Why is everyone always screaming in summertime pictures for community center events?

I mean, that expression is indistinguishable from someone who just slew ten men in battle and demands that more foes line up for the slaughter they so richly deserve.

I am, again, at Panera Bread. A mall security guy walked in; the busboy asked how he was doing, and he said “Livin’ the dream.” Someone on the other side of the restaurant called his name, and he turned around and said “I didn’t do it.” I’m waiting for the next line to mention Darmak and the walls, because he speaks entirely in pop-culture cliches. That’s possible, you know.

“I didn’t do it” probably doesn’t qualify as a cliche, unless you think he’s quoting Bart Simpson, which is a bit too meta.

Just split a bagel with my daughter, before sending her across the hall for swimming class. “Don’t cramp up!” Ahh, they have life guards. Good lesson, worst comes to worse.

Or is that too curmudgeonly? I am bit of a pill, you know. A strain. Confounding. (Warning: really needless stuff follows. Self-justification stage-managed for my own benefit.) (Well, it is my blog.) Yesterday I was looking at who had reblogged NaziTot from my tumblr, and went to a site that went to a blog, and there was that initial jolt when I saw my name as the first few words of a post about being wantin’ to quit me, but getting dragged back in. (See? You can talk in cliches. Brokeback Godfather, right in that first one.) He wrote:

But I have to confess, there have been times when I've been tempted to walk away from him for good. While I share his affinity for mid-20th century ephemera, architecture, and culture, he can be so bloody confounding at times. I disagree with his politics, and find him pretty unbearable when he veers into that domain; his frequent schtick of transcribing customer service encounters in minute detail has grown tiresome; his hatred of all things 1970s is tedious (I actually quite liked that decade; it was a good time to be a child); and his curmudgeonly attitude sometimes gets to be a little too much even for me, a fellow member of the august tribe of misanthropic "get off my lawn" types.

I’d hate to be thought of as a curmudgeon. I’m generally optimistic and I think the world is a fascinating place. A lot of it is going to hell. There are signs of hope all around. Best of times, worst of times. Curmudgeonlyness requires disengagment and a lazy retreat to an Olympian perspective, where everyone's an ant and most ants are idiots. Worse: they're sheeple! SHEEPLE ANTS! To be a curmudgeon you have to lose faith in people, right? But I suspect the curmuds never had it in the first place. Giving up on people is easy. Expecting the worst of others is easy. Misanthropy is poison. Or course we are flawed. Of course we fail. Of course we sin. These are givens. Look what we have done in spite of this. Look what we have made, built, sung, cured, painted, hurled into the either. Overall, we are one big noisy boody bag of hurt and hollers, but my God! Beethoven. Mozart. Rapahel. Paris. The Chrysler building at sunset.. Footprints on the moon.

Humanity is awesome. And not because Buzzfieed has a post about 23 picture that make you feel good about people because here's some shots of strangers being nice to puppies or eating rainbow Oreos. Because we strive.

We in the general sense, seen over the decades and centuries, that is. Progress. I'm at that difficult point in life: I believe in Progress and see all the mistakes that flew its banner. After you get enough years under your belt it’s easy to dismiss the New and reeat to the Porch of Grump, where you can peer at the world and snort at its failings. I have no intention of being that guy. Post 50, though, you’re obligated to have sport with the bright young things who have it all figured out. Perhaps my perspective is tainted by the fact that I thought the “never trust anyone over 30” line was ignorant horseshit. I went to college to learn about old dead guys from people who were twice my age.

This was called education. Anyway, if I was that much of a curmudgeon, I wouldn’t be on Pinterest.

As for politics, the politics of people with whom you differ are always unbearable. I don’t think I’m required to be bearable when it comes to the impact of tax policies or the treatment of allies in missile-shield negotiations. For some, though, the existence of contrapositive positions is unbearable becase they exist. Don't know if that's the case here. But I probably write as much about politics these days as Jon Gruber does on Daring Fireball - a site every Mac guy reads, hoping for something more than a few short excerpts and a line of snark or pith - please, John! One of those really good long pieces you do! I don’t think anyone ever looks forward to his political remarks, which are generally smug and shallow shots that let everyone know the opposite arguments are so contemptuous and self-refuting they really don’t require explication. I still read him. He goes off on a gratuituous political thing, eh, whatever. I get it. I'm an idiot.

I don't understand why he does it, though. If I ran a tech blog, and someone wrote “I enjoyed your ongoing skepticism over the punditry’s misunderstanding of the AppleTV situation, but what I really want to know is where you stand on warrantless drone observation of American citizens,” I’d be surprised. Really? Here?

Whereas that would fit here, inasmuch as they aren’t any limits on subject matter. No one goes to Daring Fireball hoping for news about sandwiches or electric shavers. It's Macs. (By the way, I’m against all usage of drones in America. But of course we’re already observed from above; our family business’ outlays for regulatory compliance, enforced by satellite, is an interesting story, quite ordinary, and a natural outgrowth of the insertion of state authority into every nook and cranny of daily economic life. Of course I oppose these laws that affect our business because I want us to pollute the environment; I think that goes without saying, but it’s liberating to be able to admit it now and then.)

(Was that an unsatisfying reducto ad absurdum that ignores the justifiable rationale for regulations on petroleum refiners? Absolutely. Screw nuance! I want everyone who agrees with me to nod up and down!)

(Also: "Get off my lawn" isn't just an expression of a joyless old juiceless dude shaking his whittlin' kinfe at some kids cutting across the lawn, it's the basis of how you see the relationship between the individual and the state. See this? My lawn? Get off it. By which I mean don't put a carbon tax on my lawn mower. Don't ask for tax dollars for a program to raise consciousness about alternative grasses. Don't regard my tenure on the lawn as transiton and conditional because you know it can be taken away if I don't pay the taxes. House = castle / lawn = moat)

Customer service? A schtick? Once a fortnight, if that. Hatred of the 70s? Well, it may have been a good time to be a child, but the pop culture of the era was dreadful, the fashions ungodly, the commercial architecture abysmal, and all the seeds of the counterculture blossomed in the heaping nightsoil to produce a thousand weeds that wound their roots around all the old tall trees and began the long strong choke. Non-judgmental keep-on-truckin’ do-your-own-thing Rocky Mountain High, where you love the one you’re with! To reduce it to cliches. The elevation of the unlettered ego as a true expression of natural man, coke-and-weed culture cut loose from its counterculture rationale and allowed to flower as the ethos of transitory sensation for its own sake, American decline, the rise of inchoate dystopian panic, the cheap pose of anti-authoritarian cool as the default position for intelligent people, and the eventual deification of Fonzie. And wood-grained plastic. The sixties were a backlash; the seventies was the backwash.

But I do exaggerate, for fun. Just did it there, for fun. If only to push back against the idea that it was some mystical happy land where everything was awesome because the cultural remnants seem carefree. They always do, from a distance. It’s advertising and TV, and they lie. Your appreciation of an era depends on how you see the lie, and what truths you see beneath it.

I mean, I liked the 80s. Some people hate the 80s. Whatever. I suppose it all comes down to the dealbreaker. The point where you’ve just done the wrong thing too many times, due to an intractable fit of joyless monomania.

Anyway, there you have it. As I’ve long said: I will disappoint everyone in some way, eventually. But it does bring up an interesting question.

Why do I do this?

I mean, right now I have other things to do. It’s a nice night; I’m outside with a cool drink, taking a break from the radio and the Supreme Court decision, and I have sixty-eight tons of stuff to do - Friday is a full day, with a video, a column, another piece for Sunday, and if I want to do the lunch blog I have to prep tonight. Also, there’s a batch of Wards 1961 pictures in need of captioning. I’ve been working on and off all day since I got up, and while it’s not hard work, not the sort of face-rippling-with-G-forces work my wife does or the picking-up-heavy-things / driving-immense-vehicles work my dad did, it’s still stuff that has to be done. This does not have to be done.

Which is probably why I do it.

I just don’t see the point in quitting, I guess. I’ve been a diarist since I was in high school. It’s good to keep the fingers lubricated. I learn things just by writing about them. The venting is helpful. Sharing this or that is necessary for the internet, since it all depends on everyone coming up with something for everyone else. Also, about twice a week I’ll do something here I like a lot, and I hope the ratio of “that’ll do, pig” to “utter babbling crap” isn’t too alarming.

I go through phases: don’t want to do it. Chore. Bother. Then I find myself on Saturday night at 1 AM writing something for the Bleat with great joy, and I can’t wait to put it up. I’d feel worse about the site if I didn’t put up the site additions every week, if I just poked along and threw up pictures and said “hey, retro” and left it at that.

Speaking of which: hey, retro! Wards 1961 See you around.








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