Speak for yourself
by Jim Piechota
The International Homosexual Conspiracy by Larry-bob Roberts; Manic D Press, $14.95
Outspoken San Francisco author, blogger, Smack Dab open-mic co-host, and piano-player Larry-bob Roberts has produced a little book that packs a big wallop, The International Homosexual Conspiracy. He calls his essay-format "rant style," and these informative, sassy, hyper-opinionated pieces fill up the pages of Holy Titclamps, a website Roberts has owned and operated since 1989, when it was originally a zine on printed paper. Collected in bound-book format, there are 88 (!) bits of Larry-bob wisdom in varying lengths, split into eight sections ranging (and raging) from community and communication to popular culture and homosexuality.
Pages of notions, opinions, ideas, rants, raves, and cultural criticisms are crammed into this deceptively slim volume, and while entertaining and smartly thought-provoking, Roberts leaves it up to the reader to decide if what he has written is actually what he believes. In promotional materials, the author comments that many of his opinion pieces reflect his true feelings on the subject matter at hand; however, others may include material "contrary to what I actually believe," and "the variation in tone should cue the reader to discern the sarcastic from the sincere."
From the opening pages, Roberts urges everyone to clear away their lifetime of "mental debris" and to see "beyond the denial." He hates astrology, sports, Segways, and scooters on the sidewalk, but raises both hands up in futility when discussing vegetarians vs. carnivores. He enjoys people when they behave, yet freely admits to being "socially promiscuous," with lots of casual acquaintances. In a particularly hilarious descriptive run, Roberts acquiesces to being a "filthy homosexual," the type of guy who is completely comfortable with a home environment populated by "papers everywhere, thrift-store sofa, toys on the mantel, dirty clothes on the floor, unmade bed, cat hair in the corners, unmopped floor, plaid curtains, dirty dishes, soap-scum shower, unflushed toilet, overflowing litterbox."
Snarky sarcasm abounds in pieces about his alienation from the Castro crowds, and in a hypothetical essay where Roberts imagines himself a smarmy real estate agent doing condo conversions in already-overpriced San Francisco. When on more serious tangents, the author shares a few timely thoughts on bears, love, gender identity, modern rock divas, bullying (a form of "domesticated terrorism") and the sense and sensibility of living a drug-free lifestyle ("drinking and doing drugs is the mark of someone who hasn't worked through the underlying reasons that they're self-medicating.")
In the closing essay, the author quips, "I know I complain a lot," and rather than personifying the labels of "curmudgeon" or "malcontent," stands by his often-contentious, feather-ruffling viewpoints, simply believing that "a lot of things are wrong with the world, and I'm speaking up about them."
Brazen, culturally aware, intelligent, and refreshingly blunt, Larry-bob Roberts firmly cautions his audience that "if anyone doesn't think that things are on the wrong track, they're not paying attention."