May 1st, 2007

wasted AND stoned

Vice Watch

I like to keep a running tab of my level of indulgence in various vices. This lets me shape my future and see how far I've come, as a man and as an American. Let's see where we are now.

ALCOHOL: Oh, yes, very much so, indeed. Not only have I been shoring up the home bar (now that I actually have a bar, sort of) and making nightly efforts to deplete my Scotch supply (the Peat Monster calamityjon got me is entirely gone), but I've actually been attending happy hour with my co-workers at a joint that features boutique gin. Liveracious!

DRUGS: Since I have yet to find a good, safe source for weed here in SATX, I honestly haven't been zooting nearly as much as I'd like to recently. If I make a trip to Austin sometime soon, though, I'm going to load up, stop at a head shop and get a new narghile, and commence to wasting the remainder of my life. I occasionally suffer from pain, so it's medicinal.

GAMBLING: I have recently rediscovered my love of wagering, and am not only longing for another poker night with the Austin contingent, but am making lots of petty spot bets around the office. However, I don't think this will bloom into a full-blown addiction, not so much because I have tremendous willpower or am especially skilled at gaming, but more because I am a cheapskate.

PROSTITUTION: The fact that I have not yet and probably never will engage the services of a sex worker has a lot less to do with morality than it does shame, embarrassment, and a vague and almost certainly misplaced sense of propriety. However, I will cop to a substantial increase (from "none" to "some") in my recent intake of pornography.

Sadly, my vices these days tend more towards Post-War American Lazy Man (sleeping late, eating too much grilled meat, watching television) than Pre-War American Arch-Criminal (navigating the underworld, gaming the system, undermining the social order). I'm just another boring old fuck co-opted by his PlayStation. On the other hand, though, I'm still better-looking than J. Edgar Hoover, either in or out of a dress.
it's a thinker

Consider the following.

- Sometimes, when you are ironic, you will say something that isn't true and later, people who have failed to recognize the tone will get upset with you, thinking you have deceived them. This is understandable. Less understandable is that sometimes, you will give a perfectly honest and straightforward answer, and later, when it becomes clear that you were being serious, people will get upset with you because for some reason they thought you weren't. (Parenthetically, I'm never quite sure how to react when people get mad at you for their failure to recognize your irony. You see this a lot on the internet: 'Oh, written communication is so hard because you can't discern tone of voice or expression.' I dunno about you, but I've been reading for a lot of years, and I recognize tone, expression and irony. They're methods of communication just like any other. Why should I have to be sorry because you never bothered to read for context?)

- Traffic laws are the least 'moral', most 'rational' laws in existence. They exist only to create efficiency and save lives; their social and economic cost is comparatively quite low; and as laws go, they're pretty rigidly enforced. And yet, people still disobey them constantly.

- People are most likely to form fierce emotional attachments -- bonds they will kill or die for -- around things over which they have little or no personal choice: who their family is, what country they were born in, what invisible ghosts they were raised to believe in, what color their skin is, what language they were first taught to speak. Additionally, intelligent, well-educated, 'self-made' people are far more likely to be egalitarians than are the common people with whom they declare affinity, while the prevailing counter-system is one which claims no affinity higher than income bracket, which means we write our laws in order to favor those who are most likely to be in direct competition with us. Half of our country's elites are engaged in a desperate struggle to turn the non-elites against the other half based on a trumped-up hatred for certain aspects of the system that produced both of them.

- There are no fiercer advocates of self-reliance, personal responsibility and being one's own man than someone who has benefitted the greatest from our socioeconomic system. Rich people (like Lewis Lapham, Gore Vidal and Franklin Roosevelt) who have advocated a more equitable economic system and questioned the wisdom of continually rewarding those, like themselves, who have already been absurdly over-rewarded by accident of birth, are called "class traitors". Self-reliance in action tends to translate to the ability to spend money: when the power elite sees a poor man steal a car, their first reaction is to call the police. When they themselves are accused of stealing a fortune, their first reaction is to hire a PR firm.

- One of the major problems with our approach to education is that it is extremely compartmentalized and emphasizes answering questions rather than asking them. A curious aspect of this is that we place a great deal of emphasis on the definitions -- which we apparently think quite complicated -- of big, difficult words like "icthyologist", "parthenogenesis" and "palimpsest", while we incorrectly assume that everyone already knows the definition of small, simple words like "good", "right", "fair" and "true". In fact, the latter words are so vague as to be indefinable.

TEN THINGS WE OFTEN SAY EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE OBVIOUSLY NOT TRUE:
1. Anyone can grow up to be President of the United States.
2. If you just work hard, you will be a success.
3. America is the greatest country in the world.
4. Violence never solved anything.
5. Things have a way of working themselves out.
6. (anything with the word 'God' in it)
7. Love conquers all.
8. There is no substitute for experience.
9. Always tell the truth.
10. America is the land of the rugged individualist.
no comprende

Inspired, left-handedly, by Tawdry Jones...

...I present some of my favorite bilingual moments in music.

1. Toni Basil sings "Mickey" in Spanish.

2. Redman freaks it in Korean on "Blow Your Mind".

3. The Clash deliver Spanish choruses with thick English accents in "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" and "Spanish Bombs".

4. Laurie Anderson's sing-song Japanese verses in "Kokoku".

5. Plastic Bertrand's occasional shifts to English in "Ca Plane pour Moi".

6. World's Worst Spanish award (rock 'n' roll edition): Shane McGowan's Paddy O'Sanchez imitation in the Pogues' "Fiesta".

7. World's Worst Spanish award (rap edition): Method Man getting all Puerto-rocky on the remix of the Beatnuts' "Se Acabo".

8. Any of the Icelandic versions of the singles on the expanded version of the first Sugarcubes album ("Cat", "Deus", "Dragon", "Coldsweat", "Birthday") where Einar Orn starts jibbering in English.

9. The demo version of "View from Nihil" where Mayhem's Maniac sings in a goofy Satanic pastiche of Norwegian and Latin, but not before a creepy spoken-word intro in English.

10. Tito Larriva & the MGH Band's cover of "La Bamba", which takes a savage turn midway through and becomes an anarchist anthem.

And yours?