Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash: Killing fish vs. seeing hookers, The Lamest Generation (Boomers), and the virtue of mystery

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Matt Labash
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      Matt Labash

      Hi, welcome to “Ask Matt Labash.” I’ll be your host, Matt Labash. The idea for this column – if idea isn’t too strong a word – is that it is not a column at all. Rather, it’s a conversation. One in which I do ninety-five percent of the talking. If you did most of the talking, you’d have to watch my eyes go dead and my attention wander until it was my turn to talk again. So trust me, it’s better this way.

      For those unfamiliar with me from my day job at The Weekly Standard, I’ll give you a capsule bio by way of introduction: I have the gift of wisdom. Does that sound arrogant? I’m sorry, that wasn’t my intention. I didn’t choose wisdom. It chose me. If I had my druthers, I’d have chosen another gift, perhaps the untold riches of Lil’ Wayne, whose teeth are made of actual diamonds, or to be the sexiest man alive, like Rachel Maddow. But wisdom is what they gave me, so wisdom is all I have to give back to you.

      This is not, you should know, a mere advice column. If you need advice, I’ll give it. But the only rule here is that there are no rules. You can ask me a question about anything that’s on your mind: current events, pop culture, media, theology, string theory, fishing tips, wicker repair. The only limits we have are those of your imagination. And those of my knowledge base. Which is considerably limited, truth be told. So try not to ask me anything that requires research. Though they tell me I have access to Google on this computer if we need it.

      If all goes according to plan, ours will not be a traditional writer/reader relationship. It’s more complex than that. I might empathize or cajole. I might educate, instruct, or inspire. I might pretend to answer your question while actually reporting you to Social Services, since you’re a dangerous person who should not have contact with children. I might tell you to climb up on my shoulders, that you’re not heavy, you’re my brother. Or I might tell you that you are heavy, and that you should hop down until you lose a few pounds. I might just sidle up behind you, put my big strong man hands on the small of your back, and whisper in your ear the words of the poet, Kenny Rogers: “We’ve got tonight, who needs tomorrow?”

      To which you’ll say something like, “I can’t, I’ve got to go home and wash my hair.”
      To which I’ll say something like, “Shhh. We’ve got tonight babe, why don’t you stay?”
      Wherever this takes us, our journey begins now:

      <i>Matt Labash is a senior writer with The Weekly Standard. His first book, <a href="">Fly Fishing with Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys</a> will be published next month by Simon & Schuster.</i>

EDITOR’S NOTE: Have a burning sensation? Consult your doctor. Have a burning question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.

While fly fishing the canals of Amsterdam I found myself in the Red Light District.  I hooked into something large with a forked tail, and even upon release, I didn’t recognize the species. One of the hookers came out of her window and told me she liked fish and would have gladly traded her tail for the tail I just released. Being past my fornication days, I thanked her and moved on down the canal. My question to The Wise is this….which is more unethical, keeping the fish or pounding her tail as hard as I did the forked one? They are both mortal sins…aren’t they? — Chad from Amsterdam, Netherlands

Not sure what kind of fish you ran into. A zander, maybe? But unbeknownst to many, fishing in Amsterdam canals can actually be fruitful. According to the City Indian, a kayak fishing outfitter smack in the heart of the city, they will do their level best to hook you into “huge basses, sly perches, and cunning pikes.” They will supply everything you need, including amusing broken English. Hookers sold separately.

Which brings us to your tasteful question: is employing the services of a prostitute a mortal sin on a par with keeping fish? As a good, God-fearing Protestant, I don’t spend much time deliberating over mortal sin. Or rather, we generally believe all sins are mortal, which is why we require grace — to escape what we have coming to us. So there’s not much point in ranking iniquity. But since I’m short on questions this week, I’ll play along with your senseless, pope-worshipping need to stick a sin in its proper place in the hierarchy of evil.

Mind you, I find both behaviors abhorrent. If you’re going to keep fish — a practice I’ve preached against on many occasions, having categorically demonstrated that Jesus was a catch-and-release man  — I definitely wouldn’t keep fish from the filthy canals of Amsterdam, where they’re likely to contain higher-than-trace amounts of PCB’s and Purple Kush. Nor would I encourage prostitution. There is no such thing as a happy prostitute. Not only because as a child,  she was probably molested by her uncle or beaten by her father, nor just because she is giving the most sacred part of herself over — on demand, without emotional investment — for a few filthy shekels in order to eke out what in all likelihood is a  below-subsistence living. (Not unlike bloggers at the Huffington Post.) But look who she has to have sex with, poor girl. The kind of morally rudderless reprobates who’d write a faux advice columnist to ask if paying her for sex is worse than keeping fish.

Of course it isn’t! Even if you and a hooker are mutually and cynically taking advantage of each other for profit or pleasure, you are both (presumably) doing so consensually. Whereas, when you  kill a fish, only one of you gets a say in the matter. If that makes me a squish, so be it. But I will forever defend a fish’s right to choose.

Matt – I am in my late fifties, and EVERY SINGLE DAY THAT GOES BY, I am amazed how most of my fellow Boomers act. Most act like: They never heard of rock’n’roll, never took drugs, never had any REAL fun, never had sex outside of marriage, never had a drink in their life, never had earrings (men), never had long hair (men), and tell all of these contrived horror stories about how bad their lives were… In other words, by and large, most of my fellow Boomers have become the most puritanical, non-religious, the-kids-stay-at-home-until-they-are-40 enablers on the freaking planet… WTF! – Kevin

Well, I’m not a Boomer. I’m a Gen-X’er — a label I was never entirely thrilled with, hoping for something snazzier, like The Latest Generation — on account of my  inability to show up on time, as readers of this erratically published column know. But I’m not sure you and me are living in the same country.

I’ll grant you that while most Boomers spent the ‘60s through the ‘80s doing whatever they felt like doing, then celebrating themselves for it, they’ve morphed into a new strain of liberalism. Nowadays, they take much more pleasure in telling others what they can’t do (smoking, eating trans fats, burning fossil fuels) rather than partaking in what they once loved to do themselves (having promiscuous sex and smoking lots of weed). To many of them, prudish sanctimony is the new hedonism.  Any idiot can make their own fun. But real fun is ruining somebody else’s.

Yet in the America that I know, Boomers are still the same solipsistic, self-entitled, vainglorious, reap-all-the-benefits-while-making-few-of-the-sacrifices, over-spending, materialistic, nostalgizing, sentimentalizing, collagenized, botoxed, forever-young-because-they-refuse-to-act-their-age centers of the universe as they’ve always been. So go easier on your generation. They deserve some points for consistency.