Don't Feed the Aliens
Huddled masses threatening our borders.
Allan Uthman
The Persecution Rests
Local Judge takes aim at fake religion.
Paul Jones
March Mayhem!
Clash of Civilizations bracketology.
Good News from Iraq!
Brought to you by the DoD.
Phillips: Head-Screw Driver
Fearmongering for fun & profit.
A. Monkey
Litterbox Lunacy
Do cats make the craziest people?
Kit Smith
Friends Confused by Man's Defense of Kevin Costner
Scott Borchert
Dammit, Gannett, We Hate You
Hoping Current was just the first domino.
Full Court Press
New Fed Courthous: A "quality of life crime."
Kino Korner
Ultraviolet, Failure to Launch, 16 Blocks, Hills Have Eyes, Block Party.
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The BEAST Page 3 Afghan Christian Convert
[sic] - Letters
Wal-Mart fans, loathsomeness and celebrity plagiarism.


Operation Told You So
No one could have anticipated the Iraq disaster, except the 40% who did
Allan Uthman
Iraq or Iran?
Which are these pundits pushing to invade?
NSA's Big Rig?
Did the NSA help Bush steal the vote?
Bob Fitrakis
TV Highlights
Ian Murphy discusses "America's Next Top Model" with his penis
Gorilla My Dreams
The Monkey Does Drag.
The Nobel Nazi?
Scientist's Legacy gets Freedom Fried.
Kit Smith
Authorities Relieved Church Fires Were Joke
Josh Righter
Get Off Ma Land!
A BEAST Reader Opinion
Best of Buffalo?
Former Staffer Exposes Artvoice Reader "Poll."
Ready, Set, Gentrify!
Elmwood Village Hotel: Good Neighbor?
Erin-Go-Blah
What Adams Could Have Told Higgins.
Album Cover Reviews
A Skin-Depth Look at 3 New Releases.
Chris Riordan
Kino Korner
Ultraviolet, Failure to Launch, 16 Blocks, Hills Have Eyes, Block Party.
BEAST-O-Scopes
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The BEAST Page 3 Improvised Explosive Cola
[sic] - Letters
Thievery, hoser supremacy, drowning retards and bad songcraft.

  Phillips: Head-Screw Driver
Is that a Monkey Pissing on You, Kevin?

Oh, Iíve got this thing in my chest, and itís more than my beating heart. Itís some cocktail of dread and nausea Ė who the hell wants to feel that crawling around inside of you? See, the thing is, tomorrow, Iím going to talk on the phone with one of the great political greybeards. Heís smart all right, and a political genius, but heís also one of those part-swine, part-swineherd types. Thereís no recovery, no redemption, no polite deference in the name of civil discourse for a Nixon-loving piece of shit like Kevin Phillips. The fucking shriveled shrew of a man who helped get Nixon elected, who wrote reams of bullshit based on bullshit demographics about the American people is still around, not dead. Writing books still. Much like that hack fuck economist pal of Philipsí, Milton Friedman, who still does HIS DAILY six hours of computations on his 1982 Lotus computer, calculating just how much freer our market would be if only the NYSE gang had their hands on the Social Security apparatus.

But I Have a Job to Do, so Iím going to do it. Iím going to talk to him tomorrow. Philips is a creep for a lot of reasons. We all know this. Since I already mentioned Nixon, I donít think I need to say any more on that count. Which brings us to his new book, ďAmerican Theocracy: The peril and politics of radical religion, oil, and borrowed money in the 21st century.Ē Iím going to explain why itís the number one bestseller in America right now, how a book like his becomes that, and the thinking necessary to make a book like his so, so... everywhere.

And here it is: Itís all about appealing to standing reader fantasies. Readers typically go after things they already want to read. The reading market works this way: the publishing world Ė partly consciously, partly unconsciously Ė gropes blindly in a thousand directions (publishing variations on the same topic), looking for that book that captures the essence of what these readers want. Itís partly trial by error.

Hereís a good example: That liar fraud John Perkins who wrote ďConfessions of an Economic HitmanĒ is like the 400th author who tried to peddle the story of conspiratorial international bankers and wealthy nation states conspiring to suck the developing world dry. Where the previous 399 would-be Perkins failed was that they didnít throw in a James Bond backdrop like Perkins did Ė secret loan plans schemed out on satin sheets with attendant Swedish babes, intrigue at nightclubs. The other 399 tried other tricks: wonkery, hamming up the Jewish banking world as sympathetic dupes to more sinister Papist plotters, telling morality tales, hundreds of other things. But the readers didnít want that. Turns out they wanted Bond. So after the initial low risk, small print run with Perkinsí book, the sales numbers came in, and the publishers saw they had the catnip that got the 70,000 banking conspiracy lovers going and committed to marketing his book.

Thatís how the thing works.

To be sure, in the case of Kevin Phillips, his gold-standard byline stamped on the book, presiding over even the most fantastical bullshit moments inside it Ė thatís some of what readers are paying for: a comfy security blanket, even at those really tricky times when itís clear thereís no way to explain macro geopolitical phenomena (like whatís going to happen when oil hits $120 a barrel). So a fraction of the sales are from Phillipsí fans. The big-time bookstand authors Ė quick, think of all 14 of them Ė are now reader fantasies in their own right. The names themselves are sufficient talismans that justify hardcover, day-of-release, frantic purchase. But thatís just a fraction of the market. Capitalizing on pre-existing reader fantasies about topics; thatís where the serious book money is.

And Phillips went right after three large reader fantasies of the apocalyptic variety and put them in one book: the coming takeover of the United States by the Christian theocrats, the end of our oil era, and crushing personal as well as government debt. Even better, Phillips makes some attempt to foster a sense of causality between these apocalyptic dreams: the theocrats are going to find it easier to take over when our whole country is reeling on the mat, recovering from our oil hangover. And people just fucking love that, they do Ė one conspiracy supporting and explaining another! God, just think of the dumb-ass shits who now have a book by a bona fide political genius to cite every time they want to explain the coming multi-front Crisis. Never mind that Phillipsí entire section on the Christian right is a superficial pastiche of the work done by a bunch of nobody authors who, if you press them hard enough, will confess that these would-be theocrats are a bunch of hick amateurs who donít have anything close to the machine necessary to forge lasting political coalitions; the Christian flock is just together enough to be fleeced by way more sophisticated business entities for their own interests.

As for Phillipsí oil crisis Ė there isnít necessarily one at all, anytime soon Ė all we have to do is stop buying piles of shit and stop driving to those places where they sell them. Thatíll push the global oil supply crisis off by 10 years right there. If we stop eating garbage fake processed food, thatís another five. If we can convince Western Europe to do the same on those two counts, thatís another seven or eight (they are less wasteful). Sweden has already committed to doing this. If you want to stop the trade deficit dead in its tracks, then donít do anything more, just stick to not buying piles of shit: Wal-Mart alone is 10% of our trade imbalance with China. As for personal debt, all we have to do is undo about seven or eight federal laws about credit card interest rates that fuck the consumer, and restore personal bankruptcy laws to the status quo from the Clinton days. We can curtail our own public debt by merely snipping off Bushís tax cuts from 2001, 2002, and 2003, getting out of Iraq, and placing small increases on the richest 1%.

Iím not a sucker Ė I donít think doing these things would do anything to halt the true horrors of life in American society Ė itís just to say that Phillipsí apocalyptic fantasies are just that: the ticket to selling a few million copies for an audience thatís been waiting around in the stacks to tell them itís all over. Thatís what these people want to hear.


The monkey is a columnist for Vanity Fair, and regular contributor to National Geographic and Newsweek. Contact the monkey at monkey4monkeys@yahoo.com.

 

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Idiot Box by Matt Bors
Big Fat Whale by Brian McFadden
Perry Bible Fellowship by Nicholas Gurewitch
Bob the Angry Flower by Stephen Notely
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