Saturday, January 28, 2006
Even more recently, during Gulf War I, aka American Gets Its Groove Back, fat middle aged men sitting on the couch watching the ass-kicking all teary eyed fell in love with fat, middle-aged General Norman Schwarzkopf, whose aw-shucks memoir 'It Doesn't Take a Hero' was a phenomenally successful best-seller for a while. General Colin Powell became 'the black man everybody at work can agree on' before Will Smith took the title, and middle Americans unable to pronounce the word 'wash' properly marveled that 'he speaks so well'.
Then, somewhere, somehow, things went awry for the military as a path to celebrity. Though MacArthur famously said 'Old soldiers never die, they just fade away', and Schwarzkopf appears to have done exactly that (note to self - Google to see if he's still alive after typing this), Powell introduced a new model for old soldiers - the political career that crashes and burns because you hitched your wagon to the wrong star.
With Gulf War II, aka this time we mean it motherfuckers, you'd expect a whole new Rat Pack or Brat Pack or what have you of military superstars to come out and start shining, but mostly they've been in the shadows. The only Generals I could name associated with Gulf War II when I started writing this were Gen. Janis Karpinski of Abu Ghraib infamy, and General Vincent Brooks, who gave all those press conferences in the pre 'Mission Accomplished' days, charming us with strong and powerful oratory like this:
It's unlike any other targeting process in the world. It takes into account all science, it takes into account all capability, and we do everything physically and scientifically possible to be precise in our targeting and also to minimize secondary affects, whether it's on people or structures.
The words seemed carefully crafted to fade from memory the instant your neurons processed them. Kids in no schoolyards proceeded to imagine themselves bravely minimizing secondary affects on structures.
While military folks are regarded as heroes in this go-around, they are kind of faceless everyman dad-went-in-to-work-even-when-he-had-a-fever-of-103 heroes. The days of the Superstar Generals seem to be gone. Now its ex-CEOs and academic neocons running things. Where have you gone, Dwight D. Eisenhower? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you, woo woo woo.
P.S. - He's alive!
Friday, January 27, 2006
His Diary about the death of Pope John Peel (sic) II includes this gem:
WE MUST ENSURE THAT THE LIKES OF THIS NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN. THE BATTLE AGAINST DEATH IS THE MOST IMPORTANT CHALLENGE FACING LOVERS OF FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY. WE MUST NOW TAKE IT FROM THE STREETS OF FALLJAH AND BAGHDAD TO THE STREETS OF ROME, WHERE EVIL ITALIAN TERRORISTS RIDING BATTLE MOPEDS SPREAD CANCER AND HEART FAILURE AMONGST POPES. I SAY TO THEM: BRING IT ON!
HE WILL BURIED, ONLY TO BE RESSURECTED AGAIN AT EASTER TO GIVE HIS NOW TRADITIONAL INCOMPREHENSIBLE EASTER MESSAGE OF BARKING NOISES AND DRIBBLING FROM THE VATICAN BALCONY.
In his Diary, MY MATE ASIF, he tells the story of a young Pakistani man's transformation from star-struck youth who would follow in the footsteps of Freddie Mercury to suicide bomber taking a busload of civilians down with him. In another diary, he tells a dying friend he's going to hell:
HIS LIFE WAS A CATOLOGUE OF SLOTH, THAT MOST COMMON OF SINS. NO MATTER THE PASSION OF HIS FEELING, THE SOUNDNESS OF ITS LOGIC: HE NEVER ACTED.
THERE IS SUCH A THING AS HELL. IT IS WHERE THE GUILT OF YOUR INACTION IS MADE REAL, AND YOU CAN'T LOOK AWAY.
Like b3ta, Monty Python and of course Benny Hill, CAPS LOCK reminds us that the best comic minds come from the UK.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Anyhow, the options as you get older are kind of grim. Occasionally you'll get wind of some new thing of the moment. Let's say 'Grime', a genre whose best known artist is 'Dizzee Rascal'. How can you not like a guy named 'Dizzee Rascal'? Well, after listening to the CD a couple times and having a real hard time getting past the hiccuping delivery and the impenetrable UK slang, you suddenly find yourself buying up Pavement re-issues, which is the aging indie-rock fan's version of curling up in the fetal position.
New superstar out of the UK, Lady Sovereign aka SOV, presents a whole other problem. I heard 'A Little Bit of Shhhh' on the Electronica 'Music Choice' satellite TV station, and damn, it is some good UK flavored hip-hop, lots of aggression and more of that impenetrable UK slang ( "Got kicked out of school due to bunking/ Now look at me, the multi-talented munchkin," - Bunking?). But Google SOV and, Oh my God, she looks like she's 12 years old. She is 19, so we're told, but she looks 12. That just won't do, no not at all, if you are male and over 18.
I guess there's an Underworld Box set that just came out. Off to the record store I go.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
How not to jerk off: my special 'choose life' message to the young people of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Recently I was excited to discover I had my first hit from the Middle East. It was in fact, from the Axis of Evil itself: the Islamic Republic of Iran. It seems a young man at the Rizbarf Mineral Company was kicking back and taking a break, and instead of daydreaming about wiping Israel off the map, he went to Google to type in his search keyword: 'jerkoff'.
Now, I know under a repressive regime ruled largely by religious dudes with a lot of problems with the whole concept of sex and a kind of awkwardness and reluctance in re: treating women properly, there is probably not a lot of open discussion about things like masturbation (I went to Catholic School, so I speak from personal experience), but I can tell you, not only is there nothing wrong with it, it apparently reduces your risk of prostate cancer, which, even though I'm not a doctor, I would classify as a good thing.
However, some people get a little too creative, and they get hurt. I direct you to the Chuck Palahniuk novel, Choke, which features a lengthy section about masturbatory
misadventures leading to emergency room visits (who knew some vacuum cleaners had little blades inside to chop up the dirt? You do, now.)
Another possible problem, which people here in the U.S. in general would rather not talk about (although there was an episode of Six Feet Under that opened with a young man dying this way) is auto-erotic asphyxiation.
In college, I shared a house with several students and a Physics Professor. One of our housemates was brilliant, at least he was an extremely skilled computer programmer, but he was also what people would euphemistically call 'troubled'. He came to the College I Attended after being kicked out of the infamous fundie institution 'Bob Jones University' (his list of offenses included associating with a girl from Lebanon, and possession of a Stryper tape). He got in big trouble for messing with the computer system. He failed math classes he presumably could have passed. He actually paid to have electrodes attached to his arms so he could build up muscles without having to use the weights the Professor had in his basement, like the rest of us did (another story, for another time).
Anyhow, I graduated, and a couple of years passed, and the old woman who lived next door to the house (she was a good friend, we hung out w/ her when we got sick of our other housemates) told me about the tragedy: our old roommate had committed suicide. Apparently, he was deep in debt, and quit a job thinking he had landed another one, only to find the new job had disappeared. Police cars and an ambulance came to the house, and it was a terrible scene.
Even though I wasn't close to the guy, I felt pretty sad about that. It seemed like the sort of problem he could have worked through. Later, while I was discussing it with another alum of the school and house, my friend informed me it was not suicide, actually it was 'autoro...autoerotic...autoerotic asphyxiation' (this friend is pretty religious, too; and his religion dictates that he stumbles awkwardly over terms or ideas that are too repulsive to him).
Apparently this friend had talked to a police officer who had arrived at the scene. The roommate was found with a belt around the neck. Something had gone wrong and the whole thing was an accident. He had no intention of killing himself all along.
It was very sad, and a total waste, so to young people in general, stay away from that shit. You don't want to be remembered for that, and if you go out that way without a long achievement-rich life behind you, that's pretty much all you'll be remembered for by most. Actually, it's probably true that if you cured cancer AND died of autoerotic asphyxiation, you'd be remembered as that scientist who died of autoerotic asphyxiation.