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Wednesday, January 6,2010

I wanna text you up

Two books compile raunchy messages from Kilpatrick and college students

by Bill Castanier
All 50 states have laws against drinking and driving; 18 states have laws against driving and texting. Two new books by Michigan authors on the texting phenomenon make a strong case against sex, drinking and texting.

Drinking has always contributed to bad behavior, but add texting and there is not only a whole new level of impropriety there is a record of it that can be passed around on the Web and on cell phones. Add sex to that formula, and away we go.


Texting even helped Detroit Free Press reporters Jim Schaefer and M.L. Elrick win a Pulitzer Prize last year. They have collaborated on a new book, “The Kwame Sutra,” an 80-page paperback collection of the words of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, whom the authors helped to unseat, thanks to his frequent lewd text messages to his chief of staff (and co-conspirator in adultery), Christine Beatty.


An example:


CB: “And did you miss me, sexually?” KK: “Hell yeah! You couldn’t tell. I want some more. Don’t sleep.”


Or how about this one: “Yeah I sold weed in college.”


The text messages between Kilpatrick and Beatty not only uncovered the sexual heat between the two, they revealed lies they had told to a grand jury, which ultimately cost them their careers and landed them both in jail. Copies of the text messages (estimated to number nearly 250,000) were instrumental evidence in breaking the story.


To be fair, in their new book — which is already in its third printing — the journalists have often interspersed inspirational quotes from the former mayor along with some pretty hot text erotica. This is not “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” but more like Henry Miller’s “Sexus.” The book is available locally at Schuler Books and Music and Barnes & Noble, or it can be ordered by visiting www.kwamesutra.com.


It may be too late for a stocking-stuffer, but Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and former MSU students Lauren Leto and Ben Bator’s new book “Texts from Last Night” will make the perfect present for someone who has a broad mind. The two students saw a business opportunity in those texts sent late at night and in the early morning after an evening of imbibing.


Initially they founded www.textsfromlastnight.com to collect the exceedingly lowbrow messages. The site gets up to a million hits a day, with eager contributors supplying what the authors call “all the texts no one remembers sending.” Actually, that can be the good news/bad news scenario, since a large number of the texts relate to inappropriate (or appropriate) sexual activity described in the crude, terse voice of text. You may want to forget that you sent them, but here they are for everyone to read.


A typical example goes like this: “I just woke up in bed with 4 girls. Either I don’t remember the best night of my life or they think im gay.” Or how about this one: “I wish my penis had an off switch.” And these are the tamer ones among an online archive of more than a million text messages; think “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” without Tucker Max’s prose.


The chapters in “Texts from Last Night” include among others: “Our Favorite Texts,” “Ladiesss Night,” “Grubbing Out,” “Cheaters,” “Drinks” and “The Green.” “Green” refers to pot and all the stupid things associated with it, like eating candle wax.


Some of the texts, to be fair, are not about sex or sexual peccadilloes. They are just good-natured fun, taking a poke at everything from pot smoking to parental relations. And not all the texts are clearly forgotten as the authors suggest. The guy who texted about visiting Disneyland and having sex with Sleeping Beauty — well, you can be pretty sure he remembered that.


Texting at all hours of the day and night with specific sexual and stupid activity is not about to go away soon. Bloggers have claimed the authors have made the texts up, but why would they bother since there seems to be an unlimited reservoir of men and women who are addicted to making their exploits semi-public (the only ID required to post on the site is an area code). Not every text makes it to the finals, and the authors say they make sure nothingreally degrading makes it online. But what the authors consider disgusting is a good question. Chains? Whips? It sure isn’t poop or farts or any other bodily function.


The Web site recently began promoting its iPhone app and its custom t-shirts imprinted with any text on the Web site you choose. Can’t wait to get one with “I wish I could be a nicer person.”


And for those with a literary bent this text sounds more like the plot of an O. Henry short story: “So I went on a date with this girl...and whos our waitress? My girlfriend got a second job she didn’t tell me about to afford my bday present.”


Anonymous (clearly an English major) answers: “Very depressing. Kind of like the Gift of the Magi except the male character is a total dickhead.”


Frankly, some of the texts make you LOL and some … well, like this year’s NYE texts, are just sad.


But with more than 4 billion texts sent daily across the globe, you can bet they will keep coming.


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