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I Am Brian Wilson

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Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Posted on Mar 5, 2011
Mr. Fish

By Mr. Fish

(Page 2)

Finally exhausted by the anxiety of feeling so brittle, I forced myself to be satisfied with the apparent stability of the ratio comparing those of us who have suddenly burst into flames with those who have not and I decided to move on to a possible religious explanation of Bentley’s demise, having been raised to believe that God, like a divine sniper with a logic that was just fuzzy enough to guarantee a profoundly itchy trigger finger, had every man, woman and child in his cross hairs and was no macaroni when it came to killing people in the goriest and cruelest ways possible, usually without any apparent provocation, other than, of course, a fascistic intolerance of free will. The question then became what had Dr. John Irving Bentley said or done to God to make him pissed off enough to commit murder? After 92 years of monotonous living, had the doctor grown so existentially impatient with the essential sameness of his days that boredom or ill health or ricocheting dementia had tipped his piety into rage. Perhaps he had finally summoned the courage to complain to his creator with an appropriate disdain, saying that any God capable of sitting back and doing nothing while one of his more empathetic children—a medical doctor, for Christsake!—grew old and confused and just as likely to wash himself with a peeled potato as he was to mash a bar of soap had to be a real asshole.

Could it be as simple as that? Could a person think something so ugly, so utterly inappropriate, that God himself would need to turn him into an angry black spot on the bathroom floor? Having behaved inappropriately in front of my mother and any number of schoolteachers before and been punished for it, this deduction was the only one that made total sense to me. Blow your nose in a pancake and your mother will send you to your room; record yourself urinating on a film strip cassette used to accompany a lesson on Eskimos and your teacher will send you to the principal’s office (along with a note suggesting that Mr. Booth be relocated to a zoo where he can spend his adolescence standing on a hay-covered drain); commit a thought crime that might annoy a mind-reading, omnipotent super being with a long history of eradicating entire populations when they disagreed with his version of yuck, yippie and yahooey and you will surely go missing, no question about it, the lesson of religion not being that you are in any way unique or precious, but rather that you are expendable.

Figuring that any God capable of expressing such contempt for anybody tending toward a critical, even God-damning mind—or anybody, really, desiring to declare autonomy from the highly prejudicial and grossly intolerant precepts of fire-and-brimstone Christianity—was a God that I had no chance of ever impressing, particularly with my tendency to view anything even remotely authoritarian as laughably unnecessary. Thusly, instead of waiting for what I imagined would be the equivalent of Santa Claus sneaking up behind me at some point during the next 70 or 80 years with a length of piano wire and lassoing it around my windpipe and driving his velvety red knee into my back because I was being more naughty than nice, I decided to declare possession over my own destiny and to self-detonate by offending God with the most outrageously sacrilegious thoughts I could think of. What would be the point, I figured, in living a life and trying to cultivate my own relationship with the universe, something where I got to pick my own favorite color and define my own passions and pinpoint my own moral outrage over whatever people and circumstances I wanted to perceive as being unjust and immoral and rage-inspiring, if the self-titled moral authority of the universe was going to snuff me out as if I were the disease of illiteracy threatening his perfect alphabet?

I started small, still taking the precaution of putting my metaphoric fingers in my metaphoric ears and pinching my metaphoric eyes shut, by imagining what the Virgin Mary might’ve looked like naked. Too terrified to give her the body and pained expression of an oversexed Miss January, I gave her the same Shatner-esque body as my best friend’s mother, a woman nicknamed Boo, whom I accidentally stumbled upon, unseen, while she was peeing into a dry creek bed during a day hike through the Pine Barrens that I’d been invited on. Flip-flops spread far apart, her yellow shorts and vat-sized underpants hammocked in the grip of her knees, her shoulders rounded, her head tucked, she set the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot” loose inside my brain, for there she was, short and stout, and there was her handle and there was her … wait a minute. What the hell is that? Unaware that so much urine was capable of coming out of a human body, I remembered tiptoeing away backward and wondering if the stench from her fast-moving puddle might confuse a foraging bear downwind and make it believe that one of the Budweiser Clydesdale horses had gotten separated from the team somewhere in Missouri and was now lost in the middle of the New Jersey woods.

Remarkably, my imagination did not make me explode. This was significant. 

Uncertain as to whether or not the Creator had received my telepathy, I tried again, like redialing a phone, just to make sure, this time merging the most recognizable Jesus Christ, the one from the Warner Sallman painting, together with the proclivity of our German shepherd, Bullet, to occasionally raid the kitty litter box and to bound through the house, his huge tail wagging triumphantly, with a smoldering dung cigar gingerly protruding from his black lips. Again, nothing happened. It was as if I was throwing rocks at the moon. It was as if there was something about the physics of the universe—or was it the metaphysics of the supernatural?—that made my goading so completely ineffective that one had to question either the presence of my voice or the absence of ethereal ears. The way I saw it there was either no superior intelligence up in heaven to offend or there was a superior intelligence up in heaven that was not particularly evangelical, or it spoke only Latin and therefore heard my words as just so much inarticulate barking. Regardless, the epiphany that I reached within the absolute silence was that all measure of blasphemy was derogatory by interpretation rather than by design; that is, the image of the Virgin Mary relieving herself in the woods or Jesus eating cat feces could derive its offensiveness only from somebody willing to bring just such a reaction to the reading of the image and not from an innate ugliness that God or the universe was compelled to react to negatively and to retaliate against. 

Still, just to be safe, it has been my habit with nearly every pair of Chuck Taylor sneakers that I’ve worn since 1972 to write the words “by Dwayne Booth” on the bottom of the right sole just in case I ever did get blown to smithereens in my bathroom and some future 7-year-old reading about the incident might recognize in the inscription written across the bottom of my remaining foot that I was the author of my own fantastic and inexplicable and biblical virtue, rather than crediting a grossly esoteric God who is always way too eager to take credit for a reality into which he refuses to assimilate gracefully.

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By NYCartist, March 11, 2011 at 10:03 am Link to this comment

The two who posted about my comment evidently didn’t read it.  Both say “NYCartist…he”.  My comment does mention my pregnancy.

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By NYCartist, March 10, 2011 at 3:56 pm Link to this comment

I am a woman.

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By INoLongerH8CharlieSheenIPityHimNow, March 8, 2011 at 11:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Just updating my name. Have a wonderful evening.

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By gerard, March 7, 2011 at 9:02 pm Link to this comment

Interesting sidelight on cartooning in contemporary Arab world, from WP 3/7/22, “Amid Revolution, Arab Cartoonists draw attention to their cause,” by Michael Cavna: 
  “Since first publishing the book in 2008, Ziada and her group, the American Islamic Congress, say they have distributed thousands of Arabic-language issues of ‘Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story’ in the Middle East, including in Egypt.
The book is testament not only to the power of King’s message, Ziada tells Comic Riffs, but also to the popularity of cartooning in the Arab world, especially among the younger generation. And she is just one of many Arab comic publishers and cartoonists who believe passionately that their work can help inform, inflame and open the hearts and minds of their Mideast readers.”

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By truedigger3, March 7, 2011 at 8:14 pm Link to this comment

Re: By Gulam, March 7 at 8:01 pm Link to this comment

NYCartist you are a flat out racist.



NYCartist is just stating that he considers Judaism, in addition of being a religion, it is also an ethnicity. Many people dispute that Judaism is an ethnicity and that it is like Christianity and Islam include converts from all races and ethnicities.
Many books were written about that subject disputing the idea of a Jewish ethnicity
So, if NYCartist declares that he is a “secular Jew”, that doesn’t automatically make him a racist, although I admit, it gives me uneasy feeling, it is superfluous, there is no need for it. You might be right!

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By smitty8, March 7, 2011 at 6:46 pm Link to this comment

What a wonderful article and breath of fresh air!!! With
all of the stupidity, violence and vapidity around us we
need more Mr. Fishes, many more. He’d have my vote!

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By Gulam, March 7, 2011 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment

NYCartist you are a flat out racist.

It is very rare for anyone to say that they are a Christian atheist or Muslim
atheist. This almost never happens, but go to Israel and you will hear people
every day say: “I don’t believe in God at all. I am a secular Jew.” A majority of
the people in my Ulpan class (language and culture program for new
immigrants to Israel) in Jerusalem said: “I don’t believe in God at all. Judaism is
my race.”

If you claim to be an atheist, and you still claim to be one of the Chosen People,
then how does that differ from believing one’s self to be one of a Master Race?
Without God, Jewish exceptionalism is precisely the same as Nazi racism. 
Zionism and Nazism have much the same heritage in the Enlightenment world
of German academia. Race is were people turn for identity once the turn from
belief. In his essay on the Enlightenment Michael Foucault talks about Moses
Mendelssohn in the second paragraph. He talks of the problems common to
Jewish and German philosophy, and of the importance of European Jews for the
development of this movement. The whole Enlightenment tradition found Jews
very often in the vanguard. Since their community had been literate for over
three thousand years, it was natural that European Jews would contribute a
large number of intellectuals when such literate life slowly began to flourish
once more in the West. It is from this self-enlightened counter-culture within
Judaism that we eventually get Zionism and the whole notion that one can be a
“secular Jew.” Theodore Herzl was a German nationalist early in his student
career, but when German nationalism turned to racism, Herzl went along,
founding a Zionist movement, a similar racist movement for his own sub-
group in Germany. I have heard that Hitler earlier in his government minted a
coin with the the swastika on ones side and the Star of David on the other, to
commemorate the similarity of the two movements.

You are no different from the hicks that you people who own the media have
used as as whipping boy in American for decades. How is a self-identified
secular Jew not a racist? You are someone who still claims membership in the
club and all its privileges without paying dues or accepting the responsibilities
and discipline of the community.

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By samosamo, March 7, 2011 at 2:43 pm Link to this comment


Not hard at all to understand. Has it occurred to anyone that in
about 2150 ‘a.d. that the zodiac Aquarius will appear the first
thing in the morning at the vernal equinox, thus completing the
2150 or 2155 year age of Pisces whence the calendar should be
set back to the year 1, as it was 2150 years ago, or actually it
should be year 0 so as to start the new age of Aquarius which
should take another 2150 or 2155 years to complete. Unless
hampered by misfortune, Mr. Fish should still be alive to enjoy
the changing of his ‘age’ in about 40 years.

Don’t confuse me with claiming Mr. Fish the messiah at all. No, it
is encouraging to have someone such as Mr. Fish to bring reality
to this insane world in humorous or serious ways to expose the
real intelligence from the past. No boogie men, invisible men
living on clouds judging creatures with disgust and distain only
understandable by those who do believe such.

It will be a sad thing when in 2151 or 2156 that the ‘smart’
people in charge will forgo the turning of the next age and keep
on moving to 2152 or 2157 and on and on. In their mind it is
best to leave behind that ancient understanding of how the world
and universe worked, without the ghosts, kings and charlatans
taking advantage at every turn. Of course it is also hard for these
people to keep up with the 26,000 ‘grand year’ cycle of the 12

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By NYCartist, March 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm Link to this comment

Dear Mr. Fish,
    You certainly were a thinking 7 year old.  My first thought was “wow.Young”.  I did some googling and learned the line “Nobody laughs at Mr. Fish” via wikipedia re the comic book character.  Funny.  I often like your cartoons, tell you when I think you’re sexist and wish you the fame.  My frame of reference in re religion is totally different, growing up Orthodox Jew in Brooklyn, and being a Jewish atheist, I don’t think about God at all since I tested my belief at 15. As a Pisces, we share “fish”.  Sincerely, “Sanda Aronson”  And I went camping in the Pine Barrens when pregnant (a mistake), but the red water in the pond was nice.

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By colin2626262, March 7, 2011 at 4:28 am Link to this comment

First of all, the thoughts this person expresses about God and religion are those of an adult, not a child.  So that right there is a lie in his story.  Also, he writes of the Creator’s “fascistic intolerance of free will.”  Has he forgotten that he exercised his free will by not believing in God?  You can’t say God hates free will but also allows us the free will not to believe in God.  But that’s what happens when you have atheists trying to make sense of the world.  It makes no sense.

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By Taoist, March 6, 2011 at 7:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Funny, someone here complaining about people being “defensive” as if that is a bad thing.  I much prefer people who are defensive to those who are offensive.

If atheists really don’t believe in the concept of god, why do they spend so much time talking about it?  And so viscously…

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By gerard, March 6, 2011 at 3:14 pm Link to this comment

As good old Rummy might say:  “The lack of evidence is evidence.”  But of course you know that God is relative, along with everything else.  Even Einstein’s relativity theory is turning out to be relative and all energy may not equal mass times time squared (whatever that means). 
  No, the truth is we are lost and trying hard to figure out a way to get found—and saved—by someone somewhere beyond the horizon.  We’ve been doing it for centuries. 
  Once that someone was believed to roll across the sky every day and then drop down into a dark ocean where He (always He, you notice) was forced to swim with all his might to get back to the “other side” in time for sunrise. The Amazing Grace is, He did it!  Every day He did it! Can you imagine that!
  The nice thing about God is He loves everybody. We might try that just to see if it works for us as well. As long as we leave the loving up to Him, I am afraid we will find excuses and get stuck in money, or in war, or in poverty of spirit and hate and torture, which is where we are now.
  Forget lights in the sky.  What we need is some enlightenment in the human mind.

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By IH8CharlieSheen, March 6, 2011 at 11:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yesterday, I hurt my back while working out. This morning, while reading Mr. Fish, I repeatedly laughed so hard that I further aggravated my injury. It was worth it. I have no regrets.

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By Big B, March 6, 2011 at 11:11 am Link to this comment


Excuse me for overlooking the obvious evidence that one day, about eight thousand years ago, an INVISIBLE man in the sky snap his fingers and everything as we now know it magically appeared. Bullshit!

It seems that there are still too many people getting their “facts” from fox news and CBN.

I have the same two word phrase to all my religious brethren when they state that the bible is a book of historic fact and future prognostication
prove it.

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By DaveZx3, March 6, 2011 at 3:40 am Link to this comment

By Big B, March 5 at 11:21 pm Link to this comment

“Why do people still feel the need in the 21st century to believe in invisible men in the sky?”

Invisibility is a relative thing.  Vision being simply the perception of light reflected, all the animals of the earth do not have identical abilities in this area.  What is invisible to one, might be perfectly visible to another.

The fact that you do not perceive God, does not mean that others do not perceive God.  Or the fact that you have not experienced God, does not mean that others have not experienced God.

Egotistical, narrow-minded men may believe they have experienced all that there is to experience in life, and nothing more can possibly be experienced other than that which they declare to be within the limits of potential human experiences.  This group has only their “limited” experience to cling to, which is to say “nothing”.

The fact that the offspring of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the city of Jerusalem hold such prominence in the affairs of the world in the 21st century, and that the Biblical story continues to proceed towards a certain end declared thousands of years ago, also gives creedence to belief in the 21st century.

In the year 2011, money still says “In God We Trust”, and the year is still “The year of our Lord”. And while there is separation of church and state, there has not been declared the separation of God and state, the congress continuing to pray to God before each session, and the president taking the oath of office with his hand on the Bible.

And that very large, pulsing orb of light, (photographed from many angles) that hovered over the Temple in Jerusalem in January, as if an angelic being stopping to say a quick prayer, before departing rapidly to some distant place, gives many reason to believe that God is still in firm control in the affairs of men.

Also, the Bible is written primarily as a prophetic document, most things written, yet to happen or yet to manifest.  As long as things continue to proceed, men will cling to that story until the end. 

Also, science is failing to destroy the potential for the biblical story being absolutely true.  In reality, new discoveries regarding the speed of light slowing down over time, and consistency in red shift measurements (doppler effect)of neighboring galaxies, are throwing monkey wrenches into the works of carbon dating, potential ages of the universe, and the possibility of the big-bang model being accurate. 

All in all, in the 21st century, there is as much or more reason for believing in God as there ever was. 

Why do you think that belief should be decreasing? Do you have any specific reasons?

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By gerard, March 5, 2011 at 8:01 pm Link to this comment

Perhaps Mr. Fish is playing with God?  And perhaps God enjoys that because almost nobody takes any time at all to do that? 
  Perhaps most people spend their entire lives talking to God, and begging Him to do something or other for them, and that scene is so serious that it becomes really scarey and makes God feel like maybe He should just set himself on fire and put an end to the whole religious thing.
  Then people could maybe relax and start doing things for each other?

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By gerard, March 5, 2011 at 8:01 pm Link to this comment

Perhaps Mr. Fish is playing with God?  And perhaps God enjoys that because almost nobody takes any time at all to do that? 
  Perhaps most people spend their entire lives talking to God, and begging Him to do something or other for them, and that scene is so serious that it becomes really scarey and makes God feel like maybe He should just set himself on fire and put an end to the whole religious thing.
  Then people could maybe relax and start doing things for each other?

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By Big B, March 5, 2011 at 6:21 pm Link to this comment


I have always found it facinating that even reasonably intelligent religious persons can quickly become incredibly defensive when asked the “big” question “WHY”? Why do people still feel the need in the 21st century to believe in invisible men in the sky?

I suggest you and others with such delicate sensabilites stop being agast every time someone has the unmittegated gaul to ask of the worlds religious population the simpilest of questions, why do you believe what you believe. And of course, why its normal for a group of people to talk to an invisible man in the sky, even ask things of it, and a person who talks to invisible men while walking down the street is considered mentally ill?

The world just might be a better place the day people begin taking responsiblity for all their own actions, instead of having a mythical figure to assign blame to when the shit hits the fan.

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By matt, March 5, 2011 at 4:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

this article is amazing. get off of your high horse gulam.

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By Gulam, March 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm Link to this comment

I read this to the end, assuming that eventually there would be some point,
something amusing. My mistake. It would appear that just being vaguely anti-
relilgious is enough to qualify for posting. Just as long as it seems to demean the
values of the great, docile, nearly illiterate, gentile herd, an article is useful for the
purposes of those who define themselves as “secular.”

Mr. Fish can be a great cartoonist, at times he really is one of the best right now,
but he can also be a childish simpleton on matters related to religion, a subject
about which he knows little and assumes much. On such things he has all the
subtle intelligence of a the oldest boy in the Jr. High.

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