Friday, July 3, 2009

Michael Jackson as an Argument for Anarchism

We've all been either making jokes or trying to make it matter, so we can feel like somebody so "important" was actually a part of our lives and it wasn't all fantasy, but it's been a week since Michael Jackson died and people are still talking about it.
Why not me? It might get this bastard some actual visitors, if I talk about something cheap and topical. Maybe that's low, but his own family has sunk lower, promoting Joe Jackson's new record label, so - not only do I not give a shit, in the first place - I've got obtuse justification for not giving a shit.

Like I said, we've all been making jokes or playing sad. Nobody I've noticed, however, has been saying what I think should be more inevitable than it's proven itself to be; "There goes one possible Anti-Christ."

I know - I know, I said the stigmatic A-C-word & forever metal-branded my forehead with a big, red Bible-thumper scar. But, really, I'm not one to get riled up about the end of times. If I had a stopwatch, set to zero hour, things might be different . . . but I don't. Nor do I want one. I don't want the world to end, but I don't want it to just keep going. I care about the end of the world, but I don't give a damn if it happens in my lifetime or not. I don't care how it happens. I don't care if I'm raptured, or if I wake up with a suit of armor on, one day, and one of those sweet Desert Eagles that say "Sword" on the side, like in Romeo and Juliet.
I really don't care about how the book of Revelations bears fruit and I don't care when. But I do know that I can ditch the playful (but entirely logical) idea that Jacko might be The Jackal.

I don't think, across cultures, nations and peoples, there has been a single human being as loved, in my lifetime, as Michael Jackson. The man had power beyond Machiavelli's wettest of dreams, and he never had to be feared. Even in the face of diametric accusation of child molestation (one of the highest crimes, in the popular hierarchy of evil) the man was loved beyond love. People cried, in his presence. They wept. To see this man, people lost control of their bodies and their souls and they fucking wept. The only other footage I've seen of that kind of reaction was to The Beatles. And, then, even John Lennon - who was/is suspected of having sold his soul to the Lord of the Flies, himself - admitted, then, that The Beatles were bigger than Jesus Christ. And why not? We're not talking about freshly menstrual girls turning into teary, pink and turquoise blurs of sexual frustration, waving the current issue of Tiger Beat. We're talking about men, women and children of all ages responding to the presence of The King of Pop with a messianic overwhelming that would lead any onlooking seraph to expect the sonofabitch to pull a sword out of his mouth and open a bunch of scrolls.
He wasn't just an idol. Idols are unwitting chunks of inanimate material that are hewn into worshipped objects against their will and understanding.
Michael Jackson was a false god. And I'm not even talking about the Sunday school interpretation of a role model. I'm talking about somebody who was aware they were worshipped and used it. That laser-eyed monstrosity, in Las Vegas is an idol. Michael Jackson was C-3P0 among Ewoks (that's right, I used one of the worst parts of Return of the Jedi analogously. Live with it.)

Now, keep in mind, I'm not trying to posthumously vilify the once human wax museum we knew as King, but I'd like to take the next few paragraphs to actually itemize a little of what I'm talking about:

I'll leave out all of the stuff about him trying to put his penis inside of children, because the way it was handled by all parties and the public make it impossible to ever know the facts.
I think the most interesting thing about that time in his life was the fact that he was still so well loved. You could argue that all of his television interviews did so well, out of a morbid, public curiosity. But, then, why did his album climb back into the top ten? We were watching, because we loved him and we would tune into any image of his face we could find.
And, perhaps, our adoration is what he needed to bolster his kingly confidence back to its designated pinnacle. At the height of his lawsuit, he married a princess. She looked a bit too much like her dad, but that didn't matter. Who cares about looks, when you're using a human being to make a fashion statement? "I'm the goddamn King of Pop and I'm marrying me the goddamn daughter of the goddamn King of Rock & Roll!"
That poor, drunk-looking girl has spent her whole life getting passed around, like the mouthpiece of a fucking hookah, for who she is. I'd feel bad for her, but she wears that cowboy hat all the time, so I guess that means she's tough enough to take it.

That all was 1993 and 1994.

Enter 1995: Michael Jackson puts out HIStory: Volumes I & II. Although the name's a little goofy and slightly smacks of Mel Brooks, it's also a bit creepy and hints at a sort-of G_d complex. That, however, is beside the issue and treads a little too closely to Coast to Coast's territory for me to believe I'd actually be credible, if I went there. What's really interesting is the fact that we still loved this man - the whole world (with a few Afghani exceptions) loved this man - so much that we ate up whatever he could dish out. It wasn't just forgiving him for what he may have done. It was our outright refusal to be over-saturated. We just kept soaking him in. He was almost all that was on television for two years. He was the O.J. Simpson trial, before the O.J. Simpson trial. He was inescapable, but we still bought his double disc album, right away, and made it debut at #1, worldwide. It was the best selling multiple disc album of all time, and it wasn't even all original material. Half of it was a fucking greatest hits album! On top of that, he was scolding us for paying too much attention to him and we still had to hear it.
It was under the banner of that album that he also claimed to speak for all people of all beliefs and cultures, of all colors, in all the nations. Shortly before HIStory's release, The New York times cited "They Don't Care About Us" as being antisemitic. Rightfully so:
"Beat me, hate me
You can never break me
Will me, thrill me
You can never kill me
Jew me, sue me
Everybody do me
Kick me, kike me
Don't you black or white me"

When confronted on the topic, he had this to say; "The idea that these lyrics could be deemed objectionable is extremely hurtful to me, and misleading. The song in fact is about the pain of prejudice and hate and is a way to draw attention to social and political problems. I am the voice of the accused and the attacked. I am the voice of everyone. I am the skinhead, I am the Jew, I am the black man, I am the white man. I am not the one who was attacking. It is about the injustices to young people and how the system can wrongfully accuse them. I am angry and outraged that I could be so misinterpreted."

Subsequent apologies were made, but all-in-all, he continued to sell albums and continued to be stood-up for.

His tour that year played for 82 dates, in 58 cities. 4.5 million people attended the shows and made his tour the most successful he'd ever had.
The more people came up against him, the more others rallied to him.
He was the leader of the free world.
He was unaccountable. Maybe not untouchable, but the man was accountable to nobody.
The woman he hastily married, that year, gave him full custody of the children they had, together, without a fight. How many rich men does that happen to?

In 1997, he put out a remix album of songs from HISstory, which sold 6 million copies. It was a remix album of songs that came out two years before that. It was a remix album.

It was a remix album.

From here, I could go on. It's all recent enough, however, to be served pretty well by memory. Otherwise, look it up.

When you get down to it, though, it's just the story of a man with a cathedral-sized ego and the public adoration to match. That kind of thing scares the shit out of me.
Power is power. It doesn't have to be political. It can be anything.
The bottom line is, if people cry, when they see you, you know you're their god and, unless you're really G_d, that power is probably going to deeply corrupt you.

Watch interviews with this guy. He justifies everything. Nothing he does is wrong. He made mistakes and miscalculations, but the man really believed himself to be sinless. He didn't think he was accountable to anybody. He lashed-out, whenever his power was threatened, and maintained the reputation of a gentle spirit.

If anybody is/was a "living" argument for Anarchism, it was Michael Jackson.

I didn't hate the man, but I'm glad he's dead.

Monday, May 18, 2009

You Can Know You Suck Without Getting Up-Into White Guilt and it All Starts With Realizing You're as Full of Shit as That Other Paddy Bitch, Part 1:

I never expected to be as much of a pop culture commentator as I have been on this blog. And I really don't want to be one of those overly overt punks who makes a point to make a point about how uncool they think television is, but I really would rather be inspired enough to make a blog post without television wetting the folds and lobes of my brain with its sneaky brand of foreplay. But enough bullshitty, hipster-cred insistent self-effacement. Too much of it will stink my blog up with an artificial sincerity that you could get much more easily from comments left on your Myspace profile.
I watch television. Even if I didn't live with my parents I would. I own one and, although it isn't fancy, its completely mine.
I was watching VH1's Charm School 3 (with Ricki Lake) not twenty minutes ago. It was probably the last 10 minutes of the show. All of the girls lined up, wearing their school girl fetish ball costumes, in two segregated rows. The largely blond Rock Of Love brats lined up like a white picket fence behind the Real Chance of Love bitches. And, before you ask, NO! My choice of words, there, has nothing to do with the personal distinction I make between brats and bitches, nor does it have to do with my preference for bitchery over brattyness. My choice of words, as well as this entire blog post, has to do with race. It's a fun card to play and white people (usually the only people who live boring enough lives to read and write blogs) don't have much of a sense of humor about it.
As a white male with friends (actual friends and not just people I ride the bus with or work with) of many different ages, creeds and ethnic backgrounds, I often feel at liberty to say whatever I want. I'm usually wrong in this assumption, but I'm white so I act on my assumptions anyway, because I'm too insecure to ask a goddamn question. So, as one of these busted crackers who makes too many bad jokes, I feel I've made enough room for myself to say that I really have a problem with white women. There I said it. I've got half a dickful of patience for them and, me being white and all, half a dickful isn't very much. I may boast a fairly diverse group of friends, but that doesn't change the fact that most of them are white. Being surrounded by all of this whiteness should have helped me acclimate to their pissy, little nuances . . . but I have yet to come to a cultural understanding with my fellow skim milk drinking, cozy-up-to-the steering wheel driving, Asian baby adopting people.
Does it make me a misogynist expressing my frustrations with white women? No. Although I, sometimes, understand misogyny, I find no excuse for it. In fact, the only thing that would probably make me a misogynist would be if I were to keep my feelings about white women to myself and let them fester. Well . . . either misogyny or accidentally/subconsciously fetishizing women of other races, but that's a phase (and I still can't say for sure whether the fact that I'm single does or does not have anything to do with the fact that I have such a hard time with white women) I already went through and I think that ethno-fetishism is just as disgusting and ignorant as misogyny or any other kind of bigotry. I'm all about diversifying the gene pool, but I'm not willing to endorse an Asian or Black Chick/White Dick porn site under the umbrella of racial and cultural double-dutching. But I'm sidling the track I've laid-out for myself, a little . . .

I just witnessed a microcosmic example of how white folk pretending that racism doesn't exist can be used to enact fascism. Shit yeah, I'm observant. I even noticed that the black dude was acting as the caddy in that Capital One commercial where the banker knocks the small business people out of his office with a golf club.
To give a brief summary of Charm School, Episode 3.02; Kiki instigated some verbal altercations that made the white girls feel unsafe, Ashley locked the emotionally vulnerable and maybe mentally unstable Britney Star in the bathroom causing her to cry, freak-out and pray on camera, and somebody who I already forgot the name of got too drunk. When I saw Ricki Lake (the Headmistress) call the bottom three down, so she could expel one of them from VH1's world renowned charm school, Kiki, Ashley and Drunks-Her-Face stepped forward. When Tequila Rose and Ashley were told Ricki's reasons for wanting to send them home, everybody kept their composure and acted maturely. When it came to Kiki, the one black girl out of the three, Bratty Bacchus starts trying to provoke her with some catty body language. When Kiki tries to assert herself and insist she can have her turn to speak in peace, it becomes a shouting match with all of the white girls ganging up on Kiki. When the rest of the black girls try to defend Kiki, all of the white girls but Brittany Star begin freaking out. Farrah begins to talk about how threatened she feels around Kiki, while she eyes all of the black girls. Finally, Farrah says something about her coming to VH1's Charm School and not VH1's Real Chance of Love and storms off the set with Body Shot Barbie and Ashley. When everybody calms back down and the three "protesters" are called back in, Ricki Lake decides to expel Kiki. Apparently her verbal confrontations with the girls were more dangerous and harmful than drinking one's self half way to the hospital or picking the most emotionally unstable member of the group and locking them in a bathroom. So Hood realized what I did, as soon as the editor cut to her for a reaction shot & stormed off the set.
Ricki Pamela Lake, you were in Hairspray and you should know better than that. Oh, wait, I guess that sentence could make me as bad as her.
You can't let the fact that you did this for so-and-so or babysat for what's-their-face or stood up for the cause of such-and-such convince you that you're not racist. Yes, white people, you can have a black friend and be racist. Chances are that they know you're racist. Maybe you're a little racist. Maybe you're more racist than you'd ever want to admit. The fact remains, however, that you are uncomfortable around certain demographics of people and that's actually not all that bad because, chances are, that they're cool with it. There's a difference between being racist and being a bigot. Fascism is bigotry and it can even happen on VH1.
As white people, we've learned to reject change by appearing to embrace it. We cozy up and soften ourselves to black folk, so they don't feel so much of a spirit of dissent against us and, maybe, stop trying so hard to move into our neighborhoods and schools and offices. We make special immigration exceptions for Latinos, because - well - who wants to deport our worker caste?
We're spiteful. We're deceitful. We're underhanded and passive aggressive. Between the United States and England alone, we've got an encyclopedic wealth of information on how to simultaneously be a imperialistic megalomaniac and a worthless pussy fart in the same act.
White women, unfortunately, have this quality in spades. In fact, it's so effective that the only men who are really as good at it as women usually become politicians.
Using this characteristic tool, Ricki Lake was able to look completely justified, as she took the side of the mostly white Rock of Love team. Aggression can be intimidating, but passive aggression scares the butt-fucking shit out of me.
Passive aggression is one of the worst traits any human can have, ever. A passive aggressive person is tactful in the way they choose their words, but they do not necessarily choose their words with the intent of them being understood as they are. A passive aggressive person would rather have you unravel a curtain than pull it aside. It makes them feel powerful. A passive aggressive person asks a rhetorical question and expects an answer, because they've endowed their rhetoric with nuances that imply a whole different question, altogether, between the actual words they spoke. A passive aggressive person endows the people who they are surrounded by with guilt and shame, which is a pretty fucking satanic quality to have.
Unfortunately, white women have a really strong tendency to be passive aggressive. Like, really, really, really passive aggressive. I wish it weren't true, but it is. Not all black people talk in the movie theater, but I've never been to a movie in a "black neighborhood" that had a quiet audience. Not all Italian guys wear too much product in their hair, but I wouldn't want to sit behind your average man of Mediterranean descent on a roller coaster. Not every white woman is a fake-laughing, competitive, passive aggressive brat . . . but enough are to make the good ones look bad. There's enough awful white women in the world that there's an entire generation of girls who are on the brink of mistaken identity because they hate how catty girls are and they only befriend guys.
I guess the reason it frustrates me most, aside from the fact that the way a white person of any gender acts reflects on me in one way or another, is the fact that I know women are capable of a lot more than their given credit for. Not just by society as a whole, but by each other & by themselves. Females amaze me. I understand that being what they are, physically, endows them with certain limitations, but -really- those limitations are nothing. I almost feel like man was the prototype and woman was the final product. Their brains can do more. Their bodies look better (and I'm not just saying that because I'm a heterosexual male). A woman has the emotional capacity to kill with one arm and tenderly rear a child with the other. And those are just the cliches. I'm not even going to get into the finer points, because they still confuse me.
Women are so much my favorite people that I didn't feel completely comfortable with my masculinity until I was about 23. Yet, still, white women continue to hold themselves back and put themselves in an easily vilifiable spot with all of their passive aggressive and catty behavior. Why?
Why not say what you mean? It isn't insensitive. Transversely, I'd argue it's insensitive to say something with such a sidewinding delivery that it will cause the person to trip up and make you angry. It's insensitive to find sly ways of testing somebody with loaded questions and planted mini-mind fucks. It isn't just evil against the people you're trying to manipulate, it's evil against yourself and any woman you can name.
White girls, does a black woman get upset when she sees a black man dating a white chick because she's racist? Does she get all hot and bothered, because she can't stand to see the black race get diluted? I don't know. As far as I'm concerned, it's all Ethiopian to me. We've all got African roots, if you want to nit-pick, so the black race has already been about as diluted as it could possibly be short of people having transparent skin and hair. The wager I'm willing to make is that it has less to do with the blackness of the baby and more to do with the whiteness of you. That mad black woman is probably pissed off because she can't imagine the idea of a black baby being raised by a game-playing, side-stepping, double-talking, white mother. There's a reason that the cheating husband's mistress, the villainess and the antagonistas in a lot of black movies and television shows are molded from such a specific archetype. It's the Hillary Banks girl. She's not just "light-skinded". She doesn't just physically represent a departure from black culture. She talks like a white girl and she acts like a white girl. I'm willing to bet that the chances are pretty high that you've watched one of these movies and hated that yellow skinned, homewrecker. Is it because she reminds you of that friend you wish you didn't have, girls? Does she remind you of that friend that you can't wait to talk about as soon as she leaves the room? Or does she remind you of all the girls that broke your trust to the point that you find it difficult to even make friends with girls in the first place?
Maybe that's a little harsh.
I don't know.
You can be insulted and take offense . . .
. . . or you can grow the fuck up.
Not that I think I necessarily deserve her, but I'm still waiting for my prize bitch to come along any damn how.
I'll see you next post.
Maybe I'll explain that whole brat vs. bitch thing, then.
Bu----ut, I bet I won't!

Monday, May 4, 2009

How ABC Murdered My Favorite Ghost:

If you want to hear some music, while you read, scroll down to the illegally hotlinked Myspace music module I've put at the bottom of this post. It will start playing on its own.

Have you seen the man in the above picture? I haven't. Not ever. I used to talk to him pretty frequently, though. He's a spectacular line artist and a swell guy. He wrote and artistically rendered about two and a half years worth of material for New England Comic's famous, yet strangely not-that-successful series, The Tick. That isn't what made me like the guy, though. I actually didn't realize how much I appreciated his work, until I saw his non-Tick-related stuff.
Because of him, I sent in a submission package to New England Comics and, subsequently, never called them back when they showed interest, because I was "too punk" to draw what somebody else had written. Because of him, I found out about cool bands, like Cop Shoot Cop. Because of him, my parents found out I used to huff gasoline and other household ethers.
I never met Eli "5" Stone, but I miss him. If he knocked on my door, today, my couch would be his for the sleeping. I'd even consider taking the couch and letting him have my bed.

I haven't spoken with Eli in about seven or eight years. Our communications began to disintegrate, after he moved from Boston, MA to Venice, CA. He got married and, eventually, his e-mail address stopped working. He ran a flash site full of pre-production type stuff that he had laid out for a bunch of independent comic book projects. I kept checking on it, to see if he'd post anything new. He never did, though, and his domain eventually expired, as did the domain for (a horror and sci-fi site for which he did a lot of design work). I found out that he may have done some layout work for Cartoon Network's "The Venture Brothers", in 2003, but where would that get me?
I thought I'd struck pay dirt, when I found his old friend and webmaster, from his old HTML site, Lee. I asked if he'd heard from his friend, at all. Not in years. This was discouraging, because Lee actually knew him in a four dimensional realm. Lee had seen him move through time and space just like the rest of us. Lee had heard his voice in non WAV file form. Lee may have even touched him, yet he did not know where Eli was. It was as if Eli had, altogether, disappeared.
Am I eulogizing him, right now?

Eli was a charming guy. He seemed to swim in a cocktail of problems, wielding a red, plastic sword and laughing about it. He was so public and open about how fucked up he was or may have been that the sickest bits weren't only acceptable; they were endearing. You never felt bad for him, and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't want you to. He'd invite you to share his problems. Encourage you to start smoking, drinking and doing drugs, but he never treated you like a snob when you turned down his terrible, terrible advice. He was a true bastard gentleman. I've met other human beings who have seemed as genuinely casual as Eli, but they've all turned out to be pathological sociopaths. Maybe Eli was, too, but I care about him more than all of the other pathological sociopaths.

I met Eli through what I have to say was the strongest influence on my storytelling style, at the time. He helmed The Tick for two-or-so years. When he stopped, I had randomly found his archive, online. It was chock full of old sketches he'd done, when he worked at a copy shop. Weird stuff. Stuff that was, frankly, a lot better than anything he'd done for New England Comics. I told him how much I liked his non-Tick-stuff and he sent me a signed copy of the first comic he ever did (a comic that he spent a rent check to print-up, just for the hell of it). He tucked a little sketch of the tick, on the inside. I still have them. I actually framed the sketch in a little, 3x5" frame.
He was 26 years old, when he started working on The Tick. He was at least two years older than that, when I started talking to him.
I was 16. I'm 26, now.

Every couple of months, or so, there's something that reminds me to look for him. I probably still think about him a few times a week but, every once in a while, there's something that will pop up and remind me of conversations I've had with him. The most recent one; the one that inspired this blog post was a picture of one of my friend's tattoos. It was based on a Derek Hess sketch. Eli was friends with Derek Hess. In fact, the conversation we had about Derek Hess is what got him started on telling me about Cop Shoot Cop. Derek had done art for the band & he was jealous of Derek, because he really liked that band. He also stressed to inform me that, even though Derek had drawn a picture of cops pointing guns at each other, the name of the band was not about cops at all but, rather, about the cyclical repetition of heroin addiction (copping dope, going somewhere to shoot up, and going back to the park, or wherever, to cop some more). I still have a lot of those e-mails printed out and filed-away, somewhere (including the e-mail where I talked to him about my former romps in the world of household inhalants that my parents had found)

For a while, it wasn't too hard to find Eli, online. I could never find a way to actually contact him, after his e-mail disappeared, but one could always find whispers of snippets of whatever he might be working on next, should one run a web search on him. There would be the occasional annoyance of some shitty band that shared his name. For the most part, however, there was always that glimmer of hope; that new piece of Eli data, that fresh breadcrumb, that link that might bring me one step closer to being able to say "hello" to my lost pal.

That all changed, last year, with the premier of ABC's "Eli Stone".
Really? A show about a character, named Eli Stone, called Eli Stone? What the fuck are the goddamn chances? At least it doesn't take place in Boston, I guess.
All I'm saying, though, is that it's really hard to find a reason not to hate the Disney Corporation when they even fuck with my own personal life. I was on my way to finding this bastard again, until this goddamn show ate a hole the size of Coca-Cola out of Google and any other search engine on the web. Now, I'm reduced to searching for Eli Stone on Facebook and sending personal messages to any one that might be him. "Is it you? No? Sorry."

Fuck you, ABC.
I mean it.
Like, really. From the bottom of my balls, FUCK YOU!

In the meantime, I implore anybody who might stumble on this blog to contact me, if they see a bald man who looks like he could be Grant Morrisson or the real life Spider Jerusalem drawing pictures on the bellies of young women.

You're my only hope.
Unless you work for ABC, then you're probably just fucking with me.

"You can't see me now, but I'm watching over you.
All the clocks are broken."

-Cop Shoot Cop

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Are You Following Me, Camera Guy?

Screw all the philosophical crap, below. I want to talk about advertising!
Have you seen commercials? They're everywhere.
On TV, the radio, the highway, the movie theater, automobile bumpers, guitar cases, the backs of cereal boxes, the dentist's office, the Cleo Awards, pro sports, little league sports, yearbooks, Christmas, the little woman with the cups and toothpicks by the end cap . . .

. . . not to mention comedy.

Yes, professional or amateur, comedy is laced with commercials. How does this happen? Well, first, somebody makes a shitty commercial, like this.
Then, this happens.

It's easy comedy. I mean, the inspiration is bad enough that we've been making fun of it without the coercion of comic aid, already. Now, however, we don't only have a possibly new perspective from which to laugh at the advertisement . . . we've also got a secondary reference, so we're even more sure to remember the product forever. The worst part is that the comedy resulting from a commercial parody is usually sub-par, overly derivative and really dated.

Am I saying that comics are in some sort of crazy cahoot-riddled conspiracy with ad agencies? They might be, but I'm not saying so. But I am saying that you don't have to be Larry The Cable Guy to figure out that the same people who write those "hilarious"Geico commercials probably watch the same sketch comedy shows, online videos and movies that you do. So, it wouldn't be so ridiculous to say that some of these commercial geniuses are banking on their product being parodied by comedians you follow, further lubricating the membrane between your brain and a product placement implant.

So, around the same time that I'm realizing there's way too many Sham Wow parodies on Youtube, I see this commercial on cable television. I'm sure anyone in the developed world is familiar with the Vince Offer character and his current 15 minutes of immorality. Maybe you've even got your own Vince Offer impression. Well, believe you me, he's onto you! He's on to everybody.
Maybe he had it planned from the beginning. His fake-ish Boston accent coupled with his carny eyes and cellphone kiosk polo shirt could have all been part of a decisive scheme to be parodied; comically immortalising the products he sells and his personality as a television salesman. Maybe. Or, maybe, he was just savvy enough to realize the pot of gold dancing in front of his lazy eyes. Either way, we've apparently snagged his barbed hook on our respective scrotums and labia and eagerly tugged the line.
There have been some serious Youtube videos, like this'n, about the Sham Wow ads, but most of those are just as hard to take seriously as their subject matter.
Most of these homemade parodies, however, are like the videos I've taken the time to link and list, below:

Youtube Poop is a sublime and simple phenomenon and I think they always serve to make the best parodies.

Other, more structured Youtube videos are annoying and obviously made by college students who think they have well defined comical sensibilities, because they "lol" at Flight of the Conchords.

Others are amalgamations of clever amateur editing, a good eye and a taste for tedium.

Vince's latest commercial, for the Slap Chop, was seemingly made for parodies both Youtube and otherwise. The name of the product is funnier than "Sham Wow". Slap Chop sounds like a throw-away Bobby Lee character from the worst of Mad TV. On top of the funny name, the commercial is laden with awkward hijinks, like working "bikini" into a rhyme scheme with "linguine". He throws a competitor's product into the sink garbage disposal. He drops a bomb with "You're gonna love my nuts." The man may look a little - let's admit it - retarded, but he isn't naïve. The bastard knows kids are gonna laugh when they're told that they'll, somehow, derive enjoyment from his testicles . . . even if there's a really strong argument that said kids are taking his words far out of the realm of intended context. There's simply too many awkward and funny moments in this ad for me to explain and there's far too many for it to be unintentional.

Well, I say the game stops now. Right here.
I want you to close the Youtube tabs in your web browsers. I want you to get up from your computers. Find a window; open it. Open your window and yell out of it. I want you to scream at the top of your lungs "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not gonna play dumb anymore!"
We're not gonna give Vince Offer any more of our time, or our minds, or our hearts.
We're not going to give any more of these advertisers the backhanded affirmation they're looking to get from our half-cynical senses of humor!
We're not going to give these bastards the time of day!
Yeah, that's right, Mr. Cash for Gold and Mrs. Tiddy Bear, we're on to your game and we're not going to play anymore.
No more jokes, in the office.
No more SNL sketches.
No more witty references on "Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me!"
No more tongue-in cheek "Daily Show" comments.
No more animated .gif files posted on our friends' Myspace profiles.
No more Youtube videos.
No more blogs . . .

. . . shit

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, I guess.

This blog post is brought to you by Youtube's Slap Chop Remix and has been posted in loving memory of Willard Scott, America's first and greatest commercial clown.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

F(ucked)U(p) B(eyond) A(ll) R(esponsibility)

I was gonna do a really cool blog post, a while back, but never got around to it. It was gonna be all to the point and shit.
Like, "Don't tell me the economy is shit, when the bank parking lots are plowed better than the streets."
But the snow is melted, now, and my hard drive is still inoperable.
Anyway . . .
So, like, I'm sitting on the couch, with my mother and the local news interrupts. The primary annoyance of what was on my screen was the simple fact that it wasn't a local story. I don't live in West Virginia. The secondary annoyance was the bigger one.
Read this story. It's short.
Right when I thought people were done using the word "hero" in any other context than referencing summer blockbusters and video games with gaudy, guitar-shaped controllers . . .
Man, I seriously thought 9-11 burned people out on the whole "hero" thing.
Nobody accepts the title, and we love them for it.
If they accept the title, they're probably an asshole.
How passive aggressive do we have to be? There's far more simple and less media-involved ways to test whether or not somebody has a shred of artificial humility, aren't there? That's a rhetorical question?

But, I suppose, in the current political/economic climate, it makes perfect sense to start calling people heroes.
We Americans hate doing shit.
We'd rather sign away our sanity than take responsibility for anything. We celebrate victimhood and the entitlement that comes with it, like it's a year long holiday. Fuck me, we've got a goddamn cable channel dedicated to it. The bitch even comes with a sexually insulting name, to help the victimization along:

And, why not?
Victimhood is like a self-loading absolution gun with a studded dildo pistol grip. It's a get out of jail free card that comes with a special clause that lets you use your favorite Monopoly piece every time! I could metaphor the shit out of it, until I sounded like a southern politician.

This kind of almost uniquely Western mentality makes the title of "hero" ideal to throw around like semen in the White House swimming pool. I mean, if you call a Regular Jo, who's "Just doing my job" or "what I expect anybody else would have done", it opens the window that you've been looking for, since your parents made you give that dog you never took care of away; run-of-the-mill responsibility is fucking extraordinary!
So, we've arrived at a mob consensus that dictates if anybody is caught being a Good Samaritan, or doing anything that requires serious effort, they're a hero. Sure as hell exempts the rest of us mortals from having to do that shit. We can sit around and not even look like assholes, because that five percent of us that have the will to effect something are so goddamn heroic.
Maybe we should make a TV movie about those guys.
Nah. You're right. I'd rather keep watching Lifetime, too.

Jerk a hero off as hard as you want. In the end, you're still just sucking your own dick for having the cleverness to avoid doing anything.

Man, I hate The News.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

My First Retraction!

In the post, titled Beaumont's Brains Out, I said this:

"Open a no-minimum savings account with no inactivity fees. They, more than likely, have one. Put five dollars in and never close it - just leave it. The paperwork and records they keep on that five dollars will cost them about as much every week. It might harm your credit, but only slightly. You don't need perfect credit. It only proves you're good at being in debt. It only proves you're a prime candidate to be taken for granted. If that sounds underhanded or passive aggressive, keep in mind that a bank is nothing but a reservoir of calculated risks. Let them calculate the risk they took in you, until you die. They're obligated to. Besides, you might be able to will eight dollars and six cents from that account to one of your grandchildren. Stipulate in your will that they frame it."

This, apparently, is no longer true. I suppose things have changed since I opened my first bank account (about 14 years ago, when I was still scheduled to be a minor for another 6 years). And, maybe, my memory just didn't serve me correctly in the first place.
I was talking to a friend of mine who works at the call center for the very bank I custom (although I'm closing my account, soon). It turns out that, after two years of inactivity, your account can be closed and the money in it can be given to the state.

So, as a bit of advice, don't go and take my advice without checking my apparent lack of facts.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I HATE what you people call LOVE these days

First off, let's get it out of the way; yes, I am reading Slavoj Žižek's Fragile Absolute, right now. I am, however, only a couple of chapters in. I am also, however, borrowing it from a friend who lent it to me because I apparently say a lot of things he has to say . . . although that might not be a compliment, being that he's an Obama Supporter (don't fucking start with me!) and has some obvious Dispensationalist tendencies (from what I can tell). This post is far less of a reaction to Žižek than it is a reaction to bumper stickers, postmodernism and the taint of Apologetics. . .

. . . it has more to do with the fact that I think hate has become the misunderstood villain in a bad movie. We've failed to sympathize with hate, let alone empathize with it. We've failed to develop it's character for a fair presentation. We've failed to accept it. We've failed to embrace it, when we need to. All in all, we've failed to love our good neighbor, hate.

You don't know what I'm talking about, most likely. How can this bastard put hate on his roster board of virtues? Well, I guess we could go all of the way back to the beginning and talk about how G_d hates the devil and all that, but I think we can pick a more contemporary beginning: Apologetics.

Sure, sure, I'm a fan of C.S. Lewis. I'm also entitled to think he was a bit of a pussy. I've thought the same of myself, when I tried to rationalize my beliefs to those who do not share them. I've looked back on my attempts to appeal to questions that were asked in a certain way and had a prickle of regret scuttle across my scrotum as it drew walnut tight. In an imperfect world, accountability is not as universal as you might think it is. The only people that anybody needs to explain their beliefs or their actions, in relation to their beliefs, is other people who claim the same belief set. This doesn't just go for Christians. It goes for everybody. If a non-believer confronts you about what you believe, you have no reason to dignify them with a polite response. Why? You don't need to justify yourself. We live in a world that does not have to justify itself to us, yet we are constantly interrogated and persecuted. It's a double standard, and to use that hypocrisy to call you out on what they perceive as yours is nothing short of a hoodwink. Why be a party to it? Especially if you say you're a Christian or follower of Christ; a man who instructed us to be in the world but not of it? If you're confronted by a non-believer about your faith, you have every right to be reflexively combative. If they ask you to justify a certain point, feel more than free to point-out to them that it's politically incorrect for them to have to do the same for you, so if they're curious about what you believe, they can find a more honest and less pride-driven, insecure and passive-aggressive way to entertain their curiosities about your world. But we don't do this. We feel pigeon-holed into explaining ourselves to people who we do not answer to. We feel this every day and we cave-in to the weight of those feelings. This, among other things, has distorted how we view love.

The other great distortion comes from, I think, the postmodern synthesis of human emotion into something of material import. Human feelings have become a commodity in the modern, western social and philosophical dialectic. Political correctness is an almost universal paradigm in modern, western culture. Emotion is, somehow, sublime and seems to be at the center of the American and European thought process. But why? Feelings are fleeting! I've even been recently quoted as saying, "Peoples' feelings are supposed to get hurt. That's why G_d designed them to be passing." Still, who you offend seems to matter quite a bit these days. How you offend them matters just as much, if not more. So, is it any surprise that people have come to confuse love with a euphoric emotion? Yes, love can be a sure catalyst for this euphoric emotion but love is not this emotion, in and of itself. Love is a resolute decision to give someone or something priority over almost everything else, if not everything else altogether.
In a world where love is an emotion that makes you want to sing, laugh or involve your genitals with fluid, hate is just bad feelings. Hate is what offends. Hate is the opposite of love. Love makes me feel good (especially when my genitals are involved with fluid) so hate makes me feel bad. G_d is love, so hate must be really bad. Ha ha. Well, if G_d is just a good feeling, the Holy Spirit is a pretty capricious little slut. Isn't she? Fair weather friend to the end. But, if G_d is love, then that's impossible. The Holy Spirit must be with us all the time, whether or not it feels that great. So, we must be wrong about love.
I'm right, we're all wrong. Excuse the hubris (not that I'm really asking for you to excuse me.)
My third observation would be that Dispensationalism has contributed to the Christian misconceptions about love and hate, specifically. Most Christians, especially so-called Evangelicals, tend to forget the old testament existed until a Charelton Heston movie is on T.V. Do I have a problem with the New Testament? No, not entirely. I will, however, acknowledge that it is replete with punditry. The Old Testament is based almost entirely on actual accounts. Whether you believe these accounts to be fantastical or historical is completely irrelevant. The point is that the Old Testament is comprised largely of narrative accounts. Straightforward, even if not firsthand. The New Testament has some stories, yes. Quite a bit of the New Testament, however, is comprised of letters and sermons. The problem lies in the fact that the stuff that isn't in red print is not being said by Yehoshuah. It's being said by His Apostles. Men with fallible minds and opinions. Am I saying they're liars? No. I'm just saying that a lot of what they had to say came loaded with considerable bias. I'm saying that one should take what they say with a grain of salt. Fortunately, the entire New Testament was written by men who read the Old Testament a lot so, unless you have one of those weird New Testament only bibles, you've got your grains of salt in that really fat first half of the book in your hand.
We, however, seem to forget the Old Testament is there for anything other than adventure stories put there for us to censor and regurgitate for our children, so the young ones can have something adventurous and epic to hold their juvenile attention to the "boring, old bible". This New Testament approach has left us not only soft and diluted, but confused. We spend our time trying to follow the gospels and teachings of six-out-of-twelve apostles, and sort out the disparities between their opinions. No wonder it has become muddled into some sort of pre-digested mush we can all agree on. No wonder we've chosen the un-challenging, un-criticizable and unoffensive answers for every question.
This is what lead me to leave the church. In our search for answers for a political world, we've become a political organization. For the church, especially in a democratic west, that's a dangerous and unstable place to be.

But, what does all of this talk about love have to do with hate? Everything. To love, hating something is necessary. Not because the universe was built on extremes, but because we live in a universe that has been fractured. We live in a world that has been made imperfect. In this imperfect world, there are threats on the things and people you love. These threats can be real, perceived or merely plausible, that is, however, no reason to dismiss them. Yes, when or if you hate somebody, the risk of objectifying that person is very real. That, however, doesn't change the fact that forgiveness has nothing to do with the truth that, sometimes, a person becomes their actions. If I am striking somebody, they cannot stop my actions without stopping me. To love something, you must hate the concept of its antithesis. Without hate, love becomes corruptible, soluble and worthless, because you have no desire or passion to defend it.
Hate is not prejudice. Prejudice is a kind of hate that comes from ignorance and selfishness. Hate is not murder. Hate is the willingness to let that which you do not love die. Hate is not premeditated unforgiveness. Hate is the willingness to forgive yourself for choosing to love something first and forgive the other second.
Hate is a strong word and doesn't need to be avoided because it is strong. It needs to be avoided, so it's strength can be retained.
Vengance is the L_rd's. Anger is a sin, because we are failing to give our vengeful feelings to G_d. Grace, however, can sometimes be something we need to hand over to G_d as well. There's no point in claiming grace, when you don't understand it or when it stands between you and something you love. Love and hate are two hands on the same body, so why not keep them at two and ten when you drive?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Something I said a while ago (Sept 15, 2007)

We all know Rupert Murdoch owns Myspace and, for some people, that's enough to give their profile the great, big piss-off. Over the past few years, however, social networking sites have become a crutch for venue owners - a crutch that alienates any band who doesn't want to fuck-around with these sites. Myspace is the most obvious example.
Before I explain, let me tell you a little about Rupert Murdoch.
After becoming a very successful media executive in his native Australia, he decided to globalize his assets (something that most people of the e-generation consider creepy and suspicious regardless of their politics, in spite of their own Google-oriented lives). The globalization started in the UK. He bought the British periodical, The News of the World, which was the single most read English language publication in the world, at the time. He sold his shares in his Australian companies to afford the buy-out of the paper. Once he was at the helm of TNOTW, he reclaimed his Australian assets, buying them out from under the people he sold them to.
From there, he bought another British paper, The Sun. Once his acquisition of The Sun had been made, he converted the entire publication to a tabloid format. This meant that the news could be more easily filtered because its circulation was less frequent than a daily paper and, although weekly, it had fewer pages. Not to mention the fact that tabloids focus on entertainment news and gossip, giving the publishers an even larger opportunity to isolate their readers from the world, what's going on and, ultimately, the truth.
Just in time for the Thatcher era, Murdoch bought the Times and The Sunday Times, giving him control of over almost all printed news, in the United Kingdom.
Once Thatcher was out of office, by the way, he became chummy with Tony Blair. Murdoch's media control may be attributed to Blair's success. To ice the cake, there was an ongoing scandal, in the UK, because Blair often included Murdoch in secret discussions about national policy.
Although Blair is, technically, a member of the Labour Party, in England, many people lost their jobs. The unions rioted, but to no avail. Murdoch introduced the automated, electric method of newspaper printing, used across the world, that can be credited to greatly reducing the manpower required to print a newspaper. Cost reducing, I suppose, but I haven't seen prices do anything but plateau, climb and plateau, again.
With the profits he accumulated from screwing so many Brits out of a living, he moved to America and bought the San Antonio Express-News. Then he founded the Star (that b.s. tabloid you see, at drugstores). He went on to purchase the New York Post, which, when founded by Alexander Hamilton, was a political broadsheet. Over the years, the tabloid has changed and become another giant, winding gossip column. Thanks, Rupert.
Maybe it was the tabloids that lent him the idea of numbing the public mind, but around that time he started buying the shit out of television properties. He bought Fox. He bought British Satellite Broadcasting and gained control of almost the entire British pay television market.
He went on to buy two record labels, in Australia. He merged them and gave them to his son.
Rupert Murdoch is one of very few multinational media execs who makes the decided effort to retain the major controlling stake in all of the companies under his gaze, by keeping everything in his family. This means almost every part of his empire is managed by a family member who, of course, answers to him.
Since all of this, he's bought the controlling stock in DirecTV, most Asian media and Intermix (the former owners of Myspace) and IGN.
Many credit Murdoch as being a GOP man. He was friends with the Regans, Pat Robertson and George Bush. But he also backed Hillary Clinton's re-election campaign for senate. He's also worked with third party groups, like the Libertarians.
If you ask me, his across-the-board interest in worldwide media and politics has nothing to do with conservatism. I'd say it had to do with his specific vision for the world. He wants a world that thinks and behaves his way. I really can't think of a businessman more megalomaniacal than him.
Keeping your Myspace profile is nurturing that power. Not only are you giving him a healthy stake in the youth culture that he previously had very little access to, but you're creating a system in the music scene that is completely dependent on his services. You are helping create a monopoly that reaches as deep as the local bands - unsigned acts.
Many venues, now, require you to have a Myspace profile, if they're even going to consider you. Not just so they can hear your demo, but so they can gauge how many people will attend one of your shows. Any band's music player shows daily plays, which really help venue owners make a more educated guess as to whether you're a viable risk, because it's a little more obvious how many kids have heard of you and are likely to go to a show with your name is on the bill. Honestly, although I have very mixed feelings about the method, it makes sense and it's very helpful.
But Myspace is not about music. It used to be. But, now and forever, it is a social networking site built around advertising. By depending on Myspace to book shows, bands and venues are setting up a monopoly, in an area of American culture that has, for the most part, retained a uniquely D.I.Y. approach for the last 30 years. It was spontaneous and alive and, although it had its failures, that was a large part of its success.
If you're going to use the internet to help with booking, do it old school. It's cheaper and easier to build your own website. Put your music up there. Put counters on the links of your songs. Create an on-site fan network for your band. Sure, it might be the same, in principal, but it's at least under your control and you can say you're the only one who owns the rights to the images and music on that page, which greatly reduces the risk of it becoming about much of anything other than the music.
If you want to use networking sites to do booking, fine. I can't argue with everybody that doesn't go out of their way to suit my out-of-date, knee-jerk, punk-rock sensibilities. But, seriously, ditch Myspace. We're setting the music scene up to be a wellfare state of Rupert Murdoch.
When you're dependent on something, you're in a position to be controlled. Once Rupert Murdoch's research and development team finds out how many venues are depending on Myspace, he will control them. In one way or another.

If you need me to put it in perspective for you, think of Myspace as Ticketmaster's still, small voice.

The do-it-yourself spirit of young people, even when that spirit is at odds with their own habits, is what makes the powerful figures on this planet nervous. Twelve-year-olds start their own charitable organizations. High school dropouts start magazines, record labels and clothing companies. Twenty-something musicians create a nationwide sense of solidarity for teenagers who feel otherwise alienated. In fact, entertainment and entertainers seem to be the cultural glue that bind the youth together. Entertainment is a zeitgeistal, motivational network for the youth of the "civilized world". More people voted for 2004's American Idol than they did for president. Retaining control over small, local shows may not seem like any kind of real issue but, when you take the power of entertainment into account, it is. The disassembly of a d.i.y. culture, like the local/unsigned music scene, would be a tremendous blow to the overall d.i.y. spirit of young people . . . and Rupert Murdoch has already received part of the message. He isn't unaware of his power potential over pop culture and youth culture. After all, the Fox network does own American Idol.