……And so I dare to hope,
Though changed no doubt, from what I was
when first I came among these hills; when like a roe
I bounded o’er these mountains, by the sides
of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams
Wherever nature led; more like a man
flying from something he dreads
than one who sought a thing he loved.
William Wordsworth, 1798
“Do people change or don’t they? Now that’s worth talking about.”
That’s the central theme of the 1983 film, Eddie and The Cruisers. I remember this movie as being part of my favorite era of movies shown on HBO, along with forgotten classics like Kidco, The Outsiders, Curse of The Pink Panther, Mr. Mom, The Toy, Tootsie, and many many more. Just as Frank Ridgeway is instantly transported back to 1964 when he hears an Eddie look-a-like performing “On The Dark Side” at a club in 1983… when I hear it I’m taken straight back to 1984 at age 6, sitting in our den wondering if Eddie could still be alive.
Eddie and The Cruisers was reviewed poorly by critics. Roger Ebert wrote the following revealing critique:
Now, leaving aside the possibility that Eddie might, in fact, have gone down with his Chevy, this premise, has all sorts of possibilities. I will name some of them:
1. Eddie could have surfaced as another rock and roller.
2. Eddie could have been a Buddy Holly who never died, and he disappeared to escape discovery.
3. Eddie could have been horribly disfigured and decided to spend the rest of his life in a recording studio, masterminding other people’s music.
4. Eddie could have dropped out, in a grand existential gesture.
Now. I will not give away the ending to this movie. But I will make the following complaint: Even though one of the above possibilities does, indeed, turn out to be true, it is still not the ending of the movie!
The movie makes the fatal flaw of arriving at a dramatic conclusion that does not settle the Eddie Wilson mystery. Instead, all we get is a big buildup to a dumb revelation. What a disappointment.
What this tells me is that the theme of the film went right by Ebert’s head. He was looking for interesting plot twists and bombshells. The fact that there is no payoff is a central component of the narrative. It does not really matter whether Eddie is alive or dead. What we see in the film is how the characters haven’t changed. Sal is as bitter and envious as he was in 1964. Doc is still a conniving dreamer looking for an angle on a big score. Joann is still attractive, sentimental and gullible. Frank is still a mild mannered, romantic, preppy poet. We also get to see how the retrospective on Eddie and the possibility that he could be alive awakens their old ambitions and dreams.
This is a movie for people in their 30′s to really appreciate. Sal is still hanging on and playing as the old band, though the other members have long moved on with their lives. It reminds me of so many of the 60′s bands that play at Indian Casinos, where it would only be like 2 of the original members actually playing. Some of us are still musicians struggling to make it while our friends have gone on to the corporate world and started families. This is where I identify with Doc. He’s an opportunistic failure of a hustler whose dreams are dashed time and time again, yet he sees the lost tapes as a shot at redemption. The one person who does make an effort to change is of course Eddie, with his rock opera “Season in Hell” he wants to finally make something great. He is not content with who he is, unlike Sal who says “We ain’t great. We’re just a couple of guys from Jersey.”
Eddie and The Cruisers is a terrific film. Just don’t go looking for clever plot twists or elaborate storylines. Watch it to see how people don’t change. Ride along with The Cruisers as they relive their youthful dreams, and in the process lead us to re-awaken some of our own.
I’ve been meaning to say this for a while. I hate any job interview question that starts with “tell me about a time when…” It’s just sooo cheesy and often totally irrelevant. I get that they are trying to see how you handle yourself and get you to draw on an experience, but it is just such nonsense. I play along, but I’m just too real for this kind of scripted dollhouse crap. It’s like, I want to say “well that’s happened to me thousands of times, as you can see by looking at my resume I’ve been in this field for over 10 years. I don’t want to pinpoint a specific scenario because well there are too many.” Of course you can’t say that though if you actually want the job, so you just have to make some stupid story up and hope that they move on to something less retarded.
They would be better served to narrow the field by asking questions that actually pertain to the job instead of these canned creamy corn questions that just entice people to make up weird stories. Especially if you have a lot of experience, it’s hard to take that kind of line of questioning seriously, and I will admit I always lose some respect for recruiters and interviewers when their questions degenerate into such assembly line frivolity. On the spot queries like “what would you do in this situation?” are much better. I have worked with enough incompetent people in my day and seen enough high turnover to know that they definitely are not making the most of “having their pick” in a tough economy by conducting interviews in this fashion. I mean, you’d be better off asking if the job candidate knows the difference between words like “you’re” and “your” or “lose and “loose.” Then at least you would find out if they can operate at a third grade level in their daily communications. That should help eliminate 95% of applicants.
Why are they allowed to post people’s mugshots online? Anyone can be arrested for anything, and their mugshot will be taken and magically appear on the internet. A stupid person might say “Well, don’t commit a crime, and you won’t have your mugshot on the internet.” Helloooo Mcfly, these people have not been convicted of any crime. You are innocent until proven guilty. Cops often shake people down and arrest them if someone is just rude to them. Also, a jaded and manipulative ex-girlfriend can call the police and say you beat her up and have you arrested in two seconds and BAM! It’s mugshot city for you. Let’s say you are innocent and the charges are dropped. Six months later you apply for a job, and the recruiter Googles your name, the first thing that comes up is your mugshot for a domestic violence crime you didn’t commit or DUI you were never convicted of(hopefully you are not applying for an SEO position.) Do you think the recruiter is going to call you and give you the chance to explain that the charges were bogus? Doubtful. If you got the chance would they believe you or figure that you just got off on a technicality? And why should you even have to explain anything. The crime never happened, so there should be nothing to explain.
These online mugshots are creating some kind of dystopian public record of crimes one was merely accused of. In the world we live in, anyone can be accused of anything. Whether it is true or not, even an accusation is enough to ruin someone’s life in this day and age. Not just for media magnets like Woody Allen or Dov Charney, but for you and me as well. We are all public figures now embroiled in social media tabloid scandals. That is of course, unless you can avoid getting arrested for anything, anytime, EVER, or you are willing to pay the mugshot racket their bounty to take your photo down before it turns into an annoying millennial meme that goes viral.
Sometimes there’s no quicker way to irritate an uptight female then to refer to her as a babe.
Innocently uttering the phrase “Hey babe” will quickly get you into hot water with any girl who doesn’t have her irony detector on. On the defensive, they usually respond with something like “I’m not your babe.” But it’s like, I never said you were “my babe,” just that you were “a babe.” There’s a difference. Of course she could argue that just by using the word babe you are claiming some kind of possession over her merely through asserting the right to use the term(or any term) to describe her. However, this exchange tells you a lot about a person’s mindset. They have potentially poor comprehension skills. They are confrontational. They assume you have the worst intentions. They are insecure about the possibility of not being taken seriously. They want to look like a babe, but they would rather you personally not think of them that way or at the very least would prefer you use some modern euphemism like “stunning” instead.
One time I called a girl a babe on OKC in a message that was like “hey babe, are you down to get a smoothie sometime?” She told me she wasn’t interested, and so I was like “fair enough babe.” Then she just wrote back with “*Shannon” as if to signify her disapproval of my using the term. My final response was to say something like “Oh sorry, Shannon. You have pretty feet by the way.” I tried to picture the grossed out look she would have on her face as she signed off, as I had to squeeze in one more creepy affectation. Call a girl a babe and get a bitter response. She’s not interested in you and thinks you have leprosy/or she is an embittered feminist. Either way it’s better to find out sooner rather than later. Use the word. Bring the romance.
There’s a mildly disturbing trend that’s been developing over the last decade or two. Many corporations are becoming more like cults insofar as the indoctrination, motivational, and recruitment methods they employ on their workers. I’ve personally encountered this first hand through working for such companies, interviewing with many more of them, as well as from experience of dating girls who were employed/captivated by such institutions. It is no longer sufficient to merely put forth the effort and achieve solid results in a given job and expect a paycheck. Companies now seem to require you to be a devoted disciple of their brand as well as adhere to their “new agey” pseudo corporate philosophies in all aspects of your life. “We all live and breathe Such and Such Internet Company Inc” an interviewer recently told me without even a hint of understated sarcasm. “We want someone 100 percent dedicated to our brand, 24/7.” Well, it’s not me, pal. You might have some useful products, and I’d be happy to promote them for you, maybe even exaggerate their value a bit if I have to, in exchange for some steady cash, but I don’t live life solely for the ideals of pimping someone’s goods and services that people don’t truly need(and they don’t.) In other words, my workplace does not equal my identity.
It’s one thing to slightly overemphasize the quality of the services and pretend your business is doing really amazing things for the sake of making a buck.. yet these companies are filled with true believers. Millennials(particularly of the female variety) seem to be the most hardcore cult followers. They often possess a passion for the internet companies they work for not unlike the cheerful enthusiasm of Kim Cattrall’s character in the religious training camps portrayed in the 1981 film “Ticket to Heaven.” Truthfully though, I’ve seen office “bros,” sorority sluts, and even Hillary Clinton pantsuit rocking business women get emotional to the point of tears when speaking about their love and devotion to the social media marketing firm they slave for. “Umm, excuse me, you know this is just a place that sells ads and stuff, right?” is the heretic thought that immediately pops into a free mind, which dares not be spoken aloud. “We don’t sell things here. We provide solutions that are going to save small businesses.”
Like cults, many modern businesses have their own unique lingo and bizarre euphemistic terminology for internal processes and hierarchies. The Moonies “love bombed” people. Corporations have “fuel calls,” “culture committees,” seemingly urgent commands like “so and so needs to be sparked,” as well as hundreds of other phrases, acronyms and code words which usually make little sense to anyone outside the particular organization. All of the pep talks, the slogans, the videos, the motivational team building activities, the chanting, the charismatic guru CEO’s(whom often look like they could have doubled as 70’s porn stars in another life) and their henchmen can leave a relatively sane person feeling pretty isolated working at one of these places.
Notice how managers increasingly stress the importance of someone being a “good culture fit,” when discussing the recruitment of prospective employees. This has typically been a weasely code for age discrimination against older applicants, people with merely annoying idiosyncrasies, or even those possessing wack fashion styles. Basically, they want someone who is on the same page as everyone else…someone who isn’t going to make waves or stir the pot. I’ve also heard of the “culture fit” copout being used to discriminate against women, but in my experience girls tend to be the most likely to benefit(at least the attractive ones,) and they are typically those most obsessed with promoting/developing company culture in general. Perhaps it is just ugly people who are not a good culture fit, and gender is irrelevant. Pseudo-scientific “predictive index” styled psychological tests and assessments are given to screen hopeful applicants(sometimes even before initial human interviews) in an attempt to weed out potential agitators and those that might be a “bad fit” for the position and the company. If you play the game without rolling your eyes in front of them, manage to maneuver through their psychological assessments, “gotcha” roleplay scenarios and are lucky enough to be chosen, they expect you to live your life as an unquestioning extension, a tentacle of their brand, even outside of work. How you conduct yourself in private can indeed reflect negatively on their business, but that’s precisely because of the increasingly pervading mindset that you = your job. These same companies often creepily describe employees as being “part of our family.” Now that actual families are typically smaller and likely to be separated geographically, many young people are on their own without any support structure, and these money making entities are filling the void. It’s nice to be taken care of when you’re struggling in a lonely big city, but it sucks balls to have to give up your soul and individuality in return. After all, the People’s Temple provided for their followers’ needs as well(just don’t drink the Flavor-Aid.) Indeed, some large internet companies are starting to build onsite housing for their workers. With all their needs met and a happy environment employees will no longer have to be concerned with anything in life except being productive.
There is a positive side to all this of course. Anyone who has ever worked in a boiler room call center knows what a truly shitty work environment is like: “Are you hungry? Cool, dude. There’s a vending machine in the break room, but the candy bars are close to being expired, and you sometimes have to shake it or it will eat your quarters. I usually just get a hot dog from the 7-11 across the street.” The uncomfortable chairs with mystery stains on them, the manager who screams at you if you’re two minutes late back from break, the disgusting, obnoxious, trashy, fatass coworkers who talk while eating Hot Cheetos and chew with their mouth open, etc. Such are the traumatic memories of workplaces in our previous lives, pre “do not call list” era, telemarketing shitholes of the 1990s, “engrams” needing to be wiped out in auditing sessions. To that extent these new companies with their catered lunches, on site massage therapists, “work hard play hard” mentality, and serene, smiley face ambiance are a very welcome change. There was undeniably a silver lining to hating a horrible job environment though. It drove us to seek out genuine fulfillment in other areas of our lives and to dream. Whether it was through having children, writing a science fiction novel, or even just sitting around watching reruns of Charlie’s Angels and The Rockford Files, it was something in the outside world that had nothing to do with work, whereby our minds could detach and deprogram. I’ll admit it’s tough to reconcile libertarian free market economic views with the cynical reality of how big companies actually operate these days, the way they manipulate people and turn them into walking commercials… zombies with high resolution logos. In fact, I don’t think I can do it, and I certainly don’t enough care enough to try. At least for now you can still choose which cult you want to join though, or whether you want to join at all.
So, if you’re looking for a job, get with the program and join a team today. By all means, work for one of these 21st century corporate cults. Enjoy every excess they offer. Everyone is so happy! You’ll love coming to work every day. Just remember though, during the morning meeting when they lead the “energy chant,” make sure(while maintaining a shit eating grin on your face) to mutter your own unique version under your breath. Give them your talents, but keep your soul. Oh, and unlike some cults, if you try to leave these ones, you can actually walk right out the door. Good luck out in the streets of San Francisco(or Austin or Brooklyn or wherever – insert yuppie white liberal metro area here -.) Michael Douglas and the late Karl Malden won’t be there to save you from the mobs of the violently schizophrenic homeless people or assist you with the area’s astronomical rent costs. Anyhow, you probably won’t really want to leave any company in this job market, but unlike a real life biological family, if they ever decide you’re not useful anymore to their cause, your smiling brothers and sisters in commerce will “offload” your ass in a heartbeat. Enjoy those catered team lunches while they’re hot, but beware of wolves in hipster millennial CEO clothing.
Army Navy, one the finest bands to come out of Los Angeles in probably the last 10 years, has put out a new video, directed by veteran young writer/director Mark Schoenecker and featuring Martin Starr(Freaks and Geeks.) The well respected group has enjoyed steadily increasing popularity since they burst onto the scene several years ago. Their latest video, for the song titled “World’s End,” is a refreshingly unassuming masterpiece. In this era of illiterate Ke$ha softcore, and perplexingly popular yet total cheeseball songs like “I Wanna Be A Billionaire,” director Schoenecker refreshingly manages to capture the golden age of Sunset Strip innocence and combine it with 21st century, contemporary appeal. Stylistically, “World’s End” is seemingly modeled after the old music variety shows like Shindig, which once dominated television airwaves and introduced many famous musical acts. Yet, this is not really a “retro” video. Rather it represents a return to lost fundamental standards of taste, and attention to long abandoned qualities like color usage, ambiance, and subtlety. In other words, it is the future we now live in, the way we’ve always hoped it would be.
I think they boast of at least 5,000 stores, which in my opinion is way too many in this day and age and essentially amounts to an overextended electronics empire. If one were to think about how RS can adapt and survive, the example they should look to is Redbox. Video stores went bankrupt because the product they served no longer constituted an entire store. Everything could be rented online through Netflix or streamed on demand. Yet for those who would have preferred not to wait for dvds in the mail, or didn’t have a connection or screen resolution capable of streaming… along came Redbox. Everything that was once handled by a 10 employee, 2,000 square foot storefront, could now be streamlined through an unmanned vending machine outside one’s local circle K. Such could be the case with Radioshack. I’m not saying they should close all their stores,but there is no reason for them to maintain 5 or 6 stores in a given city. My feeling is that they should keep the most profitable 1,500 stores as well as low rent/low risk outlets in places like the south(where people are still more inclined to purchase from a local outlet.) The everyday items RS sells like batteries, cables, wireless accessories, could be sold in RS vending machines dispersed throughout cities. I’m not suggesting they fill these things with capacitors and robotics components. Those items should still be sold at the regular stores. People would be willing to drive a small distance for these, so long as there is still a shop or two within the city limits, people will still make the trip.
Secondly, they should resurrect their “Realistic” brand and sell vacuum tubes and other such equipment. Radioshack seems to have abandoned this market right when it is making a big comeback. I’ve been to CES 4 years in a row, and there is big money in the high end audio market. It is not a huge market share, but if we’re talking about reducing the amount of physical storefronts, this can be offset by improving the quality and expanding the product offering. Money saved from closing physical stores can also be spent promoting the RadioShack.com website and boosting online sales. Dollars normally spent on keeping a physical store open can go a long way in online marketing.
Also, I know most people hate it, but I kind of like their decision to rebrand themselves “The Shack.” It really is annoyingly catchy.
I have to admit, part of me just can’t help but like Newt. In most ways he’s a paleo’s nightmare candidate. His guest worker program, free trade advocacy (wasn’t he one of the chief architects of that genius NAFTA scheme? how’d that work out?), and interventionist foreign policy, are all disastrous for the country. I doubt anybody cares about the lobbyist stuff. So what’s to like really?
Well, Gingich’s imaginative space exploration ideas are far advanced over anything anyone else could offer. Indeed, the other candidates (save Ron Paul) seem to have zero imagination on this or any other issue.
I also think you hit on something in last week’s Radio Derb episode when you said that Newt has won the “bitter ex-husband” constituency. So the sanctimonious “marriage is sacred” crowd thinks Newt’s affairs are unacceptable. You have to wonder what world these people live in where they have never been in a relationship with a pain-in-the-butt female. Lots of things can happen after you commit to someone. They let themselves go, get fat, etc. These broads can drain you emotionally and physically with their endless demands and grievances. People change over time, and divorce is a messy business, especially when there’s money involved. Affairs are biologically natural, when one is separated from their mate for a significant period of time. They are even more natural for the male, whose biological goal in most respects is to impregnate as many females as possible, no? Anyway, if it weren’t for Newt’s dreadful neocon policies, he would have this misogynist’s vote hands down.
One other reason I’m inclined to root for Newt is that he just makes for such a great villain. His narcissism, grandiosity and megalomania have all the makings of a bombastic antagonist, perhaps in the mold of someone like Drax from Moonraker. Even his name, “Newt” lends itself to this narrative (a salamander?) I could easily see him as one of the Alien leaders from V — the original miniseries (1983 version, not the crappy remake.)
There you have it: if you’re into sci-fi and misogyny, and think narcissism is underrated, you’ve gotta go with Gingrich.
Just last week l was reading this article. lt talked about flying. Said we’d all become just like cattle. Trusting our lives to people we don’t even know. Like pilots. Said we do it all the time. Then we get our heads bashed in. . . . . .like cattle, for being so trusting.
A couple months ago, I picked up a DVD of Clint Eastwood’s 1977 movie, “The Gauntlet,” which was shot mostly in Phoenix. I hadn’t seen it since it was on UPN one afternoon in the summer 1996, just a few weeks after I moved here. I remember at the time being excited and feeling a sense of pride that Phoenix was my home, and that the film was set in what was now essentially my hometown. Indeed upon re-watching it, I noticed various downtown Phoenix landmarks are visible in the background. Hanny’s can actually be seen in a skyview during one driving sequence. “The Gauntlet” is a pretty solid film up until the last couple of minutes, with it’s hyperdramatic, highly implausible ending( I find it hard to believe that hundreds of cops would just stand there silently, idly watching while the police commissioner and a supposed fugitive argue and shoot each other at point blank range. The remark about air travel made by the waitress in Las Vegas reminded me of the nature of my own reservations about flying. It’s the fact that while it’s statistically safer, you have absolutely zero control over the outcome of the situation. It’s like buying a reverse lottery ticket with the jackpot of a horrifying death. While you’re much more likely to die behind the wheel, to some extent you can trust your own instincts and defensive driving skills, to give yourself at least some small amount of leverage to tip the balance. I’ve always felt a similar, slightly less ambivalence toward mass transit. Though you may be in a heavy traffic, or construction environment when driving a car, you have control over the ambiance of your immediate environment(volume of the radio, level of peace and quiet, whom or what is sitting next to you.) I’ve ridden the bus several thousand times in my life, and besides the fact that it doubles or triples the travel time to any destination, the worst part about it is always the plethora of irritating and ill-mannered people you have to share it with. I sit in silence trying to avoid unsolicited talking as well as block out all of the loud and obnoxious banter from oblivious people who don’t seem to give a rat’s ass about the riding experience of anyone else. Once on a bus ride from Los Angeles, two ghetto teenage girls sat behind me discussing their multiple miscarriages the entire length of the trip. “I told my man he needs to start wearin’ cause I don’t wanna be gettin’ pregnant again.” One time on a West Hollywood city bus, the driver pulled over while a muscular Russian guy fought a drunken homeless black guy that had been harassing the other passengers. People who always talk of the great train systems in Japan and Hong Kong, don’t seem to realize that when attempting to duplicate it here, we would not have the luxury of riding it with courteous and intelligent Asian people(not even taking into account the “groping” incidents women frequently endure in these countries’ rail cars.) I had a good experience the one or two times I used the Los Angeles subway to get to the San Fernando Valley(it was fast, and there was almost nobody on it) though one might question the wisdom of building an underground railway system in an area that is built on a famous faultline and therefore highly susceptible to potentially massive earthquakes. Personally I would rather that cities incorporate strategies to limit or reduce the overall amount of people, rather than working to attract and accommodate large increases in uneducated people, herding everyone into cattle cars and virtually eliminating individuals’ control over their own personal space and travel experience. In theory, I’m not really opposed to the idea of public transportation. I enjoyed the monorail at Disneyland as much as the next kid, and would gladly set aside my idiosyncratic reservations and fears if I were able to ride something remotely 1960′s/70′s futuristic to work everyday. Riding the contemporary city bus or light rail feels more like Soylent Green than 2001 A Space Odyssey, though. The Phoenix of 1977 as depicted in The Gauntlet has been thoroughly transformed, yet like the film, it still retains much of it’s charm. As with most change, something’s gained and something’s lost.
The touch screen on my phone stopped working a couple of weeks ago, and I had to drive all the way to Paradise Valley Mall to get a new phone, since that’s where the AT&T warranty center is. PV mall was a major hangout for me all through the entire 1990′s. First when I used to visit my grandparents, and they would drop me off there for hours. I would hang out at the arcade “Pocket Change” (a place where great romances were later born) next to the infamous Orange Julius(now a chinese food place) playing Cruisin USA(possibly the best car game ever with the exception of Fzero for SNES.) and spend time in the Vans skate shop. Basically I just wandered the mall and daydreamed, the same stuff I still do now.
In the summer of 1996 when I moved to Phoenix, I knew absolutely no one, and as such going out with friends for me simply meant going to the mall by myself which was the closest I could get to actual human interaction(late night trips to Denny’s were also common.) The first Friday night that I spent in Phoenix, I went to the PV Mall theater and saw “Escape From L.A.” by myself. I always had a love for Los Angeles(and would later live there and subsequently make my own daring escape) Anyway, I remember the movie projector broke about 20 minutes into the movie, and so they gave everyone free movie passes to come back. I returned the very next day to see it again at the matinee showing.
For one of my first demo tapes in 1998, Oliver Hibert drew me a picture of the pv mall food court which I used as the cover. The mall closed down the arcade that same year, because they no longer wanted the place to be a teen hangout and didn’t like the type of people they were attracting(there was famously a stabbing/shooting there where someone was killed.)
I had an apartment across the street from PV mall for a brief period in 1999 before moving to Los Angeles. It was at a place called Paradise Point. I’d go to the mall every day and spend hours there.
Anyhow, more than 10 years later there I was, returning to my old stomping ground. I was taken aback by how small the place really is. How on Earth did I ever spend so much time there? It’s only one floor. There are like only two directions you can walk, and neither of them go very far.
I was pleased to see they actually brought back the arcade. Only now it’s called “Tilt”, and is only about half the size and is mostly an empty/self maintained video game room. There is no attendant or prize booth> The place just isn’t the bustling, action packed, hooligan teen headquarters it once was. It almost serves as a museum or memorial to the old arcade.
The old PV mall actually reminds me of Logan’s Run, which was filmed in a mall that was built around the same time period(mid to late 70′s) and looks very similar in design(or used to before PV mall was substantially remodeled.) The mall logan’s run was filmed in was demolished in 2006. Strangely, while attending the Dallas Guitar Show in 2007, I’ve actually stayed in a hotel in Dallas that’s right across from where the Logan’s Run mall used to be.
In another eerie Logan’s Run coincidence, at some point Paradise Valley Mall appears to have added a “Carousel” adjacent to the food court.
The security guards at PV mall were always notorious assholes, the stereotypical mall rent-a cops who comically take their job way too seriously. After I managed to take this one harmless cellphone photo, they promptly descended upon me like a pack of idiots to inform me that “cameras and photos are not allowed.” It was almost (but not quite) enough to ruin my trip down memory lane.