Musings and Mirth
Of all the ways I feel frustration as a woman and a feminist none of it has come quite as close as this nonsense “movement” called Free the Nipple. It’s really generated by girls who want to show their boobies on Instagram because they’re NOT ALLOWED. They’ve actually mobilized, gotten Miley Cyrus to sing the song and there is even some kind of movie in the works. First off, there is nothing American men would like more than to oggle the boobies of young women on Instagram. That Instagram won’t let them is nothing to cry about. It is not a movement worth fighting for and all it really amounts to is women wanting to take more pictures of themselves so that people will continue to look at them. What a sorry ass pathetic state of affairs.
This, at the same time actresses like Shailene Woodley and Evangeline Lilly go on and on about how they’re “feminists” because “feminists” want to “be like men.” For fuck’s sake – how can a whole generation be packed with so many stupid role models?
So here’s a list of things they COULD care about and actually do some good in the world — like:
Cleaning up the giant blobs of plastic in our oceans
Overturning Citizens United
Advocating for Choice so that abortion does not become illegal
Helping to end factory farming which is altering our climate and making our environment ultimately inhospitable.
Hanging out with dying kids in hospitals
Fighting corporations that lie to Americans about how they should be on drugs all of the time.
Those are just some suggestions. Stop making women look stupid with Free the Nipple. We are smarter than that. We are better than that.
And by the way, here’s a little tip. Women draw much of their power from their sexuality. Much of that is the allure of the female breast. Take that away and there goes some major leverage. Think about it.
The Serial Podcast has become a major obsession but really, for all the wrong reasons. It has brought out the typical sleuthing mob that all too often mobilizes bored people on the internet with too much access to research materials at their fingertips. This was what happened to many of us (myself included) during the Boston bombing manhunt, and it happened during True Detective, where the desire for there to be a much bigger conspiracy took over the actual plot of the series. And now, it’s overtaken the case of Hae Min Lee and the efforts of the Sayed family to have their son, Adnan Sayed, freed prison for the death of his ex-girlfriend.
The reason is the podcast itself, an excellent work of sometimes objective and sometimes subjective journalism by Sarah Koenig as an offshoot of This American Life. It has brought up so many things during its run, including what most Americans think about Muslims in the post 9/11 world, immigrant parents who shelter their kids from everything to ensure their success in America, teen love, teen crime, friendships, and of course the facts of the case – cell phone records, witness testimony, a now diseased defense attorney who was found to be deliberately throwing cases to make more and more money off the desperate families paying for her services.
The podcast at first takes the stance that its subject, Adnan Syed, could possibly be innocent of the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. Adnan is a sympathetic subject. He seems like the nicest, sweetest guy who would never hurt anyone. But the problem is — and Koenig admits this if you listen very carefully to what she’s saying and how she says it — the facts of the case do not seem to leave room for reasonable doubt. Reasonable doubt in the court sense probably should have gotten Adnan off back in 1999. It seems that the only thing they had on him was the testimony of his friend Jay and cell phone record of his being in Leakin Park where the body was found the night she went missing.
But every piece of hope that Sarah Koenig — or as we refer to her on Reddit SK — turns up ends to not be good for Adnan. The alibi witness says she remembered seeing Adnan in the library on the day Hae went missing. But she remembers it because it was snowing really hard – the first snow of the year she said. There was no school the next day. The problem is that the weather report says it didn’t snow that day. The witness must have been thinking of another day.
Could the cell phone records be false? Well, no, the producers sent the records to the top specialists in the field and they said it was valid. Adnan says you couldn’t leave school, murder someone in roughly 20 minutes. SK and her producer drove the route and found that they could, in fact, make it. They were cutting it close but they made it.
As we went along, chattering away about is he guilty or isn’t he – the most recent episode was revealed. It was called rumors and it not only talked about what some people remember about Adnan but it also revealed how much it bothered him that everything has been dug up and on such a public scale. Adnan is in prison and now he’s famous. Jay, the witness in the case, is now famous. Hae’s family’s tragedy has now become famous.
There is no way SK and her crew thought in a million years Serial would become this popular. No other podcast has ever come anywhere close to being this popular. This last episode, though, with Adnan’s desperate voice to want it all over with left me with a feeling of ickyness. I just felt bad about it – why were we treating this whole thing as entertainment? It isn’t a TV show – it’s real life.
At first I couldn’t stop thinking about, listening to it, googling to find to find clues whether there was a payphone at the Best Buy in Baltimore, MD in 1999. But after the last episode this feeling of being too close to a murder started to creep in. We’re talking about the unimaginable here. It is deeper and scarier than fiction.
“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”
― David Foster Wallace
“Others imply that they know what it is like to be depressed because they have gone through a divorce, lost a job, or broken up with someone. But these experiences carry with them feelings. Depression, instead, is flat, hollow, and unendurable. It is also tiresome. People cannot abide being around you when you are depressed. They might think that they ought to, and they might even try, but you know and they know that you are tedious beyond belief: you are irritable and paranoid and humorless and lifeless and critical and demanding and no reassurance is ever enough. You’re frightened, and you’re frightening, and you’re “not at all like yourself but will be soon,” but you know you won’t.”
― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind
“No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax — This won’t hurt”
― Hunter S. Thompson
“Dearest, I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier ’til this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that – everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer. I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been. V.”
― Virginia Woolf
I can’t pretend to understand the kind of depression people talk about. The kind that is a disease. The kind you can do nothing about, the drug companies say, except take drugs to make you feel normal. I don’t understand because on some fundamental level I reject the notion that drugs are the cure for this. At the same time I don’t judge – how could I – a person who is in so much pain they want out of this world. That, I understand. I understand flat misery. I understand wallowing in and accepting the futility of it all, the worthlessness of human life on earth. I understand having good reasons to be depressed. I feel like – if you look around the world and see what it REALLY is you would naturally be depressed or else so heavily medicated or self-absorbed you don’t notice anything except that which affects you directly.
I understand our living contrary to our nature. I understand how Facebook and Twitter can be the most depressing thing you will interact with all day. I can understand grief. I understand deep loneliness. I understand hating yourself for not living up to anyone’s expectations, least of all, your own.
I understand where Robin Williams was coming from. But the thing is, for me, once you have a kid that option is taken from you. That, and the knowledge that this is all we have, this life. There is a part of me that is waiting to see how everything turns out. Another part that wants to help change things for the better. Still another part that wants to leave a lasting contribution to humanity. All of these things Robin Williams did tenfold. He helped make the world a better place. He left a lasting contribution. He had beautiful children he loved and women he devoured. His was a full and complete life. All that was left was what could remain in his career and many days watching things slow way down, feeling the body grow weaker, wait for life to TAKE YOU instead of you making the choice to end it in your own way.
For me the only lure of suicide is the idea that you, me, we could die any time. Literally, we could go any minute in a variety of ways both sublime and mundane. Williams had heart surgery – hard core, debilitating surgery that certainly would have given him a clue as to how close he is to the end. Remember when Tony Scott took a jump off that bridge and killed himself and no one knew why? Middled aged white men are the highest demographic for suicide and half of me wonders if it isn’t just a logical solution to hurrying up the inevitable once there is nothing left to live for.
I guess, in the end, I can’t quite get there. Not yet. Not with a young daughter just graduating high school. Not with so many Stephen King books left to read. Not with all of the people I love so dearly and owe my time and torture to because they are here, they are young, and they have lives to lead. No, I would probably take massive amounts of drugs if I thought I was close to killing myself.
That kid, remember that kid in that documentary who killed himself so young? He’d wanted to from such a young age. He just wanted to die. I don’t get that. I could try and understand vis a vis medicating people and kids TOO YOUNG. But I don’t think that is a thorough explanation.
What we do know about suicide? It’s been around a while. A long while. Attitudes towards it have changed. We live longer now than we ever have before and therefore value our lives more. But still, the dark promise of nothingness? Isn’t that what we live in fear of every day? I do. I can’t imagine staring down that big sleep. I wish I could live forever.
My life is half over. I’m almost 50 years old. My hair is starting to get grey. Fat likes to gather in my mid-section. Other than that, and some age spots, I’m in pretty good shape. I figure if I don’t die of some terrible awful mundane event – like choking on peanuts, getting electrocuted by a hair drying or, god forbid, lightning, or get shot, or get in a car accident – the dreaded thing — a place crash (egods) – then I’m most likely to die of a heart attack probably nearing the age of 70. That gives me 30 more years. My daughter would then be 46. That is still too young to lose her mother so I hope to tack on another 20 from 70. It is my hope that by the time the end comes, like Lauren Bacall’s 89, I will feel too tired to stay on earth another day and the big sleep will come at me like a relief.
I love everything about the life I have now. I have very little regrets — if I had to name them it would be the times I believed men who were liars. That’s the hard part. They wasted my time. My precious time that I can’t have back. Tell the truth, always, even if it’s painful. Don’t spare someone their feelings because you waste their time.
The worst thing about Robin Williams’ death is that he leaves the door of suicide open to so many out there. It isn’t his fault nor his obligation, of course, to suffer his pain for other people but children of suicide victims are much more likely to commit suicide, for instance. But his children were so loving in their reactions it proved what a mensch he was in life and then in death. He just wanted out. A clean out. To end the misery. On some level they seemed to understand that. He was a good egg, plain and simple and it seems as though everyone he touched understood that. The last thing his final act seemed, to me, was selfish. He probably had no other option at that point. The wolf was at the door.
It is the goodness in us that we still want to reach out and grab him before he goes, to beg him, to hold him, to plead with him not to go. You see, we are really the selfish ones. We want him back. Everyone is dying. All the time, every minute. We have to say goodbye to everyone we know some time. No matter how we do it it always hurts.
I can’t help but think any minute he’s going to jump back and say “just kidding!” He makes me want to believe in Neverland.
My old friend Charles sent the link to this beautifully written, crystal clear manifesto of our modern world. Normally I would say, yeah, well this only pertains to those lucky enough to have the luxury of thinking about the modern world but now I feel like all Americans, rich or poor, educated or not, are sucked into the same machine. So it isn’t just about white privilege sitting back in their armchairs and pondering – but it is everyone – it’s the utilized/rejected Hispanics, the homeless teenagers, kids in foster care – we are all connected now because of the internet. That connectivity has given us common ground and that is why I think Ellis’ piece is so important. One can read any snooty piece of criticism that talks about how worthless all culture has become – haven’t people been writing the end of sophistication and civility each time there was a new invention for decades? But there is something more going on, something I think Ellis hits exactly right with his piece on zenarchery.com, “Everyone I know is Broken Hearted.” Please don’t bother reading any further if you haven’t read his piece. If you don’t wake up every day thinking “ugh, more of this” you probably shouldn’t bother reading this either – you’re lucky. You are not afflicted with hyper sensitivity. If Facebook is really just a fun place for you to hang out, and not representative of a parallel avatar where you are your best self or you don’t have to force yourself OFF of Twitter everyday because you can’t stand it anymore – very likely, Ellis’ piece will never strike a chord with you. But this is for that small percentage of people who feel as Ellis does, who are hurting and broken hearted.
A response. For what it’s worth.
The first problem: Ellis, and I, have spent too much of our time online. The more people spend online the worse life is going to be for them for a variety of reasons. You see, our brain is so big, so hungry for activity, we know that a few clicks, a lit up computer screen, is going to give us what we crave: information, connection with others, a chance to show off and hide at the same time. The internet in 1999 was a different place. Facebook, blogging software allowing comments, Twitter — these things have ruined the internet. But for more on that, read Ellis’ piece. My only point here is this: the less time spent online the better.
Best reason why: you lose time.
I’ve spent over twenty years online and though I have had the time of my life in many ways – I also realize that what I’ll probably miss more once I’m too old to experience it? Real world stuff. Outside. Dirt. Night skies. Sunshine. Beaches. Mountains. Creeks. Small towns. People. People. People.
Disconnecting HERE but connecting THERE is the problem. Avatar life vs. real life. You will be sitting in a room with ten people but you won’t be together with those ten people because you will be off living your avatar life, and so will they. I don’t know if there is any changing that back – probably not. But again, that problem can’t be solved because human beings like avatar life. It feeds our egos, it helps us control the who, what, where of our lives. Who wants to be this person walking into a Starbucks looking up at the menu when they can be THAT person, checking their Facebook as they instagram a photo of something cute and clever at Starbucks then wait for the likes.
For most of you, again, no problem. Avatar living is SO fun who would ever want to go back to the mundane? So why does it make some of us feel so dirty/shitty afterwards? Why does that parallel online dimension of who I am make me feel so sick of myself? One big reason: I am not, WE are not, what we buy.
For about three generations now, we’ve been raised on very smart Mad Men who have sold us various American ideals. It started in the 1940s and 1950s, conceptually anyway. But it really took off in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s. These decades all had their successful campaigns. The key to really successful advertising is targeting as many people as possible at once. Before television became something we did instead doing other things – even listening to the radio gives you the option of moving around the room and doing other things. But TV is a visual medium. So we sat there and we watched. The more eyeballs became glued to the screen the more people advertisers could reach at once, the more communal the branding became. Full disclosure: advertising is how I make my income every year – so I know first hand that it’s about as many eyeballs as possible.
I grew up on television back in the 1970s. We didn’t have remote controls back then, nor did we have cable, so we sat there and watched television along with all of the commercials. I grew up thinking that there was this parallel happy life I could have if I just had the right kind of house, the right kind of car and clothing. I had been fully branded on some unattainable American ideal before I came of age. I remember being in my mid to late twenties and realizing, suddenly, how soon it would be before I died — and I also realized that the parallel world I thought I wanted did not exist.
Here’s a quote:
Before 1947 the number of U.S. homes with television sets could be measured in the thousands. By the late 1990s, 98 percent of U.S. homes had at least one television set, and those sets were on for an average of more than seven hours a day. The typical American spends (depending on the survey and the time of year) from two-and-a-half to almost five hours a day watching television. It is significant not only that this time is being spent with television but that it is not being spent engaging in other activities, such as reading or going out or socializing.
Television advertising was bad enough when I was growing up. Now it is unbearable. It is so bad for me that I don’t watch much commercial TV unless I can fast-forward the commercials and even then, they’ve figured out how to distract you to keep your eyeballs on the advertising.
When the internet really happened in the mid 90s and into Y2K, no one believed it was a viable money maker. Remember the dot bomb? But there was a shift in thinking, there came Amazon, Paypal, Ebay and soon, there was much money to be made online with advertising to popular sites. Popular sites like Huffington Post drew more eyeballs than any other by having a mix of politics and click bait. That paradigm would lead to a really detrimental trend parodied on the ultimate Onion offshoot Clickhole.com.
The internet, other than being a place of connectivity, information getting and sharing, is one big corral for consumers to all be in one place to sell shit to. Now we go online and it’s a daily battle not to buy something, sign up for something, have our email recorded somewhere. We are not just being watched by our government, we are watched by corporations – our habits, desires, needs, frivolities studied, then matched. We ARE WHAT WE BUY. We are WHAT BRANDS US.
That ultimately leads to emptiness. It can’t possibly lead to its ultimate goal – happiness – because the idea behind advertising is to create and perpetuate that endless need. As written so eloquently by Josh Ellis, we simply contribute to our own branding every day on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter. We are telling companies more than they need to know about us and it’s all in order to get every last possible dollar.
So if you’re asking me what the problem is, I say corporate dominance, corporate branding and a severely dumbed down populace that CAN GO FROM look at video footage of children being ripped apart in Gaza and then flip around 30 seconds later to take a selfie at lunch time for that jolt of feel goodness. We are not getting the payback from the shitty product we are convinced to buy and that will always lead to feelings of dissatisfaction.
Advertising also leads to false perception of self, delusions of grandeur we are conditioned with AT BIRTH – you are special, you are powerful, you can have whatever you want in life – a pretty girlfriend, a handsome prince, a nice home. You deserve it ALL. But what happens when that doesn’t happen, which it hardly ever does? Happiness does not come from getting the dream spoon fed to you – it comes from tiny and grand achievements, usually to better humanity or nature or animals.
You can’t buy that shit from Amazon.
So we’re fucked. Human beings will eventually destroy their habitat – in 15 years we’ll feel the full effects of global warming, which is one of the biggest concerns facing us – and yet, what do we do? Does anyone care? NO is the answer. Because we’re so in love with ourselves we can’t pull ourselves away from that magic mirror the internet provides. We are under the spell of narcissism delivered to us by people who want us to buy shit in hopes of making our lives better.
Believe me, it’s as bad as it could possibly be. MMost don’t want to know so they just plunge fully into this American life as sold to us by the advertisers who have us by the balls.
So here’s the good news: even still, these social networks and the internet do exist for good. Think about: that 19 year-old who developed a fix-it for that giant blob of plastic. That idea going viral is a good thing. All of the pet adoptions and petitions to help animals is one of the things the internet does best. Think about what kind of power we could have if we could REALLY get on the same page.
I don’t pull myself away because I think ultimately the internet — and television for that matter — can still be used for good. How else would I have found this great piece by Josh Ellis?
The things that make life worth living are still many, so many that your heart can burst because of them. For me, it’s watching my kid grow up. It’s growing tomatoes, picking them then making Marinara sauce. It’s the natural world, which still exists in places. The beauty of it all is STILL OUT THERE. It just isn’t so much IN HERE.
I got a life online in 1994. But in the last few years I’ve checked out. I still am addicted to the internet, of course, but I fight every day to get off of it, to feel my minutes as they pass in real time. To walk OUTSIDE. To see the world. To drink really great wine, to have sex, cook.
In the end, it is all so crushingly beautiful that it’s a privilege to be alive, to be here writing this, even to complain about the life I have here. I never want any of it to end. Not ever.
There are so many terrible things but there are so many great things.
Portlandia is a great thing.
Music sucks now – it does. But there is also Allo’ Darlin.
And look at this:
Movies SUCK mostly. But check out this one coming up called Mommy:
I believe in Josh Ellis’ solution for this hideous conundrum we find ourselves in. I don’t know if anyone will ever care – but all it’s going to take to break the spell is awareness. I hope Josh Ellis WRITES A WHOLE BOOK about it.
If you are looking to save money in our government the way to do that is to get the money wasting Republicans out of office. Suing the president because WAAAAAAAAAAAA they couldn’t overturn the Affordable Care Act is one of the biggest crybaby moves by a crybaby party we’ve seen yet.
The Republican-led House approved a resolution on Wednesday authorizing Speaker John Boehner to sue President Barack Obama over claims he abused his powers at the expense of Congress and the Constitution.
The vote was 225-201.
Republicans argue Obama’s executive orders in a number of areas were unlawful because it’s the job of Congress to make or change laws. But they believe his handling of the Affordable Care act gives them the best chance at proving their case, and are basing the suit on that issue.
House approves lawsuit against Obama An impeachment conspiracy? Boehner: No GOP plans to impeach Obama
House authorization now allows GOP-leaders to have the unusual challenge filed in federal court. The time frame for that is not clear and many legal experts question whether any judge would take it on.
John Boehner and the rest of pasty white republicans who approved this measure are just butt hurt that the President managed to pass THEIR STUPID HEALTHCARE BILL to help the American people. I am one such person who now pays a small amount of money every months to have HEALTH INSURANCE so that I don’t have to go to the ER when something bad happens to me. What is wrong with these fucktards? They could not overturn the healthcare law so they’ve opted to waste money with a lawsuit?
I am seriously hoping they all lose their jobs in the midterms, cowards that they are.
This is so awesome. Thank you Yesus for this gift bestowed us – Elizabeth Warren gets really mad, as mad as every woman should be when faced with a sexist conservative pro-corporate radically fundamentalist Christian SCOTUS. She nails them. Right to the wall.
“Guys, this is 2014 not 1914. Most Americans thought this was settled long, long ago. But for some reason, Republicans keep dragging us back here over and over and over again.”
“Right now, with millions of Americans still out of work, and struggling to recover from the worst economic downturn since the great depression, with 40 million Americans dealing with student loans, with millions of people working full-time at minimum wage and still living in poverty, with the big banks getting bigger and the workers getting poorer, and seniors struggling to make ends meet, Republicans in Washington have decided the most important thing for them to focus on is how to deny women access to birth control.”
“Most Americans thought this was settled long, long ago. But for some reason, Republicans keep dragging us back here over, and over, and over again.”
“Giant corporations and their right-wing allies fight every day in Congress to protect their own privileges and to bend the laws to benefit themselves.”
“I will never stop fighting the efforts of backward looking ideologues, who want to cut women’s access to birth control. We’ve lived in that world, and we are not going back — not ever.”