Music in Common

With so many more paths of distribution because of the internet, is it harder for a band to gain a mass audience? yes, it  must right? And therefore is it harder for one band to be known by many people? Same point, so the answer must be yes. SO, and here is the part I’m curious about: is it harder for YOUNG PEOPLE these days to meet other YOUNG PEOPLE who like and know the same music? It must be so magical to meet someone who has filtered through the information storm and been struck by the same bolt of lightning? Right? Send all data related to this inquiry to my email address. Publish.

Flash Video vs. Words

NO MORE FLASH VIDEO, NEWS SITES! I WANT WORDS! WORDS! I DON’T WANT TO WAIT FOR YOUR CLUMSILY-LOADING, HALTING, TAKES-FOREVER-TO-GET-TO-THE-POINT VIDEO! I WANT TO READ ACTUAL WORDS ON MY SCREEN!

Good heavens.

Especially sports sites! I actually like reading about baseball! I don’t want a jerky half-loading video of John Kruk telling me that “home runs are important!” GIVE ME A SMART PERSON WHO’S WRITTEN DOWN AN ACTUAL POINT.

Fantasy Football Advice

I know the season is almost over but I wanted to give some advice on how to properly manage your fantasy football team.

There’s probably a message board component in your league on which you’re allowed to post messages to either trash talk your opponents or ask questions about rules or something. My advice is to frame all of your posts as if they are coming from a ficitonal newspaper which exists in a universe where your fantasy team is a real team. Make up specifics for your fictional stadium: the concessions, the mascot, the manager’s name (yours), fundraising events on non-game days, etc. Have your fictional newspaper be staffed by a few different sports columnists who each have different opinions of your team. Some of your posts, the ones written by Grady O’Hallahan, for example, will be complimentary. But the ones from Sue Itzah are harsh and cynical. Includes letters to your fictional editor. Decry the state of sports in your fictional world. Post articles longing for the good old days of fantasy sports when the players really knew how to achieve statistics worth compiling. Never admit the newspaper is a fake. Never break character. Repeat.

I don’t know anything about the actual game.

Passwords

Passwords are dumb. Or they often are. I don’t like websites that want you to give a bunch of personal information before they tell you anything. I don’t like sites that try to be social media sites which don’t need to be. Like Spotify maybe? Anyway, allmusic.com is a site that used to require a login and then one day said “nah, just browse the site” and that is SMART and NICE.

“I Am Not Here”

Clark finally destroyed his ego as he won the gold medal in pole vaulting. It happened just as he cleared the bar: he felt his self dissolve into the unbroken field of energy that is the sentient universe.

“Shit,” he thought as his perception of boundaries faded. “It is going to be hard to land now….”

He lost his grip and fell limply into the mat, no longer moving. He COULD move but he saw no point. He felt at one end of his consciousness the atmosphere of Pluto, and at the other he became aware of the swirling of electrons around the carbon lining of his stomach.

Moments before he cleared the bar, as he ran at top speed while holding the pole, he was thinking “All my life is just ego, my illusory sense of self striving to protect itself. I hoard food, I desire sex. But I am nothing. Or rather, I am everything. We are all one.”

And he stuck the pole and vaulted up.

While approaching the bar he thought “But, wait, how can I be nothing? Why do I hunger? Why do I get up? If I am not really a thing, a separate thing, why do I alone desire warmth? Yes, desire is suffering — but there are some desires I do not seek out. They just are with me. I can’t think my way out of being hungry. Too much of my master’s teaching– ” (he thought of his master, sitting still most of the day, dust particles from a nearby sunbeam floating) ” –my master’s teaching seems to imply that I shouldn’t do anything! That every act is an act of will and therefore false! Do I really have to stop? Is it just that easy?”

And he crossed the bar. And his sense of separateness went away.

And once his body cleared the bar, he lay on the mat, contented. And never moved again.

“Skydive”

“You know, sometimes ‘overnight delivery’ reflects the urgency of the sender more than the receiver!” My friend Milt said this to me as we were leaping from a single engine plane on a skydive. The wind swept around and took away the sound. It made me infuriated that Milt felt that jumping out of a plane was a good time to make a philosophical observation. Because I knew I’d spend the entirety of the jump thinking about it.

“Overnight deliveries reflect the sender and not the receiver?” I guess when you first see a Federal Express envelope you figure that it’s the receiver who wanted the package delivered quickly. Someone couldn’t wait for their check, or their birth certificate or their weed. But I guess sometimes it’s the person sending it who hopes that you want it badly: an invoice, or a press release or experimental cocaine.

The chute opened, and my descent slowed until my body was suspended in a peaceful stillness. Southern Californian fields below. Trucks looked toy train sized.

I kept wondering: Is Federal Express even relevant now that email is so capable and ubiquitous? What about fax machines? Those had to be useless, right? No, because people still wanted signatures. The convention of a signature — which was for any practical purpose meaningless — was keeping the fax machine industry alive. I wonder if the chairman of fax machine companies went to sessions of state legislatures to lobby for signatures to be mandatory on all contracts. What would you call a fax machine company?

I neared the ground.

I once saw a session of the Massachusetts State Legislature in which a subcommittee was debating whether or not to legalize chemical castration, where they inject something into a child molester to rob him of testosterone, thus killing his sex drive. I couldn’t believe that such a relatively small state was debating an issue with such far-reaching moral consequences. I was a reporter. That was a long time ago.

I lifted up my knees and then dropped them and ran quickly along the suddenly-present meadow. I came to a stop as my parachute softly collapsed on the ground behind me. Had I even jumped? My brain had recorded so little of the experience.

I walked over to where Milt had landed. “It’s an interesting thought,” I told Milt.

“What thought?” he said. We went to dinner and I helped him pick out names for his daughter.

John Lennon’s Birthday, Jerry Siegel’s Coming Up

Happy 72nd birthday, John Lennon. All songs are better thanks to you.

ALSO: Coming up is Jerry Siegel’s birthday — it’s October 17th. Siegel is the writer who c0-created Superman. Superman is, very conservatively speaking, the most successful story in Western Civilization.  Everyone on this planet recognizes the red “S”, yellow background, all resting on a blue background as the symbol of the first, greatest and most iconic superhero of all time. Everyone. It’s crazy.

The fictional characters everyone knows is pretty short: Big Bad Wolf, Sherlock Holmes, Superman? Dracula? I don’t know, not many. Ok, more than I just listed, but still. Forget this paragraph.

Siegel was the son of Jewish immigrants and grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. Superman, it has been observed many times, is the ultimate immigrant story. An alien from another world comes to America and is the best American you could imagine. He is duty-bound to the memory of his lost homeland to be the best at all times. He is the hero of his newfoundland and never, ever betrays it. He is indestructible.  It’s not coincidence that as Hitler was rounding up millions of innocent citizens in Europe that  a Jewish kid in Cleveland dreamed up the invincible emigrant who was bound to defeat evil.

It’s amazing that we know who directed X-Men 3 but do not know who co-creating Superman. His name is Jerry Siegel. His birthday is coming up. Let’s all wear capes!

Also: happy birthday to Erik Tanouye — the greatest half-Japanese improviser on the improv group The Curfew.

“My Nose”

It was only a matter of time before I became too obsessed with my nose. Staring at it in the mirror, gently caressing its shape as I walked, etching drawings of it onto co-workers’ white boards: I would not give it a rest. It was so beautiful, could you blame me?

You’ll notice I used the past tense. The attention I was paying to my nose was so strong it was almost palpable, then my attention WAS palpable, then it was tangible, then it was dense and soon the attention I was paying to my own nose because a steel rod that floated in the air around my nose. Becoming still more obsessed, my attention swung firmly into my nose, and in a single blow crushed it into liquid.

In the place of my nose was a huge cavity in my face, like a dent in a melon. Then I started paying attention to that and soon enough my attention re-solidified and hammered into my face cavity. It smashed my face into a soup, then a deep round crate so my skull looked like the bowl of a spoon.

My attention, though now inspired by horror, would not quit. It remained a steel rod that was floating around my body, obsessing on the different parts. It hammered my skull down into a flat level surface resting on my shoulders, then decimated my arms into shredded, pulpy strands. It shattered my sternum and deftly snapped each of my ribs. It penetrated my stomach and routed my intestines. It cracked by femurs, then popped off each of my knees. It bisected each shin, then smoothed each foot into a broad pancake.

Destroyed, my body could not contain my soul, and so it dissipated. My consciousness, as it spread further and further out became more shallow and less complicated. Soon I was covering most of eastern Pennsylvania, and the only thought my wide billowing sentience had was “me.”

Soda Ban

NYC Board of Health banned the sale of sugar drinks more than 16 ounces.  I think it’s a smart and reasonable limit. But there’s been protests against this law since Mayor Bloomberg proposed it, saying that the government shouldn’t interfere with our private decisions.

It’s a question of degrees. I don’t think the government should regulate our private lives in terms of what we choose (and manage to subsist on) for a living, or who we fall in love with and depend on, or what our political opinions are. BUT there’s a place for regulation, where it’s reasonable. Sixteen ounces is a lot. You can make bigger drinks in your home if you want. Buy two drinks if your big fat body demands it.

It reminds me of the late 1970s when my home state of Connecticut passed a law requiring drivers to wear seat belts. There were editorials and protests against this law. Truly it was the dumbest and most useless of libertarian protests: wearing seat belts while driving restricts you ALMOST NOT AT ALL since the act of driving requires you to be in one place anyway. And it DEFINITELY WITHOUT QUESTION reduced the risk of injury.

Snopes.com reminds me of two terrible and unfortunately amusing of seat belt/helmet protesters dying in car/motorcycle accidents:

http://www.snopes.com/autos/accident/seatbelt.asp

Soda is useless, and large sodas more so. I think it’s good to be suspicious of any government intrusion, but this one checks out as pragmatic to me.

Favorites, Likes

The convention on Twitter to “favorite” something or on Facebook to “like” something is such a brilliantly satisfying thing to do. A positive acknowledgment, a nod. It’s so friendly and easy. It’s FREE. It’s public but in a small non-intrusive way. It is the main thing from social media that I wish I could easily translate into real life. So many things I just want to touch someone on the shoulder and say “I approve of this” but even THAT is too formal. I see a couple smiling together on the street and they seems sincere and I just want to click LIKE. I see that the hip movie theatre in Williamsburg is going to play War Games at midnight and I want to click LIKE. I hear the waitress at my coffee shop agree to another table’s request for soy cheese where that option wasn’t on the menu and I want to click LIKE. I don’t want to be more involved than that. I

I HEAR YOU

YES, ACKNOWLEDGED

I NOTICED THIS

YOU ARE HEARD, NOTICED, APPROVED.

It’s my birthday today. 42. Good heavens, what a weird year.