Friday, October 8, 2010

When It Rains, It Pours



Dearest Readers,

Allow me to apologize for the prolonged lapse in our correspondence. The end of the summer is always a difficult and exhausting time for Alisdair and me. As the weather turns, our considerable passions compel us to devote la plupart of our energies to chasing around the last sweet bits of sun-kissed flesh that will soon be forced into hiding and hibernation by the arrival of the icy Mistrals. While I would never wish this onerous responsibility on anyone, I do realize that the purpose of this log is to equip our readers with the intelligence necessary to attempt such a quest for carnal delights so, without further ado :

1. Would a Rose by any other name smell as sweet? Regardless of your answer to this question, consider Rose's first. Several months ago I wrote about an occasion when I, in a drunken haze, called out a wrong name in the boudoir. Needless to say, I was ejected from the premises immediately. When juggling several simultaneous affairs, the importance of memorizing names with faces (and bodies) cannot be over-stressed. For this purpose, I carry around a neat stack of flashcards in my portefeuille and take time to jog my memory between luncheon with Leslie (tall, blonde, thin) and supper with Suzette (tall, blonde, thin*) .

2. We have made mention of the fact that the Rake, vain as he is, spends an inordinate amount of time working on his appearance, taking sometimes up to 4 hours in front of the mirror - even before dressing. There is nothing wrong with this, I merely mention it because despite all the steps he takes to insure his personal beauty, one thing he never applies is perfume. His animal musk suffices to set women aquiver . However, one needn't be William of Baskerville to deduce that rigorous physical contact with a female will leave a scent of Jicky or Narcisse Noir upon your shirt, tie, and/or coat, as well as your delicate skin. Instead of deterring the scent, we must mask it. Smoke constantly, exhaling all over yourself when possible. Take large hearty swigs of whatever you are drinking and let the alcohol run down your chin and neck and soak into your collar. Lay in the gutter - sleep there if necessary - and let the delightful fragrances that characterize a neighborhood permeate your clothing. In no time, you should be smelling like yourself again, free from any suggestion of feminine contact. This step should pose no difficulties to our die-hard readers.

3. In some cases, the smell of another woman's sex on you can incite the passions of the more wanton of women with whom you will rendezvous later in the day. This is what John Maynard Keynes referred to as 'priming the pump.' But, just like government intervention in markets, it doesn't always work. Therefore, you would be wise to carry around a few moistened toilettes in order to wash up between interviews. These are typically complimentary and can be found at what is known as a "Barbecue" restaurant.

4. Sexually transmitted disease has been the bane of our existence from time immemorial. Due to some bogus legislation, it is apparently illegal to copulate if you are aware you are infected with the clap, Chattanooga vertigo, Persian Flu, etc. Simple solution: Do not get tested! Ignorance is bliss, as they say. Besides, who has the time to visit a free clinic these days. If you are symptomatic, take a page out of my book and carry around a small phial of mercury for topical touch-ups, Of course, admission of this reeks of "prosecutorial evidence" so mum is the word.

This lesson could fill several volumes, but as I have some scrubbing to attend to, I shall leave you with these 4 tips. If in doubt, do not hesitate to write us. (arakesprogress@gmail.com).

*You can see the potential for confusion.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How To Spot A Rake, Pt. 2: Know His Habitats


You may have already guessed that the rake's most natural habitat is the bar. Although an inveterate liar and emotionally incapable of true friendship, we are naturally quite garrulous, and are thus drawn to the affability and fun that bars engender. Also, they have tons of booze. The trick is to find the right bar at the right time. In our circles, rising before noon is considered undignified, which is fine, as even your worst gin mills don't open much before then. On a typical day, a rake will putter about his home drinking, reading Balzac novels, and listening to Puccini until at least three, at which point he will strike out for his first stop. This will normally be a restaurant or cafe of middling quality, for the following ingenious reason: at three, the lunch-time rush has subsided. The barmaids and waitresses are exhausted from their shift, and the bright-eyed evening crew has yet to arrive. Feet aching and having worked themselves into a state of tremendous resentment against their employers, the entire staff--particularly the females, though not exclusively--will be unusually susceptible to a smile and a little charm, and can easily be plied for free drinks. Moreover, even if they are unusually scrupulous or spiteful, you can easily duck out on your undoubtedly sizable tab during the confusion of the shift change.


In the evening, rakes tend to frequent bars and lounges where the dress code is semi-formal at least. If you require an explanation for this choice, you clearly have no idea how debonair we look in a tuxedo. Not to mention that, when one's sustenance is primarily gained through unsecured personal loans and lovers' largesse, it helps to seek out the wealthiest possible company. Of course, the stiffs that have the money to drink at such places are usually either in the bag or in bed by 1 AM at the latest. If by that time a rake has not secured an invitation to a lady companion's apartments, then he will wander gamely off into the night, eventually ensconcing himself in whatever rathole he may find, guzzling rotgut with the plebs until the sunlight peeks through the clapboard shutters.


Naturally, these venues are only a few of those in which you should be on the lookout for rakes. If you should happen to meet a hungover Errol Flynn look-alike while you walk your Yorkshire terrier in the park, beware. Similarly, any insouciant charmer that just happens to bump into you outside of an ATM or in your psychiatrist's waiting room should be regarded with suspicion.

How To Spot A Rake, Pt. 1


La constanza? Tiranna del core,

Detestiamo qual morbo crudele.

Sol chi vuole si serbe fedele;

Non v'è amor se non v'è libertà.


Giovanni must be owned the greatest cad ever portrayed on stage, but never has the rake's romantic changeability been expressed better or more succinctly than by Verdi's Duke of Mantua. With this fact in mind, every woman who considers getting involved with one of our ilk should first seriously examine her own mettle. If she be weak, without either the stoicism of Marie-Thérèse or the levity of a Tallulah Bankhead, the affair will inexorably lead to her utter ruination. Of course, by ruination, I do not refer to the loss of what is commonly called her "virtue" or "chastity"; as we have already stated, chastity is nothing more than a contrivance of patriarchy, a shibboleth of prudes. Rather, what will be laid to waste is her entire emotional fabric. Long after the rake has turned his attentions to some other charming thing, the jilted woman will remain, sobbing into her handkerchief, unable to decide whether she wants to gather her beloved back into her arms or to cast him headlong into a shallow grave. This dipole of love and hate will consume her mentally and physically, and eventually she will die because of it (see above picture).


I myself have been the root of several such tragedies, and it is a terrible thing to see. Of course, as I see it, the solution is not to change my behavior--for such a thing is impossible, as we have said elsewhere. Instead, a little bit of informed consent will have to suffice. Thus, over the next five days or so (assuming we don't go on an unexpected bender) I will give to you, ladies, a beginner's primer on How To Spot A Rake. The first lesson will follow later today, with one lesson posted each day after. Learn them well, so that the next time you are sizing up a potential lover, you will be know whether he is a true rake or a harmless impostor. That way, you will be at least somewhat prepared to enter upon the adventure, and I will be freed of any ethical liability!


*NB: We lay out these principles at considerable personal and professional risk to ourselves. If anyone in the raking community found out that we were publishing trade secrets in this manner, we would certainly be fined at least ten cases of gin, and might even lose our membership in the Guild altogether. Consider, then, our courage in this manner as evidence of our devotion to and affection for all of you.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Woman's Cause is the Rake's: We Rise Or Fall Together!


It will not come as any surprise to you that Gaspard and I spend most of our time, jointly and severally, meditating on women. No man can deny that, especially if he has a bottle or two of Scotch in him, his thoughts will always sooner or later turn to females. Sometimes these reveries center on particular specimens--like Greta, the charming young second cello whom I've been seeing for a few months--and in such moments phantasies of almost unspeakable erotism play before my mind's eye, often for hours. I imagine her hands--rosin-stained, worn and calloused, testifying to her ardent love of music--rising to her swan's throat for a delicate self-caress. Her blue eyes bore lustily in my own as she reaches behind to the clasp of her performance gown, pausing for an aeon of a moment before releasing her pendulous Teutonic…excuse me. I must leave off for a while. Perhaps later I will have the presence of mind to return to my theme.

Now then. As I said, sometimes my meditations are specific to one woman. But at other times, the mind abstracts and considers Woman more broadly, as a concept and as a class. Too often general consideration of woman's plight ends sourly, as women have always gotten the short end of the stick. Think on it and you will know it is true. Even when women have enjoyed some degree of financial and sexual license, like the grandes dames of the Ancien Régime, their available choices and behaviors have always been severely circumscribed. Remember, in Laclos' masterwork, Valmont dies something like a hero's death, while the Marquise "necessarily" ends her drama disfigured and penniless. And don't get me started on those bastard Victorians: that for a half-century an entire race of people so thoroughly perverted joy in life, nuptive and otherwise, seems almost as if it must have been some sort of sick joke. You may apply this model to almost any period or place, and you will see that everywhere, Woman has been suppressed.

Perhaps some readers will be shocked that female liberation is a pet cause here at the Rakish Life. Our journal is undeniably male in its orientation, and most self-consciously male institutions tend to stand in the same sort of relationship to our better halves: objectify, repress, possess. But Gaspard and I want no part of this gender control. After all, any effort to deprive a woman of her natural rights derives from a man's basic insecurity that, given free choice, she will choose somebody else. This is an anxiety from which we rakes are completely free, thanks to our flawless features, impeccable moustaches, and boundless élan.

Women today, at least in some countries, are undoubtedly accorded more freedoms than ever before, and for this the Rakish Life acknowledges a deep debt to your Pankhursts, your Friedans, and your Steinems. Much progress has been made in the sexual arena: these days, a woman can--and should--take as many lovers as she desires, when she desires (so long as one of those lovers is me). Modern girls take a fierce pride in protecting and promulgating this right, some going so far as to extend their favors to several men in one evening, merely because they can. Such women are treasures.

But there are challenges that remain. Astute readers will be aware of the deplorable statistics concerning equal pay in the workplace. A male office drone might knock off on a Friday with money to burn, while a woman who has done the exact same work and put in the same hours will often leave work with barely tuppence. At such a disgraceful economic disadvantage, how is she meant to pay her bills, service her debts, or buy an evening's worth of drinks for the jaunty, penurious Scotsman at her local bar? Readers, this cannot stand, because I am thirsty.

Women: tear off your shackles! Break your chains! Now is the time to answer the challenge put to you by your mothers, and mothers' mothers! Empower yourself, liberate yourself! I'll be waiting at the bar when you do.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Miracle of Life


In G.'s most recent disquisition on fatherhood, much is made of how a young and mostly innocent boy may, either through calculation or mere inattention, find himself becoming a class-A rotter later in life. This brought back the memory of how I myself first strayed from the straight and narrow path out onto the wider, more comfortable roadways of the world. Suffice it to say that Gaspard's cautionary advice about employing young, attractive maids around sons is very prudent, if you wish to keep the boys in line.

My father was a widower; as some of you know, my dear mother died in childbirth. Though he was much given to the thrifty, industrious spirit of the Scottish Enlightenment, and was furthermore a dour skinflint like most of my countrymen, my mother's absence made the hiring of maids a necessary evil. For this purpose, he employed several Highlander women of various ages, who took care of all the housework. One of these was a rosy-cheeked, white-stockinged girl called Ailis. You may well imagine the type: milky skin glowing with a healthy blush, whistling a gay tune as she gathered together bouquets of begonias, dahlias and willowherb, which she picked in the countryside on her days off. Due to my constant proximity to her native sweetness, I soon developed quite an affection for this Ailis. When I was nine and she some fifteen, I began to importune her for private favors--although I scarcely knew of what I was speaking at the time. Admiring my fevered affection for her, and not unreasonably taking note of my striking conformation for such a young lad, she obliged. There are no words for the magnitude of this revelation for me--it has dictated all my actions ever since. And do you know what happened after that, my friends? I will tell you: Ailis became pregnant, and was dismissed from service immediately.

This was the only prudent thing to do. Then as now, I was not interested in the ballyhooed pleasures of home and family, and in truth (perhaps this will not surprise some of you) I am no more fit for paternal responsibility now than when my age numbered in the single digits. I was not to be like the Hindoo princeling who, married at three or four, sires his first child at seven and has an extensive brood by the time his voice breaks. No, I dodged the millstone of fatherhood as true rakes always do, and have done it dozens of times since. For those of you who feel heart palpitations or vomit uncontrollably at the mere sound of the phrase "I'm late," here is a brief set of rules concerning what to do when she starts to swell, no matter who she is:

1. If She Works For You, Or For Your Father or Grand-Uncle

This one is easy (see above). Fire her immediately. Offer to give her some extra severance pay if you must, but it is better if the break is clean. Note: as the rake almost never has a job, and rarely has enough money to get sufficiently drunk every day--much less hire domestics--it will be much more likely that she works for a friend or relative of yours. So much the better, as it is he who will be named in any civil action.

2. If Conception Occurs During a Chance Meeting, or One-Time Liaison

Another simple fix: you should never, ever be pursuing this type of rendezvous under any name or persona by which you can be legally identified. In choosing an alias, it helps if your fake profession might conceivably involve unexpected travel and/or untimely death. Somewhere in Switzerland, a once-comely ski instructor sips her schnapps in melancholy, and speaks proudly to her son or daughter of the courage and gallantry of her one-time lover: Fergus MacLeish, Capt., Scots Guards, who was called back to his regiment in the middle of the night, only to die in a firefight in the Second Falklands War.

3. If You Think She Is Faking, Or Is Having A Hysterical Pregnancy

Call her bluff. This bold play will most likely come from the rake's female equivalent, a woman of ample experience and loose morals. These are the ones, generally speaking, who will get a glimpse of your true libertinage. They will stand it for a while, but eventually they will seek to possess you solely, and will try any means to do it (see here). How to counter the gambit of the spurious seedling? Act as if you are overjoyed. Kiss her empty stomach, and ask her when you can move in to her rooms. Expecting reticence, she will be so put off and confused by your apparent pleasure (secretly, she had hoped you'd put up a fight) that she will usually drop the act right there, although it may take a few weeks further if she is stubborn.

4. If You Impregnate Your Fiancée, Who Is From a Wealthy and Respectable Family

Keep it. If you need further explanation--which you shouldn't--see here. There may be some huffiness from her parents, especially, but rather than provoke a scandal, they will have you at the altar double quick. Pre-nuptial agreements should be dealt with according to Gaspard's advice in the above-mentioned article. To diffuse any ill feeling, make sure that the baby will be named after your new father- or grandfather-in-law.

5. If You Impregnate a Fiancée or Long-Term Companion, Who Is From a Prudish and Penurious Family

This little bugger will do you no good in the long run. Fortunately for you, prigs such as these are dealt with quite easily. You needn't do anything special; merely stop covering up what you normally do. Drink heavily at family functions and then punctuate your rambling, esoteric discourse with wild jabs from your cigarette, knocking ash into Papa's morning coffee. Make indecent proposals to all female relatives, especially sisters. Even a brief glimpse at the chaotic hedonism that characterizes the Rakish Life will utterly deter the family from courting you further. Make the expectant mother realize what kind of father you would be, and she will gladly accept no father at all.


Gaspard and I have faced down or skillfully evaded many more imputations of paternity than are described here. But in the interest of brevity, I will rest my pen. If, however, you have a pregnancy-related dilemma not covered by the above, please write us, by post, email, or any of the other channels that this our modern age provides. And NB: it is not to men only that we may tender advice. Ladies, if you need help forcing a reluctant father to stick around, we know every trick in the book, and can help you beat them all!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

On Fatherhood, pt. II


Today I would like to address a question posed to us by one of our fans, again via Facebook.

Mr. Nicolas Stevens writes:

"What is the policy on educating sons and daughters? Do we encourage them to follow our ways, or keep them innocent so that we may spend all our money on ourselves and they can support us in our declining years."

Well Mr. Stevens, perhaps you are a newcomer to our little forum, but I have addressed that exact question in another post I wrote a few months ago, which you can find here .

However, I am glad you asked - I have long wanted to elaborate, and you have kindly given me the opportunity.

In the past months it has occurred to me that not all of our readers are true rakes. This does not disappoint me - I have no interest in further competition. With "internet background checks," "DNA-based paternity tests, " and "compulsory alcohol educational programs" my hands are quite full indeed.

Therefore, this post is written for those who may not be rakes, but can admire the lifestyle and its trappings and want to learn a bit more about the relationship between rakes and parenthood. So, for those who have reached a certain age and have foolishly begun to seriously contemplate fatherhood, take heed.

First of all, daughters are your worst nightmare. Alisdair and I - as well as the more zealous of our readers - have spent the better part of our lives perfecting logical, moral, and emotional arguments tailored to young women, detailing just why they should throw caution to the wind and compromise their virtue by spending even an hour alone with either one of us (or both of us, if she has had enough to drink.) Short of a shackling her with a chastity belt, I can see no other way of preventing this. So, unless you want to become a grandfather in your mid-40s, take care to observe the following precautions to conceive a male heir:

1. Change your wife's diet to include an abundance of red meat and codfish, and cut out calcium rich foods like parsley and turnip-top.
2. Schedule your congress for odd-numbered days of the month.
3. Couple only at night, under a waning quarter-moon.
4. Climax before your partner. I know this tip is counter-intuitive to our Casanovas out there, but Soranus tells us that a male can be conceived only when the father's sperm is stronger and more vigorous than the sperm of the mother; giving your boys a head start is crucial.
5. For the reason (4) listed above, take care to marry a submissive woman. If, after 2 children, your wife has not produced a son, discard her and begin anew.

If all has gone to plan and you have a healthy baby boy, there are two paths available. If you wish to raise a son through whom you can live vicariously, simply direct him to this site when he is at a reading age and sit back and enjoy. Beware - this style of parenting may wreck you financially earn you the disapproval of your peers, but the stories your son will tell you will be well worth it. Besides, he may up marrying up, and you will be more than reimbursed for the gambling debts and legal fees that you will have faced.

If, on the other hand, you wish to raise your son in a wholesome manner, take care to avoid the mistakes of my own father and follow these directions:

1. Do not employ any domestic types who are remotely attractive - any young, supple body around a growing boy will provide distraction that can quite quickly turn into obsession.
2. Either keep no liquor in the house and forswear alcohol, or become such a raging drunk that your son will be turned off from booze entirely.*
3. Smoke constantly as a deterrent.
4. Send your child to public schools and discourage erudition; a dull mind will never crave the eccentric pleasures that arouse a learned one.

I hope this is informative. Please direct all further questions to our Facebook page or e-mail us at Arakesprogress@gmail.com

-G


*The latter is much more fun.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What's in a name?


Today I'd like to answer a question posed to us through our Facebook fan site by a M. Tristan Sykes.

He writes:

Dear Rakish life,
Is it necessary to add vermouth to my martini?
Furthermore is it necessary to use a glass...?

Well, M. Sykes, that all depends on who you ask. Our friends over at the IBA define a Standard Martini as a a mixture of gin and vermouth in a 4:1 ratio, but I can tell you right now that most serious drinkers will scoff at anything mixed weaker than 15:1, and a true rake will spit out anything less than 30:1.*

Now, when drinking alone at home, pouring oneself a glass of gin and calling it a martini is perfectly acceptable. It is akin to washing one's face and hands and calling it a shower or eating a cracker or two and calling it supper - two things I do all the time.

When in public, however, ordering a glass of gin at the bar is frowned on in some circles - especially when striving for social prominence. Calling for a "dry martini" at the club lends an air of refinement that calling for a "Well-gin on the rocks" lacks. What's a rake to do? Call for a "Churchill Martini," made famous by the old PM who would pour a glass of cold gin and then glance sidelong at a bottle of vermouth. Now, according to our definition, this is not technically a Martini, but the mopes at the other end of the bar won't know this and you'll end up looking like a globe-trotting sophisticate instead of the simple, gin-swilling drunk you really are.

As far as a glass is concerned, it is unnecessary, but remember the advantage of the glass- to chill the martini to such a point that it will not reach room temperature for several hours. However, if temperature is not a priority, try out this recipe for a martini that requires neither vermouth nor a glass.

The Rakish Life Martini

1. Chew up a mouthful of ice (Optional, but a favorite move of Alisdair's)
2. Take a 3 count swig out of a bottle of gin
3. Fantasize about the beautiful woman in the above Vermouth advertisement
4. Shake your head back and forth, contemplating your loneliness and misery
5. Swallow and Enjoy!




*He won't actually spit it out - a serious transgression - but he will make a fuss about it and loudly complain to anyone who will listen.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Jewel in the Lotus

Today, I'm going to try something a bit new - it seems the modern citizen, bereft of all taste and direction in a world saturated with cultural waste, 0ften needs guidance when it comes to the basics in life - what to eat, what to drink, what to watch, how to read, etc... This journal itself is dedicated to instructing its followers in the general behavioral traits needed in order to call oneself a Rake. However, the clueless mass of today needs "specifics."

People often ask me, Gaspard - how are you so knowledgeable in the rakish arts? Well, aside from a lifetime of raking semi-professionally, I have read literally thousands of books. My youth was spent alone - I am an only child you see. I also suffered, from an early age, with a terrible case of gout. I spent much of my time locked in my father's library, tending to my swollen foot, reading and rereading his old tomes, and committing the more arcane bits of knowledge to memory. These books were not to be found on any common store shelves - nay, most of them were rare editions published by obscure imprints or vanity pressings written by his bizarre group of friends and enemies. This trove has imparted on me a peculiar set of knowledge - one that I am sure you have noted. So today, I am going to review a book for you in the hopes that perhaps one day you will come across it at an estate sale, snap it up, and benefit from its teachings despite its antiquated approach. Here begins a long series of book reviews. I shall begin:

The Jewel in the Lotus: A Historical Survey of the Sexual Culture of the East

by Allen Edwardes, Published by The Julian Press in 1959*

Now, a recent study accuses the author of "more than a touch of prurience," and warns that "the guise of orientalist scholarship clearly gives Edwardes leeway to express a surfeit of subconscious homoerotic phantasy." Not to mention that throughout its 300 pages, one finds a plethora of uncontrolled generalizations concerning the sexual behavior of non-western populations. But therein lies its magnificence.

A chapter listing should give you an idea of what you can expect:

Introduction by noted Sexologist Albert Ellis

I. Woman: Passive Creature
1. Concept
2. Virginity and Marriage
3. Sexual Diversions
4. Creation

II. Genitalia: Symbolism and Reality
1. Female
2. Male
3. Aspiration

III. Circumcision: Blood Covenant
1. Male
2. Female

IV. Autoerotism: Sterile Pleasures
1. Demonkind
2. Masturbation

V. Female Prostitution: Luxurious Custom
1. Purple and Incense
2. The Moslems
3. The Hindoos
4. Anglo- India

VI. Eunchism: Honor in Dishonor
1. Bondage

VII. Sexual Perversion: Matter of Taste then (There is No accounting for Taste!)
1. Sodomy
2. Pederasty
3. Sapphism
4. Bestiality

VIII. Hygiene: Ritualistic Compulsion
1. Sacred Ablution
2. The Calls of Nature
3. Depilation
4. Flatulence

Brilliant stuff! A quick glance at the chapter list is enough to interest even the most amateur Orientalist.

Quotations like,

"By the keen influence of climate and foods and lethargic necessitarian environment, coupled with physical hyperesthesia and innate hysterical tendencies, nearly all Eastern races were naturally masochistic and morbidly sensual." (In reference to sodomy)

and

"Environment, hand in hand with distinct masochistic tendencies, led them to commit savage and hysterical acts of vengeful brutality. Hence, the moment she applied the knife to her paramours body, the moment her fingernails gouged his scrotum, the Persian female relished orgasm. Sexual congress became vapid and ungratifying in comparison to the joys of sheer sadism." ( In reference to Persian prostitution)

Tidbits like this characterize the work, and although I would like to share more, the rest is considerably more vulgar and is unfit to print on this site.**

Edwardes does not limit himself to sexual acts, here he illustrates the interesting Oriental take on Flatulence: a stance that, as I understand it, has not changed to this day. He writes, "Breaking wind (zirt , fart) like belching (itkerreh), was considered by Arab and Hindoo as an act of purification for it sought to drive evil spirits from the body. Zirteh, a loud discharge was highly civil and proper in the company of others; but the insidious fesweh (fizzle, creeper), with stench, was regarded as an insult. Many an Arab died because of it, especially when vented in the presence of royalty. Such an individual was termed Fezwaun (Fizzler) whereas his counterpart, a man of purity and esteem, was venerably entitled Eboo-ez-Zirteh, or Father of Farts. Simonjeh-el-Hewweh (Breaker of the Wind) was the appellation granted to an egyptian bean-eater who could break wind in tune, a favorite accomplishment of fellaheen boys.

Lastly, he makes his recomendations for a bride based on one's temperment - one of the most brief, but useful chapters in the book

"Verily, a woman should grant her lover all of which she is mistress: by way of excitement, and rare buckings and wrigglings, and passionate movements. Such a woman, the ideal wife or concubine, was called Loolooeh (pearl of union). So, he who desireth to take a female slave for this carnal enjoyment, let him take an Abyssinian; but if he need one for the sake of children, let him have a Persian; and whoso desireth one for service, let him choose a Hindoo."

Edwardes concludes by positing that to judge the Oriental on his habits would be unfair, as "The saint is not to say to the devil: 'I am blessed, thou art evil' For somewhere and at some time the saint is evil and the devil blessed."

This book is an integral part of my library and I encourage you to search out a copy and purchase it, regardless of cost. Where else would one find information on ritualistic masturbation presented in such a thinly-veiled homoerotic and racist manner? If you know, please tell me.



*A bit modern, yes, but as this man seems to have absolutely no touch with the world he lives in, I can therefore overlook the date.

**Suffice it to say his favorite verb is "To Futter" and his favorite noun either "Coynte" or "Prickle."


Thursday, July 1, 2010

"Let him drink, and forget his poverty and remember his misery no more."

Readers,

As Thursday has again come to pass, I’m sure many of you are expecting some little shred of wisdom from Alisdair and me to alleviate the crushing boredom and cretinous ignorance that surely characterizes most of your lives. Now, I am usually not so deluded as to presume that there are hundreds of you out there marking the days on your calendar in anticipation of a new lesson from us. On second thought, maybe I am. Anyways, tonight I will satisfy your ravenous hunger for more knowledge -- if only to demonstrate my vast command of all matters rakish.

Summer, with all her charms and temptations, is again upon us. It is beautiful days like today – breezy, sun-drenched, 19º* -- that always enkindle in me only one sort of emotion: the blackest depression imaginable.

To the rake, such a fate is inescapable. Yes, Alisdair and I write often and freely of our jolly adventures among the well-heeled, but for the gentleman-scoundrel of leisure, life is not all wine and Roses.** For every story that we relate to you about a night on the town, there is the story of the next morning - a story that typically involves a pounding head, an empty wallet, and a heart bereft of any and all joy. Now, I can hear the head-scratching of the witless among you: "Gaspard, you live the life we all dream about living! What could possibly be the problem?"

You're right, I do. However, as we probably should have made clear when we founded this institution, the life of the rake is indescribably difficult. One must possess a stomach and liver that can withstand a lifetime of brutal alcoholism, a set of lungs capable of holding a bucket of tar, and a libido - and its physical embodiment - that will not fail to sate the most wanton of women (of which there are many). The slightest deficiency in any of these respects--one free drink refused, or one hussy claiming she took more out of you than vice-versa --and your reputation will be dashed on society's rocks. You will no longer merit the title of rake, but will instead be a third-rate pretender, a misbehaved child playing in adults' games.

But beyond that which is physically required of the rake, and perhaps even most importantly, his mind must be strong enough to weather the violent emotional storms that torment it night and day. For you see, just as the rake's lifestyle exposes him to physical ailments not suffered by the normal man, thoughts that no normal man could ever think constantly assail his booze-addled brain. As Steele tells us, the rake, most agreeable of all bad characters, "is a man always to be pitied; for his faults proceed not from choice or inclination but from strong passions and appetites, which are in youth too violent for the curb of reason, good sense, good manners, and good-nature: all which he must have by nature and education before he can allowed to be, or to have been of this order."

He continues, "Thus, with all the good intentions in the world...this creature sins on against heaven, himself, his friends, and his country. There is no being under the sun so miserable as this; he goes on in a pursuit he himself disapproves, and has no enjoyment but what is followed by remorse; no relief from remorse, but the repetition of his crime."

What a disturbingly accurate description! Am I really so two-dimensional that I can be described by a man who has been dead for 200 years? Apparently so. But my rakish fate is one to which I never aspired . No, I have been uncontrollably drawn to hedonism from an early age - spurred on by ungodly passions whose provenance I cannot place. Maybe it was the fact that my mother drank and smoked heavily while I was in utero, or perhaps it was all of the all-night masquerade balls my father forced her to attend. More likely, it was the hours I spent in my Oncle Alph's arms as he used me as a tool to seduce fawning women. Whatever the case, Je suis qui Je suis.

The lesson to be learned here is that if you are truly a rake, you will experience crippling pangs of regret and despair that can last anywhere from a few minutes to several years. Do not off yourself in some grisly bridge-jump or gallows-mimicry - losers we may be, but quitters -never! Also, do not dream of "going straight;" a glance at Steele's article will show how fruitless this will be.

Instead, draw the shutters, crank up the phonograph and play a bit of Brahms. Revel in your sadness. Drink a bottle of red wine. Glare at passersby in the street from your 5th floor window, hating them with every ounce of your being. Pick out the especially insipid, moralistic-looking among them, and imagine the intricate revenges you would perpetrate on them, if only you knew who they were. Drink another bottle of red wine, and then nap. When you wake up, shake yourself up a nice gimlet and prepare for a night on the town. Trust me. You will feel better.

Your fate as a rake, for better or worse, is inescapable. Embrace it and stay true to yourself.

* ºRé, of course. I find the subtleties Réaumur's thermometer pleasant. Alisdair, on the other hand, champions the system of his countryman, Rankine. To him, today would have been a balmy 535ºRa. (71ºF for all you philistines.)

** Rose's lime juice™.

Monday, June 28, 2010

"His designs were strictly honorable, as the phrase is; that is, to rob a lady of her fortune by way of marriage."


The rake is basically a traditionalist when it comes to marriage. Not in the sense that he adheres to the marital bonds of constancy and fidelity, but more in the way that he demands a sizable dowry when taking his bride.

In order to secure such a sum, the rake must marshal every tool of deception in his arsenal, so asto fool the poor* bride-to-be and her family into thinking that he is an upstanding citizen of exceptional moral character. Which, of course, he is not. He should take every opportunity to speak to the girl's father of business matters and political happenings of national importance in order to impress upon him the appearance of a well connected and concerned citizen. On the other hand, he should subtly flirt with the mother of the bride, engendering a latent attraction in her, and increasing her desire for him to join the family.

Simpletons subscribe to the theory that impressing the father is of primary importance, and indeed it is the father who has the power to bestow or withhold the dot. However, the rake knows that every normal man's opinions, no matter how strong they may be, are ultimately ruled by his wife. Thus, having the mother on one's side is absolutely essential in securing a cushy fortune for the future. The same can be said about sisters. (N.B. Affairs with sisters should be kept discreet, for although they are extremely enjoyable, if the family catches wind of such an affaire de coeur, your chances for success will vanish as quickly as the first drink of the day.) Brothers are in fact your greatest enemies, as their natural protectiveness will lead to suspicion, and they might expose you for the fraud that you actually are. They should either be treated with indifference or chumminess, as the situation requires. You might consider setting up any single brothers with particularly talented former paramours, and so winning them over to your side. Also note that a close relationship with a beloved pet may work silent wonders in terms of your status in the family's eyes.

If, either through deliberate investigation or mere happenstance, the family catches wind of your true character, the hammer will almost immediately begin to drop. This is crisis mode. The solution is, with your most honeyed words and lying blandishments, to convince your fiancée to elope as soon as possible. Tell her that every moment that you spend not united to her in the bonds of holy matrimony is to you an aeon of agony. Tell her that you cannot imagine ever loving anyone in the world as much as you love her. Tell her anything--just make sure that she's at the nearest drive-thru chapel before any mention can be made of a pre-nuptial agreement. If this mad dash is successful, you can then divorce her immediately and recoup half of the marital assets, which will undoubtedly keep you living in style until your next sham of a marriage. Indeed, if properly executed, the only marriage that will be shorter and happier than yours is the glorious marriage of gin and vermouth known as a Martini.

However, if one is unable to elope and a pre-nuptial agreement is enforced, the rake must give a jurist's attention to the terms. **

In the worst-case scenario, you have already earned the family's opprobrium, and the girl refuses to elope. This is where prior preparation pays off. Over the entire duration of your engagement, you will naturally have been storing up as many family secrets and risqué private photographs of your fiance as possible. Store them with more care than pearls, as they are your last ticket to cash in on this courtship. Putting the bite on old dad generally doesn't pay as well as a dowry, but a bit of hush money can tide you over until you find the next unsuspecting target. It may be necessary to move to a different city, taking your secrets with you. For this reason, a rake never pursues his first marriage in the city that he would eventually like to inhabit.


* Please note that we mean poor in the unfortunate sense of the word (as in, unfortunately about to be jilted by you), not in the economic sense. A potential bride should never under any circumstances be economically poor.

** In a classic bluff, I once shocked a wealthy fiancée and her family by preemptively forcing her to sign a pre-nuptial agreement which included terms so strict that she became convinced of my "wealth." She not only was forced to maintain a certain BMI, but she even had to pay rent! She was so confused that she never got around to making me sign the document that her lawyers had prepared. You would be well-advised to take a page from my book.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hospes nullus tam in amici hospitium devorti potest, quin ubi triduum continuum fuerit jam odiosus siet.


Unfortunately, for the typical rake, entertaining at home is usually out of the question, as his home is almost guaranteed to be small and slovenly, and is even likely to be structurally unsound. Why, just the other day, for reasons that will not be discussed here, Alisdair was forced to move from his garret apartment in a Harlem tenement to even meaner habitations. He now occupies apartment 1 1/2 of a tumbledown hovel in an economically depressed area of Staten Island. You may well wonder why his apartment is so unusually numbered--a walk-through or a sublet, perhaps? No, the truth is much darker: my friend has been reduced to living in a cupboard underneath the building's staircase, adjacent to the rubbish bins. Alas, though, I can't say that I'm faring much better: my current lodgings are accessible only between the hours of 7 AM and 7 PM, which, coincidentally, are also the operating hours of the Manhattan Mini Storage facility on New York's West Side Highway. So, you see, dinner parties are but a quixotic dream for us rakes. It is not very charming to open the door for a comely female guest when your door is made of bright orange corrugated steel.

As our loyal readers will now know, restaurants can be full of peril for a rake. Imagine the embarrassment of hosting a party of young bon vivants at the city's regnant dining hall, only to have them loudly informed of your habitual scurrilous check-dodging by the head waiter or maitre d'hôtel. Besides, it is wise never to be seen eating in public, for reasons discussed here. Rather, then, you will be required to convene your salon in a more private setting.

Therein lies the problem - if your quarters are as squalid as A's or as cramped as mine, you will not be quick to extend any invitations. So what to do? Simply use the home of another! A few guidelines:

In summer months, during the weekdays, it is possible and even easy to live luxuriously in the vacation homes and cottages of your employed friends. Simply head out to the house in question and locate the key under the mat or in the outdoor shower. As these chum(p)s are stuck in the office all week, they will be none the wiser.

When these friends head out to the Island for the week end, simply head back into town and use their apartments for anything from a quick shower to an elaborate fête! Here, it is essential to be on intimate terms with a good locksmith, or at the very least a few common burglars.

Next, in one of the most sinister and cunning techniques of which I have ever made mention, you should give as many framed photographs of yourself posing with friend X as gifts, for most mundane of reasons*. Not only will friends X be flattered and impressed by your generosity and kindness, but when your dinner guests see photographs of you all around the apartment, they will not think anything amiss.

Of course, it goes without saying that you should keep your social spheres separate. Invite your richest friends to the most humble and shabby apartments - they find it "charming" and "cozy." Invite your poorest friends to the the most expansive and opulent of your temporary residences - they are equally as charmed.

One last note: while Alisdair and I make it a daily habit of taking long, brooding walks, we are not, in general, outdoors types. Nor do we compost our own waste or indulge in dendrophiliac perversions like a lot of young wastrels shuffling about all over the place. But there is one philosophical tenet that we share with the granola-eaters, to which we adhere dogmatically: Leave No Trace. You would do well to do the same with regard to any homes you happen to borrow, or risk seeing a lot of B&E warrants signed by a lot of former friends. Special care should be taken with liquors: For every ounce of clear liquor (vodka and gin) taken, replace with a solution of 3:1 water/rubbing alcohol mix. For rums, the same solution with a teaspoon of sugar (ad a drop of red food coloring for dark rum) will do. For whiskeys - well, if there is any whiskey left in the place when you're done, then you have no right calling yourself a rake. Have you ever heard of the Whiskey bandit of San Francisco? He is I!

The insightful among you will have already guessed at some of the material benefits of inviting guests into your home. Opening your sanctum sanctorum--or at least what appears to be yours--will signal (falsely, of course) that you trust them, and that you are yourself worthy of their trust. The intimacy of private bread-breaking will put them at ease, and will only add to the warm and tender, if one-sided, bond you are forming. All this will make it much easier when you touch your guests for a short-term loan, as inevitably you will.

*"My friend, I heard your sister finally got married. Congratulations! Have this picture of the two of us."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst..."

Dear Readers,

Please accept our sincerest apologies for lately leaving you stranded, guideless on the road to rakedom. This time of year is always hectic for us. Those of you with whom I am close will already have known that I am a convert to the True Faith—the proverbial one lost sheep that pleased the shepherd upon his finding. Since my moment of epiphany, which came as the rather dramatic climax of a tempestuous bender long ago—the story of which I may yet tell you—I have held it a sacred duty to be shriven every year before Holy Week. As one might imagine, confessing even all the types of sin I have committed in a whole year—much less numbering the instances of their commission—is a trying ordeal to say the least, and often takes up to three hours. For the entire week leading up to the confession, I am in complete seclusion, compiling a catalogue of my iniquities; the nervous strain of such a project should be evident. Gaspard, having been raised in the Church, feels no such compunction, and in fact has not been to confession in nearly a decade. But regardless of his steadfast avoidance of reconciliation, Gaspard is far from immune to the emotional turmoil that comes with being a Catholic. He often tells me that half of the time, he drinks because of despair over the magnitude of human sin; the other half of the time, he drinks out of wondrous awe at the infinite power of God’s mercy. His is a life of deep profundity, my friends.

Thus, it is our custom to spend all of Holy Week in fervent prayer—after all, who is more in need of the redemption promised by Easter than two professional scoundrels and liars? From Palm Sunday onward, you may perhaps find us circumambulating the local cathedral on our knees, until our trousers are ripped and our knees bleeding. Or, we might engage in mystical contemplation for up to twenty hours at a stretch, in an unused maintenance closet temporarily converted into a Carthusian monastic cell. By the time the Holy Triduum rolls around, I at least am in a state of ecstasy, lost in a sea of intoned Latin and the motets of Allegri and Josquin.

Of course, though we are fundamentally devout men, we are physically incapable of going a week without alcohol, so we sample liberally from a stash of sacramental wine “appropriated” from an Archdiocese storehouse. We have even, after many years of experimentation, developed our own cocktail based on the stuff. After all, alcohol is often praised as a lubricant for conversation—why should this not be true of converse with God Himself? The recipe for this cocktail is below:

The Kiss of Judas

Take the metal chalice used for the Sacred Blood at the most recently celebrated Mass, and fill it two-thirds full with ice. Add four ounces of sacramental wine, a half-ounce of holy water, and two snorts of whatever whiskey Father Morrissey has laying around the sacristy. Take a censer with a lit cone of incense and place it over the baptismal font. Strain the drink through the censer into the basin, extinguishing the incense. Garnish with a vinegar-soaked sponge on a sprig of hyssop.

The ritual of consuming the Kiss of Judas is somewhat more complex than the making of it. Before mixing the drink, it is customary to deny that you know the recipe three times. Then, after finally accepting the responsibility of mixologist, it is appropriate to wash your hands thoroughly of what is about to happen. After the drink has been prepared, the toast of “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” is screamed before dunking your entire head in the font and drinking as deeply as possible. Drink one round for each Station of the Cross. After finishing all fourteen stations, it is traditional to strip naked and cast lots for your own clothes.

Although we can take credit for the latest incarnation for this drink, it is not without historical precedent. A similar libation was imbibed often and freely by the Czech Utraquists of the 15th century, who claimed it was the very drink Ste. Hildegarde von Bingen consumed to achieve her mystical visions.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Missive From Abroad, pt. 3: Félix's Flight

Dear readers,
I trust that you all remember Gaspard's old chum Félix Bandolier, a man of great spiritual depth and erudition, whose advice has formerly graced the pages of the Rakish Life. Well, today I am the bearer of the sad news that Félix Bandolier has lost his mind. Either he is deep in the clutches of an opium addiction--something about which I myself know a thing or two--or his syphilis has finally progressed to the tertiary stage. Which is it? You be the judge! Whichever it is, his most recent letter will make it abundantly clear that old Félix is off his rocker, gone completely insane. Despite this unfortunate development, it is quite entertaining. Enjoy!

------------------------------------------------------------
Dear MEN,

May I offer my deepest apologies on the behalf of fate, as an egregious gap in our correspondence has occurred. Then again, a properly sealed letter is difficult to send from an airship leering 12, 000 knots above St. Louis. Though all things come to pass and as luck would have it a precocious family of high-altitude pigeons found domicile on the back rudder of my zeppelin, enabling me to train that long-time-coming courier to arrive at your house of erudition, correspondence in claw.

Cruel events of tumult and sadness have led to my state of levitation, and though nothing more would please me, I’m afraid a complete account of a sometime colorful life is completely out of the question as I have vowed silence to certain organizations veiled by steady tongues. Be that as it may, I can, at the very least, inform you of my most fortunate purchase of an airship and the events leading to my current location amidst the troposphere above St. Louis.

For you see, after a falling out with a cutlery salesman I was often fond of, over the unfortunate circumstance of his nubile daughter’s seduction and following abandonment, I felt as a man, very much alone in this mortal coil. Whilst not solace nor fraternity come easy to my demeanor, there I was drinking a fine coco-port like I had promised myself never to do again. Port was a consolation and the pillowed mid-afternoon light massaged my spirit, for I can say without any caveat that it was as fine a tavern as any in South Carolina.

Emanating through the fine luminiferous aethyr the sound of shouting woke me from a daydream. There standing, at the other end of the bar, was a man cloaked in black with a delicately donned montera; pointing a stiff, accusatory finger at the barkeep. The man berated the bartender claiming his whiskey was gin in disguise, and the poor man with the white towel receiving all of this was, for his part, utterly confused. The barkeep poured the tempestuous man a comparative glass of gin, and after tasting both, the fervor cooled.

After this explosive altercation, the man in black grew silent and pouted at the far end of the bar. I soon struck up a conversation, which is unlike me, and learned that this man who we’ll call, X, had mixed the mortar for the pyramids and it was to his feet that laurels should be placed for the structure’s longevity. Computing the mathematics in my head, I leaned back and said-“My God man, that would make you several thousand years old!”

I came to understand later that while in good health, his confusion over the liquor could be explained away as a symptom of the kind of dementia that takes hold of a man who has contemplated his own existence for a span longer than 500 years. Then, he told me it was his birthday. Rejoicing, I bought him cocktails, as is customary in South Carolina.

As we swayed down the foggy moonlit cobblestone hill. X straightened his gargoyle countenance and spoke: “I’d like to make you an offer that I, perhaps in a more sober state, could not pronounce,” he smiled and continued. “You see, novelty wears off my friend and I have only six miles from here a blimp, one which I have tired of, that I will give to you for the contents of your coin purse.”

I gasped, “Perhaps you have taken me for a richer man because I was able to make timely comments on the contemporary arts, however the contents of my purse amount to exactly three piastres.”

Lifting his stiff finger once more, he spoke: “3 is a prime number, a prime and fine number.” X embraced me. “This is the best birthday I have had in 856 years. The money you offer up is merely to concretize the transfer of will in our economic relationship.” At that, the man cloaked in black ran off into the fog.

Confused on my next step, I cleared my voice to yell, but X’s chant echoed through the darkness: “Your left pocket!” Inside was a key. I walked straight for six miles, found the airship, and from there began following only the whimsical strumming of the Aeolian harp.

That should suffice for an answer as to how the blimp came into my possession. But why by the sacred hands of augury, St. Louis? You see an arch is not an arch when looked at from above and so St. Louis keeps my faith in God, esoteric principles, and the possibility of Platonic transcendence.

Look forward to missives more frequent. I cannot sign my name, due to some of the aforementioned issues, but in case the author is unclear, this is the only man whoever beat the two of you fine gentlemen in Australian doubles badminton while holding a tonic in each fist. Godspeed.

Square the Circle,

F.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

On Fatherhood


Dear Readers,

The Rake's lifestyle, while at times glamorous and fantastic, is not without its hazards. Secret disease, imprisonment, malnourishment, and paralyzing substance dependency are commonplace and should be expected. However, for the most devout aspiring cads, there is one stumbling block that has the potential to financially cripple and truly reveal the heartless nature of the rake; I am referring, of course, to Fatherhood.

Attempts to prevent these little complications are bootless; an unfettered, hedonistic lifestyle is bound to produce several illegitimate spawn and they - like death and divorce - are inevitable products of the path we have chosen to follow. Instead, I will essay to instruct you how to deal with these little bundles of joy when they come running to you with outstretched palms and opened mouths.

Now, I am not some base scoundrel who has no interest in ever knowing these petits Gaspards et Gaspardettes - verily, I long for the day when I can proudly watch my son get disqualified from a high school fencing match for an illegal flèche. The fact is that at the moment, I am simply too young and insolvent to support anyone but Gaspard - a Herculean task in itself.

So what to do if a child from an old affaire de coeur comes to collect? For sons, the matter is simple. I merely tell the little scamp that we in the Lerâteau family follow the ancient Gallic custom wherein male children do not appear before their fathers nor endeavor to be seen with them in public until they are of age to bear arms, at which point the father will see it fit to admit them into their society. Taking this tack usually gives one between 8-10 years to come up with a more permanent plan.

If you are not French, or the issue in question is female, the situation is stickier. First, take the child for iced-cream. It is well known amongst our kind that any severe emotional blow delivered to a child is softened by sweets. Explain to them softly and kindly that the term "bastard" does not carry the social ramifications it once did. Swear to include them in your will*, and promise that one day you will accompany them on a walking tour of the country where you will exchange your life stories. Essentially, keep hope alive for the future without alienating yourself from them completely. After all, it is confirmed that children from broken homes either go on to be fantastic successes or miserable failures. It is also confirmed that successful children, whether out of filial piety or guilt, nearly always end up aiding an ailing father who may or may not be homeless and thirsty.

I could write volumes more on this subject, but that is all for tonight. I shall soon relate to you how to actually raise a child if he is clever enough to endear himself to you. Goodnight

G.L.


*Do this verbally, with no notary present.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Vox Populi Results p. II


Results of Poll: 2 March - 9 March 2010
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If Gaspard is scheduled to take the 4:15 express train out of Gare de Nord towards Brussels and Alisdair is scheduled to take a 3:30 express out of Berlin Hauptbahnhof, also towards Brussels, who will arrive first, and how many drinks will he have had?


Total Votes: 50

Gaspard, having had 15 drinks: 4 (8%)
Alisdair, after downing 22 drinks: 7 (14%)
Gaspard, after Alisdair is ejected from the train in Dortmund for groping a woman: 35 (70%)
Alisdair, after Gaspard has perished on the trip: 4 (8%)



Readers, I take umbrage. Clearly, you all don't have much faith in my moral rectitude--rightly so, I suppose. In fact, I have something of a history of unexpected and unceremonious exits from moving locomotives. Just last winter, I was unceremoniously accosted and thrown bodily off a Belgian train after being caught in flagrante delicto with the conductor's wife in the coal room. So your suspicions are a bit warranted. But what gets me mad is not that you think I would grope some saucy tart, but that you imagine she would get querulous about it. Let me tell you something: I've laid hands upon thousands of women, and not a one of them has ever complained.

No, as it turns out, all of you were wrong--all of you except one. That modern-day Cassandra, the Marquis de Vouvray, unheeded by the masses, correctly guessed our fate. After forty-five drinks apiece, give or take a few, Gaspard and I were both too juiced to make our trains. We both dozed rather soundly, he in his usual spot in the Jardin du Luxembourg, and I in the arms of the bierfrau who got me that way.

So, to all of you who doubted me, I demand that you each pay one of my outstanding bar tabs as redress.  Otherwise, look to your own. And to our Belgian procuress, Gaspard and I will make it up to you somehow...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Dash the Supernaculum!


Throughout our adventures and travels, Gaspard and I have learned many things about a great many subjects. For instance, it is damn near impossible to win the British Literary Fiction Award with a collection of fetish erotica, especially when it's written in French. Gaspard - my condolences.

However, without a doubt, the lion's share of our accrued knowledge concerns drinking - a subject we haven't explicitly touched on in a while, but one which is very close to our hearts (especially as we always keep flasks in our breast pockets). I know that some of you see us as very straight-laced, buttoned-down types, but would it shock you to learn that even Gaspard and I like to cut loose and get drunk every once and a while?

I'm joking, of course. Some of you may have been drunk since the early evening; some, even, since the early afternoon. Gaspard and I have been drunk since the early 1990s. As tipplers we are, to put it modestly, the stuff of legend.* So it is with great authority that we may dictate what exactly the rake should be drinking. And the answer is, of course: everything.

This is not to say that the rake should not be cultivated. Gaspard is the first one to scornfully spit out a mouthful of Chateau Lafite Rothschild '86 if there is a Lafite '89 lurking in the cellar. I, on the other hand, can identify any single malt Scotch whisky, by brand, age, and even peat bog, merely by its aroma. What is more, in repeated trials I am 93% accurate at naming rye whiskeys even when mixed in Manhattans.

Yet, while the rake has a discerning palate for every different type of alcohol, ultimately his crippling dipsomania trumps his refinement. Simply put, he needs booze and any booze will do: he is equally at home drinking champagne with uptown swells, and rotgut gin with even-further-uptown winos.

We here at The Rakish Life often make much of hanging out with the well-heeled club crowd. But to be honest, those people are painfully boring. Stuffy, obnoxious, close-minded. Exceedingly rare these days are your real bon vivants like that capital rake Lord Byron--now there was a man with whom to share a real jag. Get him a few glasses of claret, and he just might whisk you away on a month-long bender around the Continent, covered by the entire proceeds of his last book. But sadly, in these sorry times, the people who generally have the most of "It" are hard-working stiffs who can't or won't appreciate the humor in, say, the grand smash and cheerful tinkle of the lowball glass you've just slung against their antique marble mantle. The only reason we do hang around with them is to drink their fine liquors and wines and make merry on their palatial country estates.

What you need to understand, and what is indeed the point of this lesson, is that when you are not able to cadge off the jet set, you will be forced to drink whatever is available. Forget 'Top Shelf". Forget "Bottom Shelf." Forget even the loathsome "Well." The alcohols you will be forced to consume when drinking alone cannot be found on any shelves in any bar - we are talking about rubbing alcohol, lighter fluid, bathtub gin, moonshine, toilet wine and any sort of malt beverage that can be fermented in a coffee can or pickle jar.

Yes, many of you are probably wincing at the thought of an Isopropyl and Tonic, but I assure you, if you have enough ice and a few wedges of lime , not only does it get you blindingly drunk**, it tingles the mouth in an ever so pleasant way! For you see, the grim reality is that despite his dreams of grandeur, the rake must often subsist on cheap booze and cheaper cigarettes.

As we have said many times before, the rake's lifestyle is not for everyone. Drinking literally every form of alcohol you can find will earn you the ire of the 12-Steppers, the self-satisfied pity of upstanding burghers, and when performed in public, the unwanted attention of local constables. But pay these pedants no mind: the rake must always stay assured that this is what he must do. N.B.: being extremely drunk greatly helps in maintaining this certitude. For, as a friend of mine named Finley D. once sagely observed, "Alcohol is necessary so that a man can have a good opinion of himself, undisturbed by the facts.”

So, raise up a glass of Scotch or gin if you can lay hands on it. But if not, grab the nearest bottle of mouthwash, pour it down your throat, and rake on!


*VSQ (Vicious Sots Quarterly) has called us "pre-eminent."

** At times, quite literally - be careful.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Vox Populi: Results

The votes are in, and clearly those of you who read this little chronicle are well-versed in the dangers of quicksilver. Although Alisdair stubbornly maintains his attachment to exanthemata mostly ending in ulcerations, for my part I agree with the judgment of the masses. After all, it is nigh inevitable that one raking properly will contract Syphilis: that unholy child borne of Salomé and sired by the Devil himself. It is also very likely that he will have recourse to the older wisdom of using iodide of potassium and mercury to treat this ailment, as those of our tribe are inherently distrustful of these quack charlatans who go around with "M.D." affixed to their names these days. Besides, who would not be proud to die in the company of Stendhal, Schubert, de Maupassant and de Toulouse-Lautrec?

Of course, because I recognize the pitfalls of mercurial cures, I would not use it to combat syphilis, even if I had it. That's right--par la grâce de Dieu, I have thus far avoided contracting that awful bug. You must excuse me now, though. It's time for me to daily my daily dose of Radithor for my St. Denis' Fire.

Results of Poll: 21 February - 28 February 2010
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What is the rake's most common medical woe?
Total Votes: 60

Syphilis: 18 (30%)
Mercury poisoning, as a result of trying to cure the syphilis: 23 (38.3%)
Exanthemata mostly ending in ulcerations: 6 (10%)
Consumption: 13 (21%)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

On Befriending Phrynes


By now, it should not surprise you to know that many of my best friends are whores. I do not mean this in the figurative sense; they are women of easy virtue who exchange carnal delights for cash. In the past, when I have mentioned this fact to crude and vile men (and the rake may be many things, but he is never crude), they have responded with some vulgarism about "freebees." This entirely misses the mark. We do not need these priestesses of Venus for sex--we are constantly surrounded by willing companions who think naught of compensation, and indeed often find it in their hearts (and wallets) to bless us with some material token of their gratitude, as has been noted elsewhere. No, my reasons for palling around with painted ladies are quite different and of a higher order completely. Any young aspiring rake is urged to make some friends "down on Gropecunt Lane," as it were.

In most instances, "public women" are avid practitioners of the very same art forms to which the rake must dedicate his entire life: drinking, smoking, and amorous combat. Particularly so are those women who ensconce themselves in comfortably-appointed apartments just on the periphery of the more fashionable districts. For they cannot cater merely to one of man's vices: in private time bought dearly, away from prying eyes, even straight-laced men expect to cut loose a little bit. Thus, they are always quick to refill your drink and never go anywhere without a monogrammed lighter to spark your cigarette. Simple pleasures, perhaps, but of the utmost importance for the rake.

In fact, come to think of it, I am friends with hookers for many of the same reasons that I'm friends with Gaspard. Both work non-traditional jobs--Gaspard in that he does not have one. Both are willing to carouse at all hours of the day and night. Both have an encyclopaedic knowledge of how to treat venereal diseases--your garden variety claps and shivers, Siamese gout, St. Denis' Fire, Higinbotham's revenge, as well as the more baroque strains of which the chaste among you may never even have heard. But, even beyond all these admirable qualities, members of that disreputable sisterhood all possess one thing that most rakes cannot and do not. They say that to be a successful nightbird, the absolute most important skill is to be a great listener. Given how self-obsessed and narcissistic the rake is by nature, he cannot put a price on a sympathetic ear.

Be warned, however, that spending an inordinate amount of time among such women without taking advantage of their services may brand one as pink - therefore, it is our recommendation to become familiar with them as overtly as possible in the company of other Johns.* After all, let us not forget the ancient Chinese proverb that illustrates the advantage of such a friendship, and many of the rakes relationships in general: It is better to have a friend in the market than money in the purse.

So, young rake, what are you waiting for? Get on down to your local bus station or seaport and make some new acquaintances!


*Just because we said we don't need them, doesn't mean we don't use them.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Vox populi, pt. I


As Gaspard related to you earlier this week, he was recently bedridden after a vicious beating delivered by the Chinatown Tongs. Ironically, one of the thugs used a pair of industrial-sized kitchen tongs to do it. They had originally intended to kill him, but as my friend mentioned I am something of an Orientalist and consequently I can often be found in Chinatown. When he dropped my name, they immediately let him go--in hopes that he would lead them directly to me, as I owe them even larger amounts of money. Suffice it to say, their enmity obliges me to disguise myself every time I visit Canal Street to treat my "stiff back." Luckily, Gaspard has been smart enough to keep them off my scent, and so for the past week we have communicated solely by letters sent by street urchin.

By coincidence, I have also been confined to my bed during this time with a terrible case of pleurisy (see the Health post). By and by, our correspondence turned to focus the maladies that all rakes inevitably face, and which of them was most vexing. Gaspard initially said Syphilis, and I rebutted with Mercury poisoning. He then countered with exanthemata, and I posited Consumption. In the end, we realized that since more and more people have been perusing this little record, and have presumably learned at least a little bit from the instructions contained herein, we might as well ask you what you think - not because we care how much you have learned, but we have wagered several packs of cigarettes on the outcome.

That's right--you're not imagining things--we actually want to hear from you. Every last bastard or hussy among you. You can find the poll in the top right corner of the page. We will be posting a new question weekly, so look forward to extending your input regularly.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Uncle me no Uncles!

Greetings readers,

I am sure you are surprised to hear from me again so soon. I, myself, am quite shocked that I have found time to post during this last week of Carnival, but a harrowing series of events has left me bed-ridden and alone. St. Valentine's day, which - curse it all - just so happened to fall on Chinese New Year, has nearly killed me. My holiday started off innocently enough; I had several dates planned - each lasting no longer than a few hours. The first three went swimmingly, but by date four my luck had run out. Alisdair, my close friend and amateur Orientalist, has since informed me that "4" in Chinese culture is an unlucky number - as it is a homophone for "Death." I wish I was cognizant of this fact when I planned my fourth date, which was with the daughter of a local Chinese fish-cannery magnate.

After a stroll through the parade grounds in Chinatown, we repaired to her family's restaurant where a feast of Gargantuan proportions awaited. I had planned to excuse myself for date #5 after dinner and a brief dalliance in the coatroom, but I had so overindulged in baijiu that I was coaxed into playing in a mahjong tournament by her brothers, a game of which I knew, and still know, absolutely nothing about. To make a long story short, let's just say that although I can bear no ill will against any race that loves to drink and smoke as much as I do, any culture that does not understand the concept of "credit" with regard to gambling debts leaves much to be desired! I was lucky enough to escape with all of my fingers and toes, but I was beaten quite senseless and have since been confined to bed and restricted to a light diet of white wine and crackers.

I had planned on spending the next 2 weeks in contemplative silence, but this morning I received a piece of "electronic mail" that so incensed me, I felt I must share with you the only correct way of responding to such a stern upbraiding. Without further ado:

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Gaspard,

It is I, your great-uncle Gaius Vitellius Galba. Forgive the formality of address, but the conventions of this form of communication escape me. Félix, my valet, is taking dictation on a recently acquired typing machine: a model with which you could perhaps one day assist me . I purchased it second hand, and it is still embossed with the name of the previous owner- a Signore Hewlett-Packard.

It has come to my attention that you and a contemporary, a Mr. MacDowell have formed a salon to instruct young men in the ways of licentiousness. After some study, I fear you have been visited with the affliction of your grandfather Lerâteau, that mountebank and cradle-robber who stole the affections of my dear sister Lucrezia at such a tender age.

It's as if you had declared La Clemenza di Tito the apotheosis of Mozart's oeuvre or elevated the Mannheim School over same. Fiston! You are better than that. One can still lead a profligate life with purpose. If presented with a cornucopia would you sup on the same cold squab night after night? When I was your age, I supported a wife and three mistresses, while as a mere lad in pursuit of forbidden pleasures, I eluded duennas whose snouts could sniff tartufi di Alba at twenty paces and who possessed the arms of stevedores.

The music of life requires an occasional nota cambiata lest the senses become dulled. You must expand you horizon beyond the wild, virginal flowers in nearby fields to include the older forests of gonzesses and their mysteries. Yes, Castiglione invokes the use of sprezzatura for young men to flaunt their insouciance. Remember, however, that Montaigne supplemented that rote display with the concept of l'honnete homme. For the all around man to make an art of life, his palette cannot be limited.


Yours, GVG
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As you can plainly see, what my dear uncle advocates is nothing short of ridiculous, and normally I would tell anyone who took me to task for living a "profligate life" to mind their own damn business. But this, my friends, is an infinitely more delicate situation. Although the rake's income may be supplemented by gambling with his Chinese neighbors*, sponging off of beautiful heiresses, and stealing tips from waitresses, the main source of his income always comes in quarterly checks from obscure relatives. No matter how senile or dastardly these fossils may be, it is in his best interest to appear amenable to their suggestions, as someday he may be named heir to their seat. Thus, today's lesson will be on how to respond to reprimanding communications from annoying aunts, goading grandmothers and as we have seen, arrogant uncles.

I should point out that such an undertaking is not an easy one, for admitting wrongdoing is not something the rake takes lightly, nor something he may even know how to do at all. Though, if anyone is capable of heaping blandishments upon these fograms, it is he, for his gifts for flattery and encomia put him in a unique position to palliate any offenses that may have caused the communiqué in question.

In order to begin composing the response, a few things must be known.

1. Does the relative in question have any pets?
2. What are his or her primary interests?
3. What is the weather in his or her part of the world during that month?
4. Is his or her spouse still alive?
5. What are the names of the principal attendants in his or her household?
6. What is the potential fortune you stand to inherit upon his or her demise?
7. Just how offensive was the gesture that prompted the letter?

The reasons for the first five questions are obvious. Armed with these trivial pieces of personal knowledge, you can pad a letter that looks as if you spend your days thinking of them fondly and with great interest. The sixth and seventh questions, however, dictate how long the reply will be. If the inheritable assets include a title, more than 2 country estates or any sort of profitable corporation, the letter should not be shorter than four pages, nor should it exceed ten.** If however, the assets are smaller, or the relative in question has immediate family to whom he or she will leave their fortune, feel free to send merely a few lines. Since great-uncle Gaius has several sons of his own, I am quite sure I will not figure prominently into his will, but there is always the off chance that he hates all of his sons and prefers me instead***, so I will be cordial. Please take note:

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Cher Uncle,

What a pleasure it is to hear from you! I hope you are well? Old Félix isn't giving you too hard of a time, is he? I would have responded sooner, but I have been quite busy volunteering at a non-for-profit that educates the less fortunate on the joys of the Opera and of classical music in general. I've always felt that it is a shame these programs are being slashed few schools that were endowed with them in the first place. Why, just the other day I had to spend half an hour explaining to a shouting fishmonger just what I meant when I said, "Good grief man, yours is a voice that would make Caruso green with envy! Have you ever considered playing the Moor?" What is our world coming to, Uncle! Regarding your most recent letter - let me assure you, the instructional program that Alisdair and I have been conducting is nothing more than a joke! Surely, you must see the humor in some of our writings, Uncle. However, you are correct in saying that variety is the spice of life. I would be well advised to take a break from all of this "rake" business to devote my energies to a subject with a broader application, say History? After all, as the Bard says, "There is a history in all men's lives." I have realized the folly of my ways and have even taken down the offending website - there will be no need to check it again.

Again, it was delightful to hear from you, Uncle. Please take care of yourself, the winters of Torino are notorious for their biting wind.

Je vous prie de croire, cher Oncle, à mes sentiments les meilleurs,

Gaspard Lerâteau

P.s. I want you to know that I have kept Aunt Brunela in my daily prayers. She was a beautiful, caring woman who had such a profound effect on all those with whom she came in contact. We all miss her greatly.

P.p.s. Give Radames a pat on the head for me... the old rascal!
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* Do not rely on this.

**Anything longer may give the impression that you have enough time on his hands to be drafting ten page letters, and a return post will demand that you take a job.

***This is more common than it sounds.