Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What if he's right?

I'm just like the rest of America, watching Charlie Sheen go nuts. I don't doubt that he is nuts. I think we watch him because he have no hope for his redemption, and we are amused by his fall. Maybe it's guilt, and maybe it's pseudo-intellectualism, but that makes me pull back a bit and wonder- what if he's right? What if he is that rare species that can do a mountain of drugs, party like a rock star, and then, sober up the next week, and never have a problem, again. I've known others that could, so it's not like such a thing is impossible. It's unlikely, and totally improbable, but there do exist those rare mutants who can dance the dance, and then, walk off the floor. ( It would still be a first, for me, in that of those who can do that, none also had histories of addiction in their nuclear family, and none had a history of violence- but I cannot rule out that such a thing is possible) So, let's take a few steps in that reality- what would it mean?
First, it would mean that the logic of the twelve step is wrong. There is some evidence both pro and con for the 12 step, so that wouldn't shock me- but still- the whole notion of the 12 step is based around us not having the power within ourselves to change our relationships with addictions, and someone being able to do exactly that refutes the whole thing. We would then need access to that power, not a way of dealing with our own powerlessness. Imagine how many industries would be out of business, overnight? No wonder therapists, and counsellors and lawyers and reporters are lining up to say he's crazy. He might be, and probably is, but his craziness points something out- that there is an industry that we have a huge amount of interest for, which is predicated upon telling us that we are powerless, helpless, and it's not our fault. I don't know if that's necessarily the worst message to get out. There are ways in which we all have power, and there are ways in which each of us is helpless, but what fits for each varies wildly person to person.
However, if Sheen is right, it would also mean that he is an embattled ubermensch. Is that possible? I suppose. That would make Neitzche correct, and Marx wrong- history would be a succession of great men, and the masses, simply dupes and stooges. That seems, again, highly unlikely, but of course it's possible. It's the battle cry of every dictator, king and warlord in history. We've proven, time and again, that many of us believe it- not only the leaders, but the led. What is the counter argument? That we're all interdependent? That no man is an island? That there is an equality and a brotherhood of man? That we're all equal before God? Are any of these arguments strong enough to counter the incredible will of an individual human spirit? I would say yes, but I'm a damn pinko, and outside the mainstream of American discourse. I should know my role, shouldn't I?
We've stepped through the mirror, though, and must follow it all the way- and that puts us in the realms of Gods, doesn't it? After all- it is a God that Charlie Sheen is describing, isn't it? Something that is more powerful than any man, that is blameless, that exists by will, and dominates all other by its will- sounds like a prime mover to me. How does that leave Charlie sheen out of our national discourse? Don't we view ourselves as gods, of a sort? Listen to a supposed Christian's prayer, and you'll often hear orders- give me this, make sure of that, grant us our will- it sounds more like ordering off a menu than supplication, doesn't it? Our signs of blessing are power and wealth, and our consecrations based upon the power that wealth provides- Sacred ground is entered by going through a metal detector.
So, is Charlie Sheen's crime not in being what we would term "wrong", but lacking in tact? Maybe he's simply expressing how we feel about ourselves, but in terms we aren't bold enough to express. What if his insanity is just Hamlet playing the fool? What if , rather than hopeless, he is our hope? What if he's right? Then, we're all screwed, pal.

Monday, February 28, 2011


I suppose I should catch up. That’s actually what I’ve been doing, so that’s what I’ll report.
Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way- I’m not a big fan of awards shows, so I don’t know much about the Grammys, Oscars, or Golden Moose Turd awards. I also can’t think of a TV show with new episodes that I can say much about. Most nights, I’m turning over control of the remote to my wife, who likes all kinds of “reality” shows- which aren’t really my cuppa, so, I can only say that Hawaii Five-O is still entertaining fluff, in a Burn Notice kind of way, and How I Met Your Mother has lost whatever spark it had- I suspect this is because they’ve chained up Jason Segal and I suspect Neil Patrick Harris wants “character growth” for Barney- which effectively neuters the show. What made it a great show was the almost Marx brothers level of absurdity chained into a “Friends” styled Romantic comedy, added with some experimental storytelling. Minus the absurdity, it’s just a romantic Comedy. Go ahead, and have the “Mother” be Jennifer Aniston, and end it, ok?
Books, though, I’ve been catching up on a pretty massive backlog. So, here’s a title list, with a few lines if I feel so moved:
Hella Nation- Evan Wright. I liked “Generation Kill”, this one is better because the vignettes are shorter, and therefore clearer.
In The Company of Heroes- Michael J Durant. Re-reading this. It’s still good.
The Age of American Unreason- Susan Jacoby. Just started, not sure yet, but I agree with the thesis.
Kids of the Black Hole- Dewar Macleod. Yeah, I talked about it already. I tried to re-read, and it just doesn’t quite hold my interest.
Whip it- Shauna Cross. I liked the movie. A lot. So, I’m giving the book a try. I’d like to point out that as a massive Naked Raygun fan, I was all over Roller Derby by 1985.
Zero History- William Gibson. Yes, I’m still reading it. I’m starting to realize that I’m just not utterly enthralled with it. It’s decent, at best, but is turning into a bit of a slog through that latter third.
We Never Learn- Eric Davidson. I have already proven that I’ll rip on my friends if they put out something bad. I don’t need to do that, here.
Dollar Store D├ęcor- Mark Montano. I used to be a freak for “While You were Out”, ok?
Apartment Therapy’s Big Book of Small, Cool Places- Maxwell Gillingham-ryan. Yes, a freak, ok?
Which brings us to music….
I’ve been listening to a LOT. I’m trying to find new inspiration, so I’ll dispense with going in too deep to stuff I’ve been re-listening to (that would be Dicks, DOA, 7 Seconds, Dag Nasty, Hawkwind, Motorhead, dEUS, and Youth Brigade).
A few stand outs with the newer stuff:
Seditius- Carne Da Macello. Wow! Ripping Italian Metal crossover. Imagine late seventies, early eighties underground metal, like Tru$t crossed with the more hardcore moments of experimental hardcore, like The Refused . If you speak Italian (which I don’t really. I just know enough Latin that I can get by in Spanish, Italian, French, etc) it’s fully satisfying. If you cannot make out the words, that might be the only fly in the ointment.
The Search- multiple releases. The Search are a Swedish new-wave, post punk gentle type band, very reminiscent of the Church. They’ve been around for awhile, and just re-released their discography. Good stuff for a rainy day, if you’re getting sick of post-rock.
The Poly Shores- S/T and White Lung- it’s the Evil. Two Riot Grrrlish noise punk bands from Canada. A bit Screechy, in a No Wave kinda way, but still the basslines tend to be catchy.
Ergo- ARE NOT. I’m pretty sure this is a one man band. It’s nice space-y Fuzz Electronica-shoegaze post punk that puts me in the mind of a more rock Autolux.
Karysun- Until the End. Two man side-project. I can describe it in two words- DOOOOM and THRASH. If that sounds like fun to you, like it does to me, there you go, enough said. If not, I’m not going to try to make it appealing to you.
Me You Us Them- Post-Data. Intriguing. I can’t quite get my head around it. There are noise elements that make it kinda “no wave” and noise elements that make it kinda “Shoegaze” and most of it has a punky kind of pop/rock drive. Good new music that I’m not quite fully processing, yet.

As for other stuff- Believe it or not, I'm not "anti-fashion", and I've been on a bit of a fashion kick. I recently got a throwback pair of black Converse one star mid tops, as well as some slim-fit levis- I'm going for a kind of retro take on the Skinny Tie revivalism of guys like Justin Timberlake and Kanye West, but with a more "classic Americana" version. To phrase that less self-consciously pretentious, I've been trying to dress like a Midwestern Preppy from 1983. Why not? I get all the stuff really cheaply- the converses, for example, were twenty bucks, and none of the Levis cost more than ten. As for Fine Art, I've been really digging THIS.

I think that just about catches us up. For the usual meta-data dump- I've been really busy. Work has missed the traditional slow season, and I've been campaigning for a different job in the company, not to mention I've been really pre-occupied with the Middle East (I have many, many friends in several of the countries you've been reading about in the news, and the whole thing is a bit personal for me) and my Car (KIA's are really, really lousy) is in the shop, again, and has been, recently, as well. Brakes and Transmission.)So, with all that on my plate, plus the usual, you get the point, right?