Time Was A Weapon of Time

Sometimes I watch truly bad television. I don’t think I need to introduce anyone to the mind-numbing minutia of VH-1, do I? Well, for the past few years, VH-1 has produced a program called ‘I Love The ’80s.’ The show features one certain year from the ’80s, along with flashbacks on news, trends, important happenings and pop culture that may have transpired during that particular year, with commentary from B-list celebrities. More often than not, the b-list celebs almost always point out the blatantly obvious point about whatever they might be talking about. For example, say you’re watching “I Love The ’80s: 1985′ and the topic is ‘Back To The Future.’ The commentary would be a little like this: “Yeah, they, like, need, to get back, to, the, future.” It’s at these points, normally around 11:55 pm on a Tuesday night when I’m not only kicking myself for watching this crap, but also kicking myself for not having the two-cent commentary job on VH-1. I guess that’s why the show works though; it makes me feel superior about my knowledge of ’80s pop culture, and it allows for a little bit of nostalgia without crossing the line and starting a blog about Pac-Man.

But that’s besides the point. A few years back, VH-1 realized that the generational stroll down pop culture lane was working so well that they decided to add the ‘90s on there as well. Which is fine. It’s 2008. We haven’t been in the ’90s for a pretty long time now, and I have no problem getting all nostalgic for Bell Biv Devoe, Kevin Costner’s The Bodyguard or Lollapalooza.

And now, just the other day, I noticed a new program being added to the VH-1 roster: I Love The New Millennium. My first reaction was, “Already?” But I gave it a chance anyways and vainly tried numbing my brain with a little bit of a stroll down good ole’ memory lane circa 2002. Unfortunately, it didn’t work too well. Terror alerts, Spiderman, Britney Spears; all still fairly common in pop culture six years after the fact. The nostalgia simply wasn’t there yet. I’m thinking that it wasn’t allowed to mature yet, at least for me, but I think there’s a bigger issue at large.

Time is happening faster. With each year that passes, immediacy becomes more immediate, and because of that, yesterday’s news is becoming last week’s (or month’s) news. Simply put, everything in the world is much faster than it was in the ’70s or ’80s or even ’90s. But that’s not the only issue. Through the Internet, Hollywood and programming like that of VH-1, it’s now easier than ever to reconnect with the past. Looking for that Primus album you loved so much in 1991? It’s on the Internet. Looking to reconnect with Charlie and The Chocolate Factory? Watch the Johnny Depp recreation. Curious about what Morris Day and The Time are up to lately? Watch VH-1. So, time isn’t only seemingly moving forward faster; it’s also moving backward faster. As in, it’s now easier than ever to reconnect with the nostalgia that created certain movements in not only culture, but yourself.

This is a bad thing. I’ve read somewhere that fish have tremendous memories, but no concept of time. And by immersing ourselves in the memories of our past and loading up on Rubik’s Cube, Wayne’s World and MC Hammer, could we simultaneously be erasing our concept of time? If VH-1 is any indication, maybe.

For now, I’m gonna stay clear of nostalgia programming and try to keep on having new experiences. In real time. No matter how long it might take.

I’m simply not ready to be a fish. Not yet at least. Maybe next week, as in, tomorrow.

George Carlin RIP

georgecarlinmugshot.jpg“The very existence of flame throwers proves that some time, somewhere, someone said to themselves, You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I’m just not close enough to get the job done.” -George Carlin

I’m a day or so late with yet another tribute to George Carlin, the 71 year-old cultural/lingual/political and conventional analyst that died this past Monday of heart failure. Now I could’ve taken easier route and used the simpler term “comedian” to describe what made Carlin so special in this world, but if you’ve ever paid any attention to the man, then you’d know that he was never one to champion blanket terms. For all intents and purposes, he may have been referred to as a comedian, and he sure did make the world laugh, but I like to think he had a more important calling. That of becoming one of the world’s most promising challengers of ideals.

George Carlin was born in New York City, raised as a Roman Catholic and set off for the Air Force not long after high school. Thankfully, he didn’t excel in the armed forces. And after being discharged, he instead discovered a gateway to spoken word as a radio DJ. In the ’60s, he began appearing on variety television shows, but was dismissed by most because of his disheveled appearance, which included long hair, a beard, faded jeans and earrings.

In the early ’70s, Carlin developed what many have come to know as the “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television,” which consisted of “Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Motherfucker, Tits.” For the time (well, still actually) it was revolutionary. So revolutionary that Carlin went to jail for obscenity. This was closely followed by an NYC radio station going all the way to the Supreme Court after broadcasting material by Carlin. Of course, the arrests and the Supreme Court case only made him more famous, or infamous, depending on your point of view. Whatever side you took, for or against Carlin, his material got people talking.

Most of us know the story from here. Countless performances the world over, appearances in the Bill and Ted movies, cameos in a few Kevin Smith movies, some books, some live albums, endless quotations, and above all, respect. Respect for saying no. And calling bullshit. And not being afraid to talk shit on the many ways that humanity tends to placate itself. The thing that always struck me about Carlin was his tendency to blend direct, non-comedic and sometimes outright criticism of humanity as a whole in with his sometimes lighter material. He never just made people laugh about their troubles. He made people laugh to spite their troubles. Maybe even to spite the world’s troubles. Some called it nihilist or misanthropic. But I like to think of him as the great communicator of doom, candidly delivering an elaborate notion of we’re fucked-ness like no other has and ever will.

Rest in peace dude. If your dialogue was any indication, I’ve got a feeling we’re all not far behind you. Even though that might piss you off to no end.

But I guess that’s better than pissing you off to no start, right? (That last pathetic sentence was my poor attempt at taking on the generalizations and tendencies of common language, which George Carlin did better than anyone…)

Summer Reading

The Roy Christopher posted a fairly extensive summer reading list featuring Ian Mackaye, Daniel Pinchbeck and me, among others. Yeah I know, it makes no sense to me either. But I like the way my summer reading/book report turned out.

Check it it here: http://roychristopher.com/summer-reading-list-2008

Indiana Jones and The Last… Few Years

I was watching Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull again on SurfTheChannel, and it occurred to me how much more political/less religious the latest installment is. It had me wondering all day long today. Suppose Indiana Jones was a real character in the current political climate of 2008, what would he be doing, and who would he vote for?

Within the first ten minutes of The Crystal Skull, Indy tells his Russian enemies, “I like Ike,” a reference to Dwight Eisenhower, the president of the US during the time of the movie. Eisenhower was a Republican, known in part for his reluctance not only to support the civil rights movement to the degree that more liberal individuals would have preferred, but also to stop McCarthyism, even though he opposed McCarthy’s tactics and claims. Indiana Jones quickly becomes a victim of McCarthyism throughout the movie, and is more than likely a supporter of the civil rights movement. And even though Jones served under Eisenhower during World War 2, I can’t help but think that he wasn’t a direct supporter of his presidency. I’m assuming that the “I like Ike” statement was more of a joke, cause I don’t see Indiana Jones as a republican. So, if he was in fact joking, and alive today, I’d hope he’d be an Obama supporter.

But the premise runs a lot deeper. Let’s suppose Jones was up to his old ways as an adventurer/archeologist in 2008, jet-setting around the world, visiting trusted friends in the Middle East and bringing guns onto airplanes. The Bush Administration, and more importantly, The Department of Homeland Security, would probably have some big problems with Indiana Jones. Take into account Indy’s trusted friends, which include Egyptian excavators, Liberian smugglers and Mexican revolutionaries. None of which paint a pretty track record in the eyes of the current administration. And now think about Indy’s past travel destinations, which include Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Ceylon, Nepal, Africa and Turkey. As soon as Passport Control gets hold of that well-worn passport, I bet they’d have some pretty drastic questions to ask. Were he around today, he’d probably have some men in black hitting him up, asking about friends and listing him as a potential candidate for Guantanamo Bay.

Deep down though, Indiana Jones is a patriot. He served in the Office of Strategic Services during WW2 and generally did what he could to help the government whenever needed. So he clearly loves his country. But he’s also a lone wolf, and he never let anything get in the way of what he thought was just. For that reason, if Indiana Jones was around today, I think he’d be a man without a country, an expatriate probably teaching and living in Western Europe, enjoying the better health care systems and shaking his head at George W. Bush and whomever might succeed him. In simpler terms, the paranoid government isn’t ready to deal with a real-life version of Indiana Jones.

But I still like to imagine the headache he might in fact give them…

Jobama On A Stingray?

2008_06_barackbike.jpgI won’t lie. I pretty much despise politics in all its forms, especially when it’s been force fed down my throat as much as it has been, oh, since about 2000. And even more so since the 2008 presidential race started heating up way way back in 2006.

This weekend though, a photo of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama riding a bike in Chicago really got me thinking. The photo surfaced on the Internet, and pundits from far and wide did their absolute best to poke fun at the dude. The Chicago Tribune knocked his low seat, while Oregon Live knocked his low air pressure. Meanwhile, The Huffington Post debated the decision to wear jeans while riding a bike. Me, I’m just glad I can somewhat relate to one of those aliens. However miniscule that relation might be.

Now granted, Barack’s outfit is very Jerry Seinfeld-ish, but I’m a Seinfeld fan, so I’ll let that slide. And I’m also of the opinion that dressing like a dork beats dressing like a dumb jock any day of the week. (Unless it’s Halloween. Then all bets are off.) Now I’m no political pundit, but I might know a thing or two about bicycles, so I’ll put my knowledge to good use and pundit-ize the Barack bike photo. Here goes.

“It looks like someone that owns a bike and rides it maybe 5-10 times a year for leisure.”

But the right to punditry isn’t my point here. I’m addressing a far bigger issue. That of shit talk. After reading the mass of shit talk regarding Barack Obama’s decision to go for a bike ride on Sunday, I was again reminded of what the Internet’s (and by extent, the media’s) evolved purpose is: to ridicule. The entire world (not just BMX) had an amazing opportunity to put this global tool of information to positive use, and instead, news outlets throughout the world hired people with opinions, asked them to hunt and gather information on the Internet, and then add their own two cents on the subject. Some call themselves ‘political pundits’; some call themselves ‘bloggers’ and some maybe use that good old-fashioned term ‘critic.’ I’m going out on a limb here and giving them a new term; digital hunter/gatherer/two-centers. But there does exist some good behind this newfound form of opportunisitic character-bashing on the Internet; it extended an (albeit hapahazard) path for me to learn more about actual stances from Barack Obama on real issues that matter to me, such as bike riding.

Did you know that Barack Obama is the only presidential candidate to encourage bicycle transportation? Neither did I. It’s part of his energy platform. He’s a supporter of bicycling and mass transit. Here’s the direct quote: “As president, Barack Obama will re-evaluate the transportation funding process to ensure that smart growth considerations are taken into account. Obama will build upon his efforts in the Senate to ensure that more Metropolitan Planning Organizations create policies to incentivize greater bicycle and pedestrian usage of roads and sidewalks, and he will also re-commit federal resources to public mass transportation projects across the country. Building more livable and sustainable communities will not only reduce the amount of time individuals spent commuting, but will also have significant benefits to air quality, public health and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

So he’s pro-bike, and on occasion, he might look a little goofy while riding his bike. I can sure as hell relate to both of those. Thanks in part to the hunter/gatherer/two-centers for filling me in, however haphazardly it might have happened…

Nice Going, Again…

You did it again BMX. Nice one. You know what I’m talking about. Dirty laundry. Everywhere. On the Internet. I don’t really see it happening anywhere else. But maybe I’m not looking enough. I know that when a baseball player gets traded to another team, he gets traded and the most anyone can chalk it up to is stats. Are there any baseball Web sites or message boards devoted to the real reason why whoever the fuck was traded from the Cubs to the Yankees? Same goes for skateboarding. When a dude gets dropped from a company, it’s between the skater and the company. Yeah, some of the hearsay might get around, but as an industry, they do a pretty good job at being civil when sponsor dropping situations arise. It doesn’t become a dramatic who said what all over the Internet. Hell, the independent music scene even knows enough to keep their dirty laundry between the respective parties. If a bass player gets fired from a band, it’s between that ex-bass player and the band. Not all over the Internet.

So here’s my two cents on the subject before I go ride my bike. Dirty laundry should stay in the closet. Grow up and keep it civil, cause right now, BMX seems like one big junior high school pissing war/supermarket tabloid.

Sub-Society

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A long time ago, there was this band from the San Diego area called Sub-Society. A few of their songs were in the first H-Street video ‘Hokus Pokus,’ and Eddie Roman also used a few of the same songs in some of his BMX videos. Last week, while Dean Dickinson was staying here, he put in the new Goods promo, which featured another Sub-Society song. Though I hadn’t heard the song in probably ten years, I immediately recognized it, and it’s unfortunately been stuck in my head for the past week now.

Of course, there’s Google. After a quick search, I found a link to a Sub-Society bio and a catalog of free Mp3s from the band. So if you’re a fan, were a fan or want to be a fan, here’s your chance: http://www.heshone.com/SubSociety.html

It’s time like this when I’m glad that music and the Internet made the connection. I got some transcribing to do…

Apologies

No updates for a while. What can I say? It’s that time of year. It’s warm, things are happening and people are visiting. I’d rather be outside than complaining about parking or talking about cats and bikes. Plus, we’re on deadline. And I’ve got another, more BMX-related blog, which is here in case you’re curious: http://digbmx.com/blog/brian_tunney/

I did ride a race through the city on Sunday. And it was way fun. I borrowed the following photo from TheComeUp Board. So, until I’ve got more to say, get outside and have fun!

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