Songs don’t simply exist in a vacuum. Music is not necessarily to be enjoyed merely for what it is, but rather, where it can take you. For many stereotypical hipsters, mention of Huey Lewis and the News’ “Sports” takes them to the ironically unpleasant scenes of violence featuring Christian Bale as Patrick Batemen in “American Psycho,” whose assessment of the music I mostly agree with:
Do you like Huey Lewis & The News? Their early work was a little too ‘new-wave’ for my taste, but when Sports came out in ’83, I think they really came into their own – both commercially and artistically. The whole album has a clear, crisp sound, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost.
Yet, the year 2000 and American Psycho isn’t where it takes me. When I hear songs like “Heart Of Rock & Roll” I’m transported to the summers of 1984 and ’85, riding in my mom’s 1981 Ford Fairmont on the way to Ben Franklin drug store to buy Garbage Pail Kids or coming back from an extended trip to Brookfield Square Mall, where I would wait patiently for hours as my mother shopped for 80′s fashion, knowing that at some point she would probably buy me some Insecticon Transformers from Kaybee Toys. As he called out the various cities in the song, we would eagerly anticipate the moment when Huey yells out “Milwaukee!” Of course we didn’t realize then that they had released different versions targeted to the individual radio markets. For many years I wondered if I had imagined hearing “Milwaukee” in the song, since I never heard it in there again in all the thousands of times it has been on the radio. Thanks to the internet, I know I’m not crazy(at least in that way.) Yep, I totally fell for that marketing tactic, like a wide eyed girl who responds enthusiastically after receiving a seemingly personalized yet copy and pasted message that was sent to 50 other hot babes on the same dating website.
Or sometimes the song sends me to the same mid 80′s summers, only I’m in my dad’s jeep on our way to the zoo to see “Chandar” the white tiger, excited at the prospect of getting those plastic animals from “Mold-A-Rama” vending machines to add to my collection.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to appreciate “If This Is It” more, with its simplistic yet relatable lyrics, which resonate with me and are probably applicable to most people’s romantic experiences. I don’t care much for most of the other songs on the album. The line in “I Want A New Drug” about face breakouts conjurs up awful memories of high school anxiety and depression making me unable to enjoy the jam. Though I am getting over this. Not to mention I’ve never been into drugs really. I much prefer the Ray Parker Jr. “Ghostbusters” theme song, which they accused of having plagiarized the melody from this song.
Despite the fact that Huey Lewis and The News are frequently described as the embodiment of 80′s mainstream “corporate yuppie rock,” the yuppie white liberals that inherited today’s world want nothing to do with them. Blender Magazine listed “Heart of Rock & Roll” as #6 on their “50 Worst Songs Ever” list in 2009, a list that probably tells you more about the people who created it than those who appear on it(to paraphrase an unknown forum commenter from the internet hinterlands.) To call Huey Lewis and The News’ “Sports” mainstream corporate rock would not be a lie. Yet such an incomplete proclamation ignores the reality that the popular rock musicians of that era were made up of people who struggled for many years paying their dues. Notice how many rockstars of the time were in their mid 30′s. Huey Lewis turned 34 in 1984 and had been playing in bands since Clover in 1971. The members of Dire Straits were roughly 35-36 when “Money For Nothing” hit it big. These songs were triumphalist songs of professional culmination through years of hard work and experience. Unlike the auto-tuned trust fund pop rock of today of teenagers plucked out of crowds for their looks and dancing ability, these were veteran musicians who paid their dues and mastered their craft. These mid 80′s “victory” songs were a part of the renewed spirit of the Reagan and Thatcher years… a rebound from the malaise of the 70′s and the demise of disco(though I happen to love the the late 1970′s and disco personally.) I feel incredibly fortunate to have been a child in this optimistic and carefree era, the last of it’s kind.
One doesn’t have to embrace Reagan or Thatcherite conservatism(Bruce Springsteen certainly didn’t) to appreciate these apolitical jams though. So next time you’re listening to what used to be called the “oldies” station(yet now seems more likely to play Weezer’s “Buddy Holly” than a song by the actual Buddy Holly, and “Heart Of Rock & Roll” comes on, don’t let the indie hipster inside you make you feel ashamed to enjoy it, or worse yet, fall into the trap of liking itironically like some impromptu meal at Red Lobster. Just crank it up and sing along(the “stutter” part at the beginning of the chorus is my favorite.) Revel in their hard earned success with them as they take you to a better time and place in your mind.
Do you prefer to watch video games instead of actually playing them?!?
Then check out this game!!
Wirehead was released for the SEGA CD in 1995. It was the first “movie” style game I had ever played. The graphics were full motion video, where you controlled Ned, a poor schmuck, who has a brain implant that allows him to be remotely controlled. It’s for this implant that evil agents are after him to steal his implant. Ironically, or not, it’s via his implant that you control Ned’s decisions to guide him through the game.
Wirehead plays like Dragon’s Lair, only with full motion video instead of animation. When Ned comes to certain “crossroads” you are prompted to make his decision on where to go. Usually you are given three choices which appear as directions, left, up, and right. Making the correct choice is trial-and-error for the most part. Each choice provided seems logical or completely ambiguous, such as going left down a hall, going up to exit the house, or going right into the kitchen. There is only one correct choice. Sometimes you have to go into battle mode, which you control whether to make Ned punch or kick. Again, they both would seem like good options, neither more appropriate than the other, but only one option is correct. Better remember to write it down.
The fun is that it feels like you’re controlling a movie, which was the developers intention. It was full motion video in a 16 bit gaming system era. Only achieved via the CD format. The gameplay might have been too repetitive for some people in that era of RPGs and fighting games.
The other reason the game is so good is that it feels like a 90s era sitcom. The style of clothes, the family safe humor and jokes, and the music. It could have been used as a pilot for a real sitcom on disney channel.
The SEGA CD was never a success in the US, but it had its share of solid games, and Wirehead was one of the last games released unfortunately. A forgotten console that needs to be checked out. If you’re not willing to play the game yourself, you can always watch the play-through of the game on YouTube, but you won’t see any of the funny cut-scenes of when you make an incorrect choice, which were the best parts.
Watching Ned get mauled by a bear is always entertaining!!
She won’t do windows….
I wish they would re-release the game for DVD players, using the uncompressed footage originally shot for the game. It would be a fun show!
“Never though that I’d be acting humanoid
that ain’t the simian thing to do
humanoids go frantic but before things get romantic
and I’m going humanoid over you!
If I thought that you’d enjoy it
I’d stop trying to avoid it
I’m going humanoid over you!” – Return to the Planet of the Apes
Inspiration for humanity can originate from the most unlikely of sources, such as in the case of “Return To the Planet of the Apes” (created by none other than the creators of the Pink Panther!), the short lived 1975 cartoon series based on the popular Planet of the Apes film franchise, which had been based on the novel by Pierre Boulle. The intense and colorful opening sequence, a montage of stills and it’s accompanying theme stand as a strangely moving yet completely forgotten and never appreciated work of 70′s pop art.
The premise of RTTPOTA is familiar territory. This time, three astronauts: Bill Hudson, Jeff Allen, and Judy Franklin get trapped in the future where mankind has destroyed itself, and the apes have taken over. The astronauts spend the majority of the episodes trying to protect the remaining primitive humans, and lead them out of the caves and on a long treacherous journey to “New Valley,” a supposed place of safety where they can “build pueblos the way the Indians did in New Mexico and Arizona.” All the while, they must stay ahead of, outsmart and sometimes fend off attacks from the apes and their cunning and determined, “General Urko”. Oh and that General Urko, what a character! He is portrayed as something of a belligerent, bumbling fool, but in reality he is incredibly intuitive and nearly always correct in his suspicions of what his enemies are up to.
Occasionally the humans must venture into Ape City to seek the help of ape scientists and “simiantarians” Cornelius and Zira, the only apes not openly hostile toward the humanoids.
Whatever happened to those modest, 70′s sideburn sporting, turtleneck wearing, medallion rocking, poetry reading, black American men who spoke the king’s English and everything. Oh how I want them back. Sadly, many were apparently subsequently replaced by all the gangsters, hip hoppers, and belligerent ‘hoot and hollerers’. Though something along these lines could probably be said to relate to all humanity. White culture(whatever that is) has certainly taken a nosedive since the 70′s as well. I just wish there were more men out there like Bill Hudson and Jeff Allen. Let me be the first to nominate Austin Stoker for president! I would even risk the possibility of getting jury duty to vote for him. While the creators of “The Pink Panther” won an Oscar for “The Pink Phink” in 1964, “Return to the Planet of the Apes” was cancelled after a mere 13 episodes. It barely registers as even a blip on the historical map of American pop culture, and is critically remembered negatively, if at all.
But as you can see, I often wonder about Bill, Jeff and Judy, and if and where their personalities can be found in our world today. As for the series itself, some of us see it not just as some non-essential part of a dragged out money making franchise, a third rate afterthought, but rather we see “Return to the Planet of the Apes” as a vastly
…worthy of an academape award.
This piece originally appeared in my 2008 book, SideQuests
……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.
WANTED: Two thrill-seeking reporters, brains optional, looking to dig up the story of the century
In 1985 the movie Transylvania 6-5000 came out. I’m not even sure it came out in theatres in Phoenix, but I do remember it coming out on VHS. My dad was a big fan of Michael Richards because of the weekly live skit show FRIDAYS that he starred on. I’m pretty sure that’s why my parents rented the movie and also rented the VCR, either from Circle K or Basha’s. The rental VCRs were encased in black plastic, and look more like rugged luggage. They were the best!
It’s about the head of a sleazy newspaper named Mac (Norman Fell) whose just watched a videotape that maybe shows the existence of Frankenstein’s monster (referred to as Frankenstein in the movie). Mac sends Jack (Jeff Goldblum) and Gil (Ed Begley, Jr), who is Mac’s son, to Transylvania to get the story behind the Frankenstein sighting. The movie plays like a modern day Abbott & Costello movie, or a Bing Crosby and Bob Hope “road” movie. Goldblum and Begley have great chemistry, and it’s a real shame that they didn’t star in another movie together.
This movie is jam packed with stars like Jeffrey Jones as the mayor, Michael Richards as the butler, Joseph Bologna as the mad scientist (also star of the Big Bus), and unforgettably, Geena Davis as a nymphomaniac vampire. She is one of the sexiest vampires ever in an American movie. This movie puts her in the Movie Cutie Hall of Fame. She has crazy sex appeal as the shy nympho vampire.
Michael Richards is also really good in this movie, showcasing the physical humor that made him a star later on. Some of his scenes are still super funny to me. Check out the scene with the puppet!
This movie also had an awesome box for it, it really made it seem like a scary movie, which there are no scary moments. I bet this movie was placed in the horror section and a few mom and pop video stores based on the box alone. It would look totally perfect sitting next to Evil Dead and Visiting Hours.
I also had no idea that the movie title was a pun on the Glenn Miller song Pennsylvania 6-5000 until I heard it in in a thrift store. I was in my twenties and had a crazy flashback to this movie.
If you are trying to build up a collection of VHS movies, this movie is worth it!
It might be rated PG, but I doubt anyone under 21 would really enjoy the movie. Its not slapstick enough for the younger kids, there are not real scary moments, and the humor is not vulgar ever. It’s the opposite of typical comedies these days.
It not great, but it really has some funny moments, a lot of charm with its great cast, and it’s good to watch when your’e feeling down.
See it! Geena Davis is so hot and adorable in this movie!!
Pete Bell: You took the purest thing in your life and corrupted it, for what? For what?
The movie BLUE CHIPS came out in 1994, during the height of basketball popularity. It came out the year after Michael Jordan abruptly retired from the NBA, just after winning his third straight championship. Mens college basketball was also huge, especially the rivalry between Duke and North Carolina. The coaches themselves were some of the most iconic and recognizable faces in basketball during this time. Several of these real life coaches and players appear in this film.
BLUE CHIPS is about Pete Bell (NICK NOLTE), coach of the Western University mens basketball team, nicknamed the Dolphins. The Dolphins were once a winning, successful team, but have fallen on hard times. A losing streak and inability to bring in top recruits has made the Dolphins mediocre. The pressure is on for coach Bell to bring in talented players and get the basketball program back on track. The problem is that the other colleges are illegally luring in recruits with gifts and money.
Happy (JT WALSH) is a booster that already has a shady past, and offers to help illegally bring in recruits to make his old school a winner again. Ed (ED ONEIL) is the sports writer who thinks something funny is going on with coach Bell and his recent recruits. Jenny Bell (MARY MCDONNELL) is Pete’s ex-wife, who is still close to Pete, and they probably still love each other. She helps him by tutoring one new recruit, Butch McRae (AFERNEE “PENNY” HARDAWAY), who is academically ineligible to play, and has only agrees to play if his mother is found a job and bought a house.
Neon (SHAQUILLE ONEAL) is the other high profile character we meet. He has raw talent, but doesn’t want to put in the hard work. This is seems to echo his real life NBA career, as he never really achieves the level of greatness that he seemed capable of.
In the movie, you can’t help but feel sorry for the position that coach Bell is in, and although you don’t want him to choose the dark path of bribery, it does seem like the only way to keep up with the other crooked colleges. NOLTE is great as coach Bell. His stern, gruff demeanor are in line of what a basketball coaches seems like. The fact that NOLTE shadowed Indiana Hoosiers coach BOBBY KNIGHT, makes sense, as they both seem to be a bit aggressive and hot-headed. NOLTE even kicks a basketball into the crowd when arguing with a referee.
The reason this film works is in great cast, and great directing by legendary WILLIAM FRIEDKIN (The Exorcist, The French Connection, Cruising). He wouldn’t seem to come to mind to direct a sports film, but consider that the movie is not really a sports movie, but a movie about conscious and consequences, which path to choose. There is no “big game” scene, such as in Teen Wolf, but the outcome is about all about the cost of winning.
Ironic that this movie is about corruption and gambling when it speculated that Michael “Air” Jordan’s retirement was partially due to his gambling addiction, and the murder of his father. These themes of gambling and fathers play into Blue Chips. The movie would be a great double feature with the 1974 movie THE GAMBLER, starring JAMES CAAN. If you’ve seen the movie, you will understand why.
Sports corruption has always been around, from boxing to golf. This movie works because corruption of college players, basketball and football especially, has always been alleged. News will occasionally tell us about a former college player who was connected to bribes and such corruption as this movie portrays.
The movie’s only failing is in casting real NBA players as the college recruits. They are completely flat, and are not convincing at all. They are on the same level as when Joe Montana hosted Saturday Night Live. I can’t help but think it was the movie studio that pushed for the use of real players. They almost make the movie unbearable when they are on screen. This does cannot be said of ex-Celtic star, BOB COUSY who is really good as the school’s athletic director.
Obviously SHAQUILLE ONEAL starred in a few other films after this, with the same level of acting. Something that will haunt him, and seems to overshadow his basketball accomplishments. Anyone still have a copy of SHAQ FU for the Super Nintendo?
See BLUE CHIPS, and enjoy the real drama of the characters as wonderfully portrayed (not the modern day NBA players though). It’s a excellent depiction of the real corruption that is still prevalent in todays modern sports. It’s a shame that NOLTE’s performance seems to have been completely forgotten as this movie was marketed as a sports movie “starring” SHAQ and PENNY HARDAWAY, real life teammates on the Orlando Magic. Revisit this movie, now that the horrible NBA hype doesn’t overshadow the real stars, NICK NOLTE and WILLIAM FRIEDKIN.
Director: William Friedkin
Writer: Ron Shelton
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.