Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Rape Van: An Analysis

In an effort to establish, early on, a tone of my blog being a place of thoughtful prose and measured introspection into the obfuscated but elemental nature of the human condition, I was going to post a rather long essay that I've been working on for months.  It's probably the most interesting, and important thing I've ever written.  It's also longwinded, contentious, and boring.  So instead we're going to look at pictures of rape vans.

Ah yes, the 'rape van'.  Or as it's known to those of us who reached the age of majority before the '00s, the 'van'.  They're big enough to haul anything, you can seat 12 kids in the back (assuming you didn't install seats), they're rugged enough to survive years of torture, and they'll go just about anywhere you point them.  Once considered the ultimate working man's vehicle, the van lost much of it's credibility after the introduction of the minivan in 1984.

Minivans were the sensible, if neutered, younger sibling of the proper van.  At the time, they offered a cost effective way to shuttle a heavy load of groceries and a few rows of kids all over town.  They were grossly under-powered and unbearably mild-mannered, but the appointments were such that for the first time in history, family road time could be enjoyed in relative comfort - even by the shitheads in the back.  In short, it was a car for mom.

The minivan, of course, was later supplanted by the sport utility vehicle, which combined the seating and cargo capacity of a Datsun B210 with the fuel economy of an M35 cargo truck.  This was a no-compromises value proposition which unequivocally proved that American consumers are willing to sacrifice seating, fuel efficiency, cargo room, durability, and power in order to avoid driving a vehicle that might be perceived as 'faggy'.

With the minivan stripped of its dignity, the aging van - once simply out of fashion - was now relegated to it's own place of shame.  In spite of the undeniable awesomeness of the custom conversion van, the perception came to be that the only possible advantage of a full sized van was its lack of windows.

And so it became a stock cliché.  Anytime you see a van in a movie or on a television show, the driver is either a nefarious criminal planning a crime, a federal agent engaged in espionage, or a sexual deviant (usually a pedophile, just in case a regular snatch and grab rapist is too subtle for the audience).

So I've gathered a handful of the very best rape vans I could find in the darkest depths of the Internet.  Just kidding - no hard hitting journalism here, I grabbed the first several that came up on a Google image search.

I'm going to give each van a score from 0 to 10 in two categories 'Rape Factor' (The likelihood that the owner of this van will attempt to put a finger inside of you against your will), and Awesometude (an unironic assessment of how awesome the van would be if people would put away their hang-ups and just appreciate the sweet ride).

The Norse Horse
Rape Factor:  4

The good news:
The owner of this van is a blonde with huge tits.

The bad news:
Those are his best qualities.

Let's take a moment to deconstruct that mural.  It's a Viking wearing high top sneakers, brandishing a shield and an AK 47, cruising through outer space on a unicorn that shits inaccurate rainbows.  Maybe that doesn't seem particularly rapey to you, but ask yourself one important question:  How old were you the last time any combination of these things was cool?  Anyone who is old enough to drive should be deeply embarrassed to be seen in the passenger seat of this vehicle - much less caught holding the pink slip.

Damning evidence by any measure - so why doesn't this enchanted viking merit a higher rating?  It's because in spite of everything that is wrong with it, this van just isn't actually creepy.  I can't really explain why, but I get the distinct impression that the person driving this van likes all of these things in earnest.  Which means we're probably dealing with someone who is at least slightly retarded.  I'm not going to sit here and make fun of 'the man who has everything except a complete set of chromosomes'.

Retarded or not, the custom heart shaped window lets you know straight away:  If this van is rockin', don't hesitate to dial 911.

Awesometude:  2 

This is a tough one to tackle without my smartass hat on, because everything about this van begs to be ridiculed.  I was around for the 80s and 90s - a period of time so egregiously un-self-conscious that nothing on this van could possibly surprise me.  I've given it two points, for two reasons.

  1. I needed some footroom in the scale.  
  2. Any two items in the mural might have been cool.  Viking with an Kalashnikov?  Cool.  Outer space and unicorns?  Cool, if it's done right.  
On the other hand...

High tops and rainbows?  Never cool.

The Eddie Van
Rape Factor:  2

Strictly speaking, this isn't a rape van due to the inclusion of the large side windows.  Technically this is just a regular fleet van that got parked in the wrong side of town.  Be that as it may, if you're Sammy Hagar, you'd be well advised to consider the possibility that someone's looking to force feed you a tubesteak meatloaf with a side of warm yogurt.  It says so right on the side.  "Rape Van Halen".

Still, something about this phrase just doesn't seem right.  It isn't parsing right in my head.  It's the word Halen that's throwing me here.  It looks like Rape Van was written first, and Halen was added later.  It's clearly not part of the same thought process, because it's in a different shade of red.  Maybe the owner added it, hoping it would take the emphasis off the word 'Rape'. Maybe it's like a Wheel of Fortune 'before and after' puzzle.  What if the Van's owner wanted the words RAPE VAN on the side of his vehicle, but then it was defaced with the word - Halen?  There's definitely a mystery afoot here.

Awesometude:  4 

But what if it is all a single contiguous thought from a single author?  What if the owner of this van actually wants to Rape Van Halen.  Van Halen the guy?  There are two Van Halens in the band:  Eddie van Halen, and the other guy.  If you don't mean a specific Van Halen, do you intend to rape Van Halen, the band?  How does that even work?  I mean, are you going to forcibly fuck each of them individually?  It seems like that would take a few days if you were going to do it right.

Or are you actually schtupping the entire band as a cohesive unit - all at once?  That doesn't even really seem possible, unless you do some kind of weird 'Human Centipede' shit.  And even then - are you really raping ALL of Van Halen, or are you just forcibly hate-fucking the one on the end?  Is that enough?  Just fucking one Halen while he's surgically connected to the rest of the Halens?  HOW COULD THAT EVER BE ENOUGH???  

I call bullshit.

Something just doesn't quite add up.  I've got another theory.  Look closer.  The black paint outlines each stroke of each letter, right up until the oblique stroke of the N.  A black line was added to the distal edge of the N, but there is a clear disruption of style here.  Let's zoom in and enhance, ignoring everything after the initial omission of the black paint.

Rape Vai?  That actually makes a lot more sense.

I gave this one 4 points because it's like The DaVinci Code of rape vans.  And because fuck Steve Vai.

Playing Doctor
Rape Factor:  6 (but not directly)

Dr. Playground.  This one seems like a no-brainer.  That truck is definitely rape-tastic.  However, there's some background we should go through before I explain why this truck is even creepier than it looks.  Dr. Playground is the name of the park maintenance teams in New York City.  They travel from park to park maintaining swings and see-saws and doing whatever it is park maintenance crews do.  The fun motif makes these guys a crowd favorite with the kids and their parents.  They're like local superheros, keeping the parks safe for kids.  I really must stress that there is nothing subversive about that...

Unless you count the fact that they've created the perfect cover for NYC area pedophiles to loiter around parks in plain sight.  A green shirt and a toolbelt and people will assume you've been thoroughly vetted by the City of New York.  Some toddler wanders too far from the herd while mom is reading her novels, and you've got one more missing child to add to your milk carton collection.  And not one person will remember seeing a suspicious person.

To be fair, Dr. Playground only unintentionally facilitates rape.  Conversely, the New York City Tax Authority will coercively hardfuck you without romance or lubricant, and they won't even bother to enjoy it.

Awesometude:  1 

These things are total shitboxes.  They're eyesores, and the fuel economy is so bad that it's measured in gallons per mile. even if one was for sale - dirt cheap - you'd have nowhere to park it.  A truck like this would ruin the property value of your entire block.

The only reason you rent one every time you move, is that moving is the only thing in the world that's worse than driving a box truck.

Expecto Penetranus
Rape Factor:  9, but busted down to a 7

Here it is.  Our first proper rape van.
Creepy 60s vibe?  Check.
Double side doors for easy passenger side abductions?  Check.
Utterly windowless interior?  You betcha.

You're probably wondering why this one was busted down to a 7.  "You're being a bit picky about your rape-mobiles," I like to imagine someone saying at this point.

Looking at this image, the aging doesn't look digital.  This looks like an old physical photograph that was scanned in at some later date.  The obvious problem with that is that Harry potter probably didn't exist when this photo was taken (I'm guessing mid to early '80s, based on the wear shown by the vehicle and the photo).  So I decided to check closer.  From front to back the white paint on the van gets darker, because of lighting.  The lettering stays exactly the same color all the way across - with very little color variation at the pixel level.  I also found some image manipulation halos around that first E that look suspect.  To make matters worse, there is only one picture of this badboy anywhere on Google.  People would be snapping shots of this masterpiece every day.  Someone would have posted a recent image, right?

Long story short, I think this is a fake.  It's a pretty good fake, but it's a fake, and that makes the rapeyness seem disingenuous.

The concept is a 9.  Riding around in this vehicle, were it real, one could easily imagine a villain wielding his master wand on some pupils.  The village sawbones will be hard pressed to explain the sudden outbreak of pediatric genital hogwarts.

Despite the digital trickery, this is still a creepy and poorly maintained windowless van with a great deal of rape potential.

Awesometude:  7 

Honestly, If I had a band, and if people had a better sense of humor, this is the vehicle I'd want to take to the gig.  Slogan and all.  I think it's funny as hell.  I'll bet this thing belches more smoke than the Fukushima reactor, which gives it a kind of Uncle Buck awesomeness.

It's all about the double side doors, though.  Anyone who's ever loaded and unloaded their own gear knows exactly what I'm talking about.  And after a humiliating 2 hour set of your band bombing harder than the Enola Gay, the extra double door means you can pack your gear twice as fast and keep your post show walk of shame to an absolute minimum.

Plus you could put a bed in the back and crash harder than Yukio Araki.

The Yellow Despoiler
Rape Factor:  10

Nothing fake about this one.  This, dear reader, is the real deal.

Consider the clues:

Look at the mildewed roof, or the rampant rusting.  This vehicle has the general rotting disposition of a vehicle owned by a person who is so completely enslaved by his dark urges that he can't hold a job long enough to afford to maintain his vehicle.  This is a sociopath nomad who has been completely ostracized from society for a multitude of crimes that he is known to have committed, but for which no admissible evidence has ever surfaced.

Look at the side door - that's not damage from a collision.  A collision would have damaged the rear panel behind the door as well.  It's marks of a struggle - The chilling aftermath of a desperate victim fighting with everything they have to escape an act of vile predation.

The boarded window speaks to a foul and premeditated intent.  Only those who have been 'invited' will ever see what happens behind the sickly and decaying sheet metal.  A tale lost to the countless shallow woodland graves left in this vehicle's wake.

Awesometude:  0 

Seriously, Yellow?  Lame.

Rapes U
Rape Factor:  7

This one is clever.  It's like a rape ninja.  Looks completely legit, right up until you open the door. Then from out of nowhere - BAM.  Rape.  On the other hand, maybe it isn't so sneaky after all.  For all I know, Rekkapesu is a cross between Bukkake and waterboarding.  Maybe it's the most brazen and obvious rape van in the lot!

The handle visible on the interior of the side door makes it possible for an accomplice to snatch small victims without even stopping the van, so this one gets some points for practicality.

Whatever it means, you couldn't lure me into this thing if I was dying of thirst in the middle of the desert and this was my only way back to civilization.

Awesometude:  3 

A Volkswagen Van that isn't the type 2?  Lame.  I'm awarding 4 points for clever word tricks, with a 1 point deduction for those tiny wheels.  And at least it's well maintained.

It's a Trap!
Rape Factor:  9

You know how Michael Jackson owned an amusement park and a monkey?  This is exactly like that.  To be fair, there are legitimate reasons to own a vehicle like this - but it cannot be denied, that "to lure unsuspecting victims into my vehicle" is one of those reasons

I would get into this van with 4 large leering burly strangers wearing studded leather pants and bloody latex gloves - and I'm a grown adult that knows better.  A kid doesn't stand a chance - the driver won't even have to pretend he's looking for his lost puppy.

Awesometude:  10 

Remember when you were a kid, and you were told you could do absolutely anything you wanted once you were an adult, and you were certain that you'd eat candy for dinner, own a pet tiger (that you could ride!), live in a black castle with a moat, and find gainful employment as a ninja?

Remember how when you did get older, all of those things kind of crumbled under the weight of sheer impracticality and societal pressure to conform?

Well, this vehicle says 'Fuck You' to every adult that ever told you that you could be the president, but not a space pirate.  This van was designed by that part of each of us that isn't afraid to be completely balls-out awesome.  That bit that we learn to suppress as we grow up and become lame.  It's a reminder, that out there somewhere, someone just ran off and decided to be Han Solo for real.

I'll bet this guy has a pet T-rex, a hoverboard, and a working lightsaber too.

Satan's Econoline
Rape Factor:  10

Forced to guess, I would say that this van was the personal property of the ruler of hell - stolen from the devil by an Evil more worthy.  The Old Ones, perhaps.  If you insist on approaching this vehicle, you should have your weapon drawn and the safety off.  Make no mistake though:  This sort of evil is not subject to the whimsy of mortal intent.

The bullets are for the victim, if you are merciful - and yourself, if you are wise.

That's not rust.  That's the partially coagulated blood of the imprisoned souls of innumerable victims oozing out of the side of the dark lord's personal conveyance.  The axles don't squeal.  Those are the tortured moans of the innocent denizens of eternal torment - sequestered from a God powerless to save his doomed children.  That's not a turn signal, it's the intermittantly licking flames of -- You know what?  I'm just going to stop right there.  I think you can see where I'm going with this.

It's a bad van.

Awesometude:  10 

Do I even have to explain this?  I guarantee you that Freddy Kruger, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Pinhead are all in the back of this vehicle RIGHT NOW, shooting methamphetamine directly into their cocks and punching directions into their GPS.

That might not sound very awesome to you - but from their perspective, it's going to be a hell of a night.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I Promised Myself I'd Never Do This

When the word 'blog' was invented, back in the late '90s, I wasn't a fan.  The World Wide Web was just coming into its own back then, so every stupid thing that happened on the Web was hammered relentlessly by news outlets who were desperately attempting to appear technologically hip.  The word 'blog' was no exception.  A reverse portmanteau of the word 'weblog', blogs were the hottest thing since fire - in spite of the fact that no one had the first clue what the hell they were for.  It was a bit like hyping the spreadsheet before the invention of numbers.

On it's own merit, it's an ugly word.  Blog.  Remove it from it's now well-established context, and it sounds like a childish word for a particularly brutal shit (you know...  like a 'Big log').  I probably could have come to peace with the word, but the concept of blogging (and hence the word blog) got more media coverage than O.J. Simpson — for at least two years straight.

So for the last 13 or 14 years — however long it's been — I've avoided blogs like Orson Welles avoids marathon training.  O.K., like I avoid marathon training.  Instead I've written endless volumes of original content on forums, review sites, comments pages - anywhere but my own site.  And I'm not talking about quick little five minute posts.    We're talking about some pretty hefty essays here.  To make matters worse, I don't really write, so much as continually rewrite.  Every post ends up being edited and rewritten scattershot, as new insights hit me until I've rewritten the entire post 3 times.  Countless years spent bringing other people literally tens of thousands of hits.

Screw that noise.  I'm putting my hat in the ring.

Of course, I'll never get tens of thousands of hits on my own.  I'm ok with that.  Between the few dozen people I know personally, and spambots wanting to ply links to malware in the comments section, I'll probably hit the high single digits somewhere around June.  I'm not going to get a lot of hits, but dammit, they'll be my hits.

So I'm blogging now.  I prefer to call it 'writing', but the name of this webpage says I'm full of shit.

This leads us to the obvious next question:

What kind of blog is this?

A personal blog?  

I suppose there will be some content about myself, and most of it will be written from my perspective, because it's the only perspective from which I am qualified to write.  I could try to write from your perspective, but I don't think you'd appreciate me putting my words in your mouth.  People generally don't like it when I put things in their mouth.

That said, I absolutely refuse to be one of those vapid cunts that insists on polluting the web with a constant barrage of personal anecdotes about what I had for breakfast, or how my cats are doing.  I will certainly be a key character in my blog, but I am not the subject.  If I ever tell you about my lunch, it will be because I've discovered some amazing new kind of food that makes every other food you've ever tasted seem like bullshit.

An over-the-top shock blog?  

I'm certainly no stranger to colorful language, and I am very likely to post things that will offend others, but I absolutely don't want to fall into the rut of posting outrageous shit strictly for the sake of trying to offend.  Ironically, writing exclusively about things which are deeply offensive to most people is limiting - because most things aren't offensive.  If I post something offensive, I'd rather there be some sort of underlying complexity to it.

Aside from which, people who write exclusively about edge of the envelope shit - even in a satirical sense - invariably attract the absolute worst people in the world like some kind of alpha-loser homing beacon.  You start with a a reasonable and empirically sound statement like "Some gay people have really gone overboard in trying to restrict what language people can use,"  And you'll discuss how you can't even call something 'fruity' anymore without offending someone, but you can use the word 'denigrate' all day long, in spite of its legitimately offensive etymology.  Then some short-bus jackhole is going to jump into the comments with something like "Right on brother!  I'd like to kill all them fucking faggets, and send 'em back to Africa where they done avented the AIDS from buttsexing the monkeys and niggurs."

Fig. 1:  You know the type.

Let's make one thing clear:  I want nothing to do with that kind of discourse, and I will delete it from my comments section.  When you say shit like that, and all the people around you are laughing, it's not because what you said is funny.  It's because you're so indefensibly fucking stupid and backwards that you are a walking punchline.  They are laughing at you, you shit-headed fuckwit.

So again - I don't think that's quite what I'm looking to do.  When I say things that offend normative sensibilities, it will most likely be an act of satire, or an attempt to uncover some hypocrisy inherent to the status quo.  I mean, sure, I'm going to say 'fuck' alot, but I like to think that's simply because I've adopted a more earthy and humble mode of speech so as to suppress my inherently sesquipedalian loquaciousness and keep me from sounding like a pretentious grammarian.

Sesquipedalian like a motherfuckin' boss.

A science & technology blog?  

Probably not.  I do love technology (read: I am a massive nerd), and with huge advances in quantum computing and artificial intelligence on the not so distant horizon, I am quite likely to put up the odd technology post, but to be honest, I just don't have the kind of sustained interest or discipline that it would require to maintain a steady stream of tech commentary.

At the end of the day, I am far more interested in speculating about the possibilities of technology, or contextualizing it than I am simply reading off specifications from industry white papers.

A philosophy blog?

Fuck.  No.

An angry blog?

I find it odd that this is so common a format, since only a handful of people have successfully pulled it off.  I do (and will) spend an inordinate amount of time complaining about wildly irrelevant minutiae.  Additionally, there's a lot of real things in the world to be angry about.  As I have said, though, this kind of thing has been done to death.  It's too easy to paint yourself into a corner if you make it the format.  Spend too much time at the 'pissed-off well' and you wind up just another hack who's worn a hole in the word fuck, fucked the hole, and then wore that out as well.  Sooner or later, there's just nowhere left to go.  If the guy who messed up your drive through order by giving you 9 instead of 10 tacos is the most epic assbag in the history of the universe, what do you have left next week when someone shoots and wound-rapes your Cocker Spaniel?

If you crown a new 'all time biggest douche' every single week, it loses some of its impact.  There's nothing wrong with being a miserable bastard, but at least try to establish some kind of context instead of just launching straight into 'fuck horses!'

A humor blog?

I'm not exactly setting out to tell a bunch of jokes, but I would contend that humor is the common thread for anything I am likely to write.  Whether I'm writing about the forestry industry, living conditions in retirement homes, or child pornography, you can rest assured that I'm going to work in a line about 'old wood'.

So I'm not doing anything original here.  At the end of the day, I'm not even that funny.  But at least this will provide a context going forward.  Given all of the terrible crap I'll end up posting, the last thing I want is to be taken too seriously.