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eXile Classic / What You Should Hate / October 9, 2009
By Mark Ames


This article was originally published in The eXile on November 29, 2001.

Now that we stomped the dust monkeys, our only casualty being that helicopter wheel that the Taliban danced around while firing their AKs in the air, I have to say, I’m damn glad I was behind President Bush from the get-go. I toldja so! I knew we’d thrash those pathetic primitives! I told everyone, but nooooo, they wouldn’t listen!

It’s thanks to people like me that we won the war: I’ve proven to be, if not a plate in the backbone of the United States, then certainly a long and critical strand of neck hair in the mullet of America. For, without long neck hairs like me, America’s hair would be short both on the back and on the sides, which would mean — yep, you guessed it — no mullet. It would just have a regular guy’s hairdo. And folks, after having lived both on the coasts and in the interior of this mighty country, I can tell ya: people with regular hairdos don’t win wars.

You’ve really got to wonder what those poor Taliban saps were thinking last month when they flaunted that helicopter wheel on Al-Jazeera. They thought they had it in the bag! “Whippee! We’ve got a helicopter wheel! The war’s as good as over! America will topple like a house of cards now! Today, a helicopter wheel — tomorrow, a door handle! Woo-ho!”


Afghanistan: not just the graveyard of empires, but the rubbish dump of cheap replaceable spare parts.


Omar fires another clip into the air, dancing around the helicopter wheel, when he notices something strange. Thousands of meters above, a distant hum, a spec, slowly traversing the arc of the sky.


Then a smaller spec releases, detaches from the back of the bigger spec; it seems to float down, while the bigger spec disappears into the horizon.


The floating spec turns into a dot as it approaches, which turns into a bigger dot, or rather, two dots floating together.


There seems to be a parachute. Attached to the parachute, not an infidel, but rather something large and lead-colored, like an elephant without the trunk. It floats gently towards the Kandahar dunes…


Omar and his buddies gather closer. Whatever it is, it’s bigger than an elephant now, but shaped, oddly enough, like a…fat… bomb?

“Aieee! Daisy cutter! Run for your lives!!!!!”

The bomb floats down to waist level, blocking their path, then stops. Just as they’re turning the other way, one of the group who had studied English reads, in a flash and panic, the stencil lettering on the side.

He smiles, grabs his fleeing friends by their jammies, and laughs: “Calm down, brothers. It says here, ‘Towel Cutter’. If this was a daisy cutter, we’d all be dead. It’s just a ‘Towel Cutter.’ Whatever that is!”

“Oh, it’s just a Towel Cutter,” they repeat. “Thank god it’s not a daisy cutter!”

The Taliban squad laughs with relief. They slap each other’s backs, argue over who had shamed himself more before Allah. The massive 15,000 pound bomb, the size of a fuel tanker, hovers waist-high, just to the left of them. It doesn’t fall. It just hovers. There’s a hiss…

“What’s that smell?” Omar asks.

“Ooo, gee, I’m so scared of a little smell,” says another. “Let’s all be scared of little smells, okay guys? Hey, someone go get Omar a burqa! He’s behaving like a bitch again, scared of this infidel toy because it has a smell. Excuse me, Omar? Hello! Don’t you know we’re in the graveyard of empires? Allah to Omar! Come in, Omar!”

“Ha-ha-ha!” they laugh. “Omar, cover yourself and go home, before we have to beat you with sticks!”


Omar doesn’t listen. He fearfully approaches the bomb, the hiss growing louder, a distinct odor filling the air. ZZzzzzz, the bomb floats menacingly. Omar crouches, extends his hand to the fin, and flicks it with his fingernail.

He backs off. Nothing happens.”That odor, what is it?”

He flicks the fin again. Ping!

“Hey, Omar, be careful man! We don’t want you to lose a finger from that infidel bomb, which is rendered useless in our hostile Afghanistan terrain!”

“Yeah, and get that burqa on, bitch! We’re warning you!”


While Omar studies it, the others take on where they left off, pretending not to notice the massive, hissing bomb, floating inexplicably just a few feet away.

“So, where was I again before Omar so ruuuudely interrupted me?”

“You got to the part where you and Mohammed were speeding through the sand dunes outside of town.”

“Oh yeah, so anyway, Mohammed and I were ripping through the dunes in our Toyota, right? Pedal to the floor, man. Vroom! And that’s where we saw it. The helicopter wheel. We weren’t scared of it at all, but we weren’t stupid either. We took position and fired at the wheel for about an hour, pinning it down until help could be called in. The wheel was so frightened, it just lay there in the dust. These Americans are a joke, man.”

“Yeah, we should get burqas for their Delta Team, because they’re all a bunch of bitches.”

“Hey, why don’t we get a burqa for this so-called ‘Towel Cutter’ bomb? It’s starting to piss me off, man.”

“Yeah! This so-called ‘Towel Cutter’ bomb is a bitch!”


“Hey Omar, stay here and guard that useless infidel bomb! And don’t hurt your finger on it!”


They pile into the Toyota, zoom to the nearest village, strip the first woman they come across, screaming that she’s lucky cuz the next time they’ll take her to the soccer stadium, and return in a cloud of dust, waving the light blue burqa from the passenger window, a-hootin’ and a-hollerin’.

That was when Omar recognized the odor. Fuel. The same smell that came from the passenger side of the pick-up. The Toyota’s gas cap had been missing for days. Someone would pay dearly for that crime. The mullahs were still arguing over whether theft of a gas cap would be punishable by inserting a thick rose stem up the guilty’s urinary tract, or removing the guilty’s gums with a bayonet, and sewing them back on upside down. One mullah, respected for his ability to compromise, suggested removing the guilty’s gums with a bayonet, putting thorns into the gums, and THEN sewing them back in. Now the question was whether the gums should be sewn back in right-side up, or upside-down. Meanwhile, no leads on the gas cap…

They pile out of the Toyota, each passing the burqa as they run laughing to the floating bathyscaph-shaped bomb.One Taliban soldier jumps on the shoulders of another, and a third hands him the burqa. But before the Talib on top drapes the burqa over the bomb, he turns and says, “Bathyscaph? What the hell is a bathyscaph, man?”

“Who are you talking to?” says the soldier underneath, struggling to hold him up.

“I heard it too. Who said that?”

“That guy there,” another says, pointing straight at me.


“That guy. Look, right over there. He just said that this useless American hi-tech toy looks like a ‘bathyscaph.’ And I asked him, in the name of Allah, what the hell is a bathyscaph, man.”

“A bathyscaph? What’s that, man?”

“I don’t know, man! That’s what I’m trying to find out! He said it!” He points at me.

“Where is he?”

“There, you imbecile!”

“You mean that? That’s the helicopter wheel, man.”

“No, not there. THERE!”

“Oh, now I see him.” He squints at me. “Hey, who the hell are you, man!”

Who, me?

“No, not you, the other author, the one behind you. Yeah, of course you, man!”

I just thought…

“Who the hell are you talking to?” barks another. Then, pointing my way: “Who the hell is this guy, man?!”

“Yeah, who the hell are you, man?”

Uh, my name is Mark.


“Who the hell is Mark, man?”

“This guy here!”

“Are you a bathyscaph?”

“Hey, what’s a bathyscaph, man!”

You’re asking me?

“Are you on drugs man? Of course I’m asking you!”

Uh, actually, yeah, I am.

“Yeah what? A bathyscaph is a ‘yeah’?”

No, a bathyscaph is this small submarine-like thing that you use to go down in the ocean.


Deep down, and look at things on the ocean floor.

“And then you blow it up, right?”

No. You just look at things. And then you go back up.

“Well that sounds pretty stupid. Hey, Omar, here’s an idea! Let’s build a big bomb, but instead of using it to crush the infidels, we’ll just all hop in, drop down into the water, ride around, then float back up. How does that suit you!”

“What are you doing here, man? Go away! Let us finish this damn thing!”

The plot was starting to fail, so I came down to see if I could fix it.

“He came to take our helicopter wheel, man. Don’t trust him!”

“That helicopter wheel is ours! Possession is nine-tenths, man!”

No, I’m trying to fix the story. It’s not working. It started off okay, then you guys just lost it.

“Oh, so it’s our fault. Blame the victim, man.”

“This is Afghanistan, man. Graveyard of comedy. Didn’t you know?”

“Your infidel humor will collapse like a house of cards, man!”

I know, I realize that. I’m looking for a face-saving withdrawal. Any ideas?

“Yeah, go ride a bathyscaph!”

Very funny. How’s this for a joke. It’s the year 2020 and grandpa takes his grandson to New York, to the site of the World Trade Center. He explains how this was once the site of the Twin Towers. “Grandpa?” the boy asks in all innocence. “What were the Twin Towers?” The grandpa explains that the Twin Towers were two 110-story office buildings that used to be the tallest in New York before the Arabs destroyed them. Then the boy, in all innocence, asks, “Grandpa, what are Arabs?”

The Talibs look confused. Omar finally looks up to me as if he pities me: “But…we’re not Arabs, man.”

And then they laugh.

End of story.

This article was originally published as “Go Ride A Bathyscaph” in The eXile on November 29, 2001.

Mark Ames is the author of Going Postal, and the co-author of The eXile: Sex, Drugs and Libel in the New Russia (Grove).


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1 Comment

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  • 1. motorfirebox  |  October 15th, 2009 at 11:07 am

    meth is a hell of a drug, Mark.

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