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From My Philly Protest Days: this and this

2003-05-22 - 3:06 p.m.

Stuff isn't flammable

Tonight at the gym I spotted a copy of Stuff, one of the best examples of how contemporary culture is shittier than a cow pasture. Boobs, stupid guys, and more boobs. Anxious to erase this magazine from the gymnosphere, I stole the copy, brought it home, and tried to set it on fire in the back parking lot of my apartment building – keeping in mind, of course, that the Austin City Code prohibits fires set within five feet of a building. But the damned thing wouldn't burn, so I had to rip up the magazine instead of watching it go up in flames. Too bad – the Bud Light "girls" probably would look good in brilliant orange.

*

While walking home tonight with a gut full of coffee and chicken tacos, I looked up at the street light and pretended that it wasn't electricity-charged, but powered by a candle, or gas. Many of my favorite paintings are of New York City during the horse-and-carriage days, when life was all tenements and no utilities. The paintings I'm thinking of are heavy on the black, with impressionistic lights to break up the monotony. Usually a man and a top hat is standing somewhere on the canvas, sometimes accompanied by a woman, sometimes not. The man goes with the rest of the scenery, because he's wearing a dark suit.

Since my neighborhood is quiet and dark but for electric orange streetlights, it's possible to imagine for a moment that you're in one of these old 19th-century paintings. Well, sort of. Clothing has changed considerably since the days of steel-springed bustles, and the nick of my khaki capri pants hitting the back of my legs destroyed any notions that I was wearing full-length skirts as the ladies once did. (Thank goodness we don't have to wear those things anymore.) Also, I was not carrying a basket of eggs, or flowers, or small hens. Nor had I just visited a parlor for tea; tonight I was walking home from the neighborhood coffee house, chock full of hipster kiddies wearing punk rock hairdos and TV eyes. Hardly nostalgia-inspiring. Hardly anything inspiring. Those street lights, on the other hand ... But I'm not a poet, I'm a reporter. So instead of writing a poem about them, I've just told you about them and will leave it at that.

Went on another bike ride today, to Mt. Bonnell. This is not a mountain, but a hill that Austinites pretend is a mountain. It offers views of the lake below, and of enormous houses with chemi-covered lawns. All in all a very nice view, though nowhere near the sights of Lisbon from the Castle that I took in earlier this year. Went with Tommy, who works in the transportation field. We drank a beer at this crumpled bar called the Dry Creek Cafe (I think). Some people were playing Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" and a woman listening in said she enjoyed the performance and wanted to know where the musicians played regularly. I did not hear their response. The musicians were not very good, and it was a Poison song; the woman who liked the music must not get out much.

**

Rode to East Austin, past the Mueller Airport – an enormous expanse of land that used to be set aside for airplanes but which is now under consideration for redevelopment. Didn't really see anything interesting or new, just a bunch of cars and a strip center or two. The dandelions were shedding and their feathers or whatevers were floating into my nostrils during the entire trip, which caused me to itch. It was a very back-to-nature feeling; an annoyance but one I could definitely live with.

After my East Austin ride I went on a West Austin ride, just because once you get started on a bike it's hard to get off. Especially when the weather is perfect and the days are long. Ride II took me to the hike-and-bike trails of Town Lake, which are always crowded with people hoping to stay fit. A respectable goal indeed. Saw a friend, Artist Dave, who owns the sewing machine that has stayed at my house for about six months. Dave is an artist and professor and very perceptive. He noticed that my feet have big slices in them. "New shoes," I explained. He had thought I'd dropped a heavy box on my feet or maybe got into an accident, but no, nothing that dramatic. While we were talking about my feet I imagined an enormous toothed saw wheel, and felt lucky that no such object has ever been close to my feet, which I need.

Hipsters Are from Hell

This web site has sat idle for some time, because I have been questioning its purpose. My fear is that somehow I'll end up contributing to the anti-culture perpetuated by hipsters and their bullshit vanity sites, no matter how much I try to avoid it. You know what I'm talking about – people who type out little riffs and rants describing their dating/sexual problems/dysfunctions, celebrity crushes, adolescent confusions, last rock show seen, last meal eaten ... all in front of some invisible audience ... for their enjoyment? For whose enjoyment or benefit, really? I mean, who really cares?

My last formal encounter with hipsters has left some emotional scars. Resolution #1: Avoid people 25 and under at all costs, in all social settings, unless they are sources for stories, because then they are probably involved in politics or community service somehow and therefore "get it." Also exempt: females who are not hipsters, because then there's the built-in obligation to somehow become a mentor, a duty many people forget - including me - in this self-absorbed society; Resolution #2: Don't date younger fellows; Resolution #3: Don't date older ones, either, unless several months of friendship have passed, or the notary public is somehow involved. Actually, I recommend that all women follow these laws, just because 27 years on earth has taught me that it's probably better for women if they avoid fellows altogether. Until they meet the right one, that is, if they lean that way. All the married and committed men I know are pretty great – they make good friends, as do their wives and girlfriends. Maybe it's because the married men I know are settled into their lives, which they share with their women but also with me, as a person and not as an object or a means-to-an-end.

Ehh... I probably should write more on this site, really, because my life actually is interesting. My job enables me to meet people who actually do important things that affect people's lives. In the past month I've hung out with the guys who own Dr. Bronner's soap, state senators and representatives (including some of the Dems who fled to Oklahoma to protest Tom DeLay's tyranny), transportation planners, "regular" people who have lots of irregular and great ideas, the women who wrote Manifesta ... all are really dynamic people who understand that life is more than just "me me me." There's too much to say about them, really. You had to be there. That's a total cop-out, coming from a writer ... But I suppose I feel that whoever reads this won't be interested in whatever I have to say about these people because all they want is for me to talk about myself, because that's the young, American way of communicating. "Me Me Me."

I hate youth culture. It's terrible. All of the insecurity and unconsciousness and blogs. The fake-punk prima donnas who wouldn't know authenticity if it slapped them. Irony that never ends. Alpha-male worship cloaked in contemporary pseudo-liberalism. Women as bodies and fetishes – always referred to as "girls," regardless of age, vocation, intelligence, or experience. No sense of community or the future ... The emotional retardation – "yeah, whatever." Please, take it off the air. Make it stop.

 

 

Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse. – Lily Tomlin

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