Tuesday, September 15, 2009


If the death of Michael Jackson taught me one thing, it's that people will feel sentimental for some of the dopiest things. Okay, Michael Jackson made some hit records and made friends with the local children, but he also more or less represented a gross commercialization of the music industry that made the majority of mainstream music about as thrilling and exciting as the weak tea they serve at the nursing home on Sunday afternoons. It was only then that hordes of his "fans" came out of the woodwork, most of whom would've easily cracked the K-Mart joke a week earlier.

Billy Mays death further reinforced that notion. It's sad that he died (I mean, it's sad when anyone passes), but seriously folks: he was an INFOMERCIAL "STAR." Star of infomercials you probably barely watched or cared about.

And now we have the ultimate point-counterpoint in notable deaths today. On one hand, we have Patrick Swayze, star of Dirty Dancing and...um...well, I'm sure he did some other things too other than getting "Hungry Eyes" stuck in my head. Oh, and Ghost. Yeah...some contribution to mankind. I'm pretty sure we can all get by in our pitiful lives if either of those two movies weren't made. Oh, and that crappy Wong Foo movie, the trailers of which left several questions for anyone my age at that time. Talk about unnecessary "cultural" "contributions." Thank god for kitsch, huh?

And then you have some dude named Norman Borlaug, possibly one of the most important men in the last fifty years to grace the earth. Um...wait...who?

Norman Borlaug. You know, the guy who saved nearly a billion lives with new strains of wheat that helped lift countries in the Third World out of starvation and misery. You know, actually important stuff that people should care about (at least more so than bubblegum pop, annoying infomercials, and dancing in a dirty fashion).

Whoa whoa whoa...this guy did? Why haven't we heard about him?

Well, maybe if you turn off VH1's "I Love this Decade for Really Insignificant Reasons due to Kitsch," you'll learn that he earned one of those neat Nobel Peace Prize things in 1970 -- you know, that thing that Martin Luther King Jr., Woodrow Wilson, Mother Teresa, and Dag Hammarskjöld have won. He also won the Congressional Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. India (one of the nations he essentially saved) honored him with their second highest civilian honor. How many people do you know that can claim all of those awards?

And yet, he still remains a mystery to most Americans. Why? Beats me. I suspect it might have something to do with the fact that we've all remained blissfully ignorant about the plight of much of the world while we force developing nations to adhere to standards that shackle them in poverty in the pretentious, full-bellied name of "environmentalism."

But that's another post for another day. I'd rather not tarnish the memory of Mr. Borlaug with that sort of diatribe. But I'll leave you with a quote.

“Some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists. They’ve never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they’d be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things.”

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dear Old Me

This past weekend I managed (due to the serendipity of the gods or something equally ridiculous) to see Weezer at the Virgin Free Fest. That was probably the most existential I've ever felt without a few scotches in me. As I was rocking out, screaming my ass off, and singing along to most every song they played, I got to thinking about how pumped 13 year old me would've been to see Weezer live in concert. I concluded that 13 year old me would've said "bullshit and snow will fall in hell, you old fogey" and he would've been right about me being an old fogey and I would've shook my cane and told him about the joys of eight track tapes.

In all seriousness, I would've responded with the following letter.

"Dear 13 Year Old Me,

I know life sucks pretty hardcore at this moment. Trust me, I still remember at my 'old' age. And while I'd like to tell you that things will be amazingly improved 9 years later, things haven't really smoothed out. Anyone who's trying to convince you otherwise is just telling you that so you'd feel better and don't do something incredibly stupid. It's still going to be a rough go and you'll be thrown for loops you couldn't image. While it's going to suck, you'll be reinforcing that lesson that you've been learning over and over: you're the only person out there you can depend on. You're the only one who can guarantee that you'll be the #1 priority on their lists. Everyone else is gamble, and you're putting yourself on the line each and every time. Chances are that you're running a pretty high risk each and every time.

That tech thing you've been dreaming about? Give it up. Your reasons for doing it are complete crap. You're not going to fulfill that dream you've had for years about showing up all those mouth-breathing nimrods who made sure that you remembered how low you stood in the pecking order. Just quit on that. You'll discover that passion for history is the way to go, especially if you'd like to reduce the misery quotient. You got enough that's weighing on your mind all the time; don't waste any brainpower on something you quite frankly suck at. That malarkey about 'doing what you love?' They're not moronic hippies; they're right. I wished I realized this earlier and saved a bit of confusion and frustration. Wasting your time just to show up those morons isn't worth the time.

Get used to playing second fiddle. You'll realize that there's someone out there always better than you and to chase them is akin to trying to catch the wind. Don't worry about trying to beat out the competition. Just work on being the best you can absolutely be and completely disregard what everyone else is doing.

A corollary to the previous paragraph is that you're going to be playing with a shorter deck than everyone else. That is a fact that you'll think about more than you'd like, but it's something that's not going to change, no matter how you will it so.

You're time isn't always now; it's always going to be the future. Part of me (the old, grumpy man) says that's crap; the optimistic me (it's somewhere in my soul) says to keep holding out, no matter how difficult it's going to get (and it's going to get rough).

You're probably not going to like the future you at that age. That's fine. At times I wonder what I'm doing. Nine years later, you'll find that you've lost faith in most of humanity. This will trouble you, but after 9 years of sheer and utter bullshit, you're going to start to lose faith in your fellow man to be a genuinely good person. You're going to hold out hope for the most irrational reasons, only to realize that it was a waste of time and you probably should've been doing something else with your life.

You'll find people that you're somewhat comfortable with. However, you're going to get the sense that you're not really with it the entire time, and you're an outsider. At this point in your life, you're used to such sentiments and don't really dwell upon it. Still, the constant discomfort is quite irritating and you wish you could've done it differently. But you can't, so the only thing to do is to live through the constant discomfort.

All is not doom and gloom. You'll have a bit more freedom and you will meet some genuine people who'll stick with you, despite your thoughts that they'll turn and the drop of the hat. You'll pick up new skills that will (god willing) be helpful at some point. Also, you will see Weezer in concert. That won't make up for a lot of the bullshit you've dealt with, but the cathartic experience helps.

Future you."

P.S. Profanity is implied.