Sodom and Savage 

Not to get too blowjobian, but we all love Dan Savage around here. Simply adore the man, really. Besides, the guy’s heady sex-advice column, “Savage Love,” is one of the most popular things we’ve got going in our paper. Said column is, you’ll note, read by millions around the globe every week. How can they be wrong? Savage is at once insulting, brazenly open-fisted, forthright and always on the mark. We like The Truth around here and Savage’s schtupp counsel is all about that.

Savage has penned other worthy stuff too: Savage Love, a collection of his advice columns, and The Kid, a prize-hogging, backward-gazing memoir about adoption. His writing has appeared here, there and everywhere, from The New York Times Magazine to Travel & Leisure, from Rolling Stone to The Onion, and so on. He has also contributed numerous pieces to “This American Life” on NPR.

Anyway, Savage has a new book out called Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America, which is, to be frank, a thing of power and beauty. Easily digested in readable dollops, Skipping deconstructs contradictory right-wing factions and hilariously disembowels wing-nut harpies like Bill Bennett, Robert Bork, Pat Buchanan, Dr. Laura and Bill O’ Reilly — those who have written myriad best-selling tomes condemning the sins and liberal views of America.

Savage is here to speak up for the sinful. In Skipping, Savage takes us along on a viciously droll and witty travelogue celebrating this country’s sinners, using irreverence and the pursuit of debauched bliss as guiding principles of the seven deadly sins. Savage himself commits each of the seven deadly sins and finds those workaday Americans who take pleasure in their own sinful pursuits: greed and the need of easy riches; pride and a gay parade; lust and a swinging couple’s living room; gluttony at an actual fat-acceptance conference; sloth and not fitting into the pot-head stereotype; anger and gun-toting Texans; envy and a pricey weight-loss spa in Malibu.

In Skipping Towards Gomorrah, Savage says he’s “had it up to here with the moral, conservative scolds who proclaim America is slouching towards Gomorrah (to use Robert Bork’s phrase).” He asks, “Are we really that bad?” Then he answers, “Yes, we are!”

Here are some fun excerpts. From the chapter “Anger: My Piece, My Unit”: “While gun-owners are always saying that owning guns is about defending freedom, the only freedom gun-owners seem interested in defending with their guns is the freedom to defend their freedom to own guns. For a freedom fan such as myself, this seems a little limited. All that firepower — 200 million guns — dedicated to defending just one freedom? Charlton Heston, the actor and president of the NRA, says he ‘cannot stand by and watch a right guaranteed by the United States Constitution come under attack,’ and yet, I don’t recall seeing Heston on television complaining about John Ashcroft’s recent assaults on, say, attorney-client privilege.”

From the chapter “Lust: The Erotic Rites of David and Bridget”: “What’s more, unlike homosexuality, swinging is a learned behavior. Homosexuality is not a choice — I don’t care how many ‘ex-gay’ Christian conservatives can trot out for the cameras. My proof that homosexuality is not a choice? A question for my straight male readers: Is there anything I could do or say or write that would convince you to willingly, happily, eagerly, anxiously, deliriously, lustfully put my dick in your mouth and leave it there until I had an orgasm? I rest my case.”

Raised a “good Catholic boy,” Savage in the end shows us that the Catholic standby of redeeming oneself through pain is really just a load of crap. The lesson here is that we should all just simply skip and whistle our way to Gomorrah. Here, here.


Dan Savage reads from his work at 8 p.m. tonight, Oct. 23, at the University of Michigan Business School (Davidson Hall, Room 1273, 701 Tappan St., Ann Arbor). For more information on the event sponsored by Shaman Drum Bookshop, call 734-662-7407.

Brian Smith is the Metro Times music editor. E-mail


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