Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"Friday" and the Absurd Hero: Reflections on Leaving Eugene

Fashion and misunderstanding have condemned me to be labeled insincere in my love for Rebecca Black's "Friday." I think with some reason that she is the Samuel Beckett of our day: laugh out loud (L-O-L) funny yet shot through with the futility and hopelessness of our labor.

If one believes Pretend Bob Dylan from YouTube, Miss Black has put a cuttingly upbeat twist on a song that was originally sung with the resignation and melancholy of a man who lives for the weekend but finds "partyin'" to have an emptiness all its own. According to another tradition, however, her mom just splashed out some big money to make a vanity recording of a vapid pop song. Who can see a contradiction here? Opinions differ as to the reasons why artistic trends have led us into such a postmodern enigma of layered ironicality. To begin with, Bob Dylan is accused of a certain levity with regard to the greats of American music. He stole their 45s. Robert Zimmerman, the boy who had been but is no more, had been carried off by records from Folkways and Sun and a fantasy of being Woody Guthrie. His father didn't much notice and didn't complain to no one. The folkies of New York, who knew of the abduction, subduction, and transportation of the boy who was, didn't complain either. History also tells us he had disturbed the acoustic conventions when "Woody" was gone. The boring hipsters could not endure the strange new tones. They dispatched the god of war at first, but then decided to go to a different concert already... geez.

It is said that Dylan, having had too many amphetamines (and too many admirers), wanted to test his fans' love. He ordered up a set of Gordon Lightfoot and Paul Simon covers. He came to to find even fewer boring hipsters hassling him at his house. That was cool, I guess, but one has to have one's bowl and one's cereal. And when he went drivin' down the highway, he loved crusin' so fast. A decree of gravity was necessary. He couldn't control his motorcycle too well, snatching him from the rat race, leading him forcibly back to his house, where The Band were ready for him.

You can't yet have guessed that Pretend Bob Dylan from YouTube is the absurd hero. He is, and he is little more Pretend than "the real" Bob Dylan, who is a character in the fantasy play of a man of the same name. His scorn of lookin' forward to the weekend, his hatred of fun, fun, fun, fun, and his passion for... nothin' won him the penalty of consciousness of the repetition and vacuity of his own life. That is the price that must be paid for waking up in the morning. Nothing is told us about Dylan in his domestic setting. Myths are made for the imagination; one imagines he gotta go downstairs and struggle with the complexity and vanity of the front seat / back seat conundrum. One imagines this hundreds of times over; one sees the face screwed up, the cheek tight against the 'friend' by his right, the shoulder bracing the schoolbus window, the foot placed firmly in his mouth -- "why did I invite those guys over for partyin'? This can only end in the sad farce of havin' a ball today." At the very end of the work week measured by cold, heartless timekeeping machines, the purpose is achieved. Then Dylan watches 'friends' rush down in a few moments toward the baser aspects of their nature whence he will have to brave false smiles and the morning's hangover to push onward to Friday again. He goes back down to the TPS reports.

It is during that partyin' interlude that Dylan interests me. A face that pretends to be so excited is already so excited itself! But it is just a face. I see Dylan going back down with a heavy but measured step through the sea of partygoers of which he will never know the end. Those hours are as much his suffering as his 9 to 5. For this reason, they are the hours of his consciousness. At each of those moments when he does those allegedly fun things and finds them wanting, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock & roll.

If this reality is tragic, that is because its hero is out of amphetamines. Where would his torture be, indeed, if he had enough uppers to overlook the boring nature of his party guests? The average worker of today also lives for the weekend, and his fate is no less absurd. But it is tragic only at the rare moments of sobriety when one's party experience becomes conscious. Dylan knows the whole extent of his condition: this is what he thinks of on Friday. The 'excitement' that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory. There is no hipster that cannot be surmounted by scorn.

If partyin', partyin', yeah! is sometimes performed in sorrow, it can also take place in triumph. When the call to be so excited becomes too insistent, it happens that melancholy arises in man's heart: this is Friday's victory, this is Friday itself. The boundless futility is too heavy to bear. But crushing truths perish from being WASTED! Thus, the graffiti artists of Eugene obey fate without knowing it: "WE LIKE TO CRUNCH YOU!" But from the moment he knows, his crunching-related tragedy begins. Yet at the same moment, blind and desperate, he realizes the only bond linking him to the world is a crazy one night stand. Then a tremendous remark rings out: "LTD can lick my sweaty, shaven nutsack! Go Ducks!" The graffiti artist, like the sweaty nutsack guy, thus gives the recipe for the absurd victory. Brain damage confirms modern heroism.

One does not discover Friday without being tempted to write a manual for Christianity. "You either got faith or you got unbelief -- 'cause there ain't no neutral ground!" There is but one world, however. The work week and the weekend are two sons of the same earth. It would be a mistake to say that partyin' necessarily springs from Friday. It happens as well that Friday springs from partyin'. "I don't want this weekend to end," says Dylan, and that remark is sacred. It makes fate a human matter, which must be settled by having a ball today.

The absurd man says "we so excited" and that makes all the difference. Clearly he not so excited, yet he knows himself to be the master of his days.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Future is Geordie/Jersey Shore

This is my reply to Charlie Brooker's Guardian piece about media hate figures.

Aside to Americans: Pretend this article is about Jersey Shore, which I've mercifully only seen once, and all the rest applies.

The saddest thing of all is that the "media hate figures" aren't just on these improbably stupid "reality" shows, they're also on more plausibly stupid "reality" "contest" shows and cable news and in the Congress. Realizing this is like seeing the FedEx arrow for the first time: you can never unsee it. It doesn't matter who wins and loses, it's who makes the most memorable caricature or acts in the most despicable fashion. When you see it, these people stop being hate objects and initially become first class comedians, but in the end the whole world turns to ash (by which I mean a meta-ironical farce centered on the spirit of "the individual" who supposedly knows himself but doesn't even know why he has his tits out).

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bug report to Facebook

This is an actual bug report I made to The Facebook. I welcome all manner of comments.

Why is it that, while there is a trend towards "automatic" sharing, which is supposed to make sharing links and ideas with my friends so easy I don't even have to do it, I have to try to read some inscrutable captacha when I want to share a link to a news story? Is it because I share too many links? If so, think of me as a loyal user of your platform and don't tax my eyesight.

Also, with regard to automatically shared news links and music, are you serious or what? I don't want to have to add an "app," as you call it, just to read a story that's potentially (but probably not) interesting. Does that seem worth the potential risk of sharing my personal information with (yet another) third party? If you think I'm spamming you now, why would should the fact that there's an "app" for that change the fact that I'm spamming you? I read loads of articles on the internet, and the ones I post comprise a very small fraction of that set. I post the ones that I like best, or that I think my friends will like best, or the ones I'm not embarrassed  to share with a group of hundreds of people that includes a range of social circles from close friends to [guy I met at a party once] to [family member I don't want to tell grandma I am a lush / commie pinko / gay rights sympathizer]. Maybe I would like to ogle Scarlett Johansson's bum without broadcasting that fact to Yahoo News and a bunch of relative strangers. Maybe I want to know why it hurts when I pee without engaging the machinery of the fourth estate. Maybe I don't have anything to hide, but I've made a conscious decision to keep certain things to myself "just cos." You know, privacy.

Are you high? Are you high right now? Or do you think this is going to boost your profit margin? Sharing a link with you is sharing a link with you. The ads still get displayed and/or clicked on whether I use the "app" or not. Likewise, you can ad that I prefer to read a particular news source or that I have a particular interest by parsing the URL or metadata. There's no need to open an even bigger hole in my privacy by allowing some BOFH or social media moron at The Guardian see the data you dutifully store away in a database that's so big that RELATIONALITY IS NO LONGER FEASIBLE. Why is that even a good idea? Think about your life. Think about your choices.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Does making changes to your weblog make you live longer?

I would like there to be one of those pop-ups asking you to take a survey as soon as you find yourself on one of my webpages that you were only minimally interested in. Ideally the pop-up will black out the text you came here to read based on a title that's only minimally related to the body text (i.e., what the economically-minded will call "content" on the mistaken assumption that I digest pointless words made up of tiny pixels only to express it as waste matter or "web-streaming," in the language of the 1%ers). Make it go away I can't bear to look at it anymore. Give me a survey pop-up or give me death. I would like to share my opinions about a text I haven't read on a website I haven't heard of that isn't about what I thought it was and if you won't let me do it just end it for me before the agony becomes too much. Promise? Changing your weblog won't make you live longer. Nothing will. Is it a cliche to claim that an article isn't worth writing if you can answer its title with a yes or a no? No, a cliche is a typesetting implement that only typography-[heart]ing hipsters will appreciate. Altering a cliche is like poking your typesetter in the face with a hot iron. Also, clever! God, I love me some altered cliches like a dead horse. You don't have a typesetter. You don't even have someone to read your copy. You don't know what copy is. Push it to the Web. Push, push, push, Williams-- push, push, push. But mainly I would like a pop-up ad to obscure these pointless words. They will not help you. Do not read them. Do not let them upset you. They are good words, like content and monetization. This weblog is monetized; give me the money please. [Find: "please" replace all with "if you please."] Incoherent lightly, do you telephone? No, no, not on this backbone, smartly.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Barack Obama's new speech on gay marriage

    My fellow Americans, if there is anyone out there who still doubts that it was possible for me to end my long evolution from my na├»ve days as a state senator supporting gay marriage, to going back into the closet to serve as your president, and up to the present day, tonight is your answer. It's the answer told by my decision to take the Citizens United case one step further and allow corporations to marry anyone they like, just like the American citizens they are. Now any American can marry anyone they like, except for the gays, but, like, gross. This is your evolution!
    The speech will start out by pandering to the gays, the not-gays, the disabled, the not-disabled, the minorities, the not-minorities, the people who I can comfortably label, and the people I can't comfortably label but can comfortably sit down to dinner with. But by the end, you'll all be upset by my carefully considered bland hypocrisy.
    This evolution exists thanks to the people sitting at home with a microwaveable dinner and popping in the sort of DVD that can unite Americans from all walks of life by portraying gender stereotypes in a way that makes us all cringe. This is your evolution
    To paraphrase a great American, the late Bobby Kennedy: “Some people see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say, why not string you along under the pretense of waiting for a politically opportune moment while your long-term partner dies in a hospital bed you are not allowed to sit by?”
    Earlier today I received a most gracious call from my opponent, Mitt Romney, congratulating me on selling out. I have thought long and hardly about this evolution, but Governor Romney has thought about it longer and more seldom than me. “Corporations are people, my friends,” he says. Tonight, I am here to prove him right. In addition to forming my own SuperPAC, I am happy to announce a new horizon in American family values: the corporate right to marry. I congratulate Romney on his achievements in service of corporations and in knowing how tall trees are.
    But after talking about all this gay stuff, I would like to assure you that your president is uber-straight by telling you about my white bread family and the puppy, too. Those heterosexual norms rock. I got mine. Now, you can got yours, too, as long as you're publicly traded. This is your evolution. It belongs to you.
    Never mind an environmental record that's nearly as bad as George Bush's. Never mind those illegal wars I took a lot longer than promised to get America out of... sort of. Never mind that in this economy, a college graduate will be lucky to work bagging groceries. Tonight, this victory is yours.
    Never mind that my Attorney General's take on “due process” is a real John Ashcroft-quality move or that I've also evolved from calling Guantanamo unconstitutional to using it as a model for taking away Americans' right to a trial. Tonight, we inaugurate a new spirit of sacrifice – of giving up your daughters for Exxon-Mobile. As a father, using the slut word makes me uncomfortable. Comparing wage slavery to prostitution is so untoward that it might make people notice that I'm not only not a socialist but well far right of the pope. I don't like to hear our daughters put down in such a way. So I'll just say this: “drill, baby, drill!” Who doesn't want their kids to marry up in the world? This is your evolution.
    Let's leave behind our history of partisanship and pettiness. Let's heal those divides and promise to get things done, as long as what's getting done is good for the bottom line of a megacorp that doesn't pay taxes in the United States.
    Let me tell you a story about an old lady – a lesbian – a story about her heartache and her hope. She has lived through wars and gas shortages, being ostracized by her peers and her family, public health crises and crises of public conscience... also gas shortages. Those must have really hurt. At a time when young boys and girls are taking their own lives in despair and isolation: yes we can! At a time when lesbians' voices were silenced... you know what, I got nothing. Yes we can!
    She was there to witness a generation rise to greatness, a generation that didn't give a shit about her. Yes we can! A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by the American telcos. And in the last election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because she believed I would do something about heterosexual privilege. Man, what a sucker. Yes we can!
    This is our chance to answer the call to progress. This is our moment. This is our time to end discrimination against corporations and allow them to fulfill their dreams of marriage. Remember: this is your evolution. You deserve it.
    Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Feminists gone wild!

The article "JFK and 19-year-old White House intern Mimi Alford -- a truly shameful revelation" from a Fox News contributor is truly shameful. I normally like reading the 'feminists' hired on by the likes of Fox or the Daily Mail (Femail) because it's good for a laugh, but this is simply irredeemable, not least of all because its author holds a PhD in psychology and has a website full of 'feminist' articles. Since when have so many morons held advanced degrees? I refer, of course, to Newt Gingrich and friends.

The article opens with an image of an innocent girl's aspirations to 'marry' a prince, with no commentary on where those aspirations might have come from. Then there's a bit of Tea Party-style leader bashing. Phyllis Chesler calls Monica Lewinsky a hoebag, and after she says that Marilyn Monroe and Judith Exner were hoebags.

Feminist protip: don't call women hoebags.

Chesler says it's fine that these adult women were hoebags because at least they were consciously advancing their careers. But God forbid the president have consensual sex with a 19 year old -- one can't meaningfully consent at 19. Basically, in one paragraph she accuses president Kennedy of command rape and in the next says, "but he wasn't a rapist."

Glad we cleared that up.

Next she describes sex workers as hoebags, then implies that they are traitors for writing about their encounters. She vaguely refers to "similar" abuses from our leaders (without clearing up which of the many abuses she's written about are in question) and nuclear weapons in the same sentence, implying that our long history of leaders with knobs instead of brains has made us less safe.
If anything, sexually deviant presidents have saved us from total annihilation: I'd rather the president was getting a blowjob than launching a strike during a nuclear crisis. In fact, I propose keeping anyone who has the authority to use weapons of mass destruction SO busy with blowjobs that they can't remember their own name-- at least until such time as our puny human minds have figured out that nuclear weapons are never an option.

Chesler makes out that one's sex life isn't private in an age where some people make sex tapes to gain notoriety. 24/7 news cycles and Facebook don't in themselves constitute an argument for anything, and for all the wacky antics our Supreme Court has gotten up to these last years, it seems to be moving in a sensible direction with regard to keeping government out of your bedroom.
She turns to breaking down our golden age view of the past by giving a litany of presidential and gubernatorial infidelities. For good measure, let's throw Anthony Weiner in the same boat as Tiger Woods, because that makes sense. Why not slag off the recently dead Ted Kennedy, too? In the face of all the Kennedy tragedy, "One would have hoped for no further dirt." Alas, some hoebag had to dig some more up, shattering my golden age image of Kennedy as a sex maniac to replace it with one of a sex maniac who has been accused as a rapist. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Is Santa Claus the Antichrist? (part one)

Author's note: Now that we find ourselves well into February, it seems an appropriate time of year to begin our annual investigation into the War on Christmas. Back around December 26th, when I realized that for the umpteenth time in my life I hadn't received the present I most wanted -- heaps of cash -- I began to suspect that Santa Claus was in fact the Antichrist. Let us begin part one of our investigation with two meditations:

"Did you hear about the dyslexic devil worshiper? He prayed to Father Christmas." -A man who claims not to be homeless

"Dude was greasier than Satan's balls / and he wouldn't return my letters nor calls" -Dante Alighieri

Following some instructions I found on the Internet, I decided to head  straight to the source: Santa Himself. I put on my money t-shirt and Santa hat, queued up that Kenny G number from A Very Merry Chipmunk on my brand-name hi-fi, and generally got moody. I also had my dad print out some North Pole themed stationary and help me find my big kid pens. I decided to use the red and green colored ones for this letter.

After a month, I have received no reply. I can confirm that Santa will neither confirm nor deny that He is in league with the Prince of Darkness. Awfully suspicious, don't you think? Already this throws dubiousity on his Christian credentials. Should he not be ready to confess that the Bigger Guy is His Savior? Sure, we all have a little Manichean in our past. In the words of another Fat Man, "everybody's just a little bit homo-sexual." We could deal with that, Santa, even if Mrs Claus were less than sympathetic. Skeletons in the closet -- literally? Everything's been forgiven, girls! You can come home! But a lack of faith? Non, mon capitaine.

If the secrecy on this matter reveals anything, it's that Santa be illin'. But it may also be true that he also be marking us in a beastly fashion, if you'll pardon the pun.

Dear Santa Claus.

It's me, Luke. Are you there? I understand you get a lot of letters everyday, but this isn't your creditor Luke, it's the other one. You know, with the hair. Of course you know. You know everything. You see me when I'm sleeping and everything ;-) but you never call just to say hi. You only call when things aren't going well. What did I do wrong? I promise I haven't been too naughty.

So, how have you been? Are the reindeer staying out of trouble? Seen any good broads lately? That Mrs Claus is nice and all, but she really needs to lay off the eggnog if she's going to pretend to deserve you. Me? I'm going okay I guess. I just recently figured out that I'm such a miserable fuck because some asshole let George Carlin onto kids' TV. Thanks for asking.

Here's the part where I tell you how good I've been this year. Like, whoa! Not only did I put all my toys away, but I only used toys that would help in the fight against the War Against Christmas. I particularly made use of my toy sword, and those unbelievers couldn't get enough of my ray gun.

I know it's polite enough to limit my toy list to two or three things, but I'll keep it to one. Please bring me heaps of cash.

Thanks for bringing me toys every year. It's nice enough, I guess, even if what I really want is heaps of cash. You're great.


PS- Are you a Satanist or what?
Then I asked my parents to put it in the mail for me. What's the hold up for then?

Part two of this investigation later as soon as my parents allow me more computer time. As always, I welcome your comments.