November 27, 2009

Pompous Pontifications for Two Thousand Ten


It's that time again, folks: we're all about to be inundated with not only year-ending, but decade-ending "best-of" and "coming soon" lists, so I thought I'd do as the Romans do and pile on like gangbusters. Since I got the impetus from David Garland's marketing predictions on Rise Underground, I'll do the professional thing and pretend to be knowledgeable about these things too. See, unlike Garland, I have no resources to back myself up, but that's never really stopped me before, now has it? So this is more what I'd like to see happen, instead of what will happen. Let's get to it, then:

ONE: Blind, Dumb Panic Will Continue to Drive Sales
Because you can never go wrong betting on herd behavior when it comes to business, right? Depending on nebulous ideas and tenuous concepts has been the name of the game for years, but scratching and clawing for better deals will never go out of style. Hurry, or someone else will get the shit that is rightfully yours!

TWO: Keeping Up With Everything Will Be Passé
Appearing current and with it, and actually being that, are obviously two very different things. I predict people will have less and less patience for doing so—except when they're in the throes of blind, dumb panic.

THREE: Taking Everything Seriously Will Be Boring
Happily, the onslaught of earnest, do-goody impulses has not overwhelmed the national psyche since the inauguration of Barack Obama. I do like the guy, and he knows how to market himself, but humorless idealism makes me snore. Why? I am an unapologetic child of the ironic '90s, that's why, and I don't have any patience for other self-important "experts in their field." Even though I'm behaving like one right now.

FOUR: Positive Thinkers Will Be Harshly Discredited
Having self-confidence and setting goals is one thing, but clinging desperately to bogus what-if scenarios and other empty self-help denialist bullshit like that will fall out of favor in lieu of steely-eyed, ruthless pragmatism. Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?

FIVE: Professional Arrogance Will Be Rightly Crucified
This can't happen fast enough. I am so, so tired of the clubby, exclusionary snobbery of so-called professionals, in any field—and I am one. Look, it's one thing to be good at something and love doing it and getting paid for that—and it's quite another to sneak into the closing door and slam it shut behind you just to cover your own ass and keep the riffraff out. I saw enough of that crap when I was in struggling indie bands, and I see it all the time in marketing. It's wretched, fearful behavior—until I do it. Then it's just good business.

Okay, more on all this silly stuff later. I've got a dinner date, so toodles.

November 21, 2009

We're Not So Different, You and I



I am not a good person. I've known this for a long time now, but for some reason people insist on disbelieving me. It's true, though—I'm a bad man, and I work in an evil business, full of bitchy little plastic people with humorless agendas and fearful, envious hearts. It absolutely sucks, and yet conversely I feel right at home being a judgmental jerk among my peers and colleagues. Admitting that took a little while, but I've always felt inherently bad—or at least "not good"—and I think that is one of the reasons why I've lasted so long in this wretched industry. I've dispensed with the illusion that I'm a well-intentioned, vaguely friendly person full of good will toward all humanity.

All my best, most creative schemes are foiled by humanity, you see. My creative energy has always been negative, and for some reason this makes people uncomfortable. They keep insisting that I have patience for their wide variety of hang-ups, and they gripe bitterly when I don't—throwing around meaningless words like "empathy" and "trust" and "feelings" as if those concepts still carried currency with anyone over the age of five. I guess just don't really care what other people think, but I am in the hilarious position of working in a business where that is the central (perhaps even the only) commandment in this self-obsessed age: Thou Shalt Give A Shit About Everything.

Except I don't—the pathetic, insecure projections of positively-thinking people; the knee-jerk, reactionary humorlessness of self-gratifyingly serious people; the willful, fantasyland ignorance of delusional people; the smug sneering of hopelessly righteous people—I'm bored with it all. Humanity's emotional convulsions perennially fail to affect me. Or at least it all would affect me, if I bothered to take any of it personally, See, that's the key: I refuse to take any of it personally. Everyone always takes life, the universe, and everything too personally, and that's where the trouble starts. They are unnerved by the universe's inherent absurdity, and vehemently deny that any creation so awesome could be based on such a simple, contradictory concept. I mean, if God accidentally sneezes, are Her boogers not divine? Is Her snot-rag not a receptacle of genius? If I believed in God, that would be worth pursuing, but I don't really care either way, so fuck it.

Simple apathy isn't a viable engine of evil, though—no matter how many times people cite that "bad shit happens when good men do nothing" idea. That's flogging a wretched undead nag for sure. No, active badness is definitely where it's at. Nice guys not only finish last—they finish forgotten, if they even finish at all—and I do not intend to be forgotten, dude. Not for a few generations, at least. The best way to accomplish that, of course, is to selfishly inflict my DNA on the future via procreation, but the ensuing eighteen years of dedicated, loving parental care would be wholly unattractive to my egomaniacal sensibilities, even if beholding my new-born progeny would induce a flood of sympathetic brain chemistry. I am a creative thinker, though, and I do get that feeling from the things I create—be they for business or personal or mucus-expelling reasons—and since divinity complexes can be central traits of evil people, that's another check-swing, foul-tip strike against me.

A further failing is simple: I am a liar, and I've learned to accept that I will continue to lie, just like Henry Rollins. Indeed, I'm not really concerned with the morality of lying anymore—I don't mind lying to people, as long as the lie has a solid foundation beneath it and I won't be hurting anyone by doing so. So yes, I am a liar, but I am a very bad liar. Not a big liar—I've never brought down corporations or ruined marriages or cheated the IRS—but I couldn't be a successful big, sociopathic liar even if I wanted to, because I am lazy. Yes, I am a slave to sloth—as I've previously stated ad nauseam—and getting away with whopping lies is not a job for slackers. No, skillful prevarication is not the province of chronically tardy people with poor attitudes, and my attitude is very poor indeed—or rather it would be if it showed up on time. Now, that is not the way to claw your way up the ladder of service-oriented, self-affirming corporate culture, my friends, but it has long been my chosen path.

But that path is also no way to politely disengage oneself from political discourse at any level, and I have been hopelessly mired in American politics since the age of eleven. As one great contemporary philosopher describes it, "people who follow politics closely cannot comprehend people who aren't partially lying. They are intellectually paralyzed by literal messages." Yeah, as if "there's always got to be something else going on, man!" But there isn't. There's no light at the end of the tunnel and there's no secret cabal pulling the strings, let alone a capriciously benevolent divine being. Just the continual dull roar of humanity—boring, but to me, true. Whereas people who casually follow politics—or who are only beginning to follow politics—are singularly incapable of accepting figuratively-based thought. Face value is the only currency, and deliberative debate for its own sake is as suspicious and evil as black magic.

And that's absurd—a universal virtue if ever there was one—but since the most interesting place to be is always right in the middle of a contradiction, I'm okay with that, too. I am not a Christian, and hopefully I never will be, but I recognize a central fallacy of their belief system: "we are all sinners." Indeed we are, but only because the idea of "sin" and "evil" is a reality of our existence. Whether or not that even matters is another question entirely, but I refuse to get bummed out by that. Life in general is much better than the alternative, especially if it's spiced with the occasional spasms of self-indulgent behavior. And I am almost totally fueled by that, dude. After all, I currently enjoy a comfortable happy existence, in a pretty place, full of nice people—and I am supposed to feel guilty about this? I'm gonna be judged because of that? Really? Really? Now that, that is absurd. That's skipping the decline and going straight to the fall, man.

Since I want to accept chaotic absurdity, however, I'll deal. I'm not so anxious to push the reset button yet. I'm not so preoccupied with wasting my time and love and energy on the accomplishments of people I'll never meet, or with martyring myself for their immutable, pristine, and lifeless principles. I'll let that which does not matter truly slide, because the posturing bores are not worth engaging. Someone else can grapple with illogical contradictions and try to curve the sharp corners of the surrounding, resolutely square reality.

Cross-posted: dkos, dd

November 08, 2009

How Can You Have Any Pudding if You Don't Eat Your Meat?



Ye gods, the damn ungrateful brats just never stop screaming, do they? You work all day to bring home the bacon and they just turn up their noses at it. The very idea of it all, indeed! Why can't they just eat their sausages like good little children, huh? Why won't they just swallow, grin and bear it, and beg for more? Don't they understand how hard Dad busted his own ass all day to pay for this? Don't they appreciate how Mom slaved over a hot stove all night to put it on the table? I mean, really—who in their right mind would have the sheer nerve to push it away and demand their pudding? What the hell, son?

Listen you whiny little shits, I don't care how much pudding Bobby and Suzy's parents give them; hell, they could eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for all we know—they're hideously obese enough, aren't they? Do you want to turn out like that? Huh? Do you? No, listen to me when I'm talking to you! I will not have you insult my hard work and your mother's righteous skills with your selfish, puritanical pouting, young man. I will not allow you to treat us that way, young lady. You're going to eat that fucking sausage on your plate, and you're going to like it, or so help me I'll take off my belt right now.

I don't care what you've read in school—what the hell do your teachers know, after all? They're probably all pinko commie vegans anyway. Who does that Mr. Sinclair think he is? Who died and made him Secretary of Agriculture? Jesus, it's not like any of them have had to slog through the killing floor day after day after day, is it? No, their lives aren't awash in polluted effluvia, and they never will be, up in those shiny ivory towers. They have no idea what it takes to work for a living, raise a family, endure an office full of morons and a planet full of fools. Look at all those idiots! Look at all those boobs! Why, I'd wager they wouldn't even know ham form haggis, the smug, sneering elitists!

Dennis? Hey, are you listening to me, son? Look what you did! Look what you did! You've made your mother cry, goddamnit! You've ruined dinner all because you can't take a single solitary bite of sausage! Don't you realize that there are starving people in Africa? Hell, there are even starving people in West Virginia! People who would walk on their lips through busted glass to even get next to that sausage. People who would never in their wildest dreams believe they could sit at a table like this; live in a house on a cul-de-sac like this; leach a cushy existence in an exurb like this!

I mean, go ask any of your snotty little friends in Cub Scouts, son. I'm sure all of them eat their meat with gusto; they're all nice plump little boys, aren't they? Hell yes, just like Marcy's catty cheer camp sisterhood. They don't tolerate any of that binge and purge behavior, no sir! Come to think of it, Marcy, you look like you've lost weight, baby. How 'bout you put away some of that sausage? Put some motion in those moves, girl. Jesus, you wouldn't want those skinny chicken legs showing at halftime tomorrow night, would you? Your mother and I will be at the game, just like we promised, and if you know what's good for you you'll swallow that entire sausage whole, honey.

Look here, I'll show you—it's simple. See, you take the relish and mustard and ketchup and all those other condiments that God has seen fit to provide us, and slather them all over that big ol' kielbasa. Damn right, just like that. See, that's not so bad, is it? Is it? Good, now all you have to do is take that first bite…Go ahead, honey, we'll wait, and…and—hey, Dennis, where the hell do you think you're going? What? What's on TV? Oh Jesus, that's right! Quick, quick everyone—inhale that sausage and get your asses into the den—Top Chef is on!

Ah…now that's better, isn't it? No no, you're not green at all, darling—what, do you think we'd poison you? Never in hell—where do you think we'd be without that tax write-off? Ha! How we get our meat doesn't matter as much as us getting it in the end, does it? This is still America, kids—the Law of the Jungle is still the Law of the Land, after all. Kill or be killed. Is this a great country, or what?

Cross-posted: dkos

November 02, 2009

Birthday Cake is the Breakfast of Kings


AKA "It's That Glorious Time of Year Again, Part III." Getting up at 6 a.m. to eat birthday cake is the only reason to get up this early, but since I have now entered my Jesus Year (for the Christians out there) or my Alexander Year (for the rest of you), I've decided that the coming 12 months between #33 and #34 shall be Momentous Indeed.

Let's just say that since I don't really do New Year's Resolutions, today will have to do: by this time next year I hope to have finished my first novel in some form, complete enough to self-publish and then ignore in favor of new work with the band, which we will be knee-deep in. If that time period also includes travel to someplace I've never been before, I'll also be happy.

So if you feel the earth shake at all between now and 11/2/2010, it'll just be me walking tall and kicking ass. You're welcome.

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