Friday, January 27, 2006

a long tirade about america

I grew up on television, of course. It was more of an influence on me than grandma's stories, school or summer camp. There were special programs that inspired greater anticipation than christmas. When GI Joe was first broadcast as a cartoon, I remember waiting two weeks for the grand day to arrive. And I was not disappointed. It blew my mind. Going to my grandmothers house on Sunday meant the Wonderful World of Disney. When Star Wars was shown on TV for the first time, I am certain there was not a soul to be seen on the streets of my neighborhood in that autumn night. I dont know for sure, of course, I was glued to the show.

But in my early twenties my revulsion with the TV was total. It radiated a glare and a vicious noise. There was something of the Roman mob in TV, a savage roar for blood and victory. It stole time and expression from me. So I did not often own TVs, and when I did I never got cable or any of that shit, that would have been like paying to get stabbed.

So when I turned on my folks' TV today and watched the music station for about 15 minutes, I ended up goddamn near shell-shocked. Everything had to make a noise, colours and images flipped and raced, none of the images made any sense or held any meaning. They weren't even funny or original, it was like in a fifteen second span: skateboarder, tits, middle finger, dance club, red carpet, guy playing guitar, ass, legs, eyes, choreographed dance move, gold chain with diamond cross, this guy, that guy, some broad.

And the only thing I got out of it was that this wasnt about music or even musicians, it was about being fascinated with famous people. Thats all, the rest was just decoration. The music was background music for someone to look hot. What was really intriguing was that the hot chicks and so on, they werent any hotter than half the people I've hung out with in fucking Canada. Its like some school of fish mentality, where these people are essentially interesting because everyone around you is paying attention to them. Take Eminem, for instance. He's supposed to be at least somewhat cerebral or at least original, or at least rebellious, or something. Here are the lyrics to one of his recent songs:

"Predominantly, predominantly, everythings always predominantly

Predominantly white, predominantly black

But what about me, where does that leave me

Well I guess that I'm between predominantly both of 'em

I think if I hear that fuckin' word again I'mma scream

While I'm projectile vomiting, what do I look like, a comedian to you?

Do you think that I'm kidding?

What do I look like some kind of idi-wait a minute, shit, don't answer that

Why am I so misunderstood?

Why do I go through so much bullshit, it sucks bullshit, Woe is me, there goes poor Marshall again

Whining about his millions and his mansion and his sorrow he's always drownin' in

From the dad he never had, and how his childhood was so bad

And how his mom was a dope addict, and his ex-wife how they go at it

Man I'd hate to have it, as bad as that Mr. Mathers claims he had it

I can't imagine it, that little rich poor white bastard

Needs to take some of that cash out the bank and take a bath in it"

Yeah, so if I found that in a sixteen-year old's backpack I'd be like "well, at least he's trying. Maybe he'll grow up and start writing eventually." Its shit, and it made him tens of millions of dollars and influenced tens of millions of kids.

We're all so used to it now. It doesnt even really disgust anybody that there's a chick that is adored by millions of people initially because she is the heiress to a massive fortune and someone broadcast a video of fucking her on the internet. If I say Paris Hilton, your mind makes about a thousand connections. If I say Wangari Muta Maathai, or Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo or José Ramos-Horta or Jody Williams, you have no fucking idea who I'm talking about, do you? Hell, I've never heard of any of them. They all won the goddamn Nobel Peace Prize within the last ten years.

And I can hear the objections already: rich people is just rich people. Easy targets, totally ineffectual, why pick on them? But that's sort of the problem. We've accepted this as the nature of our culture, and our culture spends its resources and attention on the most terrifyingly vapid crap it can think up. That its normal for people to spend their curiosity and energy following the lives of people who are only interesting from a glamour factor. Its pretty serious. If I think of all the women who's personalities have been molded and stunted because they spent all their ego-energy on TV and gossip rags... go look at them in the supermarket, they run the checkout counters, they buy their families' food there. Their lousy clothes, their bad haircuts, the fifty year old women who start cutting their hair short and dying it burgundy, short hair signifying theyve given up all hope of being treated sexually like a woman but burgundy denoting their desire to still be young, and their hatred of age. Look at the magazines screaming at them with pictures of celebrities, the minutae of their useless lives, and no one objects. We're not supposed to object to mass appeals to vanity and self-loathing, or to the notion that maybe its unhealthy to adore anyone, including useless idiots, to the point that we need weekly updates on their lives.

So I'd like to tell you a story. Long ago, in 1945, some people got together in San Francisco. They came from all over the world. There were short ones, tall ones, black ones and white ones. And all over the world people hung with rapt attention and what was going to come of it. Now at this time most of the world lay in actual smouldering ruins, (this hasn't anything to do with celebrities, but come to think of it, my point here is that very little does). People and towns, animals and art lay in great black piles. But people who ultimately believed in kindness, and peace and beauty, justice and freedom were in charge now, and there was a sense of great promise. The world had to be rebuilt, demanded to be rebuilt, and after centuries of hierarchy and oppression and tragedies, suddenly in the air, there was the sense that the possibility existed of rebuilding the world the way it should have been built in the first place. It would be hard, there would be setbacks, but for once the road lay open. And the crown, the symbol of this, was the founding of the United Nations in San Francisco. So the work began, and continues to this day. We are the heirs to this great thing.

I'm not sure how this is relevant to me bitching about celebrities, except maybe to ask, are these the things the world was rebuilt for? Our prime symbols, the ones burned into our hearts, are not doves or laurels wrapped around the planet, or the hammer and sickle, but the cleavage, the screen and the car. Of all the things we could emphasize about humanity, of all the things we could look up to and value each and every day, these are the values we raise our children with. Dumb rich women and men with diamond crosses.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

covert micmac pometry

So me and Tom were sitting around with Maggie and her boyfriend drinking beer when Tom started looking through a Micmac dictionary. He said hey man check this out. On page 32 there was one line per word as the definition, two columns in total on each page. Tom pointed out that each page accidentally turned into a poem of surpassing beauty and heaviness, if you read the column of english definitions alone. Here are a couple of them (verbatim)...

It was written by a Rev. S.T. Rand in 1875.

Page 32

I read it so.

How do you read it?

How do I read it?

I read it so.

Do I read it well?

yes, you read it well.

He sees him.

A bear.

A boy.

He holds it in his hand.

He has teeth: he is

armed with teeth.

He has claws: he is

armed with claws.

He says to him.

I see thee.

I shoot thee.

He growls.

I fear thee.

I don't fear thee.

I seize thee.

I am big.

I am little.

you are little.

He is little.

It is little.

I am strong.

I am stronger.

than; not like.

Now then.


he walks.

he is conquered.

Page 39

Eight dollars.

Nine dollars.

Ten dollars.

It is dear.

He is dear.

Oh that! it would be


If there were many.

could I have.

I would be rich.

I am rich.

you are rich.

He is rich.

They are scarce.


All of them.

They will be all gone.

It is all gone.

I could'nt say.



A Frenchman.


An Englishman.

Englishmen: the white



He, She ; Him, Her

Our Creator.

my soul.

our souls.

Page 76

To yawn : to stretch.

To encamp in the open


To fall and pitch the

head into the water.

To load one's self up:to

put one's load.

To be exhausted with

labour and hardship.

To get down on one's

hands and knees to


To come upon moose

or caribou in their


A good rousing fire.

To have a good rousing


To drink from a bucket.