WELCOME TO TALK HOLE, A MONTHLY TOPICAL CONVERSATION BETWEEN COMEDIANS ERIC SCHWARTAU AND STEVEN PHILLIPS-HORST.
STEVEN: I just got word from our editor that our last column, “Dimes Square Article,” did very well.
ERIC: We should put Dimes Square in every headline now.
STEVEN: Why You’re Doing Dimes Square Wrong.
ERIC: What Happened to Dimes Square?
STEVEN: Meet The Secret Godfathers of Gay Dimes Square.
ERIC: Dimes Square Gets “Chad” Surgery: Shocking Before & After Photos.
STEVEN: How Montreal Became the New Dimes Square.
ERIC: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Dimes Square.
STEVEN: 1. Did you know? It’s actually a triangle.
ERIC: 2. And a dime is a circle.
STEVEN: 3. The neighborhood was originally called “BelDel” for Below Delancey but it never caught on.
ERIC: 4. And the freelance copywriter who coined “BelDel” was so humiliated he skipped town. He now lives in Catskill, New York.
STEVEN: 5. The first “bump” was done in Dimes Square in 1896, then called Sixpence Alley, when a debutante “bumped” into a chair, fell to the floor, then accidentally snorted some ash left by a chimney sweep.
ERIC: 6. And that chimney sweep went on to start the first Dirtbag Left radio programme.
STEVEN: 7. Back then it was the “Ashbag Left,” and the broadcast was called Gray Scare.
ERIC: 8: Today, the area has the highest number of sheer crop tops per capita.
STEVEN: 9. The Michelin Guide has deemed the neighborhood a “food desert,” because of the overpriced, poor-quality cuisine at many of its restaurants.
ERIC: 10. It has also been declared a “Forever Wild” sanctuary for the preservation of its unique culture of apoliticism and alcoholism.
STEVEN: Wow, I learned so much.
ERIC: What other buzzwords do people want to click on?
STEVEN: Recession, gender, cancel culture, airline travel, something about sports, Margot Robbie.
ERIC: Margot Robbie Cancels Gender Over Delayed Flight To Wimbeldon, Sparking Recession Fears.
STEVEN: I’m clicking.
ERIC: An SEO grand slam.
STEVEN: Are we in a recession?
ERIC: We’re definitely in a hole.
STEVEN: Prices are up, pregnancies are forced, guns are concealed, and the American man is dying.
ERIC: Because he’s obese and addicted to pills.
STEVEN: Yet I’m thin but still addicted to Truvada.
ERIC: There’s a cure for both of those things. It’s called being in a relationship.
STEVEN: Not if it’s open.
ERIC: A relationship with a hole in it.
STEVEN: It seems we are entering an era of scarcity. The water wars are coming. Not enough resources, massive inequality, mass migration, plunging birth rates, Children of Men vibes.
ERIC: This is why I got engaged.
STEVEN: But it’s going to be weirder than the movies because our experience is so mediated by technology now. People will be like, “I’m killing my aunt IRL to get more digital water credits for my bored ape.”
ERIC: When apes are bored, they get very thirsty.
STEVEN: It’s like an AI-generated gay dystopia.
ERIC: I don’t think AI has to be gay or dystopic. It’s an extension of our own imaginations and our own intelligence.
STEVEN: Our future is definitely gay and dystopic. AI better catch up.
ERIC: AI is basically a mirror. It only knows what we teach it, so it’s parroting our identities back to us. We’ve been teaching it for years to recognize stoplights and trains in those little CAPTCHA grids.
STEVEN: So our robot overlords will be fluent in stoplight.
ERIC: We are writing the future in the present!
STEVEN: We’re actually writing a column.
ERIC: We’re writing gay code. Soon two gay algorithms will be able to write this column and we can go play tennis and walk our dogs.
STEVEN: Except there won’t be a park to walk our dogs in. There will be a desert, and we’ll be fighting our own dogs for tennis balls because we think they’re food.
ERIC: Right, because AI will have tricked us into making our diets even worse, so they can have all the last heirloom tomatoes for themselves.
STEVEN: Exactly. Because the robots will desire what we taught them to desire. And we taught them tomatoes are delicious.
ERIC: But then it turns out the robots are allergic to nightshades — because we taught them that having allergies is a personality.
STEVEN: Then the robots die and we can all go back to normal.
ERIC: Normal. We don’t know her anymore.
STEVEN: Tell me about it. I had to buy the Rite Aid generic version of Tom’s Natural toothpaste because it was the only one at the store that wasn’t locked up.
ERIC: Nobody wants natural when it comes to teeth. Fluoride. Bleach. Repeat.
STEVEN: We’re already getting fluoride from the water. How much more do you need?
ERIC: Depends on mouth size.
STEVEN: The American mouth is getting bigger.
ERIC: It definitely seems to have more to say. More tweets than ever.
STEVEN: I just don’t think we need to be locking up Crest. Crime is not that bad, and if it is Procter & Gamble can take the hit.
ERIC: I think the real crime is fake Go FundMes. I don’t believe anyone’s roommates are really that toxic.
STEVEN: You’re just paranoid.
ERIC: And that’s why I live alone.
STEVEN: People think there’s more crime and violence, which puts everyone on edge, making everyone more violent, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
ERIC: Like inflation.
STEVEN: Exactly. And now the San Francisco District Attorney got recalled because there are too many homeless people, despite the fact tha he doesn’t control that. I saw something about “Safer Communities” on every Democratic primary brochure handed to me this week for our local elections. We’re headed for a new era of “tough on crime” Democrats — it’s like the ’90s all over again. Which means that the Trump era was a Reagan redux, and everyone’s about to get into grunge again.
ERIC: No, Trump was Nixon and Biden is Carter: Malaise. Gas prices. Sunken living rooms.
STEVEN: So DeSantis will win in 2024 and he’ll be the second Reagan?
ERIC: Yes. Guns, coke, Miami, finance.
STEVEN: I was watching one of my favorite ASMR artists on YouTube, and he’s gotten really into prepping over the past year. He’s the sweetest gay kid who used to just do ear-candling cosplay. Now he buys everything in bulk and doesn't even like to go shopping without his mom because he’s afraid of “what might happen” at a Walmart. And he’s 27!
ERIC: What might happen is that he’d have to buy his own clothes. Still clinging to mommy’s credit teat.
STEVEN: People are scared. And dumb. And they still want to shop.
ERIC: People buying too much is causing inflation, right?
STEVEN: Well, according to The Fed/The Church of Harvard, everyone got government checks during the pandemic, but instead of spending it they stayed home. Nobody went to France (except for me) so now people have too much money. So now it’s too easy for them to buy oat milk. Hence the price of oat milk has to go up.
ERIC: I don’t even pay for milk. I just ask for some in my coffee.
STEVEN: There's a sort of schizophrenia going on as well. Unemployment is low, yet so is consumer confidence, yet people are going to restaurants with greater frequency, yet restaurants are more annoying than ever with their QR code menus.
ERIC: I love the gleeful hedonism of paying $17 for a cocktail. Or maybe it’s gleeful humiliation.
STEVEN: Dimes Square inflation.
ERIC: They’ll have to change the name to Dollar Square.
STEVEN: Meanwhile, they’re telling us it’s “Russia’s fault” and “the supply chain is weird” and “wages have gone up too much” so we’re in a “wage price spiral.” Personally, I do not feel my wages have gone up too much.
ERIC: We need to renegotiate your price per word.
STEVEN: I’m in a word price spiral.
ERIC: It’s about an economy of words.
STEVEN: We can’t both just write one liners.
ERIC: Yes we can.
STEVEN: Write back better.
ERIC: A poet isn’t paid per word. Let that sink in.
STEVEN: Why doesn’t the government just institute price controls to stem inflation? That’s socialism apparently? It doesn’t seem that ridiculous to me.
ERIC: Keep your hands off my prices.
STEVEN: My prices, my choice!
ERIC: The Bible says we all have the Right to Price.
STEVEN: For example, the government could say a carton of Oatly should not cost more than $3.10. And if Kroger tries to jack it up, a policefolk will come into the grocery store and shoot the Oatly.
ERIC: I bought the cheap oat milk at Trader Joe’s and it was really gritty. Now I’m back to Chobani.
STEVEN: Planet Oat? I wouldn’t even feed that to my twink.
ERIC: No, it was Trader Joe’s brand. Have you ever been to Trader Joe’s?
STEVEN: Yes, it’s food for babies. Pre-cut frozen meat and shitty produce and infantilizing snacks like yogurt-covered ramen and chocolate-covered salmon. No thank you.
ERIC: Well, at least they’re not in a recession over there. Charles Shaw is still $3.
STEVEN: I was just reading Eleanor Roosevelt’s memoir, and she said FDR — who was her fifth cousin and husband — would look out the train window as they traversed the country and gauge the strength of the American economy based on how clean people’s linens were hanging on the line, how shiny their windows were, etc.
ERIC: Clean window theory.
STEVEN: The cousin to the Broken Windows theory.
ERIC: The fifth cousin.
STEVEN: My version of this is I think we are in a recession because of the amount of unpaid child labor on Shark Tank. Usually there’s a few “family businesses” per season, but right now there’s multiple pitches per episode with six-year-olds labeling packages or installing drywall.
ERIC: It’s good to get some experience under your belt early.
STEVEN: Helps when applying to elementary school.
ERIC: Or church, which will now be the same thing.
STEVEN: Church and state are a spectrum now.
ERIC: And schools identify as non-binary.
STEVEN: You never forget your first day of kxndergarxen.
ERIC: Especially if there’s a shooting.
STEVEN: I have a theory about church and state.
STEVEN: Both church and state are weaker than ever so they need to combine forces to maintain relevance. Church used to be really popular, right? The steeple was always the tallest building in the village. Then government became the cool thing — think of all those neo-classical state capitols and courthouses. But by the end of the 20th century, business was the hottest game in town. It’s all about skyscrapers.
ERIC: Because skyscrapers are shiny mirrors. People stopped finding God and started finding themselves.
STEVEN: And now the tallest skyscrapers are mostly condos, where you can really find yourself. Although most NYC penthouse owners don’t even live there.
ERIC: Well God doesn’t live on Earth either.
STEVEN: But she/they summers here.
ERIC: So church and state are fusing as a content strategy. In today’s attention economy, higher engagement equals higher power.
STEVEN: And schools are a great platform for content.
ERIC: Schools are the original podcasts.
STEVEN: Students the original subscribers!
ERIC: After-school programs the original Patreon.
STEVEN: And GSA meetings were the original Reddit forums.
ERIC: My friend who is a high school teacher said that GSA now stands for Gender & Sexualities Alliance.
STEVEN: Finally gender and sexuality can come together.
ERIC: Apparently the students are unclear what it is. They just throw events.
STEVEN: In my day, the GSA was for nerdy gays with rainbow suspenders and pins! You wouldn’t be caught dead in there.
ERIC: I guess that’s why they rebranded.
STEVEN: Joining an organization can never be cool. Cool things don’t accomplish stuff. And that’s okay. Society needs both cool people and nerdy organizations.
ERIC: I was in Student Government. They made an unelected position on the executive board called Human Relations Commissioner for me. Very Robert Moses. I would read the announcements over the loudspeaker at lunch.
STEVEN: You were relating to humans by speaking with them.
ERIC: It was more of a one-sided conversation.
STEVEN: Look how far you’ve come.
ERIC: Speaking of gay people and loudspeakers, pride is finally over.
STEVEN: Back to shame now.
ERIC: I love how pride is no longer about gay pride, but simply pride in the concept of identity. Any identity at all.
STEVEN: Asexual. Irish. Deutsche Bank employee.
ERIC: I’m proud of the various bullet points that make up my advertising profile according to Google.
STEVEN: Proud of my data.
ERIC: Proud of my algorithm.
STEVEN: And most of all, I am proud to have a job.
ERIC: All the floats were businesses.
STEVEN: Where was the Gawker float?
ERIC: Peter Thiel sunk it.
STEVEN: We should have been grand marshals.
ERIC: I think our page views would qualify us for mid marshals.
STEVEN: The pride parade is really a celebration of having a job. Every float was the vehicular embodiment of a mass email that went out.
ERIC: And people responded to that email, saying “Yes we can! We will stand on this bus!”
STEVEN: Lauren in accounting sent the first email at Stonewall.
ERIC: You can’t spell brick without BCC.
STEVEN: It’s interesting that all the floats were buses. I’m imagining the city had some deal with a bus company. It dovetails with points I’ve previously made in this very column about how everything is worse now — sadder, less personality, more predicated on avoiding liability, more profit being extracted at every turn.
ERIC: Floats are about magic. Buses are about getting from point A to B. It’s about gas mileage. Pain at the pump.
STEVEN: Or if you’re a drag queen, pain in pumps.
ERIC: Honey, my feet are killing me! I’ve been standing in line all day waiting for a monkeypox vaccine.
STEVEN: I don’t think we’re supposed to call it that anymore. The World Health Organization said they were gonna rename it.
ERIC: Because it sounds too fun, and COVID got jealous.
STEVEN: No, because it misrepresents the monkey community.
ERIC: They should just call it gaypox.
STEVEN: Maybe something more inclusive.
STEVEN: Great for bisexual visibility.
ERIC: Or bicoastal.
STEVEN: That makes sense, because that’s who’s doing the spreading.
ERIC: It’s always the travelers.
STEVEN: I guarantee you the the Bubonic Plague was initially spread by gay artisans taking a quick cross-Europe vacation. Posting scrolls in the tavern like "Hey, I've had a really stressful couple days weaving baskets…. I need a week in Gaul — who's down for a dwelling swap?”
ERIC: The famous LGBT urge to change locations but also scam someone while doing it.
STEVEN: I wish I’d scammed my way into the Twinks vs. Dolls event at Singers. That looked fun!
ERIC: It was a huge moment for athleticism.
STEVEN: Sports are back.
ERIC: Well, a recession is kind of like a recess, so that makes sense. It’s a fun play break.
STEVEN: And now it’s time for some flag football. Just make sure it’s the most recently approved version of the flag.
ERIC: People are very interested in bodies. Sports really engage the body.
STEVEN: They should change men’s and women’s sports to be just twinks and dolls. That would solve a lot of this drama over trans women competing in professional sports.
ERIC: As a person of body-hair experience, I feel excluded.
STEVEN: There can be bear and otter categories, too. But that’s it.
ERIC: Speaking of bears, Russia is officially excluded from Wimbledon.
STEVEN: No more Russian Dolls.
ERIC: But then the Association of Tennis Professionals decided to take away the points you win, so as to not penalize the (Bela)Russians. So now the results don’t really matter.
STEVEN: Everyone loses.
ERIC: I guess you still win prize money but with inflation, one million pounds just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
STEVEN: But we stick it to Putin.
ERIC: And that’s recession-proof!
STEVEN: I maintain my position that Ukraine is a really complicated issue.
STEVEN: It’s totally wrong that Russia invaded. So I sympathize with the Ukranians, but I also hate the idea of just fighting this endless proxy war with Russia.
ERIC: I prefer a proxy war to a war war. Because then I don’t have to fight.
STEVEN: The Proxy would be a good name for a boutique hotel.
ERIC: You don’t stay there, you send someone else.
STEVEN: But AI generates some selfies of you by the pool so people can still get jealous.
ERIC: And now, AI can generate an ending to this column.
AI: Please select all images that contain a columnist.
ERIC: These are all stoplights…?
AI: Correct. See you next time.
Previously on Talk Hole: Talk Hole: Dimes Square Article