Between the glutes

(Some male body parts, depicted and discussed in plain, but not raunchy, terms. So not squarely in the Sex Zone, but not tasteful either. Caution advised for kids and the sexually modest.)

For me, it all started with a recent ad on Facebook for suit sets (sleeveless tank tops with bikini underpants) from the Fabmens company in a variety of intriguing patterns, including a (more or less) rainbow “color block” pattern seen here from the rear:

(#1) The design of the underpants strikingly accentuates the wearer’s ass / butt / bum  cleft / crack / cleavage, in a way that in my queer fashion I (at least) find decidedly hot

The Fabmens suits sets. In many handsome or entertaining patterns, pretty much all gay-oriented: rainbow sets on many themes; lips; hot dogs; peaches (see the emoji for buttocks 🍑); an anchor (the Village People’s “In the Navy”); gingerbread men (so good to eat); bananas; a butterfly; coconuts (for men: pecs, testicles, or buttocks); and more.

A vocabulary note. Though I have occasionally remarked on notable assclefts in my postings, and assembled some photos on AZBlogX — notably, in my 8/5/13 posting “Assclefts” — I haven’t posted about the relevant anatomical terminology, which turns out to be various. Here I’ll use intergluteal cleft, because (a) it seems to be the prevailing standard; (b) it has a straightforward derivation; and (c) intergluteal has a great metrical pattern, which I’m soon going to exploit. From Wikipedia:

The intergluteal cleft or just gluteal cleft, also known by a number of synonyms, including natal cleft, anus slice, butt crack, and cluneal cleft, is the groove between the buttocks that runs from just below the sacrum to the perineum, so named because it forms the visible border between the external rounded protrusions of the gluteus maximus muscles. Other names are the anal cleft, crena analis, arena interglutealis, “cleftal horizon”, and rima ani. Colloquially the intergluteal cleft is known as bum crack (UK) or butt crack (US).

(Lat. rima ‘chink, fissure, crack, cleft’ — “sometimes rude” according to one dictionary, without saying which of the attested anatomical uses they had in mind. As in butt crack, or as in love crack ‘vagina’?)

From a fantasy Eastern Europe. And now, free verse from a fantasy Ukraine (or wherever), which you can think of as an elaborate caption to this asscrack photo from the AZBlogX posting I cited above:


The Treasure of Rovno

once a year, on
Exhibition Day, the
Treasure of Rovno is
put on public display

А – на – то – лій!
А – на – то – лій! they
chant, shouting for the
Treasure-Bearer, who

steps into the
cavernous stadium,
slides his faded jeans
down his narrow hips,

exposes the
elegant, vulgar,
perfect, raunchy,
cleft of his ass

— and the crowd
erupts into the
Treasure Chant —

IN TER … GLU – te AL!
IN TER … GLU – te AL!

wild-eyed teens
making rude gestures
break into a
cha-cha-cha that

winds around
Anatoliy while crowds
scrutinize his body

silently he stands,
Lord of Carnival,
Object of Reverence,
could go either way

could be getting gangbanged,
could be getting massaged with
scented oils infused with
mood-enhancing drugs

you never know, but it’s all good,
Anatolij’s the keeper of the Treasure,
he adapts to everything

Note 1. The two Rovno Gubernyas. The real Rovno (now in Ukraine, now with the name Rivne) — in Rovno Gubernya (gubernya ‘province’), named after its major city —  has, over the centuries, been administratively under the control of Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Germany, the Soviet Union, and Ukraine (in various orders). The real Rovno has a certain amount of fame from the musical Candide (largely the creation of Leonard Bernstein) via the wonderful song “I Am Easily Assimilated”, performed by The Old Woman (born in what was then Poland and is now Ukraine), who is at that point in the show in the process of becoming Spanish:

I was not born in sunny Hispania,
My father came from Rovno Gubernya [as did Leonard Bernstein’s father].
But now I’m here, I’m dancing a tango!

(You can watch a performance of the whole song by the fabulous Patti LuPone, backed up by the Westminster Symphonic Choir & the New York Philharmonic, here🙂

Then there is another Rovno that suffered all the warfare, conflagrations, suppressions, migrations, and invasions that the real Rovno did, but had all of its records destroyed in the process, so that all that remains are rather fantastical tales of the history, passed around orally — tales like the story of the Treasure of Rovno, the Treasure Chant, and the cha-cha-cha for dancing to this chant.

[Digression on the cha-cha-cha, from Wikipedia:

Styles of cha-cha-cha dance may differ in the place of the chasse in the rhythmical structure. The original Cuban and the ballroom cha-cha-cha count is “one, two, three, cha-cha”, or “one, two, three, four-and.” A “street version” comes about because many social dancers count “one, two, cha-cha-cha” and thus shift the timing of the dance by a full beat of music.

(You can watch a performance of the line dance “One Two Cha Cha Cha” danced to a Hindi song, with choreography by BM Leong, here.)]

Note 2. Crowd chants. Central to the story are the crowd chants in it — first the simple chanted repetition of a name (here in the Latin-alphabet spelling):

А – nа – – lіy!  (S W S W)

Then, the more complex Treasure Chant, with its cha-cha-cha rhythm:

IN TER … GLU – te AL! (and three levels of accent: S S | S W S, with superstrong S);
as a cha-cha-cha: 1 2 | CHA cha CHA

You might recognize this rhythm as similar to the simpler rhythm of this political crowd chant:

Hell, no! We won’t go! (S S | S W S)

(with a slogan conveying resistance to the draft for the Vietnam War).

Note 3. Crowds. Breaking things down: first the noun crowd, from NOAD:

noun crowd: [a] a large number of people gathered together in a disorganized or unruly way: a huge crowd gathered in the street outside. … [c] informal, often derogatory a group of people who are linked by a common interest or activity: I’ve broken away from that whole junkie crowd.

In sense a, we have a physical aggregation of people in some place; they happen to be together, to catch a subway train or gawk at an accident or whatever. In sense b, we have a social aggregation of people, united by some identity or interest, which causes them to act in concert (even if they don’t appreciate their commonality). The classic account of the dark side of crowds in sense b, from Wikipedia:

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds is an early study of crowd psychology by Scottish journalist Charles Mackay, first published in 1841 under the title Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions. The book was published in three volumes: “National Delusions”, “Peculiar Follies”, and “Philosophical Delusions”. Mackay was an accomplished teller of stories, though he wrote in a journalistic and somewhat sensational style.

The subjects of Mackay’s debunking include [warning: this is a kind of giant grab-bag] alchemy, crusades, duels, economic bubbles [three chapters on these alone], fortune-telling, haunted houses, the Drummer of Tedworth, the influence of politics and religion on the shapes of beards and hair [more generally, infuences on the spread of fashions], magnetisers (influence of imagination in curing disease), murder through poisoning, prophecies, popular admiration of great thieves, popular follies of great cities, and relics.

(Much more could be added to this list; moral panics and scapegoating would be high on my list, as well as all-encompassing mass movements, conspiracy theories, and the spread of disinformation.)

But the crowds that are relevant to the tale of the fantasy Rovno are a cross between crowd in sense a and crowd in sense b: they are large physical aggregations of people united by some shared identity or interest, which provides them with an intense, even physical, sense of belonging that causes them to act in concert. These are the crowds at athletic events, political rallies and demonstrations, and rock concerts.

Note 4. Repeating expressions. The pleasure and power of repetition is all around us, in music, dance, poetry, religious ritual, and more. And just in everyday playfulness, as celebrated again and again in the Zippy the Pinhead cartoons. In my most recent posting on Zippylicious repetition, from 10/2/20 in “goon squad goon squad goon squad”:

the phrase goon squad appeared and seized my attention, so that I repeated it like a mantra. I was in the grip of onomatomania

… From my 11/27/19 posting “At the onomatomania dinette”:

Zippy compulsively repeats a phrase he finds in some way attractive or pleasing, starting with the name of the diner he’s in: Do-Nut Dinette... This repetition, treating the phrase as a kind of mantra, has come up in Zippy strips under various names; see my 10/3/17 posting “Repetitive phrase disorder”, with several alternative labels for “Word attraction extended to the phrase level and made into a satisfying (though compulsive) verbal routine.” — of which onomatomania is my current favorite.

(the full set: found mantras, onomatomania, phrase repetition disorder, repetitive phrase disorder)

(An appendix to this posting has an inventory of Zippy postings on the topic, from 2009 on.)

Note 3 on crowd chants (continued). In crowd chants this pleasure and power is harnessed to acting out an identification with a sports team, a political cause, or a rock group. Here I have to confess that I’d intended to include some recorded examples, but it seems to be virtually impossible to make out the words in the recordings, which are (unsurprisingly) incredibly noisy. (The chanting of “Hang Mike Pence” and “Bring out Mike Pence” during the 1/6/21 crowd invasion of the U.S. Capitol, for example, was quite clear to those who were at the scene, but not easy to make out in the videos.)

Writing about crowd chants seems to be almost entirely about their content and the contexts in which they’re used. There is, however, some linguistic literature on the expressions that are adapted for chanting: on their prosodic properties, and the ways in which their prosody is adapted. I am working on unearthing this material and will report later on what I find. But in the interest of (temporarily) finishing this posting, I’ll put off that report for a bit.

Note 5. The ritual of Exhibition Day. You might think that the fabled exhibition of the Treasure of Rovno is a preposterous ritual. But it’s really no more absurd than many attested cultural rituals: the running of the bulls at Pamplona, the presentation of debutantes to “society” at a ball, the Japanese Penis Festival, or the giving of Easter egg baskets, just to choose a few easy examples.

Appendix on Zippylicious repetition. Postings on this blog from 2009 on (for a variety of reasons, my notations of prosodies are rather unsystematic and improvised):

from 9/30/09 in “Phrase repetition disorder”:

Every so often, Zippy and Zerbina get into a groove of repeating phrases. This time it’s Zerbina, stuck on the remarkable phrase “post-prandial sneeze disorder”

from 2/20/10 in “Zippylicious geographical names”:

Zippy is in love with words — beautiful words, somewhat ridiculous words, peculiar words, they’re all delicious to Zippy (a manifestation of word attraction). Names especially so. Here he is savoring two geographical names from Montana: Grundy Gulch and Zortman

(savoring them by repeating each — S W S and S S, respectively — three times)

from 3/3/10 in “Mantra of the moment”:

Zippy and his acquaintances are given to picking up and chanting “found mantras”, expressions that they find satisfying to repeat — in episodes of what Bill Griffith calls onomatomania or phrase repetition disorder, here)

remote control bathtub jet ski (simplified: WS WS | SW SW)

from 3/31/13 in “Sticky expressions”:

Zippy with the “found mantra” Vampire Manga Dog condo [simplified: SW SW | S SW] — an expression that lends itself to obsessive repetition. Such sticky expressions are a recurrent theme in Zippy

from 5/7/17 in “Words, words, words” two Zippy cartoons, one on “battology: the excessive repetition of a word or phrase”, a (WS WS) word that Zippy then repeats three times; the other on Zippy repeating recidivism (W SW SW?)

from 10/3/17 in “Repetitive phrase disorder”, a Zippy on “the tetrametrical mantra turtle-headed sea snakes” (SW SW S S)

from 10/6/18 in “Twisting in the wind”, a Zippy on “the mantra-like repetition of pneumatic wiggly thing (iambic trimeter)” (WS WS WS)

from 10/19/19 in “Another Griffithian mantra”, on “the hypnotic pleasures of mantric repetition, a favorite theme of Bill Griffith’s”, with cosmic catnip alpine scratcher (SW SW SW SW)

from 11/27/19 in “At the onomatomania dinette”, a Zippy on Do-Nut Dinette (SW WS)


3 Responses to “Between the glutes”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    I’m hoping there have been some studies on the remarkable “I Am Easily Assimilated” — on the text, on the music (its melodies, rhythms, and harmonies), and on the fit of music and text.

  2. Mark Mandel Says:

    “I Am Easily Assimilated”

    You might be interested in the rest of the article, parts 1-5. And in 5, paragraph 32 begins
    «”America” is a kind of second-generation “I Am Easily Assimilated,” treating the same subject matter in a way not dissimilar to its Candide predecessor. Here Bernstein keeps some of the more vital aspects of the Hispanic, and seems to treat it more “seriously,” at least to the extent that it is the most authentically Hispanic piece in the score. The number is an amalgam of two Latin American traditions: it combines the indigenous Mexican form, the huapango with the Puerto Rican genre of the seis. …»

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