vendredi, octobre 19, 2007

The New Environmentalist

I am dedicated to the idea of doing right by "The Environment," (an entity formerly called "Mother Nature," and before that, "God's Green Earth.") Whatever you call it, it isn't the fragile, shivering baby thing that humans have come to believe actually depends on their insignificant little nothingness. Make no mistake, Gaea is a fully independent, dedicated-to-the-big-picture woman with her own agenda, who under no circumstance can be said to be significantly influenced by human activity. Of course, she has wanted to kill us from the beginning. She was thirsty for our blood millions of years before our pitiful industrialization uglied her up. Any puny HUMAN who says anything like "She is in our hands" is a self-important idiot. Nature always wins. Always. Even when it appears to destroy itself with devastating, climate altering volcanoes, (or ocean warming under-water volcanic activity, or ice ages that creep down from the north every 8,000 years or so, or species killing droughts, or earthquakes, or floods), never forget that Nature loves ONLY three things: Birth, Death, and Change. And the change is always in the name of long term balance. We are a blip on her screen no matter what you see on the news. We are really trying to save ourselves from her.

So let it be admitted that today's so-called environmentalist is really a humanist. Any list of activities designed to better the Environment is really for either our own selfish ends, (for instance, I might want to feel good about myself, or make some place look or smell nicer, or try to stop an animal from being added to the list of extinctions--most of which were put there by Nature herself--or save money, or whatever), or, more likely, we're doing it for the harmony and sustainability of a community of HUMANS called civilization. (And civilization may or may not be opposed to Nature--that's another question entirely. But before you fool yourself into thinking the question is remotely interesting, remember the answer is short: IT DOESN'T MATTER).

Anyway, here is the list of what I'm doing to improve my green status. (Remembering that by now recycling is a given. If you're not doing at least that, then YOU ARE the trash.)

1)Taking shorter, cooler, and less frequent showers.
I hope this doesn't have an adverse effect on my body odor, because, I'd let every dolphin in the ocean suffocate in tuna nets before I let myself exude an unpleasant smell. So I'm obviously not asking us all to descend into hippyville. Still, I can't figure out why all you "environmentalists" let yourselves soak away long moments in a steaming hot shower. Get in, get clean, get out. You don't even need to steam up the bathroom.

2)Driving a car that gets 50 miles per gallon.
Not to mention the fact that as soon as I have the money, I'll be converting my Jetta to run on pure vegetable oil. So I can with confidence say that YOU are part of the pollution problem, whoever you are. And I am not. So screw all of you.

3)Avoiding meat.
The mass production of meat might be the most disgusting thing man has perpetrated. But this is about green house gases. If I can keep one cow from flatulating, I feel like I made a difference. The meat industry is not growing methane machines for me, brother. (Now, you might say that eating said cow is the best way to stop it's gas production. And come to think of it, you're right. But I've noticed that the less meat I eat, the less methane I produce. If you know what I mean. (Of course, by the same logic, I'd have to stop eating dried apricots. And Kashi. And broccoli. And my father's magnificent vegetarian three bean soup. All right, there's nothing I can do about my methane production. But meat is still disgusting.)

4)Stealing Music.
All the packaging that goes into CD's is a crime. By the time our more savvy artists started reducing the mess and/or making it out of recycled material, it was too late: the green public was protesting the waste by sharing and downloading music for free. Or were selfish, greedy people simply engaging in blatant, white trash thievery? I know where I've stood from the beginning. I borrow CD's and burn them to save the planet.

5) Holding My Breath.
I know carbon dioxide is plant food, but apparently the production of it is giving my fellow doomed humans an excuse to complain. So for at least 15 minutes a day (not consecutively) I hold my breath. I'm serious about this. Humans are carbon dioxide machines. Do your part. If you're not going to hold your breath, at least stop talking.

Keep tuning in for more tips. Together, we'll feel good about each other while Mother Nature plans our extinction.

vendredi, octobre 12, 2007

Most Romantic Song

So Donna-mo sends off this e-mail.

"Most Romantic Song. Bring it on, Suckah."

That's how she is: provocative. But provocative in the real sense of the word. (Many people today think that "provocative" means "sexually explicit." Only when the blessed day comes and dictionaries rain down from above upon all who so blithely and routinely desecrate Our Holy English Language will they truly receive their comeuppance. Until then, we must content ourselves with impotent screed.)

Where was I?

Oh, yes, Donna-mo, the provocative record store girl. In this case, she was provoking thought. So I let myself be provoked.
But before simply taking a garden walk through the vast discography in my head, I thought a few ground rules were in order. We should examine what exactly constitutes a "romantic song."

Most people make the mistake of thinking that a romantic song is the one associated with some maudlin kissy kissy moment in their lives. Were I to make the same mistake, the so-called "most romantic song" would be Madonna's Crazy for You, which happened to be playing the first time a female who was not my mother held me close on the dance floor. It was a momentous thrill. But even if I can still feel her lithe frame moving rhythmically with mine, even if I can still feel her sweet breath upon my neck, and even if the song replayed itself in my head two weeks later when she became the first person to put her tongue in my mouth--a moment which left me breathless and jumping for joy on a street corner at midnight--I am still bound to admit that Crazy for You is a cheap, even tawdry excuse for a love song. (It is, in fact, so bereft of actual romance that if it's on your list, you should excuse yourself from the room now. If you even considered this song, or any of it's nefarious ilk, this discussion is beyond you.)

No, the most romantic song cannot rely on association. It must be romantic per se, (which is, for those of you who were just asked to leave but kept reading anyway, a Latin phrase meaning "in and of itself.") The first step, then, is to quickly set some parameters.
We'll assume that by romantic we do not mean "Romantic." With appropriate deference to Liszt, Delacroix, and Shelly, I don't think Donna-mo intended to initiate discussion of the powerful music, literature, and art of the 1800's. She meant romantic in the pejorative, which is, (with thanks to

3. imbued with or dominated by idealism, a desire for adventure, chivalry, etc.
4. characterized by a preoccupation with love or by the idealizing of love or one's beloved.
5. displaying or expressing love or strong affection.
6. ardent; passionate; fervent.

We add to this the insight of Wilde, when he proposed that Romance (like ignorance) is a "delicate, exotic fruit. Touch it, and the bloom is gone." Think on it for a moment and you'll agree. A romantic song must be rife with yearning. But that yearning must to some degree remain unfulfilled. Because to satisfy it entirely would be to kill it. And there must be something eternal if one is to fill this cup to its brim (or drink it to the dregs, whichever you prefer).
I think there should also be a reckless element. Some kind of abandon. Romance has to throw caution to the wind.

With these concepts in mind, we can make a list that avoids the merely lovey-dovey, the simply sweet, the oversimplified, and any and all make-out songs.

And the list is short. It has only one song. I believe this ardently, passionately and fervently. There can be, in truth, "no debate." The title of Most Romantic Song goes unequivocally to THERE IS A LIGHT THAT NEVER GOES OUT, by the Smiths.

Head and shoulders above anything else that could be mentioned. From the opening line, the idea of just wanting to go out with someone and not caring where crystallizes the aforementioned necessary sense of abandon. This is seasoned by the sense of longing and sadness (also requisite to romance) in the lines about not having a home anymore.
Notice the exquisite sense of non-fulfillment in the verse that recalls "the darkened underpass" under which we thought "oh God, my chance has come at last." But then a strange fear gripped us and we just couldn't ask.

Then comes the legendary chorus, which I only write it here for the privilege of repeating it:

"And if a double decker bus crashes into us: To die by your side is such a heavenly way to die.
And if a ten ton truck kills the both of us: To die by your side, well the pleasure and the privilege is mine . . ."

If anyone can beat that, I haven't heard it. And all of it is punctuated by one of the most haunting string arrangements of all time, fading out to the titular line, full of that mix of longing, loss, eternal devotion and unnameable bittersweetness that is quintessentially romantic.

And with that, I honestly believe the debate to be over. Because everyone else is just blowing hot air about how much they love somebody. Which is sweet, but not romantic.

Close seconds:
"Just Like Heaven"--the cure,
"Do What You Have To Do"--sarah mcglaughlin
"Canon" by Johan Pachabel. (The "Grand Finale" from Edward Scissorhands should also receive consideration.)

Candidates for very distant third:
"You Are My Radio"--squirrel nut zippers
"The Sensual World"--kate bush (just for the sex of it)
"Driving Your Girlfriend Home" --morrissey
"To Me You Are a Work of Art"--morrissey
"Nothing Matters When We're Dancing"--magnetic fields
"Love Song"--the cure
"Always On My Mind"--willy nelson
"Dreaming My Dreams"--the cranberries
"Can't Help Falling in Love With You"--Elvis presley
"If You Leave Me" --ray charles (which might actually be called "What Would I do?"--I can't remember)

Go ahead and add to the list of seconds and thirds. But you will NOT persuade me that There Is a Light That Never Goes Out doesn't stand alone.

caveat (a.k.a "the pipe dream.")

Sometimes, I read the posts on this blog and think: I hope I'm the loveable kind of curmudgeon.

lundi, octobre 01, 2007

You Don't Want to Hear This (or, Yes, I Am About to Offend You)

We need to clarify some issues. No matter how bad the truth hurts. If girl pants have taught me anything, it's tough love.

Having recently blogged about certain OCD tendencies, I began to fear that some people, or, a certain type of person, might exploit the occasion. Not in the sense that they might use it as leverage and try to get the upper hand over me--that would be fine--but rather in the sense that they might look around at their messy house and excuse the abomination.

So we need to make something very clear: A clean house is better than a messy house. It just is. It always has been and always will be. OCD is not a factor in determining the moral, aesthetic, and hygenic superiority of cleanliness. People with clean houses, OCD or not, are better people in that regard. Pure and simple. The degree to which your house is a mess is the degree to which it is inferior to a clean house.
It should go without saying that even if you are a slob, you are a valuable, vital, and important human being with a lot to offer, infinite potential, deserving of love and respect. And everyone should, right now, stipulate to the fact that even a messy house can be full of "love." But don't try to give us any crap about how you're artistic, or how you "organize differently." You're messy. That's it. I've heard moms say "I'd rather play with my kids than clean my house." Wonderful. You are honestly to be admired for that part about playing with your kids. But frankly, I'd rather play with my kids IN a clean house, thanks.
And then the Hippies chime in. "Nature isn't clean. Don't be a clean freak." (Which is just the atheist version of "Hey, God made dirt.") Forget about the fact that Nature is ordered and constantly cleaning up after herself. That's a different topic. Just remember that you are human and this is civilization. A clean house is better than a messy one, and there is nothing--NOTHING--you can say to make your messy house a tribute to anything but messiness.

While we're ruffling feathers . . . there are a couple topics that need revisiting. (I've worked all night and I'm feeling punchy, so watch out.)

Obese people ARE second class citizens. Not in the sense that their potential is anything less than infinite, or that they should be treated with emotional disdain. Many of them are far better people than I might ever be. In fact, the only reason I feel fine saying this is because I believe in everyone's ability to accomplish anything. But this is undeniable: The degree to which you are overweight is the degree to which you are physically inferior to people who are in shape. Sure, you might be smarter, nicer, richer or more loving, but in that one regard, YES, you suck and it is gross. That's it.
(ASIDE: In the event that one of our larger citizens takes real offense to these comments and attempts to take physical revenge, I'm reasonably sure that I could outrun any of them on zero hours sleep with my shoelaces tied together. And I think this proves my point. Yes, charge them more for health care. YES make them pay for two seats on a plane. I might even be in favor of levying a fat tax. What are they going to do? Organize and protest? March on Washington? Good!)

Moving right along: If you still vilify either one of the major political parties and think the other is morally superior, you are to a certain degree STUPID and your opinion on almost everything else should be considered inferior. We don't even need to make any stipulations here. You are either dumb or uninformed. Either way you're dangerous.

Moreover, if your religion has ever excused you in dismissing or discounting the value of people outside your religion, then your religion is, at that particular juncture, inferior. Maybe even invalid. This includes these "easternists," yogis and bhuddies, who routinely dismiss and stereotype christians. They are as UNenlightened as their counterparts are UNchristian. (In fact, they're even stupider, because they think they don't have a religion.)

Furthermore, people who think Dave Matthews "rocks," have inferior musical tastes and are not to be trusted, although they are still a cut above anyone who will groove to the endless masturbatory guitar solos of blues rock. Dead Heads are the bottom of the barrel.

To end on a hopeful note: a world where people can accept the unvarnished, unabashed truth, is to that degree, a superior world.

These are the facts. They are beyond contestation.