BLOG THIS! Highly Suspect Wisdom for the Widely Disinterested Masses
At a red light this morning I was drawn to this unapologetically grey and institutionally boxy 80's Volvo, the dents and scratches and broken taillight, the dark exhaust that plumed from its idling engine as if redlined at 8000 rpms while trying to pass a dune buggy on the Dakar-to-Paris circuit, the rumble of the muffler that local sound ordinances would likely find citation-worthy....but mainly the two ladies inside, both wearing business-casual blouses while rocking the sort of frenzied New Wave blowout haircuts that backup singers in a Cure cover band or a pair of substitute algebra teachers just running out the string in 1986 would have been pleased with. I was convinced, as I sat at yet another Seattle stoplight four times as long as any reasonable human would think necessary, especially as the north-south street at this particular junction has virtually no traffic, ever, mainly because it dead-ends into a canal, and I will confess, when I pass by early in the morning I often blow through all the red lights on this stretch because there's no reason not to, and also I haven't seen a cop in almost two years since, after the whole early-pandemic "autonomous zone" and defund thing, as punishment to an ungrateful populace, the police no longer seem to respond to calls, address manic street behavior, curb the business of open-air fentanyl dealerships (or, really, ever get out of their cars), that there was something fun happening in that Volvo. There was a story in there, among the long-defunct Blaupunkt and Kentucky fried buckets and threadbare seats, and I wanted to know what it was. I was just about to pull alongside, for a curious glimpse, when they hung a signal-free and seemingly random left, forever wheezed away. I may not have learned much, well into this mid-life, but I know a missed opportunity when I see one.
Oh, just eight years ago when someone still wasn't allowed a cell phone regardless of the level of pleading and dire expressions of need, and so she made this and carried it around for a week.
My new carriage moving forward; more or less a combination of disaffection with technology, a resignation that the concept of linear time is really a survival mechanism to keep us all from going mad since everything has happened, is happening, and will happen simultaneously, and, also, the need for a variety of pork-based snacks.
Listen, I know I'm just a humble country rube and far be it from me to question the research or veracity of The Grey Lady and its vaunted social media arm, but I'm confused by this headline. Are they saying you're 30% less likely to die, period? Like, ever? Or is the scythe dude just 30% less likely to ring your doorbell anytime soon? Say I'm on deadline and mistakenly pound 3.8 cups of coffee, will that discount the life-expanding health benefit? If you read the sentence ten times in a row and once backward, as I did, it begins to seem like they’re implying test subjects were 30% less likely to die during the multiple-year study itself, which strikes me as a fairly arbitrary conclusion, since, for instance, you could also extrapolate that 70% were more likely to expire from the sheer tedium of being involved in a Times-funded coffee study. In any case, I'm sure this data came as a great relief to those who moderately swilled between 1.5-3.5 cappuccinos each morning while it was being conducted, even if they only got the data after the study was over and the panic attacks subsided, but at least they were distracted from their imminent bankruptcy due to the cost of 3.5 per-week teeth whitening treatments. Using this same logic and deductive reasoning, I'm going to go out on a limb and propose that people who don't eat 1.5 fistfuls of cement every day are 30% less likely over the course of a year to have bowel obstructions requiring surgery, regardless of whether they hang on the regular with Folger's pitchman Juan Valdez, and that's without even crunching the data.
Well, I came to a conclusion while in the shower this morning: the only rational explanation is that the very upper echelon of Exxon, the Pentagon, the Saudis, the Chinese, various shady billionaires and possibly even the Kochs, know that electromagnetic field technology has advanced to a degree that Plasma Fusion is no longer a Phillip K. Dick subplot but actually on the horizon, and so blithely ignoring our communal carbon death event while spending billions on propaganda to deny obvious and indisputable climate truths is really just a pragmatic game to frack as much wealth out of the world economy as possible over the next ten years, right up to the precipice where California, Texas, and most of the planet's coastal cities are uninhabitable, at which point Plasma Fusion reactors will become as ubiquitous as gas stations, or probably pre-loaded as apps on the new iPhone CoolMax 12, and clean, readily available energy will flow freely to all who desire it, whereupon a worldwide combustion/consumption enema will return us to the untouched, oxygen-abundant, coolly verdant Pliocene era of 64 million (give or take) years ago, when the greatest source of pollution was Stegosaurus dumps and the offal left over from the latest conquest of Flightless Terror Birds, known to wreak havoc well into the Miocene Epoch and have a blasé, if not unrepentant, attitude about picking up after themselves. Because, really, is it possible to be rich enough, or sell a sufficient tonnage of plastic water bottles, or liquify enough plateaus of Canadian Tar Sands to smugly assume that the sun is not also rising for you?
As much as the consensus seems to be that millenials are weak and coddled (an opinion I don't happen to share, because who can control the relative richness or tidal shallows of the culture that happens to rise around their ankles during the inward-hormonal madness of their formative years?), I do think that no young person of today went through the particular trial of fire that I endured, namely at the age of eleven being dragged by my aunt and much older cousins to a late-night showing of "The Shining" in a creepy theatre in upstate New York. Clearly, I still haven't recovered. Buying a threadbare copy of "Remain In Light" a few years and many therapy sessions later may have been more an unconscious imperative than mere coincidence.
And yes, it probably helps to be Gen X to understand this joke.
Spent the very early hours unable to sleep and turned to thinking, as I often do, about Stanley Kubrick. Should I feel bad that it took me 53 years to realize HAL is actually a slyly coded takedown of the acronym IBM, let alone the soulless cultural monolith it represented in 1968, given that H precedes I, A precedes B, and L precedes M in the alphabet?
Or maybe that's just a coincidence.
But is it also a coincidence that a film about the fallacy of a species measuring itself by technological as opposed to human evolution that culminates in a computer achieving sentience and its first action being the sterile, emotionless murder of its creators, is just as germane today as it was fifty-three years ago?
Not to get all schadenfreude this morning, but some dude paid $518,628.00 for Tom Brady's last touchdown ball literally hours before Gisele's Husband announced his un-retirement, rendering that pigskin decidedly less valuable. It's tempting to feel a passing sympathy for the karmic lack of timing, but I can't quite muster it. What does one actually do with five-hundred K of equity sunk in a bladder of cheap leather and stitching that otherwise retails for $89 at Dick's Sporting Goods? Encase it in amber? Build a shrine? Mark it with a bloody handprint and whisper to it late at night like bearded Tom Hanks?
"Hey," people might say at your next soiree, while gazing up at the mantle, turf-stained laces facing out, "Is that Tom Brady's last touchdown football?"
"Sure is," you'd say with pride, topping off martinis all around.
"So how much it run you?" someone would ask.
"Oh, around half a mil," you'd say, with a modest smirk.
"Did you consider maybe donating that money to Gluttonous Purchaser's Anonymous instead?" the wife of Chet from accounting (who you've never really liked but Suzie insisted on inviting anyway) would say, and your face would flush and you'd stammer for a bit, a snappy comeback or even plausible answer on the tip of your tongue but ultimately eluding you, and so you'd have to settle for, "...but...it's...Tom Brady's last touchdown ball."
Things would be quiet through desert and everyone would leave early and Suzie would toss the dog blanket at you and make you sleep on the couch, but at least you'd be anywhere from between eight and ten feet from the ultimate trophy of the most storied franchise in all of NFL history, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Hey, as it says in Exodus Chapter 20 verse 4, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, so you might want to think twice about bidding on ultimately banal and meaningless objects of worship, let alone trust that The Golden Boy is ever as good as his word."