Sunday, June 30, 2013

Why more reporters need to be punched out

After a celebrity explodes on a reporter, the news coverage that celebrity enjoys is about identical to the coverage they give escaped zoo animals. It isn't hard to undress the reason; fellow reporters are doing the covering.

But why do the rest of us buy into it? Because we've swallowed this notion about the sanctity of the press.

Even if you subscribe to the theorem that an energetic press is a "public good," I don't see how the entertainment press fits this criterion. Psychos with cameras do not enhance the national discourse, nor do they keep us free from the potential tyranny of overdressed eye candy on red carpets. A lack of Kim Kardashian stretch mark pics will not trigger another Watergate.

Let's remember how reporters cover celebrities: they swarm around them, doing all they can to catch them in an embarrassing moment. If they don't catch such a moment, they try to catalyze one. They will crowd the celeb and pelt him with unbelievably insulting questions. Sometimes they will push him.

When they say "shove a microphone in his face," they mean it.

Celebrities, or anyone with a camera in his face, remain humans, and humans don't care if someone is a reporter when they're being crowded and insulted. For those who think celebrities should just "get over it," picture how you would react if you were doing your morning jog and a stranger jumped in your face and said, "Talk to me about that time you fucked up so I can spread the word about it to other people."

It is unlikely you would offer him half your Cliff Bar.

You might rejoin that society makes exceptions in the social code for certain professions; e.g., a doctor being able to touch you in ways others cannot. True, but if a doctor goes too far with the groping, retaliation in the form of lawsuits (at the very least) is in order. If a doctor shoved you to try to get an answer about your health, no one would say the doctor was just "doing his job."

I want see more athletes giving 110% to attacking journalists:

I want to see more actors doing some method research on what it feels like to swat a camera-wielding oaf:

If reporters are going to cover celebrities who fight back like they're escaped zoo animals, it is only fair we should occasionally see a reporter mauled like a slow-witted lion tamer.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Homegirls in Outer Space

If you can get through the following excerpt without laughing, you are a stronger man than I:

Major Milestone: 50 Years of Women in Space

Sunday (June 16) marks the 50th anniversary of Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova's landmark 1963 flight, which launched her into history as the first woman to fly to space — only two years after Yuri Gagarin performed the first spaceflight ever in 1961.

As the author points out, the first woman in space was just two years behind the first man--the first HUMAN--in space. That's right: the first female entered space after suffering through a Godot-like two birthdays between her spaceflight and the spaceflight of the first person to ever have a spaceflight. After surviving that phallocentric delay I sure hope she received some reparation payments!

It is estimated that more than 100,000,000,000 humans have come into existence. Of that 100,000,000,000+ humans, only 534 have ever been in space, which means that EVERY TIME A HUMAN MAKES IT INTO SPACE IT IS A MILESTONE. No need to put an ethnic/gender cherry on top.

Because we live under a PC theocracy, every article is either a rumination on alleged victimization or a victory lap about the overcoming of an alleged victimization. And unless Twitter sparks a Maturity Spring, the PC Ayatollahs will continue to flog us with their inexhaustible inanity.

Space is the final frontier for political correctness, so expect a lot more of this. In the near future NASA will probably hold a symposium on renaming black holes. After all, associating the word black with something that traps light could reinforce negative stereotypes. Look for black holes to be renamed REALLY off-white holes.

My hunch is that the next big STOP EVERYTHING space moment will come when the first transgender person makes it into space. And when Sputnik/Sputnikole enters orbit, we'll be treated to the following line: "That's one small step for used to be a man..."

My Twitter feed is proof of proton decay theory:

Monday, June 10, 2013

Did I tell you my 50 Shades of Grey story?

I had not heard of 50 Shades of Grey until an old woman in my building started explaining it to me. I was up on the roof deck, minding my own business, and I guess she wanted me to know she was hip, so she randomly launched into a rant about it. As you can imagine, this was not comfortable for me, or for the dust mites on my crawling skin. I figured she was senile and just flashing back to how they had sex during the Depression. When I looked it up and saw that it was a real book AND a bestselling one at that, I wondered if I might be senile. Ignorance is (was) bliss.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

How to really tell time

Yesterday I stepped in front of a speeding car. The driver had a green light. The crosswalk was red. I had no business being in the road. I had nowhere important to be. I was just impatient. I'm lucky the driver chose to use his brakes, and I'm lucky the guy on the assembly line wasn't drunk when he installed them (must have been a Tuesday).

My life did not flash before my eyes, but this morning it occured to me what a foolish decision I'd made. And it is one that I and millions of others make each hour. Most of us frequently stepp into the road when we shouldn't and drive recklessly to destinations we don't care about. It is a problem of time. We are focused on what the clock says instead of what it means. That second hand is waving goodbye to seconds of your finite existence.

Because we don't process the clock's deeper meaning we consistently risk eternal oblivion (which last time I checked is a long time) to "save" more seconds. But we haven't saved anything at all. Those "saved" seconds do not reward us with additional life for worrying about punctuality. Compound interest isn't applicable to mortality.

When you weigh the time you spend dead vs. your concern about being on time to your dental appointment, it doesn't seem sensible to risk eternal oblivion by ricocheting through traffic to make that appointment. Yeah I know, different strokes and all that, but I have yet to meet someone who says he's always dreamed of skydiving into the Eternal Void in the name of tartar removal. Your dentist certainly wouldn't risk eternal oblivion to make sure he sees you on time.

We have phones with clocks, computers with clocks, cable boxes with clocks, microwaves with clocks, dashboards with clocks, not to mention watches and electronic devices that beep and vibrate to help us to tell time. Regretfully, these devices haven't taught us how to tell eternity.

To correct this, we should first bring back the hourglass, which offers a much starker message about the passage of time (plus you can tell women they can't spend the night until their bodies resemble the hourglass on the nightstand). Second thing we should do is change the faces on our watches. Forget about the Rolex logo (buying expensive watches doesn't buy you time). Each watch should feature a picture of a deathbed.

You shouldn't visualize those moments on your deathbed as a distant episode you can neatly control. You are on your deathbed right now. Drive carefully.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

What a long, strange theory it's been

The 1960s psychedelic movement mainstreamed the idea of drug-fueled creativity. Not just any creativity, but creativity that claimed to "break through" our traditional perceptions of reality. Artistry that pushed the envelope so far past established artistic conventions it supposedly couldn't be achieved by an "unopened" mind. Comedian Bill Hicks referenced this sentiment in the setup to a celebrated bit:

Drugs have done good things for us. If you don’t believe they have throw away all your albums, burn all the music, throw away every movie, burn all the prints, take away every painting throw them on the fire.

I don't think the notion of drugs being the key to breaking the mold is as prominent as it once was, but I still hear it recited by seemingly lucid commentators. I often wonder if these parrots have ever examined the world of art as it existed before the narrative of drug-aided brilliance took hold.

Among the famous non-psychedelic visionaries:

William Blake (1757-1827) England's greatest painter (not a hard throne to ascend; while in London I spilled ink on a napkin and it sold at Sotheby's for £8,000,000). Dude, I'll have whatever he's having...

Evidently, visionary painter/poet William Blake believed he saw angels. More than a few times. No seriously, he thought he was a genuine mystic. This makes him an odd duck, but as for his lifestyle, there is no indication he lived as anything but a God fearing square. This "uptight" chap with his "unopened mind" created works so trippy he was cited by two psychedelic notables:

Aldous Huxley - The title of his pointless The Doors of Perception comes from Blake's line: If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite, and the title of "Heaven and Hell" comes from Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. 

Jim Morrison - His band's name came from the same "doors of perception" line Huxley used, and the "End of the Night" lyric "Some are born to sweet delight, some are born to endless night" comes verbatim from Blake's remarkable poem Auguries of Innocence.
Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516)

Ordinarily warnings about the "faint of heart" are moronic. Except when it comes to Bosch paintings:

Little is known about Hieronymus Bosch, but among the extant info. is that he belonged to Illustrious Brotherhood of Our Blessed Lady, and was a cleric (i.e., a religious square). Despite the likelihood that he was "repressed," the guy created works that make drug taker Francis Bacon's paintings look like the leavings of a pigeon after a bad Tijuana buffet (Bad example. Bacon's work looks like that no matter what it is compared to).
El Greco (1541-1614) His stuff is so spacey he must have been mellow, right?

El Greco didn't drop acid, but he did drop prayers; possibly starting as Greek Orthodox and converting to Catholicism. Despite not living as a pseudo-shaman, he managed to "see beyond" the painting conventions of his time, even going so far as to criticize Michelangelo (by the way, was the Sistine Chapel not "visionary?").

These far-out artists painted long before there was ubiquitous "otherworldly" art around to use as inspiration, and long before there were countless pizza delivery guys from which to buy drugs. Yet they still managed to see things in a quite different way.

They also weren't libertines (the "freeing" flower power lifestyle is sometimes credited alongside drugs for fostering artistic achievement). A common factor among all three is religiosity. Should we start proclaiming that fear of Hellfire is the key to taking your medium to the next level? Do we need a new Victorian Age to usher in the next batch of far seeing art (and was there no great art created during the first Victorian Age)?

Strangely, opiners like Bill Hicks bash alcohol while praising the "creativity enhancing" powers of drugs. Yet so many of history's greatest artists were heavy boozers. But I guess because booze is The Man's drug of choice, it can't be given credit for helping artists break through.

Artists are often cheerless malingerers who intoxicate themselves in all kinds of ways. Doesn't necessarily mean this fertilizes their minds with brilliance. Who is to say these altered states of creativity don't diminish the works that occur under their influence? How about the list of artists whose spark seems to have been damaged by drugs: Brian Wilson, Syd Barrett, Roky Erickson, to name a few.

If ingesting psychedelics and creativity go together like whipped cream and tits, why didn't all the flower children create lasting works of genius? Why didn't they transform the entire world into a visionary's paradise? Seems like a lot of them ended up as office-inhabiting duds like their non-trippy parents.

I have focused mostly on painting, but obviously plenty of other molds have been broken without tuning in or dropping out. Sergei Eisenstein and D.W. Griffith (God fearing square) were free of both mescaline and sandals when creating the very language of cinema, and Beethoven (God fearing square) didn't create the first choral symphony after a long, strange trip.

The evidence that drugs (especially psychedelics) spur epochal creativity is flimsy at best. The evidence that they cause brain damage is unequivocal.

My Twitter feed is both square and trippy:

Friday, June 7, 2013

How to be sensitive when racial profiling

This really happened:

The Bank of Canada altered an image of an "Asian-looking" female scientist on the new polymer $100 bill because its policy is to not depict people of a "particular ethnic origin," a spokesman says.

The image of the female scientist looking into a microscope, alongside a bottle of insulin and a strand of DNA, was meant to celebrate Canada's medical innovations.

"Some believe that it presents a stereotype of Asians excelling in technology and/or the sciences," says a 2009 report commissioned by the bank from The Strategic Counsel, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

The Western World lives under a PC theocracy, so one must be careful when he brushes up against demonstrable realities. Whether it's an advertisement or a banknote, you can't risk being even casually accurate in your portrayals of select parts of the human rainbow, even when that accuracy means a depiction of something positive (like having the smarts to be a scientist).

To depict people accurately means to commit the sin of "profiling." Ironically, this theocratic aversion to accuracy actually requires that everyone engage in a deeper degree of profiling. Because to avoid the profiling accusation, you must compile an extensive breakdown of the activities various groups engage in to ensure you don't make the mistake of showing them engaging in the activities they normally engage in. You have to then use this profile to show them doing things they don't do to avert the scandal of showing them doing things they do do.

For example, don't make the mistake of showing an Asian with a calculator (not that he would need one). Much safer to show him country line dancing. 
And you shouldn't depict an Indian winning a spelling bee. Instead, show him returning a meal because it's too spicy.
There is an exception to these PC commandments: you may profile a white person by showing him doing things he stereotypically does poorly; specifically rapping and dancing

Obey these directives and you’ll be able to safely sail the ocean of unreality that is our society.

White men can't tweet:



Monday, June 3, 2013

How do you put a price on priceless art? Very easily; you ask someone to buy it.

Vincent Van Gogh sold only one painting during his lifetime. In 1990 his Portrait of Dr. Gachet sold for $82.5 million. How could there be such a disconnect?

The answer is simple: If no one values what you do, it has no value. You are producing your art (or any product) to be consumed by humans, which is why their rejection of what you have produced devalues it. You may scoff, but stop and think: if humans aren't the target audience...who is? Bugs? Trees? If you think Parisians are a tough crowd, try making a cactus laugh.

In Van Gogh's time, no one had any interest in his work. Forget potential buyers outbidding each other: the guy had to mooch off his brother to make ends meet. After he died, circumstances changed, and suddenly a large portion of humanity fell deeply in love with his work; giving it the value it now enjoys. Van Gogh's contemporaries put the price at zero. Today's humans put the price in the millions. And if some drastic change in taste should occur and there is a backlash against Vincent's paintings, their price could fall right back to zero.

We weep for the great artists who died in obscurity (it is primarily artists we transform from failures to martyrs). We discuss their works now and wonder: How could people fail to recognize the brilliance? But of course there are artists working right this second who will die in obscurity and become famous posthumously. Right now, they can't give their work away (you probably don't even know it exists). Someday that work will be priceless. And someday your children or grandchildren won't be able to believe people like you didn't discover its brilliance.

Poor guy. Literally.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Five new cocktail names that'll give you a buzz just by ordering them

Visit any bar nowadays, dive or posh, and you'll see a drink menu with cocktail names you're grandparents would recognize. As I walk the streets of Manhattan (the city, not the cocktail), I commonly pass bars with sidewalk chalkboards advertising specials for their latest outrageously named libation experiments; Panty Droppers, Dead Nazi, Hanky-Panky, Orgasm.

Well, good news alcoholic readers: I've decided to open my own bar (it will either be called Cures for the Problems of Existence or Once You Go Blackout) featuring my own list of drinks with over-the-top names:

Sex On the Stairs:

6 oz Jägermeister
1 oz tequila.

Adjust according to taste and how sober you must be to navigate said stairs.

The 47-Year-Old Bachelor Who Frequently Visits Miami:

1 oz Crème de Noyaux
1 oz Crème de Cacao
1 oz heavy cream

You'll notice this recipe has exactly the same ingredients as a Pink Squirrel. This is not a coincidence.

The Progressive:

2 oz lime juice
2 oz grapefruit juice
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 oz gin
2 oz Peppermint Schnapps

These ingredients don't blend at all, do they? Silly bigot: don't you know that everything should be mixed with everything!!!

Fake Sophistication:

1 oz faddish wine white
1 oz faddish red wine
1 oz pretentious, hard to find single malt with name even Scottish people can't pronounce
3 oz beer microbrewed beer from a town of no more than 600 residents

For the discriminating faux discriminator who can't decide which kind of alcohol to feign a deep interest in. Half price if the customer orders while lamenting the popularity of the Hunger Games series. 

Final Alimony Payment:

Pink champagne served in a glass shaped like broken handcuffs.

In order to be served a Last Alimony Payment, a patron must provide written proof he's made his last payment, and must be accompanied by no fewer than three prostitutes. Available with or without penicillin.

Belly up to my Twitter feed:

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Thought Experiment Involving Mobile, Alabama (no, really)

Everyone says money doesn't buy happiness, especially rich people concerned with sounding well rounded.

But if you were to give people the following choice: switch places with an unhappy rich person living in a mansion in Beverly Hills, or switch places with a happy person living in a trailer in Mobile, Alabama, which option do you think most people would choose? Despite all their claims to the contrary, I think the vast majority would choose Beverly Hills and unhappiness. They cannot comprehend being poor and happy in a Mobile mobile home. They prefer the appearance of "having it all" to the prospect of being content with nothing.

People will return from a vacation in a poor country and rhapsodize about "how happy everyone seemed. Maybe having a simple life makes you more grateful and happy. Maybe we don't really need all this..."

But they never move to that country or adjust their lives to mirror the simpler lives of those "happy, grateful poor people." [Sounds like an REM song. Actually, it sounds better.]

Maybe the facsimile of happiness is as close as most are likely to get to happiness.