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Notes From The Flip Side: 04.07.2005

"Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless."

Thomas Alva Edison

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Keep It In The Family

For fuck's sake, can we please keep Terry Schiavo off the front page of the newspapers for 15 goddamned seconds? A private tragedy became a public tug-of-war between grief-stricken parents who wouldn't listen to doctors speaking about their daughter's condition, a husband who seemed to want to stop feeding his wife so he wouldn't have to go to the trouble of getting a divorce or annulment so he can marry the woman who he's already had a couple of kids with, grandstanding politicians and assholes like Randall Terry and Jesse Jackson who should have fucked off into abiding irrelevance by now.

As a very relevant side-note, please make sure that your loved ones, friends, co-workers, mail carriers, people who serve up your morning coffee, etc., know what you want done with your lame ass if you happen to get stuck somewhere between shuffling off the mortal coil and being a fully functioning human being. And when you've done that, put the shit in writing. Kali will be executing my living will - by force, if necessary. That's right. The Hindu goddess of destruction will be riding in on a pale horse to pull my card if that time ever comes. Best of all, I know that she will pull the plug - swords, guns and all. I wouldn't want to be the minimum-wage-earning hospital security guard on duty or disapproving zealot clucking their tongue and blocking her path out of some sense of morality when she shows up because shit will get hectic with a vengeance if anyone stands in her way.

For the record:

Does anyone detect a pattern? Pull the plug and make sure it doesn't hurt. I don't think any of us can ask for any more than that.

And if someone elects to defy my will, they had better pray that I don't regain consciousness or emerge from whatever state I'm in because there will be hell to pay.

What is perhaps more intriguing about this whole mess is that George W. Bush cut a vacation short to sign legislation which would allow the Schindlers to use federal courts to plead their case, after he signed the Texas Futile Care Law while governor of that state. What does the Futile Care Law do? Why, it allows health care providers to determine whether to pull the plug. Call me crazy, but allowing for-profit institutions to make decisions of that sort seems like it doesn't foster a culture of life, because in two recent cases in Texas, the decision has been made based on the families' ability to pay. Great culture of life we've got here ... and hey, how's that war in Iraq going for ya, Georgie-boy? Are we establishing a culture of life there too? Here are some more interesting links on the subject:

[Mark A.R. Kleiman] Schiavo, Hudson, and Nikolouzos
[Mark A.R. Kleiman] Schiavo, futile care, and money
[Sue Bob's Diary] Sun Hudson and the Texas Futile Care Law
[The Village Gate] The Texas Futile Care Law

Fucking hell. I may only be one malcontented asshole with a Web site (which basically describes the entire blogosphere), but Tom Paine was one dude with a printing press and he wrote "Common Sense." If my monkey ass can manage to keep typing long enough, maybe I'll write something which contains similar wisdom and clarity. In the meantime, Robert Friedman of the St. Petersburg Times got it right.

Suicide Headaches, Demerol Shots And Vicodin Scrips

I've spent the last couple of weeks knocked on my ass from a cluster migraine that hasn't stopped. To give you an idea of exactly how bad it's been, I've been popping vics for aspirin at my doctor's instructions. Even then, it hasn't been hazy - the maximum dosage just took the edge off the pain. For most of the time, I haven't had any lights on because light hurt - no TV, no computer ... nothing. I have been in bed, trying to hide from light like a goddamned vampire ninja.

The headache is finally beginning to subside. No clear cause for it has been identified and I may never know what triggered it. What I do know is that these headaches affect about 1% of men (women never get them) and the typical age of onset is in the early 30s. And I am ... fucked. More on that in the next update when I have a better idea what I have to overcome this time.

Navel Gazing Nonsense; Or, Seriously Dude, Where's My Fucking Beer?

Look, I understand that it is a good thing to be self-aware. I have spent probably more than my fair share of time in therapy dealing with my issues and working on them, looking at them from different angles and then kicking the piss out of them ever-so-wickedly. However, this does not mean that never-ending contemplation is good for you either. Engaging in narcissistic contemplation of the self is just as harmful as not examining your life in the first place.

Life is about finding some sort of balance, some small patch of middle ground to stand on most of the time. If you're pulled or pushed off it every so often, that's part of the game - your role in it is just to get back to that stable ground as quickly as possible and stay there. Think of it like a slam pit - to keep your feet and let others roll off you with grace, picking someone up whenever needed. It really isn't a bad way to look at life.

Pop Addictions

Seriously. Fuck The Killers. While I was out in San Diego, "Mr. Brightside" was basically the only thing I heard unless I was listening to my MP3 player. It was on the radio, in cars - it was fucking everywhere. I couldn't get away from it and, what's worse, it's actually a good song, which, just to add to the fun, I now have positive memories which happened while that song was playing. Fuck. No, double fuck. Clever wordplay, massive hooks - look, sometimes I can't stop the Family Favorites tunes about nothing, as Greil Marcus once called them, from getting into my life. Every so often, a song like this is going to catch my ear and I'm going to listen to it about eleventy billion times in a row. Then it's out of my system and I can go back to life as normal. In the meantime, I apologize to everyone around me. You're going to have to enjoy it with me. Sorry.

But on a larger note, what is it with me and my affection for stupid pop songs? Why do I have such a deep and abiding love for the collateral damage of the culture war? Why do I love The Killers, Night Ranger and Rick Springfield so much? It's almost embarrassing.

To give you an idea of how bad it is, I was able to hold a conversation with Jared, the owner of Waiting Room Records (the local indie store), using nothing but lines from Rick Springfield songs. Now that is just wrong.

I'm not sure if I love these songs so much because they demand so little intellectual or emotional engagement from me as a listerer - hell, they don't demand anything, they just want someone to listen to them - or if I love them because they represent a more simple musical form instead of the complexity that I tend to seek out and appreciate. Purely as an example, I doubt that anyone would argue that Donna Summer requires as much of an investment to understand her art as, say, Fugazi or Melt-Banana. Since investment usually generates a more substantial return, why do I love "On The Radio" - a song that requires nothing of me as a listener (but that does cary emotional baggage for me) as much or more than any song on "Cell-Scape"?

I've been working on an essay about trauma and how, in my life, it seems that the soundtrack to emotional, physical, psychological or some other trauma is inevitably bound up with a silly pop song, duct tape over their mouths and ropes tying them together. While that may be part of my love for this nonsense in a few select cases, it in no way explains or justifies the rest of it.

Fuck it. Chalk this one up to the musings of a sleep-deprived fan.

Off The Top Of My Head ...

  1. You know, Buddyhead tends to piss a lot of people off, but usually they're people who needed to be annoyed long before Buddyhead got around to taking the piss out of them. Here's to another fantastic year-end list. You might as well just skip what they liked and go straight to what they hated - it's a hell of a lot funnier. Don't forget their gossip section.
  2. If you're reading this site, you might appreciate how horrific musical taste can be. Luckily, like the motherfucking French Foreign Legion Of The Scene, You Have Bad Taste In Music is here to save us all.
  3. I love Cityrag. I wish more blogs about cities, graf / writing, ink, food and daily life existed - but only if they're as good as this one is every day.
  4. Fucking mash-ups. Now that I've got my MP3 players back up and running, mash-ups are becoming my guilty pleasure and FaultSide, Party Ben and Go Home Productions - among others - are to blame. Like I really needed to hear The Clash and Stevie Wonder mashed up ... well, actually, I probably did, but still. Mash-ups are evil fucking things that burrow under your skull like ticks and simply won't let go, regardless of what you do. Fuck earworms - these things are insidious. Don't say I didn't warn you.
  5. Since mash-ups tread on some copyright issues, I thought it might be worthwhile to head over to Negativland's site to review the transcript of the interview that Negativland did with the Edge after U2's label sued for copyright infringement (by the way, chalk up a clear knockout for Negativland on that one). Why? Well, check out the song. And in other Negativland-related news, Apple apparently isn't done suing people just yet, although they really seem to lack a sense of humor these days. I mean, loading up a special edition U2 iPod with Negativland songs and trying to sell it? That's funny shit.
  6. And since I'm in a P2P groove right now anyway, check out Downhill Battle to get your activism on. Not to dismiss the efforts of the many activists working in other areas, but copyright and trademark - the key defenses for intellectual property - are the ground where the battle for our minds will be fought over the next couple of decades. We can't afford to lose and have vast sections of the public domain put behind a fence at the whim of a corporation.
  7. So you know what one great thing about hardcore punk is? All the estimates for how many songs MP3 players can hold go straight out the window. Sure, maybe 40 gigs will hold 10,000 songs - if you're listening to pop music and the songs are four or five minutes each. Now hardcore - well shit, a five minute long song is the hardcore equivalent of an album-side Rush opus. Need some free punk / hardcore MP3s? Check out HXCMP3.com - I stumbled across it recently and it's actually very worthwhile, even for disenchanted cynical bastards who really like Robotic Empire noise ... you know, like me. And as long as I'm rambling on about free MP3s, check out Epitonic - there's a metric assload of samples and free stuff there. They'll want an email address, but I'm sure that all of you have set up an account you use just for sites like that, right?
  8. Post Secret. Wow. Sometimes funny, sometimes stunning, sometimes heartbreaking, always fascinating.
  9. Undertaking is a set of photos on flickr that show what happens behind the scenes at a mortuary. Some of the photos aren't for the squeamish, but they are just flat out gorgeous pictures.
  10. On a totally different note, what the fuck is up with the pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia sites that are starting to appear - and more worrisome, why are people starting to treat these conditions as goddesses and forming religions around them? The Internet has done a tremendous amount for improving the immediacy of communication - the down side of this is that any pathology now has a fucking posse. Fuck thinspiration and other bullshit - be happy with yourself. Stop Pro-Ana.

Now Playing:

The Wedding Present. Philip Glass. Mix CDs. Elliott. Black Train Jack. Crooked Fingers.

Now Watching:

"Almost Famous," "Once Upon A Time In The West," "Unforgiven"

Just Finished:

Frank Deford, ed., "The Best American Sports Writing 1993"

Now Reading:

Paul Avrich, "Anarchist Portraits"; Bertrand Russell, "Why I Am Not A Christian"; Umberto Eco, "Island Of The Day Before"; Alan Lomax, "The Land Where The Blues Began"; Peter Guralnick, "Lost Highway" and "Sweet Soul Music"; Steven Heller, "Graphic Design History" (edited with Georgette Ballance); Gunnar Swanson, ed., "Graphic Design And Reading"; Daniel Guerin, "No Gods No Masters"

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Last modified on Wednesday, March 26, 2008