I’m as earthy-crunchy as the next tree-hugger…but even I was stopped cold by the sign on the other side of this porn shop here in Columbus, Ohio. “Recycle Your Porn,” one sign exorts while another proclaims “We Buy Used Magazines and Videos.” Uh, does anyone really want a used porno mag, given what such magazines are usually “used” for? And do I even need to point out the wry double-entendre apparent in a porn store sign that advises you to “Enter in Rear”?

Ahem. Next slide, please.

My folks’ neighborhood is seedy by just about anyone’s standards. Although the names have changed over the years, the strip club on the corner of my parents’ street has been there as long as I can remember, and the porn shop on the street where we used to live has been there since I was a child. It’s a given that the Mirage (or the Driftwood, or the Oasis) will be hiring dancers whenever I come home: in the past, in fact, Chris and I have joked that this would offer me a reliable fall-back career if the whole professor thing doesn’t work out. (For the record, if anyone saw Teri Hatcher trying out her pole-dancing moves on Jay Leno last night, let me assure you that I dance just like that. Or not. I’ll leave you to wonder about that.) It’s a sad commentary, I think, that the three most “booming” businesses in my parents’ neighborhood are a porn shop, a strip club, and the various “freelancing” ladies who strut their stuff on Main Street looking for “customers.” Do we really need to recycle such seediness? It seems there is a never ending supply.