Notes on the sexual revolution
(from one who came in at the end, so to speak)
PATRICK D. HAZARD
Duane Swierczynski, that he-man editor of the Philadelphia City Paper (February 8, 2007), is in a rare tizzy. A reader has accused him of the grossest hypocrisy for in effect financing his high-toned editorial content with sex ads in the rear, so to speak, of his alternative paper. This elicits from Duane as coherent and plausible a defense of the American intellectual firewall between editorial and business sides as ever I remember reading.
But the part-time thriller writer has a softer side. Last month this emigrant New Yorker was recounting his recent family visit to Ground Zero and his anxiety about explaining it properly to his four-year-old son. (Done, with aplomb.) But this week he concedes that when his daughter has reached the “proper” age, he knows he’ll have his lobes full trying to explain the aforementioned rear of his publication. Sex Ed, indeed.
I am highly disqualified in such a discussion. First, ten years (from age three to 13) in a boarding school run by Dominican nuns, followed by three years in a minor seminary (with a two-year interim in the U.S. Navy, where I, oddly, and sadly, remained a virgin), culminating in three years at a Jesuit University. What I didn’t know about sex could fill the Vatican’s Library. So after a year in graduate school, when I fell on a blind date for a high-IQ Catholic blonde bombshell, was I ever underprepared for holy matrimony. Never did two such intellectual virgins pool such bottomless ignorance in the Sex Ed department. That our “marriage” lasted for 20 years is more a tribute to her patience and our children’s charms than to what I did or didn’t do to her in bed.
What Hefner hath wrought
Divorced, as a late deBloomer, I became a serial fornicator, making up with frequency and variety what I had so egregiously flubbed as a husband. My deepest regret is the bad example I set my children by my delayed playing. Now, at 80, I have much more time to consider the issues that Duane raises. I have no problem with lonely-hearts ads, even though the escalating coarseness of some of them unsettles me. And the no-holes-barred sex edifiers seem to me to add exponentially to this coarseness. If I learned anything about sex, it’s that it should be gentle and generous.
It didn’t begin with Playboy Hugh, but Hefneritis engendered a new mental disease that encourages timid souls to fantasize about indescribably great sex while Hef stands by a cluster of sluts dressed in his pajamas. As a TV journalist, I was once invited to his spread (forgive the noun) in Hollywood. The epiphany of the evening was seeing Hugh descend the grand staircase, to the plaudits of his guests, gamely brandishing his current receptacle. But what?? I couldn’t believe it. Irresistible Hugh cannot dance worth a hoot. He was the squarest, tightest-assed t(w)erp I have ever seen, and as a certified graduate of Detroit’s Eastwood Gardens outdoor dance pavilion, believe me I’ve seen many four-footed prancers.
Sex at Columbia University?
And now there’s the Porno Ring tracked down by the Austrian polizei, with American subscribers leading the list! And American police trapping sexual morons getting set up with underage “websighters.” YOU TUBE could easily become YOU LUBE: And the dry fucking seen on MTV is grist for some chiropractor’s mill. Whatever happened to “You’re the Top/ You’re the Louvre Museum”? Rock music seems to my old “Satin Doll” (“Knows Latin!”) ear as so much pig grunting up to an orgasm.
In the City Paper’s rival publication, the Philadelphia Weekly, there’s a recent piece about a local girl’s very successful sex column at Columbia University, under the contentious title, “Talking Head” (by Joanna Zuckerman Bernstein, January 24, 2007).
I’m glad for my children’s sakes that we’re more open about sex today. But I’ve come to despise Hefnerized sex, along with all over-consumerized human interactions. I hope my latest child (Daniel Patrick Hazard was two months old today, on my 80th birthday!) will be as unexploitative of women as I wasn’t. And bless him, my first son Michael. When I had the crudeness to excuse myself from a family meeting to service my current inamorata, he greeted my return with: “You make it very hard to love you, Dad..” A hard hard lesson learned.
And I encourage editor Duane not to worry about his daughter—although all alternative papers would set a better general example if they encouraged their ad salespersons to look for greater diversity in their revenue outlets. And Duane’s daughter will learn more from watching his behavior to her mother than from any other alternative, weekly paper or a live person.