Friday, February 16, 2007

Tipping Point

The lead actor for the hit television show CSI Las Vegas is a fellow named William Petersen. This irony cracks me up for a lot of reasons, although my last name being Peterson doesn’t begin to tell the half of it. Over a decade ago I wrote an article about the crime lab here in San Diego that was published by the local weekly newspaper The Reader. A few weeks back they republished something else I had written for them back in 1995. I wouldn’t have even known that they did this if a check for 100 bucks hadn’t appeared out of the blue (the check was blue . . . ha ha) as I don’t read The Reader that much anymore. It’s hard to read something that you probably should be writing for.

My boss’s boss is having us read Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point” to prepare for a meeting we are going to next week. He’s an interesting fellow. I once knew a professor who said that whenever he was correcting a paper with arguments in it he detested or thought were bullshit, he would write in the margin “that’s interesting.” I don’t think Gladwell’s book is crap, but I sure as hell am not exactly surprised by anything he says. It’s an interesting reminder I guess.

Being five years ahead of the curve is not something that is worth much. It’s interesting. I wrote a blog entry for my company and Israel Mizrahi thought it was the shit. He’s mentioned in Gladwell’s book and when my boss’s boss saw this he was pleased I think. My boss pretty much shit all over my enthusiasm and I swore to myself I wouldn’t ever give a fuck about work again. The corporate world is filled with half-bright interesting fuckwits who are certain about something and love to look at themselves in the mirror. Certainty, ego, knowing other like minded people, enthusiasm, appearing to do things that matter, manipulation, aggrandizement, obsession, lack of introspection, etc etc; these things are the coins of the realm. For now.

To be fair . . . I’m not really interested in fairness. I’ve never really been interested in being loved by all and lauded for my beauty. I was raised by a physicist, not a salesman. Reality is not something to be spun. And money is nice to have and I’m glad for my unusual corporate job that pays squat. Squat is enough actually, especially if it comes with medical benefits. But not caring about my job is really starting to get to me. I’ve started caring again and I want to make the folks I work with see that they can play the corporate game and still save their souls. In fact, they are already working for the man so they would do well to remember that it is a game and frankly nothing they do is really that important so they might as well do it well. I am maybe ahead of the curve again. And if I get run over one more time . . . .

Monday, February 12, 2007

Obama, Why Not?

I watched the 60 minute piece on Barack Obama and after doing so, I figure what the hell, I’ll bite. Listening to Hilary Clinton talk is enough to make a man doubt the meaning of life, so hearing someone act halfway fucking normal on national TV is like a gift of oxygen in a land of methane and piss. I’m sure that some folks will suggest that he’s got some sort of fatal flaw and that he’s too ambitious and whatever. But until someone shows me a person like him who is as basically human and who answers questions with something like the truth attached to them rather that something that sounds like it came out of a polling focus group I’m for this son-of-a-bitch. Damn, his wife even made a sardonic joke about the two of them fighting and her being pissed off that he smokes. Listening to the radio the other day I heard a story whereby he apologized to a brother because he had inadvertently hurt the brother’s chance to get laid. Vote Hilary in and we’ll all have trouble getting laid.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

American Tragedy

We watched "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" the other night. I watched my wife cringe at the foul language that began the movie but even she was eventually sucked into its maelstrom of wickedly funny set pieces and man-centered moralizing. The funniest parts were outside the main thrust (of course that's a pun) of the plot; a discussion of some rule of getting laid etiquette on the loading dock behind a electronics store punctuated by the repeated and wanton destruction of four-foot fluorescent bulbs; a game of "I know you're gay because" illustrated by the on-screen video gaming battle whereby one player's avatar rips the head off the other player's avatar and with pixelated blood squirting throws it back at the decapitated body which then explodes. Good stuff. Laughing should not be sneezed at regardless of the size of your furrowed brow.

But even in this childish set-up piece of artistic frivolity there had to be a moment whereby the protagonist and the object of his ultimate de-virginizing have to have a potentially apocalyptic row that threatens to turn the fairy tale sour. Meaning, in American films, is almost always the same. The difference between drama and comedy is mostly about the scale and seriousness of the loss or potential loss to the protagonists. Americans believe in the struggle of good vs evil as the point of existence. Survival with dignity (and we are in many ways the most undignified people on the face of the earth) is not enough.

When Hunter S. Thompson killed himself I was seriously bummed out yet I knew that in his story this was a likely outcome given what he had said about the subject and his well-documented impulsiveness. His suicide note went like this:

"Football Season Is Over"
"No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax — This won't hurt"

When I think about it now these are the words of an American. He must live within his own self-defined rules of engagement and failing that, what is the point of existence? Of course the answer is myriad. Existence may feel like its yours and you control it but we are all riders on a silver stage driven by a mad jehu and guarded by an anal-retentive shotgun messenger. In the mountains there are those moments when it looks like the whole apparatus is going over the side. But jumping out hardly seems to be a solution. Buy the ticket-take the ride. The destination is always the same and pretending that it isn't just seems to fuck up the scenery. Maybe that's what HST was saying at the end. Things were just looking like shit to him.