August 2007

Monthly Archive

Typical CamWhore

Popular among marketing executives who’ve reached that point in their career where the cocaine and booze can no longer create the necessary plasticity to do their jobs is having adults attempt to use hip-hop slang. This lazy tactic started in the 80’s and quickly spread through pop-culture sending titters through middle America and your parents. It should have died out and never been reborn but, because the gene pools have been diluted beyond repair, the hilarious grey-haired matron talking jive to the kids returns time and time again to sell you cell phones or Sunny Delight or whatever the fuck people buy. “Hahahahah! How clueless is she, that retard, trying to talk slang like she’s down?” thinks shiny happy white people holding remotes.

These commercials always, without fail, cause extreme embarrassment for me. I don’t know why, I’ve never done the market research to unearth what deep-rooted trauma lurks in my past to cause such discomfort when some nameless day-actress says something like “keep it on the DL” on national television. Okay, my mother has probably humiliated me in this fashion but I can’t think of a specific instance except for one wonderful Thanksgiving where she was conversing with a younger cousin and it popped out onto the table and began infesting the Turkey with tapeworm. She wonders why I always loved working holidays.

Well, perhaps my horror at witnessing these displays of out of touch adults is an issue of empathy. I don’t understand many of the popular trends currently corrupting society as a whole and the greatest wormhole of confusion can be found here on the internet. The very fact that within a short period of time computers went from being something that, if you knew how to turn one on, could get you physically attacked and verbally ridiculed to being an indispensable daily asset baffles me; I distinctly recall them as being a very uncool thing that labeled users as insufferable nerds and caused my dad to think I was gay. Now he knows about youtube and rappers have websites and myspace pages. Myspace baffles me. I’ve seen people lurk on it for hours at a time, posting comments and trolling through profiles. There’s people who pimp other people’s myspace pages. This is making me feel very much like a clueless adult.

But the truth depths of modern perversion were, until quite recently, hidden from me. I thought that myspace was the ultimate in hyperactive media saturation until livejournal came into view. Message boards have changed significantly from the times of BBSs, although fundamentally they remain populated by geeky recluses who know that appearing at the local mall will elicit mockery and death by being pelted with pennies or small, hard candies. Yet they’re sleek and snazzy and in color with pictures and wobbling icons and, most horrifying, their own slang. In a way it’s a natural evolution of shorthand. You’re typing and you’re excited about the exchange– you need to relate the thoughts bursting from your head as quickly as possible. OMG has been with us for a long time and most of the western world can understand the implications. Kewl has, blessedly, disappeared entirely from usage.

It goes beyond a simple matter of slang, tho. There’s an entire generation coming up that has successfully integrated the internet into their mannerisms and interests and, unfortunately, their lives. A perfect symbiosis has occurred and millions of little wingnuts the world over have been fucking sold on the concept. Little shits posting video diaries of themselves on youtube capture the attention of nations while disaster, fire and brimstone reign supreme unnoticed. There’s a level of humour solely dedicated to online chat and postings. There’s memes. Imagine being airlifted from your safe hovel where you can walk through the room with no light and not bang your knee and being dropped in the middle of a Krystal Meyers concert. Then replace everyone with computers and give them programs designed to allow their unabashed inflation of personality present itself in technicolor with streaming video and audio.

Fortunately there’s an oasis out there where you can kick back for a spell and follow the links, absorbing the terms and cultural fads which populate this hinterlands we’ve created. Last week at work we were busy speculating as to what this new room across the hall was being used for. Actually, those of us who’ve not been in a coma or terminally stupid know exactly what is going on in there but we were speculating all the same. When they first began using it I taped a picture of an alien autopsy on the window which had, for the sake of privacy, been spray-painted opaque. This did not suffice. They’re growing pot in there, someone said. What is this, the 20’s? It must be something sinister. Someone brought up the fact that all employees in the new room must sign confidentiality waivers. This same someone also invoked the memory of a former owner/manager who had been bought out and removed after incurring repeated accusations of sexual harassment and general leering creepiness, suggesting they were being brought back into the fold to run this new top secret department. That’s right, my friends, they’ve put a production studio in at Amoeba and they’ve begun producing and streaming child porn.

We needed to do something about it. Posters, we must make posters and cover their door and its opaque window with evidence of our knowledge. But how do you communicate child porn besides writing on a piece of paper, “We make child porn in here”? Why, you find pictures of pedobear on the internet.

Pedobear

WTF? Pedobear is a pedophile bear that crawls through the internet in search of lolis. Pedobear is an unstoppable force lurking in online forums and virtual worlds hunting for underaged girls. Pedobear can be seen on youtube dancing with bananas. Pedobear became the poster child for the new room across the hall from us. I fired the first salvo finding a suitable image and scribbling a clever caption

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underneath and taping the shit out of it all over their door. Some prissy fucktard tore it down. I found a more disturbing image and someone devised an even more clever caption which I taped the shit out of all over their door. Some prissy fucktard tore that down too. Someone realized we had a lot of label paper on hand and soon were were populating whatever surfaced were handy with pedobear stickers. The denizens across the hall tried to fight back by taking our own posters and sticking them on our own door. We were not amused but responded by more posters, more stickers, more clever captions. We totally pwnd them, is what I’m saying.

Yet where did pedobear creep in to our collective consciousness and begin to fondle us inappropriately? Our source material came from The Encyclopedia Dramatica. As the Onion is the cool-kids lampoon of American news, politics and

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general going-ons ED is the internet’s bastion of in-jokes, snideness and being horribly offensive for the lulz. It’s toilet humor for people that are smart enough to see the joke in the fuck you but geeky enough to appreciate painstakingly photoshopped pictures of cartoon bears and young girls. It completely consumed our entire Thursday and left everyone following each random link lustily, laughing hysterically and calling one another to our computers. Friday saw a resurgence of fascination as well as a continued assault on the neighbors. It also saw someone figuring out that you can have animated gifs as your desktop’s background. It’s the perfect distraction for whiling away the idle hours at work, it’s horribly addictive and it may be the greatest summation of today’s internet culture that has been pointed out to me.

Lulz

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Underground Accident

Ever try to do the right thing? Terrible idea because the forces of fate are loathe to permit such acts of responsibility society puts forth as ideal standards. Time and time again the inclinations of would-be do-gooders result in failure, ridicule and winking, “should’ve known better” glances as the viral tales of defeat spread from amused bystanders to friends, family and co-workers.

My own life has been a steady trickle of avoiding situations which require a choice of right or wrong because the fear of retribution and the desire to act in accordance to values promulgated by church and state conspire with handshakes and bank transfers to tear me asunder. I hate the metro stops along the Embarcadero for the simple fact that they have fare boxes at either entry and standing on the platform suggests that the social contract has been signed– you have paid the entry fee and are waiting with evidence of this transaction for your civil chariot.

It may surprise you that I’m at all hesitant to pay for the bus. Okay, it doesn’t surprise the people who think of me as a pauper among misers nor the people who know of my coin jars but it might seem contrary to those who know my opinions on civic infrastructure and transportation: cities should not require the use of a car for the citizens to get to and from home and work and all points between. San Francisco has a far-reaching bus and trolly system which provides ample coverage but has never been able to manage this service in a timely, clean or safe manner. If the bus driver isn’t taking out a stop shelter or if the train isn’t dragging old Chinese women underneath then there’s a lunatic who has spent the past week marinating in their own shit yelling at their invisible friend or some kid with a gun in their backpack in the wrong part of town. All this after you waited for half an hour in the rain and get skipped by the first two busses which are packed closely followed by the third which is only going half the route.

So when you walk up to one of the Proof of Payment (POP) stops you’re subject to trying to ignore the fare cop who’s standing in your personal space shouting in a desperate attempt to raise their voice above your headphones– wearing dark sunglasses helps. But the cops are no where to be seen when you’re standing at the entry eyeing the fare boxes and so the casual observers will see only you paying for no damned reason and thinking you’re the fool for doing so. The only reason is fear of being caught but I always lost in the battle of fears and I always paced nervously around the stop near suffocation. For some reason I never had any problem smoking the whole time which is also liable for a ticket even after a maintenance worker warned me.

The odds are on your side, of course. How many fare cops can there be out there at any given time? There’s seven metro lines with any number of cars on the rails going two different directions. The underground stations are probably where most of the searches take place because tourists are easier to intimidate and not even the fare cops actually wanna ride MUNI. Hell, it’s not that long ago no one even gave a shit about the fare collection. Little kids would stare down bus drivers after running on the back door, bums would wave spent kleenex for fast passes and station attendants, if there was one, were usually too busy talking to someone to notice anyone hopping the stile. Shit, they didn’t even seem to notice anyone opening the wheelchair gate and its piercing alarm. But then they built these new stations out by State and the mall which was a joke. Except to Jay, the only person who was ever busted for fare evasion resulting in the second time he had to go to juvenile court. (more…)

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The elevators in the thirty-floor building where I work run on a scheme designed to save energy. What this means in practical terms is that there are four elevators with an average ten minute wait. People from my office embrace the universal slacker dodge of the smoke break to stand next to the snack machines and look at “girls”.

Today I received a cheery farewell from my coworker. Last week we had a bit of a dustup. The argument was getting heated, which was frustrating because this was ships passing in the night stuff. Eventually he grew quiet and seemed to be listening to my point of view. A few moments later he expelled a crackling fart from the depths of a deskside nap. When he woke up it was like night and day.

I may fault him on his methods, but results-wise he’s got the golden touch.

They sell beer in the vending machines and I think about it every single time I go to the office.

The heat has been stunning. My collar is a science project and collapse seemed imminent throughout the unairconditioned day.

Once I caught the elevator I tried to explain to another coworker that I was on my way to buy the second half of the sixth season of the Sopranos.


Where are you going?

“Mafia television.”

Uncomfortable grinning.

“I’m going to buy organized crime television, you know?”

You will go home now?

“I’m going to buy mob TV season and then go home.”

Have a nice weekend . . .

Crossing a major traffic artery I noticed trees that had been planted in the past week. Their sudden appearance was explained by an electronic billboard (sponsored by Omega watches OMG!) declaring an even year until the ballyhooed Olympics finally kick off and everyone can start thinking about FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010.

Cumulonimbus clouds stood stacked in a blue sky. Last week at 9pm, every night like clockwork, powerful thunder and lightning storms would appear, followed by a blessed ten minutes of cooling rain. Most people attribute this to the government controlling the weather, including myself. I saw something about local scientists mastering nuclear fusion on TV. “This miniature sun will supply unlimited energy and change human life on earth.” It’s hard to know what to think, however, as folks here open a new coal plant on a daily basis.

A fetid river moves beneath another bridge. A perching club of capped swimmers I can never join are valiantly braving industrial chemicals and horrifying fauna to cool off in the river’s waters. They are resting beneath trees across the river and their laughter laps up at me.

To my left I pass once again the Embassy of the Republic of Iran and a moment later a street walker with all her womanly arms bared. She’s shapely, walks like a baseball player in his uniform, and though pretty, looks like she’s taken a few punches in her day. I wear a backpack, so working girls generally take me as too poor to be worth their time. Next come a beer house, an auto mechanic and now the low rent embassies of countries like Bolivia, stacked tightly within something resembling a housing project apartment building.

Men with mustaches and brief cases and bad skin and the weight of open state secrets officially cross the street. There is a buzzing evading bugging and its peaks and valleys describe plans to end AIDS and end lives, start companies and wars, cooperate and develop. Cicadas shriek from the trees and the river keeps

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rolling.

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Almost a year ago now I was trying to do fancy-pants blog dance. I broke two posts, was really stumped and eventually gave up, leaving these gems to the dashboard and suspecting foul play. Today for whatever reason I quickly and efficiently corrected the technical glitches.

Here’s a pretty sarcastic one about demagogues.

This one’s about immigration with a little taste of a slice of my life–it’s so meringue my harangue it’s like the ice on your wife.

Sweet baby.

PS: An interesting epilogue to all of

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KarmaBro

Making my way to Keith’s Monday evening I came across a red light on Fell. Directly across from my corner was a young woman holding the hand of, presumably, her child. After traffic cleared I began to cross and noted that they did not follow suit, the light still red for us and her with a kid. Suddenly I was back on another corner some night in the past– 16th and Dolores and I’m hot, sweating, on the way to a show and most likely suffering from a weak nerves cocktail… I’m sharing space with a man and two children and the light clears– I’m out in the street like a shot. “Is it really worth three seconds?” is rhetorically asked, indignant with just a light flavour of aggression. Three seconds being, of course, the amount remaining on the crossing indicator for 16th. I didn’t bother turning around– what, I’m gonna pick a fight with some guy and two kids over that?

It’s the children that he’s concerned about, or more specifically their penchant for picking up bad habits quicker than a cold. I even managed to feel guilty for showcasing such errant behaviour under this obnoxious rebuke… Hadn’t made it more than halfway across Fell by the time the vision cleared and I looked up at the woman. She wasn’t sternly insisting to her child that she never do as I’d just done, nor was she preparing to pepper the air with admonishment. There was no eye contact whatsoever and I swear that the woman’s head could not have been craned any farther from me had it been broken.

Some days before I had been making my way down to Safeway which didn’t seem like such a bright idea because my body was threatening to either send fluids suddenly flooding out from my bladder or surging up through my throat. My pace was brisk and I was pretty intent on trying to control my breathing to calm various functions down while simultaneously attempting to achieve the world time record for shopping excursions. Half a block ahead I observed a gawky man shuffling slowly, pausing, looking around, shuffling forward and I began a subtle arc so as to clear his odd meandering with enough space to avoid any collision and to avoid startling him by suddenly being right behind him. Fortunately for me this landed my foot right on top of a $20 folded in half laying on the sidewalk and, using the mystical art of plucking pennies from the street without anyone noticing what a scumbag I am, scooped it up without pause.

Between the moment my eyes caught the twenty as my foot covered it to the moment I had completed my recovery I had evaluated the half block’s time I’d watched the man wander slowly down the street. By the time he had reached the point where I was passing him we were both parallel to the money and I concluded that this served as evidence enough of his innocence of littering. It honestly didn’t even occur to me that the money might be his until I had already walked on, crossed a street and was halfway across another. God knows how long he’d been shuffling up and down the street looking around, stopping, looking, shuffling. He didn’t look too disheveled or insane for money, but how do I ask someone if they dropped this money laying on the ground? Hey, is this your $20?

Still, before I reached Safeway I was sent back in time, further than my trip to 16th and Dolores. Years back and I’m walking down Arkansas Street one night smoking a cigarette, walking the little circles I walked. Just in deeper dark of the trees holding the streetlights back I came across a pile of personal effects– it looked like someone had emptied a wallet or purse on the sidewalk and left it. Business cards, credit cards, and a shit ton of money– not a $20 but a stack of them. This seemed very exciting to me, but I kept looking through the cards until I found the ID. The address was, of course, right next to where I was crouched digging through the riches.

I could see what must have happened– some guy barely gets out of a cab after a night of life and loses everything in between the curb and his gate. Maybe his excesses deserve retribution but I’m not playing God tonight– I gather all of the shit and reach through the bars of the gate so I can drop it all in the newspaper mailbox. It’s three in the morning and I’m not gonna ring any doorbells.

The problem being, of course, why would anyone look for their lost wallet contents and money in the newspaper mailbox which is probably never used? So when I’m walking to work the next day I make a point to pass the house again and this time I ring the doorbell. I don’t want to be doing this, I don’t want to talk to anyone and I don’t want to look like some junkie expecting rewards. A woman answers, probably not much older then I am, and the fact that I have no business ringing the doorbell is clear on her face. But I explain why I’m there and she pulls everything out of the hiding place as I start to leave. “Wow, good karma!” she says through the bars. Before I can stop myself I reply,”yeah, but that’s for after you’re dead.” and continue on my way, but now I’m biting my tongue. It was the worst thing I could have said because now it sounds like I’m bitter for not being offered a reward. That still bugs me when I find myself thinking about it.

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