?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
15 January 2007 @ 08:28 am
I want to say I was in the sixth grade when our class had an End Of The School Year party. With gusto, I volunteered to be the DJ of the festivities for a couple reasons. First off, there weren't that many things to volunteer for, and you never know what a little well-timed ass-kissing might do for a borderline grade. Secondly, though, and more importantly, I would have a chance to showcase my wide-ranging taste in music to a bunch of people who weren't necessarily aware of me or my bomb-diggityness.

This went over about as well as a racial slur at a Tolerance Convention. At the time and to this day, I attribute my failure to the fact that I was WAY ahead of my time as far as musical taste goes. Besides, I'd proudly remain out of touch with what the common man is listening to if it means I'm not stuck listening to KUBE FM all the time - which is what happened on that fateful day.

I had a whole set of ten or twelve cassette tapes, all fast-forwarded to the exact song(s) I wanted to expose the class to. Granted, maybe I went a little long on the Guns N' Roses end of things, but seriously, who are they to bitch? This was a party; it's not like they were listening to the music all that intently anyway! Finally, someone got sick of it and took a look at my tapes, picking out the one remotely popular album I owned - Boyz II Men's debut album "Motownphilly" - and played it all the way through before switching to the radio. I had been usurped in my duties and made a cuckold by the few kids in that class I could call my friends who had no backbone to stand up to the pressures dished out by the majority of the buffoons. Betrayed, I brooded throughout the remainder of the party, quietly collecting my cassettes after it was over, and walked home beaten, broken.

It is with this traumatic occasion in mind that I took on the DJing responsibilities Saturday night when called upon by my peers to produce an entertaining soundtrack to our festivities.

***


I awoke Saturday morning knowing full well that I wasn't going to do any running that day. The achilles has been steadily improving since Thursday, but I'm nowhere near ready to start testing its durability now. With our Internet miraculously revived, I settled in to what I imagined would be a long day of reading NFL play updates and porn. Then, at around 10:30am or so, I heard Emily out in the hall talking to someone. She unlocked the front door and introduced me to ... Donald.

Jenny discovered my whereabouts sometime in the middle of October 2005. Ever since that moment, I'd been hearing about this guy named Donald. Friend to the Jenny and the Emily, Donald used to live in a van parked outside their apartment in Seattle. Right away, when I imagine someone living in a van, I think immediately of Chris Farley. So, at first that's all I had on Donald - big, fat, slovenly, greasy, unshaven white guy with no job, no direction, and plenty of good weed. Then, when I heard the reason why I'd never seen him - just before Jenny and I became friends, Donald had embarked on an extended stay in Spain - I knew I had to change my outlook on this Donald guy. No way would the Chris Farley type I described above be the kind of guy who travelled to such far-away lands. As I gathered more characteristics on Donald - intelligent, funny, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, able to annoy the piss out of Jenny with one smartass remark - I pieced together a revised imagining on Donald. He'd still be slovenly and unshaven, but a little thinner and more refined.

Imagine my surprise when Emily walked into my bedroom with this fit, short Asian guy who she proclaimed was "Donald."

"THE Donald?" I inquired.

"THE Donald," she replied.

***


Donald lives in an apartment in Seattle now; he works as the building's super so he lives rent-free. Apparently, his "Thing" is Efficiency (we all went around trying to determine what all of our "Things" are - Emily's is Health, both of the mind and of the body; Jenny's is Self-Improvement/Refinement, living out such goals as getting rid of unnecessary shit and keeping to a minimal budget; and mine is, for lack of a better word, Laziness, getting the most out of life by putting in the least amount of effort. and finding humor in all facets of my life). In the two days since he came here, Donald fixed our sinks' draining problems, turned down the water pressure on our kitchen sink, installed a dimmer switch for the kitchen lights, fixed a wobbly chair, and lifted the fridge above his head while spinning it in a circle and singing "Crocodile Rock." And, as a traveller, he smokes, much to the shock of both Jenny and Emily who knew nothing of this habit.

People did various things Saturday afternoon - I walked around my neighborhood trying to find the nearest pizza place and coming up unsuccessful; then I rented a couple movies and went grocery shopping; I followed this up upon my arrival back at the apartment by making a week's worth of Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches and storing them in the fridge; we'll see how this goes, I worried it might be too obsessive, but received the validation I required when Jenny said she thought it wasn't a terrible idea - and we all convened for dinner. Since I stuffed myself on pizza (when I said before that I was unsuccessful, I meant in the sense that I didn't find a pizza place NEAR my apartment; as it turns out, so far the closest one I've found is right across the street from White Castle; if I wanted to walk all the way to White Castle to get a slice of pizza, I'd just fucking go to White Castle because the reason I don't just go THERE in the first place is because it's such a damn walk!), I only ate a little bit of the dinner; but that wasn't the point. Every so often, when Emily decides to cook a big, lavish meal - tonight consisting of tortillas, refried beans, and this mix of avocado/tomatoes/onions/green peppers; with this soup of vegetables and rice - it turns into an excuse to have everyone sitting around in the kitchen talking. However, on this night, what with our guest in town, it turned into more of a festive affair. That meant two things: wine and music.

***


There was talk of going out to see some live music later on; Jenny's friend's band was to go on at midnight. That afforded us all a few hours to sit around the kitchen table and drink our way to an inexpensive evening at the Club Midway. Emily and Donald went out and bought a box of 12 bottles of wine from Trader Joe's, so we dug right into that after dinner. Before tonight, I'd only had one glass of wine since moving over here, and that was after a long night of beer drinking and due to the fact that I'd run out of beer.

I must've been in some kind of strange zone, because I had my DJing skills going ON. With a limited selection due to the fact that I own very few CDs, I was forced to pick from the best that Jenny had to offer. When Emily asked if I'd be the DJ, the Amelie soundtrack had just expired. If you've never seen the movie or listened to the soundtrack, it's this collection of mostly-instrumental feel-good string-based music with piano I believe. I had no idea how to follow up something like that and I didn't know if this was the kind of mood we were going for. Regardless, I decided to go with my gut instinct and play something that I wanted to hear. If it just so happened to correspond with something the others wanted to hear, all the better.

I put in the KIDS soundtrack first, and everyone talked about how they hadn't heard this in a while and how much they still liked it. All right. Then, I threw in Radiohead's "OK Computer." Again, everyone talked about how long it had been, etc. So, that's cool, two for two. I went away from Jenny's CDs after that, dipping into my own collection. Olivia Tremor Control didn't go over too well; as Donald put it, "Good music, but doesn't quite go with conversation." So, I threw in Mellowdrone - another band no one had heard of. This one got a stellar reaction; so then I asked, "Would anyone object to some They Might Be Giants?" Jenny and Donald didn't seem too sure about this choice, but Emily sounded gung ho on the idea, bringing the vote to 2-2. Ergo, I put in They Might Be Giants. This couldn't have been more entertaining; I ended up just giving Emily the CD because I already have it in my computer. Besides, it'll be appreciated more this way. I really should start an Adopt-A-CD program.

By the time I threw in Electric Six's latest release, it was time to go. Between four of us, we pounded through either 4 or 5 bottles of wine. Quite a lot considering everyone else who drank weighs but a fraction of my hard-drinking self. Everyone besides me bundled themselves up in warm jackets - I don't mind the cool night air, especially when I'm drunk - and we headed to Manhattan. To Club Midway.

***


Club Midway isn't a club in the Fiddy-Cent sort of way; it's just a bar. Down the stairs leads you to the stage area. Jenny said there'd be an $8 cover to get in; this didn't settle well with Emily and myself who abhor covers based on principle. When we first entered the bar, there wasn't anyone standing by the front door, so we thought we got in for free. No such luck, as the guy taking money sat on a stool downstairs. We were there to see Used To Be Women, the lead singer of which is Jenny's friend Joe. However, Donald and I figured we'd go downstairs early and see the band playing before. Might as well get our money's worth, right?

Velcro Lewis & His 100 Proof Band. Where to begin? The two guitarists looked like they were straight out of Three Dog Night; the bass player was this tall, douchey-looking middle-aged guy; the drummer/singer was this obese black guy with long hair. They were, THE LOUDEST, band I've ever heard. And, I'm not just saying that because Donald and I were right up front due to there not being too many people in attendance, or because the sound system was turned up particularly high. Velcro Lewis & His 100 Proof Band were simply this cacophony of noise coming from all directions. If you've ever heard a band described as having a "Raunchy Sound" - not raunchy in the sense of overly sexual or disgusting in subject matter/appearance, but raunchy as in the SOUNDS they produce sounding dirty, like taking a warm dump and squishing it in between your sweaty hands - know this: No One is/was/ever will be as raunchy as Velcro Lewis & His 100 Proof Band. And I haven't even gotten to the final two members.

They employed this old man in the band. Towards the end of their set, he was playing a second set of drums along with the obese black man. Together, they pounded everyone's eardrums into submission - I frequently noticed Donald, among many others, plugging their ears with their fingers during this set. Before the old man manned the sticks, he was playing ... the Electric Washboard. You know, one of those washboards people used to use to wash their clothes in 1800s Pioneer Times? Yeah, he had one of THOSE connected to an amplifier. To keep the beat or simply make noise, he had a bunch of metal thimbles on his fingers, and he'd scratch the surface repeatedly. It Was AWESOME. Then, of course, there's Velcro Lewis, the lead singer. Yes, this band had two singers, but Velcro Lewis stood at the front, had huge mutton-chops that connected to a bushy moustache - sans beard-accompaniment - and oddly enough wore little-to-no velcro about his person. Velcro Lewis, in addition to having the coolest facial hair I'd ever seen, had a big, fat belly and big, fat man-tits. I couldn't understand a single word he was yelling into the microphone and I didn't care. Every once in a while he'd play this instrument he had standing on this table next to him. It was just a single string-like thing, wrapped taut on this piece of wood. In one hand he had what appeared to be a shot glass that he held against the string, in the other hand he held a little Xylophone mallet which he used to hit against the string. I don't think it made any noise, but whatever. When Velcro Lewis wasn't playing that, he was hitting a tambourine against a cowbell.

That's right, I'll say it again: Tambourine AGAINST a Cowbell. I almost passed out right there from how awesome this band was. Even the crowd was great - it seemed like all their fans had hair down beyond their shoulders and a Rick Rubin-like beard to match. I was so blown away by the lengthiness of their songs and the collage of sound they produced that I went up to Velcro Lewis after the set and requested a couple of their CDs. He gave 'em both to me for ten dollars, it was kickass.

Used To Be Women I've already reviewed before. They were good, they've got the musical chops and all that. But, they're no Velcro Lewis. One thing I noticed this time around is that Used To Be Women had another guitarist I didn't notice the last time I saw them. You know when you're in grade school and you and a bunch of your friends want to play a game of football during recess, but you have an odd number of kids so you make one guy All Time Quarterback? He never plays defense, but he plays quarterback for both teams; usually he's the kid who's the best athlete or has the best arm, but is just too lazy and doesn't give a shit about busting his ass to cover some wide receiver or play safety. Anyway, this new guitarist I noticed, he's like the All Time Quarterback of the band. For most of the song, he'll just be standing there, not even pretending to strum a chord. Then, when it comes time to solo or whatever, he busts out with something usually pretty awesome. I just thought that was funny; over here we have the Lead Guitarist who's busting his ass, over there you've got the Rhythm Guitarist who's playing all his chords with care, and then you've got the All Time Quarterback standing around like he just doesn't give a shit until it's time to snap up all the glory with a technically-sound guitar solo.

***


In between bands, Donald offered to buy the first round of beers. When he walked over to the bar, Jenny made mention of the fact that Donald - since he doesn't have to pay rent - has more money than he knows what to do with, and to take advantage accordingly. Let's just say this, I didn't buy any rounds of beer all night.

We had the whole group out there that night; somehow we talked Liz into joining us. She NEVER goes out with anyone but her own group of friends. It didn't look like she was having all that great a time, but maybe that's because Jenny was fixated on hanging out with Joe and the rest of the band, and because Emily left early to go home. Anyway, after the show, Donald and I got tired of waiting around, hanging out with the band, so we took off. We didn't get far before stopping off for pizza - guess who paid. Not me. Then, we got on THE slowest subway train of all time. They kept stopping for maintenance issues, so a trip that should've taken no longer than 25 minutes took upwards of 45. What's worse was that, while getting pizza, I got a call from Emily. Seems she'd forgotten to bring her keys with her. Since our building's front door isn't closed sufficiently about 75% of the time, Emily was able to get inside and stay relatively warm. But, she still had to wait for Donald and myself to get our asses there. After the long night of hard-partying, Donald wasn't looking too good on the ride home, but he managed to get to the apartment without ralphing.

Jenny and Liz walked through the front door about 20 minutes after the rest of us. I closed out my night watching a rather subpar episode of The O.C. on my computer. It was 4am.
 
 
15 January 2007 @ 10:23 am
I told Emily to wake me up in the morning if everyone decided to go to breakfast on Sunday. She did and we did, this little café just down the road apiece. VERY cheap food, adequately prepared. I took my leave of everyone at noon because I had to catch a train into Manhattan and watch football.

Look, I'm not gonna say we blew it, I'm not gonna say we should've won. We played hard. Our coaching staff is so brilliant, they managed to take a team as banged up and depleted as we've become and create a scheme that allows us to hang in there among the best. They know how to target the other team's weakness and how to get the utmost effort out of our guys. On a level playing field - if we had the same amount of health at the positions that the Bears did - we would've won that game, even if it was still played in Chicago.

That's the kind of game you're just glad to see your team in - and by in, I mean staying close on the scoreboard. I never for one minute felt comfortable about our chances over there, even when we had that lead in the 3rd quarter. It seemed like, if they wanted to, Chicago could've moved the ball at will on us every time, but their play-calling and execution wasn't there. RARELY did we force them into doing something they didn't want to do - with the exception of the fumble Peterson induced, among a few other well-placed blitzes - they just fucked up mostly on their own. And, even when our offense managed to get some first downs against their superior defense, I always felt like it was just a matter of time before they put the hammer down. Every time I saw us get 9 yards on 2nd & 10 was like a dagger to my spine; we lost this game because we never could convert any of those 3rd & 1s.

That's what it boils down to. Sure, D-Jack had some bobbles/drops. Sure, Hasselbeck threw that TERRIBLE interception - granted, they didn't score off of it, but they had the field position battle won, leading up to their later 4th quarter field goal to tie it. Sure, Grossman had that long-bomb we've been waiting on for the last two weeks since our cornerbacks went down. Sure, there was a penalty or two worth questioning down the stretch. None of that mattered; with two minutes left in the 4th quarter and overtime to come, not to mention the rest of the game before that, it seemed like every time we had a 3rd down with 1 yard to go or less, we'd be running head-first into a breached dam, with nothing but Bears defenders spilling through our porous blocking. Every time they needed the big stand from their D-Line, whether it be to stuff a run or sack our quarterback on Third Down, it seemed like they got it. Every time we needed to force a punt on Third & Long, they'd complete a 30-yard pass to some flunky receiver, ball whizzing right through our defenders' hands.

I don't believe in moral victories. I don't believe in being Proud of a season that falls below preseason expectations. We were supposed to coast to a division title, nab another first round bye, and steamroll our way to a second consecutive Super Bowl appearance, this time climbing over the hurdle to victory. Granted, injuries and suspect offseason deals screwed us in the end, but I take no solace in the fact that we "Competed." I'm not one of these pussy Seattle fans who casually blows off the loss with a tepid, "Oh, but it was a good season anyway. I don't care if we didn't win, because I'm a cockass. The Seahawks are still champions in my heart." Blow me! The Seahawks are champions of nothing!

And you know what REALLY pisses me off? I saw it all fucking week; the Seahawks in interviews kept coming off with a Just Happy To Be Here attitude. Every fucking day, all they'd talk about is how they overcame all these injuries and pulled out a miraculous victory against Dallas. This notion of, "Well, we're not supposed to be here, so the pressure's all on Chicago because this is like a free-pass and we can just go out there and have fun." Bullshit! Football isn't fun for anyone! It's the sole source of stress in my life and every fucking Sunday I'm as tightly wound as MacGyver is calm and cool. I don't want you to be happy to be ANYWHERE! I want swagger! I want you to induce fear in your opponents! This isn't Make A Wish Day for Retards, this is the National Football League, you're the NFC West Division Champions, so why don't you start acting like you FUCKING belong on the God-Damned field instead of bringing cups of Gatorade to the likes of Ben Roethlisberger?

***


Like I said before, it's hard to describe the mindset of the Sports Fan. Why we harbor such attachments to sports teams when we hold no personal ties to anyone on them. Why we associate said teams with words like "We" - "We sure did lose a heartbreaking close game Sunday afternoon" - even though we're not necessarily a member of said team. Never more do I question the rationale behind being a fan of sports than when my team gets knocked out of the playoffs.

Being a sports fan like I am, it takes more than simply watching the games when they're on television. Hours upon hours are spent reading articles from multiple news outlets, gathering information, thinking about our prospects for the present/upcoming season, questioning the decisions of the coaches/general managers in their personnel moves, listening to sports radio to get alternate opinions. It's a full time fucking job! I think of all that I do on behalf of this team from mid-July through mid-January (with extensive concentrated dedication come draft time thrown in as well) in informing myself about their every known orifice, just so I can watch their final game end in a loss. Then, to start all over again.

What's the point? Do you know what the odds are of your team making it to the Super Bowl? Generally, pretty shitty. You can go DECADES without seeing your team even SNIFF success ever again; and yet here we are, riding the rollercoaster of disaster year in and year out. Best case scenario, let's say your team is considered a Dynasty Team. Do you know what constitutes a dynasty? Three Super Bowl victories within a 6 year period. THAT'S IT! Because teams aren't expected to be elite for very long because there's a very fine window of opportunity for success. Players get old, players get too good for the payroll, freak injuries plague your season, teams around you get better and younger and hungrier because you've taken their glory year in and year out, newly signed/drafted replacements don't pan out like the leaders you've had before ... the list goes on and on. As Seahawks fans, we could be looking at the last two or three years of us being good before we're the Arizona Cardinals once again. Shaun Alexander won't be as durable as time goes on because that's what running backs do - they wear down. Matt Hasselbeck's already showing signs of shaky decision-making, it's only a matter of time before he's a poor-man's Washed Up Brett Favre (not even as good as a Washed Up Brett Favre, he'll be the poor-man's version). If we run into some lean drafts (already we've given up our first-rounder to acquire Deion Branch for this year's draft) and sign some guys who don't fit that well in the system, it'll only be a matter of time before we're dreadful once again.

Having said all that, I'm powerless to give this shit up. It's an interest of mine, a passion of mine, and it's one of the few things I'm particularly knowledgable at. I'll take this loss with the same grain of salt that I take every other Seahawks playoff loss. Then, next summer, I'll ramp up my interest once again for a season full of hope. Because next year, we'll do something we couldn't do this year:

We're going to win the whole fucking thing.
 
 
15 January 2007 @ 11:17 am
I feel betrayed. Before I get into the first movie I saw on Sunday after the Seahawks lost to the Bears, let me get into it with Kevin Smith. Before, I said I rented two movies on Saturday. One of them was Clerks II.

When this movie first hit theaters last summer, I wanted to go see it, because I was such a fan of the first Clerks movie. On the road trip, I even had the chance, but I didn't feel like waiting around for over an hour, so instead I saw Miami Vice. Now, I'm glad. I'm oh so fucking glad.

Clerks II is a heaping pile of shit, don't go see it. I don't know where Kevin Smith got this newfound sentimentality, but either it has to stop or HE has to stop making movies, because I can't take no fuckin' more! First of all, do you want to tell me why this movie was even necessary? Was there some online petition dedicated to souring me on all early Kevin Smith movies? Did someone wake up one morning and wonder what a diluted carbon copy of a cult classic might look like? Who gave the guy who plays Randal a copy of the last American Pie movie with Stifler looking like a manic, trying-too-hard coke whore and told him to, "Act it like this"? And THEN who decided it was a good idea to completely take away Randal's balls? Were Jay and Silent Bob SUPPOSED to be so unenthusiastic and boring, childlike caricatures of their once immutable selves? And, at the end, when Silent Bob's supposed to deliver the film's words of reason, don't give me this, "I got nothin'" shit! GOD!

The soundtrack to this move was pitiful! There was two or three extended montage sequents where music is playing in the background. First, we had some gay ass song playing while Dante and Randal went to "Blow off some steam" by driving on bumper go-karts. Really? OK, in your 30s and driving around on bumper go-karts. Whatever. Was it necessary to make the entire sequence boring and unfunny? Kevin Smith circa 1994 would've had Randal mercilessly attacking some poor kid, driving him off the course and into a nearby pond full of hippo excrement or something. But no, just Dante and Randal having a gay ass good time. Second, we had this hackneyed, contrived scenario where Dante is confiding to Rosario Dawson that "He Can't Dance" and he's worried about this fact in relation to his upcoming wedding with The Woman He Doesn't REALLY Love, But She Provides Him The Security He Really Needs Even Though The Woman Of His Dreams Is Right In Front Of Him ... Rosario Dawson. Of COURSE, Rosario volunteers to "Teach Him How To Dance" and here we go. Really? In your 30s and can't dance AND you give a shit about this? OK, so they go on the roof, and obviously he dances terribly ... but wait! What's that music they've got playing in the background? Why, it's Jackson Fucking 5's "ABC!" Tell me again why this song is necessary to the film? And TELL ME why Kevin Smith unnecessarily brought in this dance troupe to do this big dance routine while the Rosario Dawson Dance Lesson is going on? Comedy? Not hardly. Finally, towards the end of the movie, after Dante tells Rosario Dawson that he loves her, they both have to go off and be alone to "Think Things Through." What song do I hear playing in the background during this scene? Smashing Pumpkins - 1979. What is this, a 1996 middle school dance? You know Kevin Smith has fallen off the map of cutting edge filmmakers when, during this scene, you see Dante in his car pondering the thought of being a father while gazing into the eyes of a child who smiles at him from a restaurant window. Gag me with a FUCKING spoon!

You also know Kevin Smith has lost it when he gives the greatest roll and the film's greatest writing to a woman. If Rosario Dawson wasn't in this movie (especially in that dance scene when it's nothing but five minutes of her tits jiggling up and down ... probably the most underrated rack in show business), Clerks II would be wholly unwatchable. Then again, I have to wonder if it's not BECAUSE of her. Maybe, if Kevin Smith didn't castrate everything by forcing a woman of such grace and personality to dominate the film with her presence alone, we could've appreciated the rest of the cast for the fucking bunch of losers that they are - like in the original Clerks. I don't buy that completely, though, because there was no saving this movie. It could've helped, though, if it was Randal providing the saving grace for Dante vis-a-vis his doomed engagement and impending wedding to Some Dumb Skank. But, instead, in the end we're left with Randal pleading to Dante like a simpering little girl. I couldn't be more disgusted.

***


After the game, I couldn't go home. Granted, later on what proved to be the cure for my post-playoffs-depression was being in a room full of people who couldn't give two shits about sports period, but at the time, I needed to be alone. I needed to sober up. I needed greasy pizza in my stomach. I headed over to Times Square.

After dinner, I went to the theater and bought a ticket to see "Children of Men." This movie blew me away, I can't get over how good it is. The world has become sterile for the last 18 years; people can no longer bring babies to term. Chaos rules everywhere, Britain is the only country managing some semblance of order, even though they need an army's guidance to keep people in line and to keep foreigners to the refugee camps. It is discovered that a foreign woman is pregnant; they can't give her over to the government because the government won't stand for the first baby being born in two decades to be of foreign descent. The Human Project is this group of outlaws or something, the salvation for the mother and her new baby.

I won't give away any more than that right now, but I'll say this. There's a scene where this large building is under siege by a gaggle of army troops and their tanks. Rebels are inside the building with machine guns fighting back. The main character infiltrates the building, runs all around, finds the mother and her child, and escorts her out so they can get to The Human Project in time. There's this moment when he's walking her out of the building, she's clutching the baby to her bosom, and as they're slowly walking out, everyone around them stops whatever they're doing, transfixed. All these refugees are in awe of seeing the first child in decades. No one says a thing until they walk towards the door and meet the first wave of troops - one of the soldiers bellows to everyone to hold their fire. The main character and the mother continue walking, this time through the horde, all the while all the soldiers stop and stare in similar amazement. Everything, all the chaos that had been going on for the last ten minutes, becomes totally serene and tranquil. Eerily so. Then, all of a sudden, after the main character and the mother get past everything, someone fires from the building, and the siege has abruptly returned. That's the kind of impactful moviemaking you don't see all the time.

See "Children of Men" if you get the chance. Rent it when it comes out if you have to, but don't forget about it. There's so much right about this movie at a time when there's so much wrong about moviemaking in general. Children of Men and Clerks II, at opposite ends of the spectrum of Good & Bad, both utterly depressing for vastly different reasons.
 
 
You can call it whatever you want, but I think sometimes there IS a reason why people die before their time. That doesn't mean I believe Martin Luther King Jr. had nothing left to teach or bestow upon the world, but the way things have turned out reminds me of the phrase, "Should've Stayed In Bed."

For the mainstream, the revolution is over. If you took a public opinion poll right now, you'd definitely have a majority of American citizens believing that, while race still remains a factor in things, equality has for all intents and purposes been achieved and any lingering problems among the Black community is the fault of those individuals within. Black leaders who once followed so closely in Dr. King's path like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have been reduced to ineffectual rabble-rousers, the butt of jokes while they're butting into affairs to promote their own endless searches for celebrity. Regard for programs like Affirmative Action and Welfare are at an all-time low. The masses have been pacified, subdued by the media. The message is meaningless.

If Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today, would he still hold the same impact he had in the 50s and 60s? These are different times; this is a different struggle. Equality for all races today is very similar to the War on Terror. Before the 1960s, Black people were at war against the government of the United States. They had a clear target and a tangible solution: Get The Laws Changed. Now, Black people are fighting a war of perception. They're fighting an enemy they can't see. No longer can they blame the U.S. government and receive the outpouring of support they built up in the 60s. Because the laws HAVE been changed. It's just that, nowadays, the enemy is working within the structure of the laws that have been set up. Now, it's not so clear-cut who is exactly to blame. The Man, I suppose.

What is the Black Man fighting for today? Well, for one thing, there's a battle they've been fighting for since the abolition of slavery: 40 Acres & A Mule. With land at an all-time premium and mules presumably diminished in numbers, we're no longer talking about the literal 40 Acres & A Mule (though, outrageously, some still are for some reason). The 40 Acres & A Mule of Today represents Opportunity - though it's seen as a handout. 40 Acres & A Mule represents a levelling of the playing field; represents the empowerment of the Black race in order to ensure that they're able to get the kind of education they need to survive and flourish in this modern world; represents cleaning up the ghettos while keeping housing affordable and providing drug-treatment programs as opposed to Mandatory Minimum Sentences; represents an alternative for Black folks to succeed outside of the Basketball/Rap Music/Drug Dealing quandry they've been mired in since Ronald Reagan introduced crack cocaine to the slums of the United States through the C.I.A.

Obviously, I'm not sitting here telling you that all Black people are helpless. Far from it, given the stunted growth they've been saddled with through hundreds of years of oppresion, I think they've done quite well for themselves. Black people - as all people - are capable of anything they put their minds to; but statistics don't lie. There's still a disproportionate number of black people in prisons, in poverty, in inferior job positions to white people given an equal skill-set, making less money on the dollar to their white counterparts, being denied home-ownership and loans, not going to college, addicted to drugs/alcohol. The list goes on. If you're a poor black family living check-to-check in the Southside of Chicago, below the poverty line, in a leaky apartment where a slumlord keeps you in the cold, in the dark, with an iron fist, in a neighborhood that's equally as underfunded, with children going to a school with outdated books and teachers who just don't give a fuck, how are they supposed to lift themselves out of the gutter without some help? Furthermore, you have to look at how they got there to begin with - how a disproportionate number of Blacks have found themselves in this state have been held down by The Man for centuries - and you have to ask yourself if it's fair or not.

Is it fair that some upscale community full of millionaires - that just so happens to be 99% white - gets the bulk of the federal funding for their schools, parks, and neighborhoods (schools, parks, and neighborhoods that are excelling in quality already, but don't necessarily have a fourth Olympic-sized swimming pool or a squash court), while the ghettos get diddly squat from the government when their text books don't have covers, their desks have uneven legs, and their blackboards have bullet holes in them? Maybe, if the government chose to invest in those areas most lacking instead of perpetuating the Rich Get Richer mentality decade in and decade out, we'd see some more promising returns from the segment of society most would rather sweep under the rug.

In a way, I'm glad Martin Luther King Jr. isn't around today. I'm glad he isn't around to see the bastardization of his dream. I'm glad he doesn't have to put up with the bullshit rhetoric sprouted by this government and every government that followed his assassination. I'm glad he doesn't have to listen to Bill O'Reilly and his bullshit liar opinions - he says he grew up poor and had to struggle to get to where he is, meanwhile it's been proven that he came from Middle Class wealth and has lived comfortably all of his life. I'm glad Dr. King doesn't have to witness a nation of drones who care more about where some slutbag celebrity flashes her snatch than real life issues of poor struggling Americans. I'm glad he wasn't here to see how we botched things over in New Orleans and continue to botch things worldwide - in Iraq, in Africa, in the Earth's overall environment.

I'm glad he isn't around to not be taken seriously.

***


This is the first Martin Luther King Day that I've had to work. Yes, generally I use this day as an excuse to nurse a hangover after an additional night of Sunday drinking. Yes, generally I feel bad about this fact. One time, one time I DID volunteer - while living in the dorms my last year, a few of us went and painted some Day Care Center. Do I wish I volunteered more? I wish volunteering didn't require waking up at 7am on a holiday, but what are ya gonna do?

Volunteers aside, no one takes MLK Day seriously - hence the reason why people call it "MLK Day." Even most black people under the age of 60 don't REALLY give a shit. It's just a reason NOT to go to work; it's not a reason to give back to your community or - at the very least - reflect upon a man and his tireless hard work and his vision for a better world. It's hard to find someone so genuinely good and pure; Martin Luther King Jr. truly was one of our finest Americans. So, why doesn't he get the respect he deserves?

Well, to put it in perspective, no one gives a shit about the presidents on President's Day, the veterans on Veterans Day, or the arbors on Arbor Day. Holidays are Sleep-In Days; I-Don't-Usually-Gotta-Go-To-Work-Unless-I-Temp-For-A-Buttfuck- Commercial-Real-Estate-Company Day. But, it seems in particular, people don't take this day seriously. The state of Arizona back in the early 90s would've suffered a HUGE boycott because their legislature wouldn't recognize Dr. King's value as worthy of having its own holiday. Fortunately for them, their citizens voted it in in 1992.

The bottom line is, nearly 40 years removed since his assassination, we've taken his presence and his impact for granted. Sure, when anyone thinks of Black History Month, the first things they think of are Martin Luther King and the guy who invented the peanut. He's been reduced to something we learn about in History class as opposed to a very real, very important figure in American culture. He's a Unit in a Text Book. He's a piece of a Chevy Truck commercial montage. Once a year we're forced to sit through a five minute segment on the evening news; to read a front-page newspaper article lifted directly from Encyclopedia Britannica.

I love this holiday more than most for one important reason: it's not commercial. In fact, it's almost the exact opposite - nobody wants to talk about it or celebrate it in ANY way. There are no presents exchanged, no candles lit, no MLK Cards sent out, no family barbecues with beer consumed and explosives lit, no months-long build up on TV, no decorations, no lights. Nothing. Instead, it's either met with indifference, slight reverence as the president shakes hands with Black Ministers, or with volunteering. Giving. Doing for others instead of ourselves. It's a beautiful thing, even if I am generally too lazy to put my money where my mouth is.

I dunno, I figure at the very least it's better to give the man and the damn holiday some recognition and some thought. It's more than most people care to do. For all Martin Luther King Jr. has done for humanity, we should at least be giving him credit where it's due.