Book Review: A Billion Wicked Thoughts

A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World’s Largest Experiment Reveals about Human Desire by Ogi Ogas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I loved this book. I’ve got this problem when I love books too much, I’ll wait to review them so I can let everything percolate and get my thoughts in order. Problem is, much like when you don’t write down a dream right after waking up, you lose details. I finished this one over a week ago and I’ve been turning it over in my head ever since, but it was so convoluted that I’m worried I’ve lost some of the plot.

Here we go. The Largest Experiment wasn’t an experiment, but a comparative, blind meta-analysis of porn searches across gender, age, and orientation variables. The results wind up falling in lockstep alignment with the narrative pushed by evolutionary psychology since its inception in the 50s, which is why there’s so much high-pitched keening from all these other reviewers. Evolutionary biology and its appendages have decidedly not been asked to the prom in 2021.

The beauty of this non-experiment is all the data is naturalistic observation, beamed in directly from the crusty consoles of these degenerate perverts without their knowledge. Seems unethical, doesn’t it? That’s what makes it so hot.

The somewhat antiquated conclusions drawn from this ironically voyeuristic analysis of internet voyeurism is that men are cocked, locked, and ready to rock at virtually all times, assuming normal amygdal function and dopamine sensitization, because men tend to be attracted to individual parts. Not like in an Ed Gein way, normally. But men can do just fine looking at a super zoom-in of tiddies, because their brains are typically wired to respond to visual cues.

As contrasted to the average woman, where the arousal process tends to be much more psychological and convoluted. The odious comparison they draw in the book is with someone named Miss Marple, who I am too young and cool to know about, but by context clues deduce that she’s some sort of horny, geriatric detective. Women need a sequence of different things for arousal – very few of them can just look supercuts of big ol’ donguses and be ready to go – and the usual suspects tend to include things like status, attention, emotional connection, power, safety vs danger (which operates on a sort of sliding scale, both with their moistening potential), and actual physical attractiveness across several domains, all added somewhere in the mix. You don’t need all of them, but you need at least a couple.

Another fascinating little quirk of female arousal discussed in the book is there’s often such a significant disconnect that the brain doesn’t realize that the body’s aroused. In a neat little experiment they gauged the physiological, sexual readiness of both men and women when exposed to pictures of straight porn, gay porn, lesbian porn, neutral stimuli, and monkeys having sex, then asked the participants to rate how aroused they were by each stimulus in the moment.

Men had a direct 1:1 correlation. If they were gay, gay porn did it for them; if they were straight, straight and lesbian porn did it for them, and their self-report arousal matched what it said on the pressure cuff around their ding-a-ling.

Women’s results were all over the place. In most participants, physiological arousal was triggered by every sexually charged image, including – INCLUDING! – the monkeybang, whereas self-report of arousal varied widely between women, but generally across categories you’d expect (straight women generally preferring straight and gay images, lesbians preferring lesbian images, though by no means with the same numerical frequency or intensity as happened for the men). The take-home is that lady parts were pretty much always ready to go when sex as a concept was present, but were so often vetoed by the frontal lobes, and so quickly, that the woman herself wasn’t even aware of it, or of her own physiological arousal.

Because of the differences, the book tried to make the comparison that porn is to men as romance novels (or smutty fanfiction) are to women. It seems counterintuitive from whichever side of the road you’ve been assigned, but when you look at the data they compiled, especially subscription rates to these paysites across gender lines and their, ahem, use… it tracks. Especially when you consider that both of these things are peddling an unrealistic fantasy.

In porn, women are rendered objects. There’s no emotion or personality in the mix, unless some kink requires it, because the end-all is that these digitized dreamgirls are the sum of secondary sex characteristics. Sex objects in the purest conceptualization, and distillates of these visual, sexual cues, breasts and butt and legs and hips and, if you can spare one, a half-decent face. The fantasy sold to habitually porn-consuming men (Coomers, in the parlance) is of compliant sex robots frankensteined together from all the best parts for rapid, goal-oriented, emotionally vacant sex. If the woman speaks, it is to insist that her life is changed by the present sexual experience taking place, and upon completion (as defined by male orgasm, of course) there is an immediate decoupling and everyone goes their separate ways, no muss, no fuss, no further words spoken.

This type of sex is possible, of course. Through Allah, all things are possible. But it’s the exception, and not the rule. And if you’re cranking your hog to porn a few times a week (or a few times a day, in the case of the addicted), the expectation of that fantasy encroaches on your understanding of reality, and supplants it. That’s a tall order for your average woman, who has never even watched porn.

Because she’s busy reading The Baron’s Secret Mistress and getting… maybe not equivalently hot and bothered by it, but comparably. The sex is sort of an afterthought in lady smut, because the sex isn’t the point so much as is the emotions surrounding the sex because, as established, female arousal is a psychosexual Rube Goldberg machine.

The love interest in these works trend to type, too. They are dark, brooding, strong, dangerous. Mention will be made of their chiseled jaws, and perhaps of their powerful thighs. They are sought after, and unfailingly rakish. They are powerful. They occupy a high strata in whatever society they’re in – if he is a Viking he will be a chieftain, if he is a pirate he will be the captain, if he is a brigand he will be a sort of jacked, smirking Robin Hood, never a Little John or a Friar Tuck.

They will be rich. There isn’t much of a market for “The Long-Haul Trucker’s Concubine” or “The Forbidden Doublewide Trailer”, for some reason.

They will be heartbreakers. They will sometimes even be rapists; that’s an alarmingly popular trope in this kind of fiction.

And then, over time, the hypermasculine caricature that is the love interest will realize, often after a chance encounter with the protagonist’s magic hoo-hoo (operant definition provided by Ogi Ogas), that his life of freedom and philandering has been a sham leading up to the moment that he met the heroine, and he has been able to think of nothing else since. This culminates in a climactic, over-the-top declaration of love, “It’s you, it’s always been you” style, which the heroine will magnanimously accept, resulting in happily ever after.

In the same way the average woman cannot do that thing you want her to do from porn because she can’t hold her breath for four minutes, the average man will never become unhinged in his obsession with your “beautiful and unique you-ness” (ill-defined as that may be even in the novels) and ejaculate the innermost workings of his heart aloud to you on some windswept Scottish crag during a pounding storm, the rain plastering your hair to your head, his muscled chest heaving, his eyes, previously so commanding, now desperate, pleading for your answer.

The average man will, however, play Call of Duty for hours, and fart into the couch.

The book spent more time on porn than on romance novels, presumably because the data was much more direct and much more available. It drew some peculiar conclusions about popular trends in pornography, and in the sociosexual landscape of our age in general. I could pontificate about it for hours, but I’ve got things to do, and I’m sure you do too. I’ll try to make it brief.

Age was the most sought-after category and one of the most significant cues for men, but that could be due to how it was factored in. “Teen”, “mature”, “milf”, “stepmom”, etc. all got swept into the same category, whereas something like “nurse” had less wiggle room. The early chapters comparing different categories of porn and their popularities were eye-opening.

Ogas’ postulation on the growing popularity of cuckoldry was especially fascinating, since it seems like such a counterintuitive thing, with our main evolutionary drive as men being certainty of paternity. The suggestion is that’s exactly the point. Evo bio has a grody old chestnut that says the scoop shape of the penis and the presence of specialized cells in semen that are only there to kill other, foreign sperm suggest that the sexual encounters of early sapiens could get somewhat… crowded. From a perspective of natural selection, seeing another male potentially impregnating the female on whom you called impregnatin’ dibs could serve to arouse you (the cuckold) because it is critical to the survival of your genes that you get in there NOW and undo what he just did!

Which was a possible explanation for why men are so obsessed with wieners. The female eye tends to gloss right over them, taking them in as part of the totality, but the studies suggest that males, regardless of sexual orientation, find them train-wreck fascinating. And that sensitivity to the penis as a sexual cue was then used as a potential explanation for why transsexual porn is overwhelmingly consumed by heterosexual men; gays rarely found it to be very interesting.

Another peculiarity was the establishment of gay men being attracted to traditional markers of masculinity, and so much of gay porn is “about” straight men. I’m a cishet shitlord so I’m trying to step carefully in my paraphrasing, but the take-home was that, although the stereotype of flamboyance serves as a sort of marker to identify other gays in the wild, the overwhelming majority of gay men are more attracted to stubble-and-calluses machismo.

Which would also serve to explain their general disinterest in tgirls. It seems circular, I know, but I’m leaving out hundreds of citations and data points. If you want to be convinced, read the book.

In fact, if anything of this struck you as interesting, (and it should if you have a pulse), read the book. Draw your own conclusions. It might make you mad, it might make you disgusted, but it’ll certainly make you think.





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Book Review: Human Sexual Response

Human Sexual ResponseHuman Sexual Response by William H. Masters

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My elderly next-door neighbor gave me this book after recovering it from a box of thrift shop books that someone put out for garbage day. I think she thinks I’m a doctor.

Human Sexual Response is an extensively researched collection of intriguing experiments that consisted almost entirely of having prostitutes fuck in a lab. It was published in 1966, ten years before MRIs and a year before CT scans, so when they say “clinical observation”, they mean exactly that. Clinicians brought in 118 female prostitutes and 27 male prostitutes, selected, as in all science, by availability, and gathered their sexy, sexy histories. Then they picked the best 11, judged on intelligence, diversity of prostitution experience, communication ability, and general availability and agreeableness. These eight women and three men, these Right Stuff philianauts, had their anatomies studied exhaustively, by both literal and figurative definitions of the word.

Those of you with a background in science might be saying “wait, a participant pool of eleven? To generalize the entire human sexual response? That’s outrageous!” To which I say: shut up, nerd. This was the only game in town.

I’ve got to reiterate that this was before resonance imaging was available to the game. Masters brought in a team of grad students and put their noses right to the grindstone, around where the lenses would be on pornography camcorders, and had them scribbling medical jargon on clipboards while these prostitutes that science found absolutely went to town on each other.

It made for some interesting reading. For its design flaws, it seemed painstakingly controlled, and the literature always specified the differences that the anatomies would register dependent on whether a woman was nulliparous, which I learned means “has not made a baby”. Breast tissue swells during what Masters operantly defined as the “plateau” stage of sexual arousal, so you’re not imagining that, they do get bigger. There’s also a sort of mood-ring effect to the labia minora approaching and during orgasm, so if you bust out a Mag-Lite real quick you can check if she’s faking.

What? They do that?

The section on males was less fleshed out (a-ha-ha), partly because of the pitiful sample size, partly because I doubt that was Williams et al.’s priority with this sequence of studies. It talked about penile size change averages pre and post-arousal, but in centimeters, so that’s anyone’s guess. Allegedly, the oldest sexually active participant was 89, so that’s heartening.

To speak in good faith, the prostitute voyeurism was only the first part of the study. A lot of the literature was drawn up by self-report questionnaires and interviews conducted with hundreds of other participants. That 89 year old guy was probably not one of the three male prostitutes whose wieners they studied.

Above board, it was a fascinating read, if you can keep in mind the constraints of design, the prevailing science at the time, and the weird sex hangups of the 50s and their subsequent 60s reaction formation.

Also, I pounded through it in an hour, so it must be written accessibly. Four stars. It would’ve been five stars if Masters had given into the temptation to make a dick joke, like a real intellectual, like fucking Shakespeare, but he remained haughtily professional and academic the whole time. Which is a real mood-killer, unless you’re into that sort of thing.

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Prague: Czechin’ Out

November 24, 2017. Prague, Czech Republic.

I got the itch again. It was time to get gone, and gone I got. I’m in a decent Viennese hostel right now, tapping away in bed, patiently waiting for an antisocial neckbeard to stop taking his eleven hour shower. I can hear him giggling to himself through the door. Here’s to hoping I never learn why.

I tried to write in the kitchen. Had my green tea, explored the “FREE FOOD” shelf that consisted entirely of different kinds of flour. Flour is just cakes that haven’t realized their potential yet. Could’ve had me a Flour Medley. 

I was just getting tickatackin’ when an old Brazilian DJ accosted me with screams of friendship. He invited me to his set at an African club fourteen hours from now. Well intentioned, but it’s very much 8 AM. Let a dude brood, huh?

Prague was interesting, but I found the vibe a little unsettling. Maybe it was the off-season, but the locals were all discernibly tired of tourists, and the tourists were all roving around in packs like loud, drunken wolves.

I met an Indian dude on the metro last night and we got to talking about that. He got on a bus earlier and wound up sitting behind a gaggle of American girls who were talking about dirty dishes in loud, shrill English. He fell asleep, woke up two hours later, they’re talking about the same dirty dishes.

What’s the point of traveling? You’re gonna say and do the same things you’ve always done, with the same safe little enclave, at the same volume, why leave home?

Best left to better minds than mine. Let’s talk Czechia.

Sex was on every billboard and ad. Yeah, we get that kind of thing back in America, but it’s a lot more obvious in Europe, and the most obvious in Prague. These are tamer examples, but look at her just going to town on that kebab. Unf.

My pet theory is an ingrained rebellion against the forced respect and antisexuality of the Soviets, but that’s just conjecture. There’s also the stereotype of the Czech mail-order bride, which suggest it’s more of a “flaunt it if you got it” thing.

My entire trip, no matter where I went, everyone kept warning me about how beautiful the Czech women would be. To believe the hype, every random girl on the street is going to be a flawless seraphym, glistening and effulgent, sculpted with loving and immaculate precision by the right hand of God. I’m thinking my sources might’ve been biased by the how many porn stars are Czech. I’m an aesthete – I look at paintings and shit, I own tiny statues – and I didn’t notice any statistical upshoot in walking-around hotness. Although I will say that, on a whole, Europe is much more attractive than America.

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so are you looking for a boiling grease fragrance, or more of an Eau de Stables

It must be their diet, because it certainly isn’t their exercise. Nobody even lifts, but nobody even eats 20 piece McNugget breakfasts either. No matter how thoroughly I explain the value.

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that’s the name you’re gonna go with? there was a plague, dude

A final point on Prague I didn’t get to mention: the lock bridges.

Prague is heralded as a romantic city. I didn’t see it, myself. Too crowded, too understated, too full of Wurst. But I did see an Asian couple get married at St. Vitus, or at least take some wedding pictures on the terrifying Gothic steps, and there’s a popular local tradition that really elevates littering to its most beautiful, amorous level.

You write your name on a lock, and you stick it on a bridge. It uglies up the bridge, but it stays there, presumably forever. A little more industrial than carving initials in with a knife, but you can add cute little notes in sharpie if that’s your thing.

I seemed to be the only one put off by the symbolism of a padlock representing a relationship.

Prague was a head trip, but a cold head trip, painted in dark colors. I’m about to go poke around Vienna now. I’ll let you know what I find.

Love,

The Bastard

Prague: Kafka, Communism, Torture, and the Horror Bar

November 23, 2017. Prague, Czech Republic.

In my dream-quest around unknown Kadath, I found so many museums that I had to pare the list down. The Beer Museum sounded good, but judging by the pictures and the greeter at the door, it was a gimmicky bar. The Sex Machines Museum wasn’t going to tell me anything that Erotic Museum hadn’t already.

I wound up going to the Kafka Museum, the Museum of Communism, and the Museum of Medieval Torture Devices. At a glance, these aren’t related, but I promise you once you’re in them you’d be hard pressed (sometimes literally) to ignore the theme.

First, Kafka. The documentaries and state-mandated tourism pamphlets are suspiciously clear that “the Prague of Kafka was only in his head, and you won’t find it here!” This is a lie. I’ve been here since I got off the bus. Nice place to visit, but much like the man himself, you wouldn’t want to live there.


this was in front of the museum. i don’t know why

The Kafka museum was all black corridors, file cabinets, and screaming. I read the Metamorphosis in high school like every other pseudo-intellectual ponce, but I just thought the guy was sad and weird. If you look at the tragedy of his life, you get a much more contextual picture of the dude who inspired the term kafkaesque.

He was neurotically high-strung. Today, it would probably be generalized anxiety disorder. He lived the whole of his life terrified of his father but unable to escape or relate to him, no matter what he tried.

In a particularly lucid moment, he breathed on a glass windowpane, drew a circle that encompassed the Old Town square and Charles Bridge. It enclosed his grade school, every home he had ever known, the university he went to as a young adult, and the office where he worked and got inspiration for most of his novels.

“Within this little circle, my whole life is contained.”

He would jaunt out to Berlin or his sister’s place in the country from time to time, but he never really got free of Prague. He had three long-distance relationships, deliberately chosen for buffer of safety the long-distance provided him. His writings explored exclusion, isolation, and the despair of being a lone individual against an overwhelming machine. When he contracted tuberculosis, it was almost as a moral victory. He had been struggling with something inside his entire life, and it had finally decided that they’d fought long enough.

Poor, haunted bastard. I’ve started reading The Castle since.

I also happened into the Museum of Communism. This could have gone either way. I knew that Czechia was east of the Iron Curtain, so I couldn’t imagine they had many warm and fuzzy feelings for the system that gave them their highest civilian fatality count since the Black Plague. But I also knew it was a very liberal, metropolitan area, and I was working from behind a notably American veil of ignorance. Leftist college students back home have a tendency to bank left so hard that, were they actually riding in a gulag train, it would overturn on the curve.

I’m certainly not here to proselytize about politics, there are so many more satisfying and provocative ways to piss people off. But here’s a picture dump of things I found either funny or horrifying, straight from the mouth of a city that survived it.

The currency reform especially staggered me. Imagine making $40,000 a year, then waking up one day to find, apropos of nothing, that you now make $8,000 a year because General Motors needed another bail out.

When I first entered the Commuseum, they gave me my ticket and a voucher for a free coffee. By the end of the exhibit, I could certainly have used to a sit-down, so I waited in the cafe line. I’m tryna kick coffee, though. When it was my turn, I gave the guy behind the counter my voucher and asked him for a tea.

He looks me dead in the eyes and says, “We’re out of tea.”

For a second I thought this was an elegantly planned joke, but he didn’t break. He was dead serious. I lost my shit, man. It was the hardest anyone has ever laughed in that grim museum. Dude must have thought I was having some kind of episode.

After that, I made my way to the Lennon Wall (distinct from the Lenin Wall, which was only slightly more communist). It’s a wall that students have been covering in John Lennon-inspired graffiti, Beatles lyrics, and bumper-sticker rhetoric since the 80s.

From Wikipedia:

In 1988, the wall was a source of irritation for the communist regime of Gustáv Husák. Young Czechs would write grievances on the wall and in a report of the time this led to a clash between hundreds of students and security police on the nearby Charles Bridge. The movement these students followed was described ironically as “Lennonism” and Czech authorities described these people variously as alcoholics, mentally deranged, sociopathic, and agents of Western capitalism.

Oops. They already made the Lenin joke. Welp, too late now.

Taking pictures of the wall proved to be difficult since everyone horrible in Prague was trying to pose for selfies in front of it.

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i’m afraid you’re misinformed

I brooded there for a little while, visions of cockroaches and bread lines still a-dance in my head, then made my way to the Medieval Torture Museum.

Let me just say this: Dark Ages Europe was kinky.

And that’s just for starters.

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the Gridiron. this was the prototype George Foreman grill. watch the fat slide right off!

the knee-breaker. honestly pretty self-explanatory

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no explanation needed, i’ve submitted my share of insanes 

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here we got a real Fifty Shades sort of thing going on, presumably to punish this thicc peasant woman for being, I don’t know, awake

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described as “The Vigil”, the inventor heralded it as a new breakthrough in torture technology. seems to me like a suspicious amount of work to put a pyramid up a dude’s butt, but w/e

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this is called “the Pear”. if you don’t know, google it, they don’t pay me enough to explain this to you. but I will say this: its versatility is surprising

The take home of my Prague museum experience was “fetishized hopelessness”. Well, that was about enough museums for one day. I went outside and bought an “authentic Czech hotdog” which tasted like a hot Slim Jim with mayonnaise on it. It was exactly as appetizing as it sounds.

Then, on the way back, it was starting to get dark. I had a train to catch at the crack of dawn tomorrow, so I opted to grab an evening beer at the celebrated Prague Nightmare Horror Bar.

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i expected him to be taller

The bartender was a manic pixie nightmare girl, talking a mile a minu- 1.60934 kilometers a minute, eyes darting and frantic. She served me the first good beer I’d had in Europe, a semi-imperial stout called Master’s, then got excited when I mentioned the Sedlac Ossuary and began gesturing with a menu in an effort to explain how to get there from the train.

I love when ADHD girls have English as a second language because it doesn’t slow their speech. They just make a more exciting array of faces when searching for the right words. It’s like watching an adorable kaleidoscope.

Next to me at the bar was a 70-year-old Scotsman who claimed to have fought in World War II. Not giving Common Core much credit there, laddie, but I can’t say I blame you. No one could understand what the hell he was saying.

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He was drunk, and old, and mumbling, and just so incredibly Scottish. It was a perfect storm of incomprehensibility, and he made no effort to correct it whatsoever. Instead, he’d repeat himself with the same tone and inflection, and watch you expectantly. The bartender folded her skinny, tattooed little arms and put her head down on the bar, then looked at me in desperation.

“You are American,” she said.

I shrugged. “But not Scottish.”

“Ye bent’a Scootlin?” he asked me, and I got most of that.

“Nope,” I said. “Just Ireland.”

“FOOK Irelin.”

I laughed. “Thought you might say something like that, yeah.”

“‘nth’ Germans. We nev’r liked ’em.”

“Really? In Scotland?”

“Aye,” he said, without nodding, which was really difficult for me to process each time he did it. “Nev’r liked ’em. Think’t deyshud own th’ worl’.”

“At least twice, they thought that, yeah.”

He laughed hoarsely and slapped me on the back.

“Do not take the bus tour,” the bartender said, jabbing at the map with a lacquered black fingernail. “It is a waste, they just want your money. Never take the bus if you can take the Metro. You know where the metro is? The, ahhh, tren? Train. Train! Take the train, every time. Much faster, much better.”

“I knew tren,” I said. “But yeah, the tour was supposed to be seven and a half hours, talking about a mining town? I’m not in for seven hours. I just want to see the bone church, here.”

“Bone Church is incredible,” she said, enthusiastically slapping everything in sight. “I spent two hours there, maybe three hours. It’s small but there’s so much to do in there, so much you can see. Part of it is always closed. Two rooms were closed when I was there but there were still the rest of the rooms and there was so much, it was incredible. But there’s nothing to do in the city. Not even a city. Like, two bars, one store, some houses.”

“That doesn’t sound like a city.”

“It’s a village.”

“It’s a VILLAGE?”

She made somewhere between eighteen and thirty-six different faces before saying, “Well, not a VILLAGE. Is a town. Small town. Nothing to do there! Mining, once. Not worth it. Save your money, go to the church from the Metro. Much more money for you to have, come back to Prague with it. Much more going on.”

“Yeah, I don’t care about mining. Plenty of that where I’m from.”

At that point, the Scotsman started to tell me about when his wife and dog died on the same day. Fergie, was the dog’s name. He didn’t mention the wife’s. I finished my second beer and bade my friends farewell.

“Worr y’gen?”

“I gotta head out,” I said. “Early day tomorrow.”

“Pah! Juslyk n’Amerc’n.”

I grinned and ghosted into the damp, oppressive streets of Kafka’s Prague.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I got some bone sculptures to peep.

Love,

The Bastard

 

 

Madrid: A Bastard’s Intermission

October 31, 2017. Madrid, Spain.

WoOoOoOo lads! What kind of spooky things are you doing this Halloween? I’m trying to survive in Madrid.

First, let me say of the 8 hour train ride that got me here: Beautiful, but never again. The Spanish countryside is incredible for the first three hours or so. Then it’s a bunch of gorgeous bullshit Don Quixote hills. Here are other things I have learned they don’t have on the Spanish supertrains: Potable water, electrical outlets, Wi-Fi. My laptop died, then my phone almost died, so I looked at a hell of a lot of landscape. Bring a friend and a bottle if you’re doing that for more than 3 hours. And maybe some Windex, either for the window or for the chaser after hour 6.

We started to slow for our final stop and it was… just… slums. Not the classy, romantic kind out in the country with the drying lines hung out the orange-tan windows and the children jugando el futbol out on the rolling hills. The kind where you’re like, “Oh! I can buy crack here!”

The train slowed to a stop for upwards of 20 minutes, somehow. It’s on a track, fam. Not a huge margin for error here. When we finally pulled into the station, it turned out to be 4 miles outside of center city, which was an especially sharp twist of the knife because typical proximity to center city of large metropolitan areas is the reason I went by fucking train.

Wi-Fi in Spain is like water in the desert, and it was in the Madrid train station that I learned Barcelona wasn’t just the country’s economic oasis. I tried to download a map to my phone and it took a half hour. I ate a bocadillo that cost around $1.50 more than any of the better ones Catalonia-side, then hopped a bus to the heart of Madrid.

It looked less like the setting of an inspirational movie where a free-spirited teacher helps a bunch of at-risk youth learn to enjoy school and find themselves through the power of dance, but not much. Since Wi-Fi is impossible, I walked to a hostel that was full up, so I had to crouch outside a Starbucks and steal their internet in order to book one called Motion Hostel, outside of a classy restaurant where an old dude was playing My Heart Will Go On violin-style and killin’ it.

The place was a 9-story disaster with an elevator that only ran up to the 6th floor, broken doorknobs, weird pleather mattresses, and no hot water. The guy at the desk was kind of a dick. The Wi-Fi login seemed to be a Ponzi scheme; you give it your e-mail and they give you 15 minutes free browsing time to go confirm it, then they’ll send you a username and password to log into the Wi-Fi. Instead, they gave me 15 minutes, sent me nothing, then sent me 3 different confirmations, none of which logged me in. Then the entire internet disappeared. Poof.

So, I was destined to spend Mischief Night like the pioneers. All righty. I did that the first ten years of my life, no big deal. I went out into the streets to find soap, which was easy, and food, which was hard. Everyone was selling food but they had priced it at twice its actual value because the Spanish economy is sunk. The beggars are aggressive, flailing and pointing at you as you pass like proselytizers.

In the center of one of the largest plazas, a stout, punkish-looking girl flagged me down. We made Spanish smalltalk until my Spanish failed, and then she asked, “English?” in what sounded like a Russian accent.

“God, yes,” I said.

“Sex?” she asked.

Select any three-second close up of Martin Freeman from any of the hobbit movies, and that was the iteration of faces I made.

Disculpe?” I said, because I say that a real lot out here.

“I have a place not far from here. It is 35 euros for 20 minutes. You come?”

I told her I appreciated the offer, but I was all right. As I walked away she asked, “We go?”, but no, we do not. Later, on a much darker and more abandoned corner, a slight man in a collared shirt offered me business cards with mostly naked women and comparable price tags printed on them.

I guess not all of Spain’s economy is in shambles.

Truth told, I was kind of offended. I’m a strapping young man! I’m in the prime of my life, give or take a decade. Yeah, the glue factory’s definitely on the horizon, but I’m not there yet. This isn’t a damn pay-to-play situation! POEMS have been WRITTEN-

No, forget it. Listen, I don’t know how regularly I’ll get to post from this Wi-Fi wasteland. Maybe I’ll have better luck at the next hostel. If so, I’ll update you then.

Del yermo con amor,

The Bastard