Fred tells me this is a true story. My male acquaintances will tell you I’m truly gullible. Judge Abraham Offalhaouser’s name makes me suspect otherwise. But who am I to argue with Barely A Blog’s Hunter Thompson, as he recounts the “kinks and dinks” of his beat for the Washingtonian magazine.—ilana
By FRED REED
My name’s Bond…Fred Bond. I’m a freelance news weasel in Washington DC, the heart of a darkness that would have made Conrad slit his wrists. Before, I worked as the gas-warfare editor for Soldier of Fortune magazine, but the demand for down-market extinction porn dried up and DC looked to be the best available gig. I write a column called Under the Table for the Washingtonian, the city’s suburban coffee-table magazine. The column was the sort called in the trade a bullshitter, combining mendacity and the scurrilous with a keen eye on the libel laws. It was clearly distinguishable from the Washington Post in that it had a glossy cover.
The editors wanted grotesquery about the urban blasted heath, tales of scams and fraud, and what lovely secretary was suspected of sharpening what pol’s pencil. I wasn’t sure why anyone would read it, but the Washingtonian paid me and at least it wasn’t boring. Journalism is a ticket to ride, said Hunter Thompson, but ticket to a freak show would have been as accurate.
My beat was the weird and embarrassing, tidbits shocking enough to stand out against the backdrop of national politics. This wasn’t always easy. It was a time of sexual liberalization. All sorts of kinks and dinks were seeking legitimacy—gays, S&M freaks, TVs—and I was supposed to chronicle their antics. There were lots. At night in the Shaw district, you could see cute little blonde twinky-boys in not much more than jockstraps trying to pick up drive-by federal accountants cheating on their wives and there was a huge black guy who looked like an NFL running back in a thong bikini and size-eighteen high heels.
Then there was Bobby Genovese, a geeky video-game designer with bad skin who worked at a gay computer-repair shop called Stack Overflow in Arlington, in the Virginia suburbs. One day he announced that he wanted to marry his dog Mosfet. No one took him seriously. For the times it seemed unimaginative. It was assumed that he was just looking for publicity for his new video game, Fido and the Wolf Priest of Nifflheim. Fido had a laser cannon mounted on his back and there was a castle of some sort and beautiful boys who looked like Tim of Finland who apparently couldn’t afford clothes. I think they turned into wolves or something. Anyway, the magazine ran it as a two-graff throwaway piece in Under the Table. It seemed fairly routine. Anyway he was turned down for a marriage license.
Then Bobby showed up at the courthouse with Henrietta Kamen-Ruggler, a recent grad out of Georgetown Law apparently looking to jumpstart a career. DC has a lot of lawyers and to get on the gravy train, you have to get attention some way or else steal something big and not get caught. She argued that the state had no mandate to determine the scope of marital affection. Given the atmosphere of extreme liberalism prevailing in the city, and the lack of case law, the court was baffled, but finally ruled that Mosfet and Bobby were both male, and same-sex marriage was legal if not yet mandatory. However, ruled judge Abraham Offalhaouser, Mosfet was underage and under Virginia law would need his parents’ permission. Whether he was kidding wasn’t clear but, though it sounded strange, the statute was clear in the Virginia code. This produced memorable testimony about admissibility of kennel records and DNA.
I wrote about this with as much apparent sanity as I could muster. Bobby wanted to appeal to the Supreme Court but by then Henrietta had been hired by Mother Jones to cover the struggle to liberate transphylum love, whatever the hell that meant. Maybe it involved cucumbers or something. Anyway, I supposed that he and Fido would have to live in sin, though I tried not to think about it.
Then for a while nothing spectacular happened. I interviewed Bribona Corona -Gonzalez about her book, Snuff: The Problem of Lasting Relationships. She said she wrote the book because people looked at her like some kind of nut and she wanted to improve the image of the snuff community, which seemed to have considerable turnover. Later, needing a story, I went to the Eagle, an S&M bar on the Hill. I hoped for something garish and horrifying but aside from smelling like my catcher’s mitt when I was eleven it was boring. When the bartender in a leather bar wants to talk about subcommittee appointments in the Senate, something is wrong with the world.
Some time later I sold the editor on a series about the police. It involved ridealongs in places that might change your view of the world you live in. It was a class gig because all I had to do was ride around with the cops at night and write about murder, degradation, and sordidness. These fascinate a voyeuristic public bored to the point of suicide with pointless federal jobs and athirst for something garish and grotesque. Writing about the garden-seed industry—that would be tough. But I was getting bored myself. I mean, one dead body is pretty much like another. They don’t do anything, just lie there. Not too dynamic.
One night I rode with a cop I knew who probably doesn’t need his name in print. We went to a topless joint called The Northern Exposure to see a really great stripper who danced under the stage name of Noodles Romanoff. Our concern was that without police presence violence might break out. You can’t tell about strippers. They can become violent at any moment. Her history according to the manager was that she had been born Bahrain Goebbelsstrudel, daughter of a German tire heiress and a minor Arab fixer. Supposedly she had been working in a bar in Seattle when the police came looking for her on charges of being a nurse-poisoner in an earlier life and she had fled to DC. It was rumored on the Hill that she had been secretly dating John Bolton but with that scratchy codpiece mustache he looks like an ambulatory toothbrush so I didn’t think the story had much credence.
Later it turned out that Noodles was a medical student at Johns-Hopkins who wanted some extra money. Anyway I wrote about her for Under the Table. The publicity made her dye her hair and change her name to Kandy Barr, and keep dancing until she had to quit to study for her medical boards.
There were a lot of strippers. One called herself Persimmon Sighing Cloud and danced as a lineal descendant of Crazy Horse. Her real name was Urethra Warren or Veronica Warren or something like that. She talked about her childhood on the reservation and had a large following of guys who said they just watched her to support indigenous peoples.
I was going to tell you about Mike Pompeo and the size-fifty red-sequinned miniskirt with pompoms but we are out of space. Some other time.
FRED REED describes himself as [previously] a “Washington police reporter, former Washington editor for Harper’s and staff writer for Soldier of Fortune magazine, Marine combat vet from Viet Nam, and former long-haul hitchhiker, part-time sociopath, who once lived in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from the Yankee Capital.”
His essays “on the collapse of America” Mr. Reed calls “wildly funny, sometimes wacky, always provocative.”
“Fred is the Hunter Thompson of the right,” seconds Thomas E. Ricks in Foreign Policy magazine. His commentary is “well-written, pungent political incorrectness mixed with smart military commentary and libertarian impulses, topped off with a splash of Third World sunshine and tequila.”
FRED’S BOOKS ARE ON AMAZON, HERE
FRED’S ARTICLES ARCHIVE