I am totally diggin' this year's Big Brother 7/All Stars!
Whew! I feel so much better already. No, I'm not watching it as train wreck, by the way, with disgust, cynicism, or criticism. And I hadn't planned on watching. I was completely off the stuff, scaling back my reality programming to Survivor and Amazing Race (because "the psychologist in me found great interest in human behaviors" blah-blah-blah).
Nope, Alvaro who has watched all the incarnations of BB, one through now seven, mentioned that it was pretty good. I informed him that I was done, sworn off. But, he insisted it was solid (I believe "solid" was the actual word he used).
I missed the first couple of weeks (and evictions), but tuned in around week three, mostly to stock up on ammo with which to attack Alvaro. But, no. Solid TeeVee, my friends.
There is some great nuance, some great strategy, and really great story lines. I believe the editing is tighter and the characters more robust. And, best of all, because they're all stars, the action is not only fierce, but they are all playing their parts for the TeeVee.
Now, for those now intrigued...it's too late! It's almost over, it's down to five: Will, Boogie, Janelle, Chicken George, Danielle, and Erika. Personally, I have the most affinity for Will, the lying, cheating, manipulating, charming, handsome physician (who just loves one Neil Patrick Harris). He's playing the game, baby!
I know, some of you are horribly disappointed. But, since I have confessed, you will forgive.
This is the age of zero tolerance. [And, don’t you think that “printer-friendly page” should be called “reader-friendly page”? I do.] If they can kick a kid out of school for bringing a table knife to cut an apple, then shit, I can tell the political pollsters calling my home at 8:14 p.m. to jump off a six story building. That’s just high enough that if it doesn’t kill you, it’ll maim you for a good long while…give you some time to think about your life. Your situation and your status.
It doesn't take long to go from David to Goliath, but it takes even less time to get back to David. It’s because I hate America, right?
It’s like rapid fire: ding! "U there?" Ding! "I have a question." Ding! Ding! "Can I call you?" My machine sounds like an old-fashioned gasoline pump, all ding-ding-ding-ding all day long.
Shut the fuck up, OK?! I hat technology because I hat myself. Big ass Quaker hate.
As little Bobby Dylan said, recently:
I don’t care what you do
I don’t care what you say
I don’t care where you go
Or how long you stay
Some day baby you ain’t gonna worry over me anymore
“Wallflowers? Wallflowers! Son, I love you and all but you’ll always be Bob Dylan’s son. And, motherfucker, I’m Bob Dylan!” That little Bob Dylan.
In the coming years, birch, ash and poplar trees will be able to grow in Greenland as the growing season as increased by two weeks in the last 15 years. Fifteen years! How do you like them apples? Just don’t try to cut that apple with a knife at school, kiddies. ‘Cuz I have zero tolerance.
Today, like many others, will end as another casual day of freedom. I’ll hang up my big ass Quaker hat, whittle for a while, and head off to dreamy slumber. As yourself, anymore: what am I doing for your company?
They should just go for it and give the white team an unfair advantage in every competition. And every three days, the white team can go take something from the black team camp. [and sell them cigarettes and malt liquor at premium prices]
And then one day, they should let the black team take something from the white team camp, and then accuse them of looting. [They could build little palm jails and have probation officers from the white team]
During white tribal councils, the white tribe should just shoot the shit with Jeff and drink martinis and then when they ask if they really have to vote someone out, Jeff will be all "No." [then they'd high-five and say things like, "dats da bomb!"]
When the black tribe shows up, Jeff should be all harsh and stern. [he could express his disappointment in them]
And they should have one tribe of indigenous people from wherever this thing is being filmed, but the producers should give them all chicken pox or diarrhea or something so they all have to quit and move away and let the white tribe take their camp. [and those who don't die from disease will be detained as terrorist threats]
And then they should introduce the latinio team later into the game and they should let them into the white tribe one by one until one day the white tribe is like "what the fuck?" and all of a sudden the latinios outnumber them (but all sleep in one little hut). [obviously there would be questions of their legal immigration status, at least just before any voting commences and they’d get voted off one by one]
And then the producers should forget about the black tribe for like a week and then be all "oh, are you still here? We forgot." [then they can flood their camp with sewage and then send them all to Houston and Barbara Bush can call them “cute little monkeys”]
And the Asian team could have these little cars to drive around but they drive them really poorly. Even though the white tribe laughs at them all the time and calls them all sorts of names they'd still do the white tribes homework and stuff. You know, to be accepted.
Wouldn't it be funny if*:
- The black team won the swimming contest?
- The Asian team won the hip-hop freestyle contests?
- The white team schooled in basketball?
- The Latinios won the Goldman Sachs prep-school/Ivy league hook me up with a job frat brah contest?
*[note: this is the "funny if" EZ-Lite version - the scathing social commentary (and much funnier) version was edited -- I can be convinced to put that up -- or, you can write your own!]
This morning, as usual, I walked into my work building, as usual.
No, there’s a story and a question. I walked into the elevator lobby of my building, as usual. There are a couple of people already waiting for the elevator, as usual – a gray haired guy and a young black woman – and joining them, some woman who walked in with me.
There’s the typical office worker guy, shirt carefully tucked in, clean shoes, belt and such. He has some sort of satchel with his important work papers and whatnot. His longish hair has prematurely whitened, and he sports a goatee. His friends probably considered him pretty cool until he bought and justified the minivan. Probably plays bass. He presses the fourth floor button.
There’s the young black woman who appears to be in pretty good shape but has that finger-in-the-dike physique that suggests that one day soon she will wake up 300 pounds heavier. She sports a shoulder tattoo that looks more like a Sharpie sneezed on her. And, because the tattoo is only like two shades darker then her skin, it looks like complete shit. No contrast, no detail. Just shit. Deal breaker. She selects the sixth floor.
The woman that came in with me is what you would simply call normal looking. You wouldn’t be able to pick her out of a line-up. “Uh, she had, uh, hair, and she looked like, uh, a woman. She was white, I remember that.” Neither pretty nor ugly, just another late-20s, early-30s white woman. An extra in a film. Flip-flops (of course those suck), skirt, probably a toe ring (which absolutely sucks) or some such trite decoration, and a regular old summer top. Her top was something like a spaghetti-strap tank, probably cotton. Seventh floor.
I’m on the eighth floor (a clever elevator guy would have said, “hey, I guess I’m on the local, huh?). It’s a humid morning. It’s August in DC, it’s what I expect. I don't say a word.
Okay, we’re all on the elevator, the four of us until the fourth floor. No sooner did the doors close than flip-flop plain Jane start, and I don’t know what to really call it, she starts…swabbing herself. Wiping herself with some sort of pad or wiper thingy. Okay, it’s humid, so you dab a little sweat off right? No, this woman was wiping her face. She wiped her arms. She wiped her chest. She wiped her shoulders. After the white guy left, she continued to wipe (he glanced my way as he left). After black woman left, she continued to wipe (she gave a classic "oh no you di’nt" glance).
So here I am alone with the wiper on the same side of the elevator. After black woman left she – as is NORMAL – moved over to the other side. But what is NOT normal is she continued wiping herself and now it’s directly in my field of vision. I want to say, “What the hell are you doing?” And to top it off, as she’s exiting the car, she licks the pad or wiper thingy and wipes her eyebrows.
I felt dirty. And, not the good dirty.
So, here’s my question: Is this some ill human behavior or what?
"I probably won't watch it because it is on teevee and I don't watch much of that these days, but for the record, I think Mark Burnett can pull off the race thing.
At first I had the same reaction as everyone else. Oy.
Then I thought about it and thought, what's the big deal? The big deal is that a show that divides people by race will challenge our delusion of being race-blind. We are not only NOT race-blind, but we shouldn't TRY to be race blind. Being white in America is significant. Being black in America is significant. If we pretend it is not, then we can't progress.
Most people's revulsion at the idea of a race-based Survivor is not because it risks perpetuating stereotypes, but because it deals with race, something that we as a culture are entirely unequipped to address. It's awkward and one of the unfortunate legacies of the 60s is to pretend that race and racism is a thing of the past.
However, to truly do this Survivor right, it should not only have the teams split by race, but there should be black, white, Latino, and Asian editing crews that produce 4 different shows. I can guarantee that the producers and editors will be 90% white and that will have more impact on the final product than the race of the competitors.
The "black" Survivor can be shown during the day because they're all lazy and unemployed."
Indeed. All good points. My initial response to the manufactured outrage over this version of the Survivor TeeVee show was, "great!" My second reaction was, "Mark Burnett, you genius sonofabitch. You did it again. Way to inflate ratings." I understand the next version will create teams based on physical handicaps, religions, and beauty standards. Oh, just kidding!
Survivor has created teams by sex, they've created teams by age. Why not race? Exactly, and finally, to be honest. How interesting. Clever. For the first time in a very long time, I am genuinely intrigued. Sure, there could be outcomes that prove embarrassing for one or more of the teams. But, whatever. It's all in good TeeVee fun. Let's evolve. Let's move past race. Besides, the mulatto team will kick some serious ass!
Even more interesting though, is the notion of editing. I have always believed that you could create a seriously interesting series of these TeeVee "reality" shows by pitting different editing teams against each other. In this case let's not take race into consideration. Simply, two, four, or a dozen editing crews (and directors) receive the raw footage and tell the most compelling story they can. I believe that we'd have such variety of output that it would be quite interesting. Perhaps the same outcome, but really different output.
But, I got to thinking, how did we get so weak? Collectively, soft as a rotten peach. That's the question. High SES Americans in the 21st century are pathetically morose. Too much money. Too many conveniences. Too selfish (think of the impact of the blower's noise and consumption versus its utility). It's just too easy to be us; too easy to be weak. Way too simple, I guess.
[note, add: too pampered, too coddled]
I'm at the barber shop to get freshened up (not THE barber shop in the hood with thugs and survivors talking ladies and sports - no, the shoppe in Kentlands). The dads here are a sorry ass bunch. Helicopters hovering over their precious offspring. Instead of explaining to crying lads that 1) this will go quicker and easier without the crying (or annoying howling) and, 2) there's NOTHING to be frightened of. Suck it up, son! Fear of this sort is contrived. Hand-holding. Dabbing of tears. Lollypops. That is, lollypops as pacifiers rather than rewards for composure and bravery. Where does this lead? "Here's the car you've been asking for son, uh, let's try to get better grades this semester, alright champ?" Oh, and this one couple brought along the portable DVD player to play Thomas the Tank Engine for the little sap.
I, as you know, am a HUGE softie. But, shit, when you see all the confidence and backbone drained from parents' eyes, it's nothing short of embarrassing.
Next thing you know, Junior will head off to college, meet Miss idealized fantasy excuse for a partner and settle down in a "luxury" condo. Junior will, of course get an electric leaf blower to keep the leaves off of the precious balcony.
No wonder the non-stop, transparently unsubstantiated fear tactics of the Bush administration are so effective. We're collectively weak. Scared. Frightened! Don't get me started on parents and mosquitoes either. The shame.
On one hand we've become paralyzed of living. Without air conditioning, alarm systems, and Blackberry hand-helds, some of us would simply curl up in a fetal position and whimper.
On the other hand, we are even more afraid of dying. I mean, people are TERRIFIED of aging. Dying? That doesn't even compute. Thus, the dogmas of the religions and the non-sciences of faith prosper. The euphemisms of illness and decline. The prevalence of drastic and expensive measures to prolong "lives" with the remaining quality and productivity of house flies. Think: Theresa Marie "Terri" Schiavo. Hey, Bill Frist? Tom DeLay? Maybe you're the ones with brain damage. Nice try.
What happened to authenticity? Originality? Distinction? Integrity? I am reminded of that song, the theme from the TeeVee show "Weeds" - how does it go:
Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes made of tickytacky
Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes all the same
There’s a green one and a pink one and a blue one and a yellow one
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.
And the people in the houses all went to the university
Where they were put in boxes and they came out all the same,
And there’s doctors and there’s lawyers, and business executives
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.
And they all play on the golf course and drink their martinis dry,
And they all have pretty children and the children go to school
And the children go to summer camp and then to the university
Where they are put in boxes and they come out all the same.
And the boys go into business and marry and raise a family
In boxes made of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.
Fully, I am aware that I have my prisms and my filters and I can only think and account for myself. My thoughts, beliefs, and sense of style are only my own - for better or worse. I don't care. But, at least I can claim them as my own. Not, MTV's, or Banana Republic's, or my employer's. At least I recognize this. I'm not saying that I am right or that I think perfectly or that anyone should think like me. On the contrary, please think for yourself. Be yourself. Find yourself.
Suck it up, use a goddamn broom. Get a context for your existence. Because, believe it or not, it's almost over.
She explained that she couldn't see very well.
We helped her find the corn. She was all concerned that I keep an eye on the B. I explained that we were fine (but, thank you). She was delighted.
She said we were, "extra, extra special." Don't remember ever being called extra, extra special. I actually grinned (and am still kind of grinning).
What a way to begin a day. After coffee, that is.
Sometimes a jerk. Sometimes a kind and neighborly gentleman. Paradox.
My morning -- at some point around 10:00:
1) I open up WFMU on the World Wide Web "browser" to start Tuesday's 'Best Show' featuring Tom Scharpling
2) I notice the Gmail notifier ("G" is for Google), see it's mail from Rich. I see the subject line is 'oh snap' - naturally, I am intrigued. But, first thing's first. There is an order to this life.
3) [So many goddamn windows open: Blogger, WFMU, notes, Real Player getting started, news. Mantra: there is an order to this life.]
4) Achewood's first in the queue. Ha! Very good stuff. Ray all ragin' about grocery store promotions. So far quite funny since I was just thinking about that stuff...like when the woman at Target (tm) asks me the obligatory, "do you want to save ten percent today?" Well, shit yeah I want to save money on this crap, but we all know the punch line to that question, right? Sure I can save 10% but I'd have to get a stupid Target (tm) credit card. It's the lamest solicitation. Tired, in fact. In fact, it's so old I have a pre-prepared response: "Yes I do want to save ten percent on this purchase but I don't want your stupid [fill in the blank] credit card. However, I should still get the 10% discount for being subjected to your company's annoying and unwanted solicitation." Yes, that is usually met with stunned silence and a quick and quiet completion of the transaction. I know, they're just doing their job, but we the annoyed public should, no need, to have the front line staff report upward that people aren't responding positively to this aspect of their job.
Which reminds me that I also have to hear the "Do you have a bonus/discount/action/annoying card" at every single transaction from Barnes & Noble, CVS, Giant, wherever. No, no, no, no, no. Just let me buy the shit I dragged up here to buy. I am not going to carry everybody's stupid card with me or - even worse - attach them to my keys and look like a retarded corporate drone cheerleader (imagine the key ring with a dozen store "discount" tags as pom-pon, you get it). No, I keep my keys on my key ring. keys, nigga, keys!
But it saves you money, they say. And I say, "Well, there's more to life than you saving me money."
Anyway, I'm thinking that today's Achewood is all about being annoyed by the corporate establishment. I get it and I'm satisfied. In fact Achewood has been very good of late. All over the place but very nice. And it appears that I have to buy Beef's zine given the quality of the teaser (the sex issue).
No. No! But, hell no! We find out that today's Achewood is "Would Somebody Please Fuck Ray Friday" strip. Perhaps the funniest, most poignant strip -- dare I say -- ever! Jesus, that guy has a good brain.
5) I finish reading the strip and immediately think that I should comment to Rich about it, but wait, I bet he already has on in the queue (remember, "oh snap").
6) Open Gmail (by Google) and sure enough: "Onstad pushed it over the line today." Exactly.
7) I sit back and think, "Goddamn, I have an incredible life.... It's the small things."
Garden State Parkway (okay, GSP y’all, holla!) just south of Garfield (and don’t get me going on Garfield, NJ). We stop for food and coffee. Making great time. Toll road corporate monopoly rest area. Need coffee. Well, need caffeine. Caffeine is in coffee.
I’m in line for coffee behind a well put-together middle age woman (lady). I’m assuming she’s fairly affluent, well educated, etc. I imagine a new (not late model) Saab, BMW 5 or better, or sweet ass Infinity parked out front. You can gather a lot from simple heuristics. She’s not blingin’ but she doesn’t have too. She’s the type who thoughtfully selects quality over show. This is why she isn’t driving a Mercedes or Jaguar. You can tell stuff.
I’m beat and I’m just standing there doing my thing mostly inside of my own head. Pacing myself for several more hours rally racing. Jonesin’ for Joe. Only one person in line. Thank god. The lady and that’s it. Coffee time!
The girl has her nuggets procured and is heading to a table. She stops to ask me if she could go to the McDonaldland playground after we eat (yeah, right). I deflect a visit to the McE-Coliland playground with a parentally insincere, “maybe someday when we’re not on such a long ride.” You know. I’m way too germ phobic for the McBirdFluland playground. I’m grossed out enough as it is. I don’t need herpes. I mean, we are in Jersey. Can I get a witness?
The girl says, “Okay, someday, but can we write a note to remember?” Smart kid, blessing and curse for years to come.
So the lady turns and laughs and says, “She’s adorable!” I utter a distracted “thank you.” I understand that that is what one says when someone compliments your kid. You thank them. Whatever. So, the lady offers, “She was so serious. She really knows what she wants, huh?” Okay, I’ll play along, I add, “Yeah, she’s a real negotiator.” “Ahh, yes, she really sounded like a great negotiator” the lady finishes with a good, old money laugh (hearty and knowing).
Then the awkward pause. C’mon, I just want coffee. I’m not, one, interested in small talk. I don’t like small talk with my friends. Two, where is this leading? Well, here’s where it led:
“Is she fun?” the lady asks. WTF? Is she fun? What, is she going to offer to buy the kid? How much can you sell a four year-old for on the GSP? I look her over and steel myself with a firm one million dollars. What am I thinking?! Huh?! I can’t even answer logically, “Uh, yeah, fun.”
So the lady says, “I wouldn’t know…. Never had ‘em…. My husband never wanted them, doesn’t like ‘em.” I give the old smile-with-my-mouth-not-with-my-eyes smile. “Oh.” I force.
“But it’s too late now” she says. Well, technically, sure, but what the fuck do I say here? Well, I’m so sorry lady? Is that what I say? Maybe joke that it’s a good thing she’s menopausal since I thought she was going to ask for a sperm donation.
Nothing. Not a thing. Nada. I just look at her. Dumb as hell. You’ve all seen the look (see the beach pic, that look).
“But, I’m surrounded by kids. Lots of love. I have plenty of kids in my life.” Maybe she realized she violated the information threshold and this was her way of back peddling. I figure I’ll actually say something nice and let her escape easy. I’m a big softie, after all.
She picks up her coffee and I say – get this – I say, “Uh, well, we could be in Paris, you know?” Of course this sounds not only lame, but full-on retarded. What the hell does that mean? I meant, well, kids are a lot of work and a pain in the ass and maybe you made a good decision for your life and lifestyle. You could pick up and travel any time you want. Even to Paris.
From US News & World Report (really):
"He loves to cuss, gets a jolly when a mountain biker wipes out trying to keep up with him, and now we're learning that the first frat boy loves flatulence jokes. A top insider let that slip when explaining why President Bush is paranoid around women, always worried about his behavior. But he's still a funny, earthy guy who, for example, can't get enough of fart jokes. He's also known to cut a few for laughs, especially when greeting new young aides, but forget about getting people to gas about that."