Monday, January 28, 2008

Quick thought on the passing of the guards

IS it just me or does Bush seem like he is undergoing a presidential moment of lucidity? It's like the guy just realized that there's a strong chance he will go down as one of the worst presidents of recent U.S. history (which, by the way, is all the history we have as a nation: recent) and he's hoping that some end-of-term motions aimed at appearing as though he gave a fuck about any section of the U.S. population aside from his wealthy oil buddies will strike this from the memory of the history book writers and the population as a whole? It's like the asshole who shoots himself in the foot through an entire date being unfunny, uninteresting, classless and a general buffoon devoid of charm, then expects pussy or a second date because he opened the car door for his date. Good luck, dude, but it's not gonna happen.

I for one will remember an eight year span where the world grew to hate the United States more than ever. Chris Rock may be right, to a certain extent, that "everyone hates a winner" but no one likes a graceless winner. We are reaping the fruits of this shortsightedness.

The economy went into the toilet to levels that I cannot recall* and there doesn't seem to be even a dim light on the horizon for a new day to be approaching. This "dynasty" appears on a steep decline.

The divide between "red" and "blue" states seems even more disparate than it did nearly 10 years ago. What should have been a unifying and galvanizing time of realignment devolved into a cultural civil war, of sorts. Will and Grace fans v. Jeff Foxworthy-vehicle fans. Guys, both those shows suck, can't you at least get along based on the fact that your collective taste in entertainment sucks? Everyone wants to eat, shit, fuck, and sleep--why get in the way?

The man will be leaving the country in worse shape than when he found it. Nice job, dick. I have to head to work, but read the article and tell me what you think.

I'm not going to pretend as though I am, or ever have been, a finance/economy savant. I DO, however, have eyes and I can see that jobs are being outsourced at a ridiculous pace, the value of the USD is shrinking exponentially, and people are losing their homes. Even the Federal Reserve is essentially throwing up a white flag. Writing's on the walls and there's more than smoke here--we might just be fucked, after all.

An unraveling psyche

Where to start? I realize now, more than ever, if I want to accomplish something (disambiguation will come later...maybe), I need to take a chance. I'm not too worried about rolling a 1-2-3 as much as I'm worried I'm playing the wrong game. Do I have enough dice? Am I rolling out-of-order? Do I even know the game I'm playing? Fuck.

My dwindling delusions of grandeur withstanding, I still believe I can do something(s) I'm proud of. I don't have to be stuck in some shit job that I hate, I took the first step in getting out of the warm, protective embrace of my origin, but where do I go from here? It seems as though my first step wasn't calculated effectively and I'm mired seemingly a step behind where I'd hoped and envisioned I'd be. I was overly arrogant in my estimation of what would be expected of me and now I'm stuck with the penance of slaving away at some pretentious restaurant--exactly where I was 2500 miles ago.

I like to think I'm a survivor; I can live off nothing, I can get by with no one and nothing backing me, but is this belief based in reality? I find beauty in struggle, there's nothing honorable (loaded word alert!) in gifts* or nepotism in its numerous manifestations. I'm all for hustling and making it by my own means and rules or standards. If I have to live in squalor and mediocrity at the expense of never subjecting myself to something I wouldn't mention in a memoir (hypothetical scenario, I'm not so self-aggrandizing enough to reasonably think I will warrant a memoir).

I'm not sucking any cock to make it to the top, sorry. In the interest of full-disclosure, I probably wouldn't be that good anyhow--ask my girlfriend about my oral sex skills.

But what can an aging hipster (why lie?) do to secure a future of greater heights than being that scummy asshole bragging about how he saw X Artist that received posthumous revival in interest from music/art fans to annoyed and disinterested youths? That shit ain't for me. But is it fate--and if so, can you dodge fate? I'm a cusp, so I'm gonna bank on that. Wish me well reader.

*Anyone reading may feel free to donate money to the author's plight.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Not exactly what Rakim had in mind

"It ain't where ya from, it's where ya at." Probably the most recited and famous of all Rakim lyrics; its meaning is one I certainly advocate, but since my migration east to New York I've noticed a differing interpretation of Rakim's intent when he urged (in my estimation) listeners to progress as people and not grow stuck in old routines/lifestyles--you're not defined solely on your history, at least you shouldn't be.

For me, that transcendent line was a proposed mission statement. You needn't exist in a stagnant cycle, you can be dynamic, you can grow; its possible to make a better situation for yourself and, ideally, for those around you.

The unfortunate change in interpretation I've observed is that many of my contemporaries (not referring to bloggers, by the way) in New York seem hell bent on contorting this message into one of forgetting your roots. Whenever I stumble into some usually awkward social interaction with New York transplants, they seem all-too-eager to forget and disavow their history and past. It's as if all of their life's journeys, events, and lessons learned never happened.

They've opted for a clean record and while it's unlikely that this metaphorically bankrupt person will be scorned for starting fresh like your friend who never paid a single credit card bill for four years, they too should be subject to the same wary eye.

How genuine can a person be if they are so inclined to actively erase everything up to that point where they decided,"I'm meant to be in____!" I've surmised it's usually seasoned, to varying degrees, with delusions of grandeur, depending on the individual. It all smacks of pretension to me which usually is rooted in insecurity (pop psychology alert!). But just like how if I were pondering renting an apartment to someone with a credit score in the single digits, a person with a pronounced unwillingness to acknowledge where he or she comes from evokes a great sens of discomfort for me. What do they have to hide?

This is simply an exposition of sorts; if I get off my lazy ass I plan on investigating this further to the best of my ability. I obviously can't reach the entire demographic of 20-30-year-old transplants living within this city. But Yahweh willing, I'll find them/you.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Federal Reserve Chairman Downsizes the "Three Needs of Man" to Food and Clothing

Federal Reserve chairman Ben S. Bernanke cited findings that supported his belief that access to a domicile was "not crucial to survival."

"I was driving home some time ago when I noticed what appeared to be a camp site on the side of the road," Bernanke said, continuing, "I'd made it a short day seeing as it was a Friday and I wasn't expected home for a few hours so I pulled over to inspect this bizarre settlement that had recently popped up and blemished my otherwise pleasant view for the drive home."

"'What's the meaning of this?' I queried the African-American male," Bernanke told reporters. "This man went on to tell me how he and his family had been 'duped'--his words, not mine--into taking out a mortgage for his family's first home with back loaded interest rates and hidden fees he hadn't been alerted to by the creditor. After a year or so, his family ended up homeless, but from what I could see the man and his family certainly weren't in dire straits. They had access to running water from the Applebee's across the street, not to mention delicious handouts, errr...treats, from the generous employees of another fine American eatery: Applebee's. I felt it a bit superfluous after assessing their current state, but for the sake of the country I felt it necessary to reaffirm the president's vested interest in their future and that he's hard at work to make their 'good life, a great one,'" Bernanke concluded.

"It is after my meeting with this courageous family that I am making a push to have 'shelter' eliminated from the Three Needs of Man," Bernanke declared.

"'Shelter' always felt a bit tacked on to me," Bernanke said. "This way, 'the Needs' will be easier to remember for the real treasure--our children," Bernanke said.

In all seriousness, and all Onion-jocking aside, Bernanke REALLY did say in the face of our economy's continued dip closer and closer to recession levels that our economy was "extraordinarily resilient." What type of insight, words of encouragement is that?

I don't know if Bernanke is aware of this but the U.S. dollar is worth only two more cents than the Canadian dollar? When I was in Canada last, five years ago, the Canadian dollar was worth about 3/4 of the U.S. dollar. It was maddening, I was selling t-shirts, CDs, and LPs for a band and it was so irksome to figure out the conversion rate swiftly. That's a bit of a white lie, it was mostly due to laziness and my hatred for all the change in Canadian currency ("Loonies" and "Twonies"?), but that's the past, right now we're in danger of being referred to as Canada, jr.

Do you, my fellow Americans, want to see goofy ass Canadians making jokes about our culture and status in the world? I've grown accustomed to having a place as the giant in the marketplace and I don't need any hockey-loving, maple syrup-slurping, egregious amount of flannel-wearing Canucks pushing me around.

I could swallow it when the Euro dominated the dollar in value, I don't have to deal with Europeans that often. In addition to that, I always have the fall back ace up the sleeve of their hideous 1980s tracksuits to mock them derisively and the bizarre penchant for fashion mullets within their as a trump for any goof ball, quasi-nationalistic argument of "my country > your country."

But CANADA?! They're so close; and with rapidly improving accent-hiding techniques, they can slip into your life undetected.

Hopefully those in charge for now can right this slap to the face of the collective America and we'll be the Teddy Roosevelt's of the global economy once again. Make that Teddy R. after some fine scotch.

"Shriek belligerently and wave your big dick."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Extra! Extra! Read None of It!

Another shortcoming of our society at-large when it comes to language is the heavy reliance on a thesaurus to add color and/or learn more words. The negligence and lack of effort or logic (should one really surmise that an accurate definition of a word can be gained from one simple like word? That is ridiculously stupid) in this practice baffles and saddens me. Sadden might be too strong of a word, but it certainly leaves me with little hope for my world's future.

Insipid does not equal watery, they're similar if the intent is accurate, but chances are you'll look dim if you substitute watery for insipid.

Well, I'm off to forget more words. Bender time. Tell my mom and her sisters I love myself if I don't make it back alive.

There's a spider on your ceiling...

Something you may or may not know about me (I'll answer this for you, it's the latter) is that I help pay for websites like How do I, a poorly paid server working in this megalopolis, (Brooklyn to be exact, my infamy will be forthcoming but for now I will be relatively forthright about the minutiae of me, numerous parentheses and ad nauseam rambling withstanding) pay for anything besides cigarettes, metrocards, whiskey, and beer? Food and rent are afterthoughts for your faithful servant: me.

Well, I'll tell you. I frequent these sites and in this day when the prospect of purchasing an item is somehow more valuable and desirable than an actual transaction my viewing of advertisements for "Ice skating in Orlando" (you read me) is worth more than my actual dropping of duckets to lace up a pair of ice skates and hit the rink to USA on Ice. But fear not readers (hi, mom and dad), this will not be some groan-inducing and banal retread of the same-ol' tired argument about the perils and looming destruction of Occidental culture at the hands of those no-goodniks in the advertising agencies of the world. That will be left to the pundits with more insight, knowledge and expertise in the field. It must be stated, however, I would be remiss and unscrupulous to not condemn the seeming stranglehold the commercial advertising world has on our collective consciousness and the dangerous power it wields in shaping, contorting and defining our world.

That being said, I liken the evils of advertising within the white collar/white male* arena of culture theft and destruction to the "made men" of mafia crime syndicates. As for who ("what?"-I refuse to recognize corporations as entities worthy of the rights afforded to humans, fuck off lobbyists) represents the Don or boss of this allegorical crime cartel, I, sadly, haven't given it enough thought.** But the hierarchy exists in my belief, but maybe I'm just too credulous. Which is what spurred this quasi-tractate in the first place.

As you might have deduced from my opening statements, I frequent online dictionary websites. I try to make a point to reinforce*** my knowledge of words from time-to-time as well as learn the occasional new word to vivify (I JUST did it) my language. These are the two primary reasons I make it a habit to regularly drop-in at the aforementioned websites; that and paper dictionaries are ridiculously expensive, not to mention their online siblings navigate much swifter.

Back to credulity, I was reading about that very word when I began thinking about the interesting way the two words and their respective changes of tense* (incredul[ous/ity] v. credul[ous/ity]) are not complementary or at least not dichotomous. For complete clarity I will include the dictionary definition of both.

incredulity-the quality or state of being incredulous; inability or unwillingness to believe.

credulity-willingness to believe or trust too readily, esp. without proper or adequate evidence; gullibility.

While these are static definitions that do not reflect the mutation of definitions through the different interpretations and usage (correctly or incorrectly), the origins are simply "skeptical" v. "naive." Which contradicts what the average person (the average nerd, actually) would assume when the formative "in" is employed. One need look no further that my parentheses three lines up to more clearly grasp my point: correct v. incorrect=right v. not right. But why do the denotations of credulity and incredulity deviate from this formula?

I do not have access to a dictionary that offers much in the way of these two words' etymologies to see if they arrived at their perceived dichotomous relationship serendipitously--as two similar words that through current affairs and various interpretations of two relatively linked words became, typographically at least, connected--or if these two words have been linked as gullible v. suspicious from the beginning.

I suppose my curiosity with the words stems from my view of their relationship as being grayer than most "in/un-" formative couplings. The relationship dynamic between "correct" and "incorrect" is much easier to observe than that of the "credulity" and "incredulity" marriage. Right and wrong (barring moral and ethical issues, I'm speaking superficially) is much easier to define or identify than the states of naivete and skepticism and the relationship therein.

Which I suppose a victory unto itself for the English language, albeit a minor one at best. Within a language with so many strict dichotomies (hard as a rock, soft as a pillow, but what about everything in between?) it is always a welcome feeling to be reminded that the language is more vibrant than at times perceived and with the capability to gain more hues, shades, and colors altogether.

But will anyone do it? Too many of us are all-too-willing to stop at being able to identify the meaning of a word within a certain context, while ignoring its overarching definition, varied as it/they may be. I'm reminded of a scene from the movie "Reality Bites" wherein Winona Ryder's character is attempting to speak to a member of management at some place of business**** and as the woman grows weary of Rider's presence she fires off "What's the definition of 'irony'?" prior to stepping into an elevator. Rider's character responds,"I can identify it!" At this stumble, the woman shakes her head and lets the elevator doors close between her and Rider.

This scene from "Reality Bites" perfectly illustrates a problem with our collective sensibility when it comes to language. We're content to be able to use it or identify it within the context of someone's spoken words or their text (very dangerous, with this attitude pervasive through our culture who's to say some random cat isn't guilty of the same behavior) but few are willing to take the minimal effort to actually learn the definition(s) of a word.

Take it from me, you don't want to look like the heel who uses "penultimate" when he actually meant something along the lines of "super-ultimate." I was that heel, and I felt/looked like one.

Let's keep the language clean (crass and lewd are ok), for remember Noam Chomsky gets more pussy in a week than Wilt Chamberlain did in a year.

*sorry ladies and minorities participating in the corporate crime land victimizing the world-at-large, but your contributions, while remarkable and worthy of a pat on the back, pale in comparison to that of your white, Western, male contemporaries; better luck next time and thanks for playing!

**Anyone reading, especially to this point, feel free to suggest a fitting equivalent to a boss in the respective mainstream realm of culture/thought larceny. Additional request, please think of something better than, "Durrrr....Enron!" Even I could come up with that and I'm pepped up on Red Bull, Emergen-C and egg sandwich. C-r-e-a-t-i-v-i-t-y. It's NOT just a synonym for homosexuality (Any homosexuals reading, especially anyone who had been wiling to or considering employing me on your writing staff, that was tongue-in-cheek; homophobia is gay).

***This script is my first attempt to ween myself from my guilty pleasure that is saturating anything I compose with parentheses. I like to think (with an unofficial vote of support from William Safire, wait, shit! did it again) it demonstrates how thoughtful I am to my subjects and readers, but in reality my usage has become a bit egregious so I am making a conscious effort to "lipo" my writing and "juice" my clarity. Getting back to the footnote, it serves as my parenthetical-methadone, a sub-motive within the reinforcement of knowledge/understanding motive for my habitual trips to dictionary websites is to accrue different, occasionally new interpretations of the word. How 'bout that?

****Anyone into angsty, Gen X, 1990s movies feel free to clue me into more details of this scene, it's hilarious from what I recall . I don't remember much of the film at all, in fact I had completely forgotten that Ben Stiller and Ethan Hawke were in it. Then again, forgetting Ben Stiller isn't such a bad thing, same for Ethan Hawke. Who the hell bails on Uma Thurman? Mr. Hawke, you, your balls, and your BRAIN need to have a pow-wow.