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Rome's being closed to wheeled traffic in the daylight hours for the first time since Alaric sacked the place. Sitting here watching it on television, I have figured something out. It's about power, prophylactics, and the Pope. I suddenly understand what seduces public figures, what possesses them to make themselves over and set themselves up just like the golden calf that pissed Moses off so bad after he returned from his hike on Horeb.
I begin to understand the groin-tickling sensations that motivated John Paul--John Paul, that balding, husky darling of the airwaves. One of history's greatest criminals, this guy donned his triple tiara, cross-dressed in his silks and satins, and flaunted himself in front of overcrowded, starving, AIDS-ravished communities, holding up two plump fingers in a meretricious salute, and announcing that simple cream-bags were mortal abominations. It was like walking into a burning orphanage, telling the kids to stand on one leg until they'd learned better than to play with matches, and jacking off on their faces to cool the blisters as they formed.
That applause-ravenous Polack was the reason I never emerged from the car on Sunday mornings. Even on Easter and Christmas--the two days per year when my devout wife steeled herself and held over my head the threat of papally-dispensed annulment to get me into the Real Presence--I could never remain quietly seated in the family pew at that certain point in the service when the priest, our local attorney of nothingness, asked the congregation to say a little prayer in their hearts for the Holy Father in Rome.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tom Bradley's stuff is at Salon.com, Exquisite Corpse, McSweeney's, Gadfly, FrontPage, Poets & Writers, and is pretty much smeared all over the web, like the hair on the walls in that movie that made Robert Blake famous.
In March 2003 he swilled way too much kir and ranted at 3:AM's first world-wide conference on web literature at the Paris Sorbonne. The text of his speech is called "No Baudelaires in Babylon," and constitutes nothing less than a manifesto for web writers.
Tom is the author of five novels: Kara-Kun/Flip-kun, Black Class Cur, Killing Bryce, The Curved Jewels, and Acting Alone, which carries the following blurbs on the back cover:
"I found Acting Alone to have an incredible energy level."
--Stanley Elkin, author of A Bad Man
"The contemporaries of Michelangelo found it useful to employ the term 'terribilita' to characterize some of the expressions of his genius, and I will quote it here to sum up the shocking impact of this novel as a whole. I read it in a state of fascination, admiration, awe, anxiety, and outrage."
--R.V. Cassill, editor of The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction
Reviews of Tom's books, links to his online publications and audio performances, plus a couple of hours of recorded readings, are posted at his website.