Never Meet Your Heroes

by Shelt Garner

Marc Andreessen changed my life. And, but for the hard wiring of my synapsis, could have made me a billionaire. “I was there,” as the song goes, in the early days of the Web when the first web browser Mosaic, that he designed, was released. I was in college and I immediately realized the potential of this new technology.

If I had a different type brain, I probably would have become a programmer and made my billions in some Web startup as part of the general dotcom boom of the mid-to-late-90s. But, alas, I’m a big old doofus and just know how to write and take pictures.


Why do I bring all of this up?

Well, Andreessen implied tonight on Twitter that the “woke cancel culture mob” is analogous to the excesses of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. There is so much to unpack there.

First, it’s clear that Andreesen has turned into one of those Red Pilled fascist tech bros who would are obsessed with the culture wars to the point that they would give up their American birthright of democracy in exchange for low-to-no-taxes.


Having said that, let’s look close at what he suggests — does he have a point?

Hmmm. This is an interesting question. The issue is, social media has made the weaponization of shaming on a mass scale for the stupidest shit really easy. And, yet, Andreesen is being an asshole to suggest that the “woke cancel culture mob” can be equated with the weird, fucked up shit of the Cultural Revolution.

The two are just not the same.

Oh no, something woke!

The worst that happens to someone who is “canceled” for having views that don’t fit the media narrative is…they become a talking head on Fox News as a martyr to the cause? And sometimes, they face NO accountability other than they don’t get to go to the cool cocktail parties at Martha’s Vineyard anymore. It’s not like the “woke cancel culture mob” is killing people in public.

Now, this is the point where I say I am WELL AWARE of how suspectable I, personally, am to be “canceled” should, for some reason, I blow up with my novel money and become any sort of prominent public cultural figure. I have done plenty — PLENTY — of things over the years in my drunken dissipation that might get me canceled.

And, what’s more, I’m writing a novel that may never get published because I write about things in a way that the “woke cancel culture mob” may blanch at.


But I still think Andreessen is being a dick. He wants to score culture war points by muddling and conflating things that might SEEM similar, but upon any sort of nuanced reflection definitely aren’t.

I May Rile Up Woke People With This Novel Because I’m A Smelly CIS White Male Writing About A Romantic Relationship Between Two Women

by Shelt Garner

Oh boy. This is an instance where being a smelly CIS white male isn’t exactly the most helpful. I have come up with a really interesting plot point for this novel — a woman who doesn’t see herself as gay having a torrid relationship with a young woman who is a free spirit — and every once in a while I do a gut check and worry the “woke cancel culture mob” will freak the fuck out that I’ve done such a thing.

I hope to write a novel as interesting as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

This particular element of the story is fun and provides a lot of comic relief to the story and also keeps the story going at a fast clip. And, yet, I’m not a 20something undocumented transgender woman writing about such things, but a smelly middle-aged MAN.

But, lulz, I never what I’m supposed to do and this is where the Muse has taken me for this novel and I guess I’m stuck with it.

At least I’m really, really self-conscious about what I’ve gotten myself into. I understand why me writing about lesbian stuff from a female POV as a smelly CIS white male might be….a problem. The way some young women talk on Tik-Tok, I have no right to exist as a human being, much less as an aspiring male author who occasionally writes from a female POV.

I wish I had a wife or a girlfriend to be my Reader. Then, at least, I would have woman to tell me when maybe I have taken things too far, even if you give me the benefit of the doubt. And, yet, Stieg Larsson wrote some pretty crazy shit in his novels and they were a success.

I Continue To Develop & Write This Novel In A Vacuum

by Shelt Garner

There is a lot I just don’t know as I careening towards wrapping up the alpha release of the third draft of my first novel. I don’t quite know what I’m going to “comp” this novel to because it’s not a traditional murder-mystery thriller.

I hope to write a heroine as intriguing as Lisbeth Salander.

But there are also some more nuts-and-bolts things I don’t know.

Are my chapters too long? One of my quasi-beta readers complained that my that was the case. He wanted the chapters to convey less information. I have spent a lot — A LOT — of time figuring out when my chapters end and begin and the idea that that would be thrown is….oh boy.

Meanwhile, I just don’t know what women will think of a smelly CIS white male writing a tale about a part-time stripper obsessed with owning a community newspaper. You could say that the story is sufficiently unique people will like the idea, while at the same time you could say that, by definition, women will hate the idea of a smelly CIS white male writing, well, anything from a female POV.

And I don’t care for the Bechdel Test….OH MY GOD.

I am completely clueless. What I don’t know, I guess, is how much of such technical issues can be just sorted out in post-production, pre-publication. So, maybe I’m thinking too much about the situation. Or not. I just don’t know.

Yeah I Fucking Hate The Bechdel Test

by Shelt Garner

I noticed in my Webstats that someone made a bee-line to my rant about my hatred of the Bechdel Test, so I thought I would write another post to make it even more clear: I fucking hate the Bechdel Test.

And here’s why — the point of any story is to entertain the audience, to tell a great yarn.

It should not matter if you pass this or that cultural or political test beyond that. Now, if I happen to past the dumb Bechdel Test, I will be the first to crow about it. But I’m not going to go out of my way to pass it because I’m going to be too busy struggling to tell the best damn story I possibly can.

The fact that the Bechdel Test is considered by its creator to be a “half-joke” doesn’t make things any better. So, you mean to tell me, that I have to contort my novel in such a way that two women talk about something other than a man…because of a fucking half joke in a comic strip?

Now that’s a form of “woke” that makes my blood boil and gets me ranting — and I’m not even drunk!

Will The Mythical ‘Woke Park Slope Moms’ Like My Novel?

by Shelt Garner

Now, let me be clear — I have always been making a joke about “woke Park Slope moms” whenever I mentioned them as an audience for this novel. And, the more I think about it, the more I realize I’ve failed even if I was being serious — this novel is shaping up to be a trashy, somewhat pulpy page turner with a lot of spicy scenes and a curious premise: a part-time stripper’s obsession with owning a community newspaper.

A building in the Park Slope area of NYC.

I think if this novel is popular among “woke Park Slope moms” it will be popular for the very reason why it’s not “woke” — it has a lot of spicy scenes. The downside, of course, is that I’m a smelly CIS white male writing those spicy scenes, sometimes from a female POV.

But these are wine moms we’re talking about, so it’s at least possible that the same dynamic that made 50 Shades of Gray a big hit might be in play when it comes to this novel. I really like what I’ve come up with. This novel is colorful, different and interesting — just like me.

A lot will depend on marketing of this novel once I somehow, magically, manage to get an agent and then sell it. I really want this novel to be an old brown shoe to people who read the Stieg Larsson novel’s 20 years ago. If I can tap into that same audience, then, well, we’re cooking with gas.

It will be interesting to see what happens, of course.

Hard MAGA Power Vs. Soft Woke Power

by Shelt Garner

One thing I’ve gleaned from talking to my far more conservative relatives — whom I love dearly — is their abject fear of some future tyranny coming not from the hard power of the state but the soft power of “woke corporations.”

Of course, they’re complicit in the rise of the American fascist corporate state because not only do they not take the looming fascism of MAGA seriously, but they because they, in general, agree with that fascism it would all be a lulz.

Not until the hard power of the MAGA fascist state is used to not only deport 20 million undocumented people — which they want — but to also murder me in cold blood — which they don’t want — will they take notice of how there is a definite difference between hard and soft power.

So, what happens is, conservatives would far rather conflate issues and get REALLY WORKED UP over the “abuses” of the woke than they would have to give serious answers to questions like, “What happens when the massive infrastructure built out to deport 20 million people is used to murder people you love?”

They usually either don’t answer, make a joked to change the subject or piviot to the latest conservative talking point.

It can be very, very frustrating.

The rise of a MAGA fascist state in the US is not an abstract to me — I’m really beginning to worry that if Trump becomes POTUS again that I’m going to be murdered in cold blood by an ICE agent — or whatever — because I simply will not, can not shut the fuck up about how I think Trump is a fat fuck cocksucker.

But my conservative relatives — whom I love dearly — just lulz all this. As long is those brown families are torn asunder at the border they’ll be content. As long as a stray trans person doesn’t get a free can of But Light, they will be content. As long as the social safety net is gutted and only fools and poors pay taxes, they will be content.

The list goes on.

It will be interesting to see what my fate is. If I’m lucky, I will be able to escape the country should Trump win re-election later this year.

Tech Bros Picking On Gemini Are Really Beginning To Get On My Nerves

by Shelt Garner

There are PLENTY of VALID reasons for tech people to be angry with the output of Google’s Gemini. But, sometimes, they think up the most asinine things just to prove a point — they want the right to be hateful for no damn reason.

Why is it so important to tech people to have the ability to say the n-word to save the world or to be able to generate an endless amount of Nazi propaganda? It’s very, very annoying.

And, what’s more, it will all be moot when AI is so commoditized and personalized that if you want your chatbot to say the n-word to save the world, it will. You may not be able to share all your hateful vitriol, but, lulz, you’ll at least get to be a hateful asshole to yourself.

I Think About Women Readers A Lot As I Write This Novel

by Shelt Garner

I do not purport to have any special insight into the female mind, but I do, at least, try to cater to that segment of the reading audience as I write this novel. I do this especially given the edgy, loaded nature of the novel.

I hope to write a novel that is as accessible as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

It’s not every day that your heroine is a part-time stripper.

Now, of course, if I was, say a transgender women writing this type of novel, then I probably be hailed as the second coming of Jesus Christ. But, alas, I’m just a smelly CIS white male — a middle aged one at that! — and, as such, slings and arrows and all that.

I have a vision for this novel and, as such, I’m prepared to take shit for what, of course, will be reduced down to “stripper solves a murder mystery.”


That’s not what’s going on! But no one is going to listen to me. Anything to do with sex and women — especially something out of the ordinary — is the thing that people will focus on. And that doesn’t even begin to address the issue of how Hollywood would market any adaptation of the novel should that miraculous thing somehow happen.


I’m really self conscious about how women readers might react to this novel to a fault. I have a few women “advisers” that help me when I feel a little bit nervous about this or that thing that I might broach in the novel while writing from a female POV.

But, like I said, I can only do so much. I’m a smelly CIS white middle aged male and a vocal minority of the reading audience will dismiss the novel the moment they see what I look like.

Modern Gender Politics & Pop Culture Are So Fucked Up

by Shelt Garner

There is a small — but vocal — group of the reading audience that simply can not, will not, validate the idea that I, as a smelly CIS white male, would, at times, write from a female POV in this novel.

And it’s only going to get worse the moment they learn my heroine is a part-time stripper.

And, yet, fuck it, we’ll do it live.

I am so matter-of-fact about the sex worker side of things that I think, within the context of the novel, that it won’t be seen as too terribly gratuitous. It’s just there’s a lot –a LOT — I can do with the whole stripper side of things to make the story really interesting and enjoyable so, lulz, why not.

And Barry — which dealt with an equally surreal professional life — was a success. But that was a comedy, so, I suppose it’s not a one-to-one.

And I am well aware that someone might steal a creative march on me, given how long it’s taking me to write this damn thing. As such, I really need to start to work on some backup stories.

The Right’s White Hot Need To ‘Own The Libs’ & The ‘Media Narrative’

by Shelt Garner

One of the ways the browning of America and the increased economic and political agency of women have warped our politics is white Christian (men) get really worked out up about “owning the libs.”

Bari Weiss is among the conservatives who were “canceled” for not following the evil liberal “media narrative.”

This need to “own the libs” pops out in a variety of ways, but one of them is the idea that the evil liberal cabal is out to get people who don’t follow the liberal, mainstream “media narrative.” As part of this, many conservatives are bad faith free speech absolutist, when they are in fact, just annoyed that they can’t be racist and sexist.

They are also crybaby snowflakes who mistake their lack of engagement for being “shadow banned” when, in fact, their views just aren’t popular.

In my personal life, my conservative relatives — whom I love dearly — are quite haughty about how they’re free speech absolutist and if only the evil liberals would get out of the way, then EVERYONE would see how great and wonderful conservative ideals are.


The whole thing is a symptom of how fucked up the political world is these days. Everything. Is. So. Fucked. Up.