the mid-1950s, Verner Panton loaded his belief that "most people spend their days living in dreary beige conformity, mortally afraid of using colors" into his Volkswagen-bus-turned-mobile-studio and traveled across Europe. In 1958, he returned to Denmark full of unconventional ideas bent on provoking "people into using their imagination and making their surroundings more exciting" and, hence, his iconic interpretation of the classic wing chair, Heart Cone Chair was born. When the futuristic and jaw-dropping chair was displayed in a New York City shop window, police had it removed because of all the traffic problems it created.

Heart Cone Chairman Mao is the red sun in the hearts of the people of every land!

Silliness does require food and coffee. My art-fag hat that looks like a tarboosh with a Mao button on it, and I would have to venture out from hibernation and drunken stupors to stock up on food and coffee in Central Oregon.

This is where the trouble started.

As a funny-looking human being, I get funny looks. Add an art-fag hat and I am guaranteed to get more funny looks. Add an art-fag hat that looks like a tarboosh and I am double guaranteed to get even more funny looks. Add an art-fag hat that looks like a tarboosh with a Mao button on it and I am triple guaranteed to get way more funny looks. Add an art-fag hat that looks like a tarboosh with a Mao button on it and radical-Islamic-fundamentalist-recommended eyewear in Central Oregon and, for all the aforementioned reasons, I am, as also aforementioned, a big fucking target.

It's probably not best to meet the looks of the Central Oregon curious or the Central Oregon curious and miffed or the Central Oregon curious and miffed and large or the Central Oregon curious and miffed and large and possibly armed with snotty replies, regardless of what I had learned from Mrs. Harding, and I think the following qualifies as a snotty reply:

Q: You got a Muslim hat on and a Mao button on it and a crucifix around your neck. Are you trying to say somethin[g]?

A: I believe I might be trying to make a comment on the absurdity of hubris and the unyielding I-am-right-and-everybody-else-is-wrong belief that comes with it. Mao had it, how could someone responsible for the death of 70 million and giant statues of himself not have it? Radical Muslim fundamentalists have it; how could someone who flies airplanes into buildings not have it? Radical Christians have it; how could they claim that the Lord tells them to do such silly things, such as kick Darwin out of the classroom, board spaceships in Nikes and start a Crusade or three not have it?

There was no response (and he didn't even notice that I was accessorizing with my grandfather's and father's dog tags).

I would also venture a guess that "It's not a tarboosh with a Mao button on it; it's an art-fag hat with a Mao button on it, ASSHOLE;" "It's not a tarboosh with a Mao button on it; it's a chemo cap with a Mao button on it, ASSHOLE;" and "It's not a Mao button; it's a Jackie Gleason button, ASSHOLE" qualify as snotty replies.

Furthermore, people in Central Oregon are, in general, not fond of being called ASSHOLE and they are, in particular, not fond of being called ASSHOLE by a guy in an art-fag hat that looks like a tarboosh with a Mao button on it.

In other and more blunt words, it was time to leave. On the way home, I also found out that people at the Salem, Oregon McDonalds don't like art-fag hats that looks like a tarboosh with Mao button on it either. At home in Portland, Oregon, it's not too popular a look at the neighborhood Starbucks, either, especially with a certain regular customer who thinks all not-made-in-American cars are a Communist plot, never mind his toupee is most likely made in China.

Don't cry for me, Central Oregon: I got 63 pages written and the inspiration for this little dimwitted ditty about dimwits large and small; and in the immortal words of that lunatic Douglas McArthur, who, by the way, would not have much cared for my art-fag hat that looks like a tarboosh with a Mao button on it, "I shall return."

After all, I still have some more make-believe Hemingway to do. There are the words to be penned for the rest of the Mao Home & Garden show: The Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party Dinner Party Set words, the Red Chinese Take Out Mao words, the Commie Pinko Fag Mao words, the Baby Bib Mao words, Happy Birthday Mao words, Mao Is Love words and other words.

What should I wear?