There is a guy at my gym who wears a matching tiger skin jumpsuit. A girl wears full cocktail make up. Her shoes are glistening brand new, straight out of the package. Look, there’s another one!
This entire tube carriage look like they are on their way to a reality TV audition. Good lord, look at that man’s haircut, it’s a piece of modern art. What the hell is happening, why is everyone so pristine??
Instagram culture has now so permeated our society that it is bleeding into the lives of ordinary people like me, who even though we abstain from it’s use, are now being made to feel bad about our appearance!
It’s no secret you kids go on Instagram, spend a few hours looking at a photo of someone that had more people working on it than Beyonce’s Lemonade, than feel terrible shame because you don’t look like that in real life, with your single camera, and modest make up assortment from Boots.
So you hit the high street, buy all the clothes, stuff your backside with pillow cases, to the point that before I sussed what had happened I thought I went into some kind of Being Kim Kardashian wormhole – they were everywhere! Then men are just as guilty! Again, I’m in the gym – sorry are we in a nightclub?! Why is everyone dressed better in here than I dress out there?! Are going to sweat and be disgusting or take MMA (and to be fair, usually be disgusting)?!
I feel like all I have to do is gently touch one of these poor souls with a slight prod and they would crumble to pieces. They would burst into tears, “AHHHH, it’s so hard!! I don’t want to buy another brand new pair of shoes! Let me live!! Let me live!!!”
Back in my day we only needed one pair of pants, three shirts, and a black motorcycle jacket. Hell, I used to cut my own hair. We were thrifty! We had attitude! No wonder you kids can’t afford houses! You’re spending all your money on foundation and trips to the ‘gentleman’s grooming station’!
Someone has to bring back the chic slob. Remember Fight Club?? Brad looked great! Now there’s a look you can pull off on a dime store budget. Ladies I hear your concerns – you are judged far more harshly for what you wear, especially when it comes to earning gainful employment. Nobody looked for work in the 90’s! Hell with it! Let’s start a band! We’ll suck!
But, look I’m devolving into farce. The hard truth is the world today is littered with clones:
Girls are Kardashian look-a-likes, wearing seventy-five pounds of foundation (I’ve always been confused, is the point of make up to look like you are not wearing it?), men all wear the same outfit: super tight painted on trousers with an even tighter fitting top half, so it looks like they were attempting to turn into the Hulk, but weren’t strong enough to break through the fabric, replete with these rigid military style haircuts (like, pulling girls is a war zone baby!! We need to be ready for battle men!), and glowing bright white shoes with that stupid little alligator on them.
if you need me, I’ll be sitting on the other end of the train carriage in dirty old combat boots (£100 – they last for YEARS), my trusty pair of black jeans, my £8 jacket I got in an alley in Brixton, and one of three t-shirts. The money I save on apparel will all go towards buying myself a modest little cottage up north where I can hide from you freaks until the next decade – who no doubt after finding these relics notes from the 90’s, and revere them as gospel – takes over.
Ever wonder what new intellectual depth we will plummet to in regard to our entertainment? I certainly do. I’m not very good at it though. I didn’t see Tik-Tok coming. It’s so simple when you think about it, how could I have missed it! It’s the insipidity of snap-chat (if you have ever put a puppy dog nose on your face and been genuinely entertained by it, congratulations, you have learning disabilities) combined with the humble bragging of Instagram (every post is in some way marketing worthy of the most abominable corporate whores).
I really wish I could quench my integrity, silence my empathetic soul, long enough to see people like the app makers do: as statistics. Then I could pinpoint what they LIKE, not what they NEED, and give them that. The moola….
That’s the difference. What they LIKE. What they NEED. No one NEEDED Instagram. No one NEEDED Tik-Tok.
Needs need not be bland.
I anticipated your argument.
We need new perspectives, new jolts, new modes of
entertainment that encourage us to go out and live afterwards, not suck us in, and say, ‘Stay here, watch me….forever…’
Needs and wants…needs and wants…sell them the wants = $$ $$ Produce the needs = ?? Aha, see, the needs don’t necessarily mean poverty. Only one can’t know for sure when operating from the heart.
Bob Dylan made something people needed so bad that when it arrived, they actually wanted it.
How to make what’s WANTED? Easy. Ask a newspaper editor. How to make what’s NEEDED? Start from what YOU need, then work backwards.
If no one else wants it, well you got what you needed anyway.
This is a blog. No sense in denying it. This is, in 2020, a blog. Today I was struck by the preposterous reason for using such an antiquated medium to communicate with potential, uh, let’s say, fans. That thought was immediately supplanted by another thought which affirmed this was actually the perfect medium for a series of musings titled, ‘Notes from the 90’s’.
It suits the atmosphere. Ten years ago, I thought blogs were idiotic. Why am I now thrusting myself into one so fervently? Back in 2010, when I started dong stand up, everyone had a blog. A blog and a solid web presence. Of course I attempted to write a blog. Then about halfway through, I just thought, this is not how you get successful. Plus, it was no fun. What was fun was getting better at stand-up. It involved way less knowledge of Java Script.
Same thing goes for websites. Everyone had a glistening, shiny website. Bam-Zap-Pow would go the graphics on the best ones. Those comedians were ironically on the whole the absolute opposite live on stage of the kind of excitement their websites promised.
I’m not knocking it. Well, at least not on purpose. It was probably the smart move.
Get a fan base. That’s the thing. That was always the mantra. Thing is, whenever I set out to do that I was always struck by this nagging feeling that in order to do that, you would have to be good. Was I good? Maybe. Could I be better? Yes, always. So why am I wasting my time with this boring crap then? The real work is done up there! Off I went to perform.
Still, ten years on now and it seems that the rallying cry for the fanbase is everywhere. That is the golden ticket. A lot of people claim to have one.
Seems like a lot of hassle. Do not get me wrong, I would ideally love to have a hoard of people who are aware enough of my stuff, that when they see I am playing somewhere they buy a ticket or if they see I released something, they give it a watch.
To have to manage a base though. Man, I just don’t know that it is within my wheelhouse. Oh, this looks terrible doesn’t it?
Lazy! You all say. You must promote yourself. Well, listen, I enrich myself by trying to better myself. When I achieve that, can’t someone else promote me? I’m creating jobs!
This is isn’t coming out right. I suppose what O am saying is that maybe blogging was no fun because everyone was doing and so when I would go to post back then, it was a bit bleak, in that it reminded you that no one was reading it. Made you feel small. Writing alone, and keeping it to yourself was nice, because it was for you, it wasn’t tainted by being attached to some desperate desire to gain recognition. That desire kills every thing. Don’t you think? Can you honestly tell me you kids don’t feel a little sad every time you post some moment on Instagram.
It’s like you are having your own insignificance reported back to you as it is judged within the faux reality of this virtual Matrix. The whole world didn’t give a shit about that event, so what? It has less worth now? If you didn’t experience that lethargic reception would it still be worthless? I doubt it. Any attachment to a desired result ruins the moment.
That’s probably why I’m not competitive. Trying to win ruined the game. Was a big hassle worrying about winning or losing.
Probably why I am enjoying this blog. I know no ones reading it. That’s what makes it fun.
Everybody everywhere is always telling me how hard they are working. Luckily, I miss most of it having abstained from the book of faces, or the Instaglam (not a typo – I mean business today!). Comedians are the worst. I find it to be a personal affront to the Comedy Gods if we do not incorporate at least one or two, ok, fine, three or four days, of absolute sloth, especially in the morning time, into our week.
“I like to be busy.” When I hear that I weep inside that someone could be so miserable in their own company that they have to fill their day with generally useless busy work. Me, I love hanging out with old ME, the guys a hoot! Sure he used to pipe up about regrets or fears, but through a system of easter soul searching I have for the most part taught him to just shut his trap and watch The A-Team.
It’s all those celebrity routine articles. First off they are always so damn rigid that it is impossible to take them seriously. I remember tearing my hair out because I tried to follow Tim Ferris’s routine once, but kept getting annoyed that I couldn’t finish my breakfast at EXACTLY 10:30 am! I mean come on, we are on a schedule here! I have to be in the gym by, well, 10:30!
That’s the thing, these routines are always so rigid. Am I supposed to believe that Ferris or Wahlberg drop their spoon at literally 10:30 am, then grab a pair of dumbbells at their feet? Where is the twenty to thirty minutes a man spends all day scratching his balls? No toilet breaks were included in this routine, my lord gentleman, are we to assume you have hooked up some kind of catheter to increase productivity?
Look, I’m as guilty as the next person for falling into this kind of behavior. Problem with quantifying every last minute of your day, is that you begin to become aware of how much of your day is just, well, nothing. Beautiful nothing! My solution to those productivity blues? JUSTIFY YOUR ACTIONS! I’m not ‘watching tv’ I’m ‘filling the well of my own creativity’! See how easy that is? Not to mention being top busy puts you in a constant state of chasing. Never happy with the present moment, always one eye on the clock thinking damn it, Tim Ferris already wrote two blogs and took a class in Krav Maga by now!
I’m not saying don’t do something. Just don’t do something for the sole sake of feeling like you are doing something. The point in life, is to ESCAPE the rat race, do you hear me?!
One of the great lines from the Simpsons is rom season five, episode twenty. When Bart attempts to show off in front of Lisa’s new friends. The kids, unimpressed:
“That kid tries too hard, man.”
Relax everybody, we’re all going to get there, I promise.
Now sit down, you’re making me nervous.
In defense of my previous rant on Ludditism, let me now praise several technological advancements. On the whole these are better, but notice they all come with an equal downside.
Google Maps – as said previously, fantastic. I was lost for all of the 90’s. Literally, I just wandered around, an orphan, like Moses in the desert. Downside: we have lost the capacity for spacial awareness. Do you even know what street your on now? A fun activity to realize how useless you are is to use tangible maps whenever possible. If you are really bold, leave your phone at home. It’s fun. You start to learn where thigns are. You get to be one of those guys that can tell someone, ‘Yeah, hang a left on Wabash, then over to Main…’ though I have never understood people who talk in terms of East and West, ‘head East on Sycamore Rd…’ Like, how do you know which way is East? These people in my opinion are serial killers.
Netflix – No company deserved it more than Block Buster Video. Man, if ever a gap in the market was created, that was it. Block Buster owned video selection as we knew it. They abused that power regularly and paid the price. Late fees, membership charges, they were the worst. Netflix side stepped all of that. Hooray for them. Now can I please have my own show? (you green light everything, surely you can throw a bone my way???)
Downside to Netflix: We don’t take a chance on things any longer. There was something about buying a video, based on the cover, then being stuck with it. Sometimes it sucked ass. Sometimes that experience is valuable. For more info on that see any club comic over thirty, they certainly have a bit about it I’m sure.
Amazon: Love em or hate em, I feel the same way about Amazon as I do Starbucks: if capitalism enables corporation to be literally everywhere, owning nearly every piece of real estate in our lives, then they damn well better let me do what I want, when I want with their services.
Starbucks lets you piss in the toilet without buying anything (at least they SHOULD – I know there was a controversey on this a few years back but as far as I know it is still the law of the land. At least it is to me. Listen Starbucks, if you insist on owning the globe than the least you can do is be my personal outhouse).
Amazon deliver something to you just because you thought you might want to have it.
Downside to Amazon: well, they are a monopoly. Also, Jeff Bezos has literally become Lex Luther. Look at him. Not to mention, he is desperate to go to space. Why you ask? My belief is because he wants to make sure Krypton truly was destroyed. So on that note, shop somewhere else. Balance it out. I know it’s hard. I ordered something from a local shop a month ago that still hasn’t arrived. When I got home I had a text message from Amazon saying, ‘hey we just saw that you went to a shop and ordered something?’ I was naturally horrified at the privacy invasion until it arrived at my doorstep in five minutes flat.
Phones: believe it or not, if used correctly, these are a boon. I still have an iphone 5, because it peaked at the 5. there is no reason to go beyond it. Anything after the iphone 5 is based on one feature; the camera. That is the only reason anyone has given me for upgrading. The camera. I don’t take pictures of myself. I don’t take pictures. I experience things. I don’t share photos with people. The experiences I’ve had are absorbed within my being because I experienced them so intensely that when people meet me they can feel all of my experience without needing to have it shoved in their face. It makes me happier in the moment, happeir over all to experience the event rather than attempt to capture it for posterity, which is not living now, it’s living in the future, which in the future I will not be alive then either because I will be looking at the photo, reminiscing for the past. Duh.
Phones can be used well, because they can be put on Airplane mode. It’s easier than unplugging the phone line or leaving it off the hook. The phone is a weapon. Learn to use it properly. If you just take pictures with it all day, it’s like being on the Starship Enterprise and using the ‘stun’ setting on yourself to capture a perfect pose. Those things have long term effects you know….
Downside to phones: attention span. The end of intellectual culture as we know it. The death of cinema. The invention of Quibby. Insomnia. Vanity. That look where people wear tight pants, but you can see the square in their front pocket like they have a pace maker in their leg.
Video games: truly the greatest advancement of all. Video games can only get better. They are good for problem solving. Their increasing realism will only help people prepare for the coming zombie and/or ecological apocalypse.
Downside/ Two word: Virtual. Porn.
So there you go, a little food for thought. With every great advancement there is an equal downside, with every gain there is a loss. Is it progress? In some ways yes, in some ways no. Give and take.
However take comfort as I do, that things are always changing. If this generation doesn’t suit you, hold tight, because there’s another one just around the corner. Like the Byrds said, ‘Turn Turn Turn…’ Dylan also said, ‘The Times They are a Changin’ so take your pick, but the Byrds is more on the nose I think.
When I was a kid we used to go down to the local video store (unlike Block buster, I mourn the passing of the local video store, daily). There was an Arcade game there called Street Fighter 2. No one ever played Street Fighter One. It doesn’t exist (I know it does, shut up).
It was the greatest thing that ever happened. No device has ever unified more teenage boys (hmm…not true, two words: VHS. Porn).
A kid with no name was the champion. He was a maestro. He had acne, dirty jeans, and a chain wallet. His hair was greasy. He had a extra large Big Gulp in his hand from 7-11 he would slurp between combos. No one knew his name or where he came from. We would cone from miles around to watch him play? The Who sang about boys like him.
He was the pinnacle.
Then one day, the home entertainment system got an upgrade: the Super Nintendo. It had all the capabilities of the arcade version of Street Fighter II. Slowly, we stopped going to the video store to play the arcade.
Eventually they removed it from the shop.
We never saw the boy with no name again. He based his whole indentity on a MACHINE. His entire WORTH was wrapped up in a piece of technology. Without it he would simply VANISH.
When that piece of technology became obsolete as all technologies eventually do, so in turn, did he…
And that my friends, is the story of the worlds first Influencer.
Oh, luddite you say? That familiar old slant has no effect on me. You know what you are? What do the feminists call it…yeah, a tool for the patriarchy! You are a tool for the plutocracy my friend. I’ve struggled with this accusation in the past. How can I be a luddite? I love technology. Google Maps has saved my life. I spent the whole of the 90’s getting lost.
Zadie Smith, famed author, as you all know, gets similar accusation hurled at her from time to time, as she and I basically share the exact same philosophy on social media/current tends and their insipid brain rotting effect. Oh, did you not know that? Yes, Zadie fuckin’ Smith and I. Sure, it’s urked me a bit to read an interview where she has made the EXACT point I have made in the past to utterly DEAF ears, on countless podcasts (holy hell, one time I did an interview for some magazine in Edinburgh, maybe EdFest and the guy asks me about Trump. Booooring I know, so I say, ‘I feel like I have to talk about it’ and then go on to explain that this feeling is annoying because it’s so overdone so what I do instead is move past it quick because I don’t define myself as Russell the American, I’m Russell the artist and I’m on some different plane than whatever is happening in politics right now, ok? After which I go off on what I think is really interesting in contemporary comedy culture, namely how the artist had melded with the business in such a way that it’s almost as if the AI robots are actually us considering we now speak in entirely corporate doublespeak like ‘content’ etc. What does he print? Russell Hicks on Trump: I have to talk about it. Well, that’s yello journalism for ya! Who am I fuckin’ LEWIS BLACK?), but do I get bitter? No! I say to myself, ‘Love that Zadie’ or ‘you tell em sister’.
Yes, Zadie and I, two geniuses out there fighting the good fight, for YOU. So, in regards to the luddite comment, go ahead and sit this one out Zadie, I’ll handle this.
The luddites are the object of one of the greatest smear campaigns in history. They were textile workers who boycotted the invention of new machinery, because like, it would put them out of a job. Ok, fact one against me being a luddite: I would never defend my right to perform manual labour.
The luddites were summarily squashed by the government using the military to shoot them dead.
So, did they hate all technology? No. They were protecting their jobs. Poor suckers. As I have said countless times as well as written about, the only way to exist within a capatilst society is as a veritable bank robber, skirt the system, find a way to make it on the fringes, because if you buy directly into the system, you will be at some point discarded. Watch every great gangster film ever: remember Joe Pesci in Goodfellas going to get ‘made’. He’s a steel mill worker or something that bought into the American dream, the guys behind him with the cold blooded .45 are Uncle Sam and his friends – the CAPTAINS OF INDUSTRY.
Luddite didn’t hate phones. They didn’t even hate progress. They were just battling corporate greed at the expense of their economic well being. It’s the same old capitalist story: MORE PROFIT ALWAYS.
Hey, don’t get me wrong, I am a capitalist. Sure thing, Adam Smith and the invisible hand, yes, but I think there should also be another hand (we do have two after all) that just occasionally guides the other hand or maybe even gives it a little slap when it gets greedy and trys to reach into it’s trousers to pull out it’s big thing and jack off all over the face of the proletariat.
So, that was the luddites. Shot dead for protecting their own ass. For protesting that they had been good citizens and this is how they are repaid. They didn’t hate technology. They hated this particular technology.
Insult to injury, what are they known for know? Being anti-progress. Computers, phones, Apps, Instagram, Snapchat, not for you? Well then you are anti-PROGRESS my friend!
Ah, yes, ‘progress’ … that’s what it is…nice one, call it progress, a marketing master stroke.
Be seen to go against ‘profit’ – uh, sorry, ‘progress’ – at all and you will be avoided like the plague. Yuck. For all it’s posturing the entertainment industry will still happily grind you into a puddle for their own self interest if you let it, not to mention there are still power structures that you absolutely can not challenge. I’m getting off track – save it for another one.
So there you go, luddite, is a pejorative created by the ruling class.
It has nothing to do with being anti-technology.
What do you think of that Zadie?? I really gave it to them, huh? Call me, let’s hang out! We should do a podcast!
Oh, and for anyone who cares – I wrote this on a LAPTOP.
So, suck it.
Yesterday I met someone who was born in nineteen ninety-seven. Doesn’t that make you ill? What kind of science fiction baby is that. Is it normal to think you were born in just the right time?
I got to see some real milestones.
1989 – the advent of the Nintendo Entertainment System. I think we can all agree that, no one would have felt any the worse off for having missed Atari. There was no greater joy than the Nintendo. I not only witnessed it’s inception, but I got to see it evolve through all of it’s iterations up to the present day.
1989-1998 (roughly) The Simpsons. I still remember seeing the first commercial for it. Based solely on the aesthetics, I was hooked. Then came the glorious period where, if you can believe it, Bart Simpson t-shirts were banned from school. This was like, priority number one in America at the time. What else was there to do? Pay attention to the climate?
If you were born in 97’ I need not remind you of the iteration of Simpsons you’ve had to endure for the past twenty years.
I saw the President admit live on television that he got his dick sucked in the oval office. Then we shamed her for the rest of her life. What a double standard; she’s a hero, what if she’d pegged him instead? Explaining that to middle America would have been great to see.
That’s what we need. A president liberal enough to get pegged in the oval office. Enough of this bland dick sucking.
Two of our most famous hip-hop artists shot each other dead. Yeah. Think about that the next time Taylor Swift has a Twitter beef.
Our rappers actually DID shoot each other, they didn’t just sing about it!
I saw nine-eleven. Or is it 9/11. Looks better the second way. First one looks like a very poorly named convenient store. Well, I didn’t see it. I live on the West Coast. So, I was asleep at the moment. WEREN’T WE ALL, MAN???
No, I really was though. Politically, I was the best example of exactly why there should be basic intelligence tests required to vote.
Comedy was really good after 9/11. For about ten years, hit after hit. Comics started playing little rock clubs. Bush bashing was endlessly fun. My generation had never heard it really given to a president before. Now, it’s lame, I know.
I saw the invention of MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Podcasting.
Oh, and the iPhone.
And that’s where our paths converge little twenty-three year old.
So, yeah I have seen a lot. Not bad, really, a nice time to witness; a few little cultural milestones. What have you kids seen, that’s what I feel bad about.
Born in 97’ it’s all just kind of dreary. What? Covid-19? The 2016 election?
I really hope that two of your pop stars shoot each other very soon.
You’re suckers. And you’re being lied to. Oh, sorry, did I hurt your feelings? People seem to get agitated when I recite my old saw that, “Young people are stupid.”
Let me be clear, that I am a recovering youth. I was stupid. I was once the future.
Coke, Coke, Pepsi, new-tech. It’s all geared towards you, the special ones, the future — the old folks don’t get it.
Of course because this is America (even if this is the UK – it’s still America. They officially own financially, spiritually, anything west of Dover). This is all a great ploy to sell you something. To suck from you, those old peoples dollars.
The young are rubes. They buy into this completely, thumbing the eyes of the old people, calling them out of touch, saying, “ They don’t get it” as if they were the ones who planted this idea in their own heads in the first place.
Then, dear youth, to the minute, once the powers at be have sucked you dry of every last ounce of Youth Market spending, they will hand you a brochure titled Consumer Products for Over-Thirties (furniture, organic produce, wellness activities) before guiding you straight out of the building, like someone who’s just been fired.
The things you buy are stupid. The things we bought were stupid. Who do you think gave Adam Sandler a career?
So, you’re stupid. We were stupid. Of course some youth are the shining future leaders. They are the ones who grow up to sell stupid things to all the stupid kids of the stupid kids they grew up with.
Sorry, you want an upbeat ending?
Well, we didn’t have those in my day! So deal with it.
Oh, fine. A positive prescription for how to save the world along with the thesis encapsulated:
The notion that you are better than the generation before you simply because you are younger, is a corporate backed narrative that has been concocted by rich businessmen who have instilled this in you for the sole purpose of selling you as much as they can before selling the exact same lie to the generation that will immediately follow you in succession.
So what can you do?
Read comic books.
Melt your phone.
They can’t call you old and out of it, if you were never young and dumb in the first place.
Hey, gang! Have you heard the news?! Corporations are our friends! They care about the social issues, women’s rights, black people, diverse casting opportunities, the environment – well, no, wait, that one hasn’t caught enough traction yet as to be profitable enough this quarter – but, hey no one’s perfect! Besides, you don’t care about the environment either ( not yet anyway, although if the Corona debacle [the fun way to say pandemic – a spoonful of sugar, right?] is any indication, I can’t wait to see people protesting while Mother Nature finally shrugs us off: “The government can’t make me wear these lava resistant boots or this carbon monoxide air ventilator! I want to spend my last days on Earth as I lived them, dammit! Shrouded in a blanket of willful ignorance!”) So who cares!
Cynical tone i hear you say? Well, let’s think about it. Take Hollywood for example! They care do they? Or do they finally see the profit in equal opportunities?
Oh, come on, you say…you could say that about any organization that isn’t a non profit in contemporary society. Business is Business, you say. Oh and you would say that wouldn’t, oh young acolyte of Bezos, yes I feel another excoriating article boiling up, about the disturbing melding of the artist and business, but instead I utilize the techniques learned from Headspace, pulling my mind gently back to the topic at hand.
True the business of mainstream media is to spot trends, so as to increase consumership. Though, there is a difference between an organization whose mission statement from the get-go is a righteous cause who just so happens to make money in the process i.e. some organic health food brands, then there is an organization (Hollywood, McDonalds, 99% of the SNP 500) that totally alters their mission statement solely because they think it will heed a profit.
See the difference?
Isn’t it a little annoying that the same organization that was stuffing racism, sexism, and any other ism they could conjure up, down our throats for the last three decades at least, suddenly pivoting, and getting to clean up, and get paid working for the other side now? Anybody ever read RED HARVEST??
Did the Hollywood pitch meeting circa 2015 go something like this:
Man (white): Enough! We have the reach of the entire globe! It is our duty to infecting the mind of the public with racist, misogynist, garbage!
Man (white): Guys, I’ve run the numbers – Susan, step outside, men are talking — sorry boys. Anyway, I’ve run the numbers and you’ll never believe this, but the people want to see more blacks!
2nd Man ( whiter)(raises hand): This doesn’t mean we have to hire more blacks or promote them into positions with decision making power, does it?
Man (white): God no! We’ll just make em dance for us.
Man (white): Susie, Susie bring those sweet tits in here with a round of drinks for these closers, huh? Not for you SHELLY, drinks are for CLOSERS! Anyway, move it jiggles!
Oh, yeah, and one more thing boys, we are going to make more, ‘powerful women’ films too.
[Audible grumbles break out, a man spits his drink all over himself, then a low murmur of ‘…wonder woman…?’]
I think you know the answer to this.
While sitting at an outdoor table in front of a chain cafe eating some bland concoction I bought at the grocery store, I noticed two young girls taking photos of themselves for, I kid you not, about a half hour straight. Then I realized I was a thirty-five year old man sitting on a park bench watching two young girls so I vacated before the authorities were alerted by the neighborhood watch.
Probably an Instagram Story, I thought to myself while chewing slowly, pensively.
Everything is content.
Your whole life monetized.
Sitting there in front of the cafe, intermittently swatting away the woman who kept disguising her real question, ‘are you going to buy anything?’ with phony inspections as to my well being such as, ‘do you need anything?’, I cerebrally birthed the following philosophical nugget.
My personal predilection is to the here and now. When I was younger, I was told I didn’t like responsibility. That was as true then as now. Responsibility is a distraction, a trap. An errand.
Parents used to say, ‘I HAVE to RUN an ERRAND.’ None of that sentence sounds fun.
Nobody wants to HAVE to do anything. Nobody likes RUNNING. Errand speaks for itself.
At the moment I was having a great day.
I was now sitting outside on the afternoon of a weekday, remembering my old office bosses in order of opprobrium.
Before that I had walked around a cemetery playing with a Rubik’s Cube I found at the entrance. What kind of philosophical metaphor in action was that?!
On my walk I saw the same construction worker twice. Once, leering at anyone with a pulse as they passed by. Next, passed out asleep on the job.
That’s some pretty good content right there, I thought.
So why not take the time to take my phone out, film myself walking around the gravestones or cracking wise at old Slob the Builder?
Actually, I enjoy talking to camera when afforded the opportunity.
Because when I talk to the camera I am doing just that. I’m here. I’m now. I’m talking to the camera. I’m engulfed in this singular experience. The camera operator is filming. He is engulfed in that singular experience. Both of us, focused.
When a person takes it into their own hands, literally, to film themselves with their phone, they are neither only filming nor only performing. They are diluting both experiences. They exist momentarily in a vacuous vortex of nothing. They are neither self nor not-self.
They are CONTENT.
Overtaken by this epiphany I spoke the preceding paragraph aloud, at top volume, before the woman at the cafe called the police.
The below is my vain attempt from around 2015 (?) to both have Twitter while at the same time not have Twitter.
The screenshots are exactly what my Twitter account looked like back then. The plan was to just leave that up as a fun little thing for people to find, if they so chose to seek me out. It was my way of reconciling my natural lifestyle while at the same time not constantly feeling like I was self destructing in some way.
It was painstaking as I had to write the actual tweets backwards while people who were following me probably thought I was having a meltdown, as there is no way to upload the tweets without doing it publicly. So, I went as fast as I could before people could realize what was happening.
No one has ever mentioned it to me, leading me to believe no one ever read it or noticed. This is the rewards for originality on the internet today.
I still like it.
Ok, so that link to the ‘fictional conversation with Jack Dorsey’ would take the reader to a Tumblr page, to read the following (note, this was before Dorsey cleaned his image up a bit, started shaming Bezos for not being more charitable, calling out misinformation, etc. Back then we all just thought he was a douche):
I can’t believe I thought anyone would actually take the time.
I mean, are you even still here now?
“The robots are already here and they want your clicks.”
“The monetization of the soul, the dilution of the purity of creation, and other things no body cares about.”
“A cynical bastard thinks to much between large gulps of high octane caffeine.”
“A brief discussion about the dangers of nomenclature”
Tim Minchin said on a podcast once, ‘Everyone is a brand, whether they want to admit or not. Daniel Kitson is a brand, whether he wants to admit or not.’
Several comedians nodded in agreement. Many of them shared their concurrence with this point to me after it aired.
What I pointed out to each one of them was that calling oneself a brand is a choice. A very important choice that tells one a lot abut the person making the distinction.
A person sees a cat. They have the choice of either calling it a feline, a kitty cat, or a fine specimen of animal meat. Assuming the cat is in good health, than technically all three of those are correct. Wether the cat wants to admit it or not.
The distinction lies in the person labeling the cat. What can we learn about that person from the three ways they might choose to describe our cat?
Feline: a little stilted. They’re either posh or a dental hygenist. Maybe they host a nature program.
Kitty Cat: They’re twelve. It’s adorable.
A fine specimen of animal meat: Grab the children, lock the doors, call the cops or get the ‘feline’ guy to make a call to his friends in Parliament.
The fact that one does not call themselves a brand is an indication of exactly where they are coming from. And with regard to art, where you are coming from is the whole damn point.
That’s why art can be anything from a Picasso to a toilet bowl. It’s about what went into it (excuse the mental image).
Maybe the guy who made the toilet bowl was raised by his father in Italy and since he was a boy, his papa taught him the spiritual importance of every day house hold amenities.
Every time he molds the porcelain with his bare hands he does it with a passion, an intensity, that is imbued in every throne. He loves toilet bowls. He believes they are the essence of our being on this Earth. He misses papa.
If the guy who made the toilet bowl put that into it, then you might wonder why you weep at the sight of it every time you go to take a shit.
Likewise, when something is made specifically for consumption, as in it smacks of market research, focus group approval (looking at you Stranger Things) it well, just sucks.
You can’t even explain it. It just does. Like when you walk into a hipster coffee shop that just doesn’t feel right. The barista has giant plugs in his ears, he’s kind of an asshole, esoteric alt rock is playing over the speakers, it all checks out. But you feel eerie, like something is off, until you find out that the ‘independent coffee shop’ is actualy owned by Tesco.
So call it content if you want. Call yourself a brand. Read Tim Ferris and study billionaires. Tell me time is money. Have a five year plan and know exactly which direction your career is headed. Study algorithms and marketing techniques. Post on social media not because you want to, but because you have to. Forget fulfillment, get success.
And for God sakes, above all, keep Tim Minchin away from your cat.