Tuesday, February 20, 2007

one of the drawbacks of getting your ideas form television is that you have to get your ideas in small enough chunks to fit between commercial breaks. noam chomsky pointed this out in the film 'manufacturing consent'. any truly different idea, that completely overturns what you have come to believe, sounds like nonsense on a chat show (btw, although put forth this way, this doesnt entirely justify every time chomsky has sounded like nonsense to me). because any topic is generally built on a bunch of assumptions that everyone in the discussion agrees on, if you question those assumptions then the whole conversation breaks down, complicates in a way that wont fit between commercial spots, and the one questioning the assumptions generally looks like a freak - like he doesnt play well with others. im thinking of all this because this morning on my way to get a cup of coffee i was listening to the skepticsguide podcast. good episode by the way. interviews with matt stone and christopher hitchens. but they were talking about this article. The short version is parents arent using medicine on their childs brain tumor and instead are putting their faith in a 'psychic healer'. they brought up the fact that there exists, in 41 of the fifty states, laws that make parents exempt from child endangerment prosecution if the treatment of the child is based on religious beliefs. they said that these are laws that need to be looked at and discussed in the public sphere. now, the reason i was prompted to write this was that the next thought that came to me was, 'now is not the time to have this discussion'. this country does not seem capable of a reasonable discussion about any difficult or nuanced topic right now. i think this is beginning to change but the change is happening slowly. we are rolling the big wheel over into a more tolerant time. it is my hope. i cite the recent 'obama-mania' is an example of peoples desire for a return to reasonable dialogue. i think we are tired of cartoon representations of complicated topics and he represents that. it is a long road to the white house but he does seem to be doing well right now as a representation of things reasonably considered. in contrast, i am personally concerned that i have gotten emotionally caught up in my outrage alot lately. it has made me enjoy too much my righteous indignation. when i make simple and broad claims about 'how things really are...' or 'how so-and-so really is...' then i am in dangerous spiritual territory. or put another way, i am becoming less effective. being 'right' feels good. its easy. not being sure but putting forth your best considered solution is much more difficult. uncomfortable. but it is my belief that nothing, nothing is ever black and white. all is a shade of grey. when i begin to look for the nuance is when i begin to approximate the truth.

Monday, February 12, 2007

good morning. had my coffee this morning with a tivoed 'meet the press'. during a commercial break, that i was fast forwarding through, i spotted dennis hopper. i wondered what product he might be peddling. he is talking about his dreams and youth yada yada. it turns out he was peddling some financial investment company. i recently went to an event at something that was referred to as 'artist loft spaces' in marina del rey. hopper was one of a few artists that were described as being artists-in-residence at these lofts. turned out these were carpeted condos and hopper was the evenings window dressing, the hand model. now im a reasonable man and i understand needing to make a buck. if you are an artist this is a tricky, shifty and always changing public tight rope you need to walk. we all have rents and mortgages but what i wonder is, in the dense thicket of 'edgy' media and advertising, when does an artist stop being an effective salesman of something that by definiton is not about sales. it seems like each time out, when you put your product next to a particular piece of art or artist, a direct relationship is created that we all recognize. there is a simple formula to this relationship with a zero sum. mojo of hoppers distant past is decreased while the mojo of financial company is increased. led zeppelin music mojo is decreased while increasing cadillacs mojo. but after these exchanges, one does not move on with the original amount of mojo intact. we can make a living and make compromises, because i know life is messy, but why not apply some reasonable ethics to your business affairs. i have made plenty of decisions that were certainly a compromise for financial reasons. but i also could have made considerably more money had i simply taken every big pay day offered. i dont say all this to pat myself on the back. it is just that i feel a sense of balance in this area. like evrything else in life, all is not black and white. i would feel like a real asshole is if i was using my youthful rebellion to sell some evil corporate deathburger. but hey maybe thats just me. or that just might be my intellectual vanity. but then that would be a topic for another post.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

every year on super bowl sunday there is a thought that occurs at least once, "i want to write a song about super bowl sunday". i never watch the super bowl. this idea comes to me every year as i spend an afternoon in a nearly uninhabited city, while everyone else watches their televisions. it is a particular space that i really enjoy. something beautiful about an empty city; like walking through an abandoned worlds fair. i am reminded as i happily move through this stillness that i have never felt like i was built like most folks. from the get-go my wiring dictated that i spend my time away from, rather than amongst, the herd. talking with belle over breakfast, there was a late teen/early twenties kid at the next table, alone on a series of different but uninterrupted phone calls. talked with the phone almost a foot away from his face. always curious to me. he was talking about betting on the super bowl. couldnt help but hear. now let me first say that there were a few things he said that betrayed he was a decent kid. but the substance of his conversations could at best be called inane. i began to think about my inane youth and about my nephew. hes four months old. how will he deal with the unforgiving gauntlet of youth. come his teens will he feel awkward and out of place as i did. if not, good for him of course. but i did think that it seems like my strategy might not have been such a bad one. you are suddenly hit with a tsunami of hormones while simultaneously realizing your parents and any authority figures in your life are full of shit; but you havent yet got the life experience to fully fill out your own world view. why not just lay low for a bit while the dust settles. learn a thing or two about the world on the down low then emerge an interesting young adult. if you are a young person, or feel love for a young person, who doesnt seem to have the herd instinct that most folk have, i hope to buoy you up a bit. i know that one of the most unbearable aspects of my youth was that people constantly told me that i was in the prime of my life. youth is everything. if youth was everything then i had nothing and there was nothing but worse coming? the most important thing that my mother ever told me was that her life didnt get good until her twenties. that was the only time i had ever heard someone say anything like that. i couldnt agree more. contemporary america doesnt really value aging but i do. for all of youths vigor there is also ignorance and self absorption. as a wise man once said," you dont often get anything in life. you only trade one thing for another." i for one am happy to trade in what i had for what i am getting from aging. so there. another super bowl sunday and i didnt write the song but at least this year i wrote something.