July 02, 2010

Baby, Let Me Show You a World Without Sin

I don't know where you're going / But you don't know where I've been / Baby, let me show you a world without sin
—Malcolm Reynolds*
Polarity has never been an issue for me. No, I'm not the kind of guy who flies off the handle at random—or at least not for about twelve years or so. Oh sure, there's the odd presidential election meltdown or sudden spasm of selfish mania—but in general I've been a pretty even-keeled guy while the rest of the world has gone to shit. I'm not bragging—I'm empathetic to the myriad all-important passions of my friends and family, and even indulge in a few of those when it matters—but it's been a good lesson in zen after going certifiable for most of the late '90s. I have lived in a calm, mellow, bland universe of mature reflection and deliberate balance. So today, when a truly beautiful Friday went suddenly, brutally Sideways, I nearly lost it. Seriously—bizarro brain chemistry was all-powerful, and I questioned my own Purpose In Life.

The cause of today's spontaneous combustion isn't important—explaining certain professional frustrations to the uninitiated is never easy for a worker bee like myself, but whatever—and there's no real point in bringing it up, except for this: I re-learned that glorious truth we all must remind ourselves of periodically. Yes, the Wisdom, the Righteous Natural Law that prescribes the only way to deal with the universe's random perpendicularity: when life throws you sideways, drink your V-8 and bend everything else back the way it should be, with pure will. Control the uncontrollable. Respond with such overwhelming force, such sheer ability, such monstrously awesome power that all who behold it quake in awe and gladly accept that they are beaten. Or not. Hell, it's not for me to tell anyone how to behave or how to live. If you believe that what you do for work or play is Good, Worthy, and Moral then who am I to criticize? Indeed, why shouldn't I just sit back and mind my own business, since it's the only real thing I truly excel at? Why shouldn't I keep on the Grand Tour of a World Without Sin? Huh? Why not?

I'll tell you why—and forgive the inner Miles Copeland transmogrification here—because it's BORING. How many people became Dante Aligheri groupies after reading the boring-as-whale-shit afterbirth known as "Paradiso?" None. Zero. Everyone was already flattened and sacked-out from throwing their collective undergarments at him because of "Inferno," weren't they? Oh, you know they were. "Purgatorio" might be the underrated critics' fave, but the sins were what put the asses in the seats, every time. No one likes to read happy stories, no matter what Hollywood or Madison Avenue or "Got a Happy Story" might claim. No, we live for the ugliness and depravity; we yearn for the revelation that someone out there, some other poor bastard, is much worse off than we are. This is a human thing—Americans are just better at self-delusion when it comes to this, unlike, say, the English—and while some believe that's what makes us Mighty, I am not one of them.

No, I'm firmly in the "people are much weirder than they seem" camp. I mean, just think about what we've seen so far, these past weeks: impotent wrath over some hubristic blogger's liberation from the Washington Post, bickering envy from everyone who believed Diego Maradonna was done for long ago, stupefying sloth from congresscritters only too happy to kick the unemployed when they're down, incalculable avarice from every rich (and wish-they-were-rich) enemy of the goofy hodgepodge Financial Regulation bill, a Supreme Court nominee's unabashed gluttony for Chinese food, rabid lust by a female senator for fictitious pinup-monsters, and—last but not least—the infinite vanity of Mick Jagger, complete with old-lady scarf and ex-President accessory. Easier targets like Michael Steele, Manny Ramirez, or the entire fallacy of Toronto/G20 don't even register in the lower reaches of Sin's rusty edifice in comparison. Not even oceans full of black death (with their attendant redneck politician apologists) and double-dip recessions (with their attendant weak-bowelled financial advisors) could even get in the door at this point. Not when hot Guatemalan girls I used to know in college are more despondent over Brazlian fütbol failure than their own auto-accident fallout. Priorities, mis amigos, priorities—Dutch Courage means something totally different now, doesn't it?

Ah yes, because in my own personal corner of green, leafy, middle-class, artery-clogged torpitude, everything is all right, darlin'. The sun is shining, and everything is fine. Never mind the long hours, crushing demands, and June gloom of yester-month. That is all gone now, like Landon Donovan or Stanley McChrystal or Research 2000, and Life…she is Good. Novels get written, songs get sung, rock bands get re-formed, and art is created, appreciated, and (best of all) Paid For In Full. Marketing Marches On, baby. Gray hair we can deal with. Love handles, we can ignore. Coffee-yellow teeth, we can bleach. Why? Dude, do you even need to ask? It's Independence Day Weekend in America, man—and we native sons and daughters of groovy socio-capitalism's last gleaming are here to PARTY! Oh, bring it. Right on. The '90s revival is right around the corner, y'all, and that wild orgy of triumphalism will never, ever, EVER get old—for it was the time of our Youth and Young Man/Womanhood. Yes yes, I'm dating myself here—with apologies to the elder and younger idealists among us—but in the '90s, my friends, you could date yourself however you wanted. And hey, if I need to explain that, well…I'll tell you when you're older. What happens in 1997 stays in 1997, okay?

Now, where the fuck was I? Jesus, you throw back a few and everything vanishes upstairs—just like Nancy Reagan said. Or was it President Ronnie, before he was kidnapped by ninjas and had to be saved by the Army of Bad Dudes? I can't remember anymore—all these little Reagans running around Ventura County sucking down Tea have me seeing double. Anyway, I think I may have said it better in the more recent past, so if you care to make sense of all this silly shit, maybe you should look elsewhere for those seven deadly sins that Just Won't Die:

We Move Like We're Suspended in Amber 1.27.10
Walk On Your Lips Through Busted Glass 2.5.10
The Horrible Burden of Being Right All the Time, Part II 2.14.10
When "Rock and Roll" Only Meant One Thing 3.16.10
It's Always Amateur Hour Somewhere, Part I 4.26.10
It's Always Amateur Hour Somewhere, Part II 5.15.10
Sometimes You Break a Finger on the Upper Hand 5.25.10

Happy Friday, boys and girls. You're welcome. Oh, and * Mal didn't say that—I did.

6 comments:

  1. Har! The Best "Worst Video Game Concept Ever!" Award most definitely should go to Bad Dudes. Because when the President is kidnapped the only people who can save him are totally a couple of random guys in sweat pants and headbands who like getting into bar fights.

    Also, people love Sin, but they also like a happy ending -- it's reassuring to know that even the most depraved of us can achieve absolution some day. After all, Dante didn't stay in Hell, did he? (Well, not that his writings tell us, anyway.) The adventure of the sin excites us; the hope that committing it won't fuck us over forever is what keeps us sane.

    Thank you, St. Augustine, you self-centered bastard.

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  2. Augustine was the Jay Gatsby of his day—a stone cold poser with a weak spine and no self-worth.

    And yes, people love sin with happy endings—but they also like to see people get what they allegedly deserve.

    Thanks for your call tonight man. It was a life-vest of levity in a sea of fail.

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  3. And by "St. Augustine" I actually mean St. Augustine. Just in case it seemed like I was calling you a self-centered bastard.

    That assumption would take its own kind of self-centeredness. :)

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  4. But I am a self-centered guy. I defy you to be offended at my non-offended-ness.

    Or something.

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  5. Woah! You posted as I was typing.

    Glad I could help, bro. Didn't realize it was that much of a painful day, though I certainly know what you mean. Give me a few beers and mention the OI and I'll probably tear off onto a rant of profanity-laced screed that most of my friends have already heard hundreds of times.

    Sometimes literally having to deal with shit is easy, though -- it washes off without too much trouble. Emotional shitstorms leave residue that is harder to ignore (unless you are Tyler Durden) and is liable to bubble to the surface at irritatingly badly-timed moments. An emotional BP Oil Spill, kind of. (Upon re-reading this it sounds hilariously pompous. But I'll leave it anyway.)

    I'm sorry that today was one of those days. I hope that the beer you had tonight tasted good, and that you get a chance to play the bass this weekend, should you feel the urge.

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  6. I got skillz, bro. One of them is certainly exaggeration. Another is doing the dishes. Which I need to get to, since Em will be home tomorrow. :)

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