Rickymortis setting in

“Macklemore’s new album, Gemini, has been positioned as a “liberation” from the ponderous interrogations that came before. He’s done, as he put it, with “preaching to the choir”: rapping politics to the white liberals who compose the majority of his fanbase. Which, for many, comes as a relief. He remains the avatar of white guys trying hard not to be the worst, but he’s also — especially in this new incarnation — a salve for those exhausted with the enduring conundrum of white guilt. His endurance makes sense, but it’s also proof of the fickleness of so many components of white liberalism: When you can put a conversation aside when it ceases to thrill you or feed you, how deep was your investment? Is the ability to stop talking about injustice the greatest white privilege of all?” Anne Helen Petersen

“The reader is the space on which all the quotations that make up a writing are inscribed without any of them being list; a text’s unity lies not in its origin but in its destination. Yet this destination cannot any longer be personal; the reader is without his without history … he is simply that someone who holds together, in a single field, all the traces by which the written text is constituted.” Roland Barthes

“We were instructed to write with something of the ease in which we might speak, and that is a good rule for beginners. In time it can be absorbed, taken for granted, and finally disobeyed. The best writing comes, obviously, out of a precision we do not and dare not employ when we speak, yet such writing still has the ring of speech. It is a style, in short, that can take you a life to achieve.” Norman Mailer

“When a man writes from his own mind, he writes very rapidly. The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.” Dr. Johnson

Now that we’ve all spent another week getting out of bed asking the question, “Oh what the hell is it now?” I thought it might be time to look at a couple of things that were overrunning my various feeds which were in no way related to the larger events in the news cycle just passed.

Ready?

Do I have something on my teeth?

Years and years ago when the Bloggitysphere was new some people wondered if sooner or later every possible topic would be exhausted given the total number of people blogging. The question went nowhere until last week when I noticed that the gaping maw that is Medium, Patreon, and the other contributor powered sites started running out titles that seemed like people just thinking out loud.

OK – well … not so much thinking out loud as taking down dictation – sorta like they were writing down stuff that popped up in the interior monolog. You know, your inner voice, that little voice in your head that acts like your brain’s idea of post-it notes.

There were titles like, “Maybe Not” and “Is That What I Think It Is?” which leads me to believe that the email article roundups I get from the various contributor sites might look like this any day now.

Can’t be sure if it’s a trend or not, I’ll let you know if it keeps up. Or maybe I’ll just write to one of these “authors” and ask why he or she doesn’t have the simple common courtesy of talking to him or herself in public like normal people.

Smells like R. Kelly’s sheets

Up top there’s a pull quote from an lengthy article on Macklemore which came out a few days ago. Largely it’s about race and his place in the recording business. I only found it interesting for the first sentence –

Last week, while Twitter was focused on Cardi B vanquishing Taylor Swift to become the first unaccompanied female rapper to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in almost 20 years, Macklemore’s new album, Gemini, hit the top of the iTunes charts — a prime indicator of the listening habits of people too old to understand streaming.

This pretty much fits with our encounters with his fan base – they’re either over 35 or under 15. As the article goes on to say –

This might explain why white people in the Pacific Northwest proved such an accepting audience for Macklemore: We don’t fancy ourselves liberal sophisticants. Macklemore has been called suburban dad-rap, and Seattle is nothing if not filled with suburban dads. You don’t have to be male or even live in the suburbs to fulfill the archetype: You just have to like the Seahawks and local IPAs, live in a “starter home” that cost more than half a million dollars, and own multiple iterations of puffy jacket.

An interesting take, but let me offer you another.

You don’t have to beat the Seattle bushes very hard to turn up someone who is directly related to Macklemore. You can meet all manner of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. While I’ve had several close scrapes with meeting him the closest I ever got was talking to his wife, who is whip-smart and a p-r natural, at a luncheon. The rough distribution of family means that any number of people can easily find a connection to him. Failing that he is the Seattle local boy made good and when you roll that up with the native provincialism found here in The Great North Woods, he is regarded as America’s most beloved rapper/hip hop artist.

Whether or not that’s true.

That provincialism expresses itself in odd ways. The earliest example we encountered was people buying pc’s instead of Macs because Bill Gates’ folks gave lots of money to Seattle charities. The most frequent expression comes when the life-long folks encounter a local phenomena they don’t like. If they don’t like something then it can only be the work of outsiders.

You know, like grunge.

Sure Kurt was from up the road, but he wasn’t from Seattle.

Worse yet?

Eddie Vedder is from out of state.

All those dirty boys all dressed alike playing that awful loud music!

Make no mistake – they aren’t from around here even if their mothers went into labor under the Space Needle!

Case in point and speaking of luncheons – one afternoon I was at a function (sans Madame Macklemore) and while poking at my food wondering if it has ever spent time as an organic life form I thought I heard some one mention my name at the next table. Then I could have sworn I heard it again. Half a minute later the emcee gets up to the podium, calls me up, and asks if I have a minute to explain “What a Sound Garden is.”

Omitting the rumors that Kim Thayil goes to many local restaurants and doesn’t pay because he’s Kim f’n Thayil I gave them a thumbnail sketch. Several questions ensued mostly about where the band members were born. While I wasn’t sure the crowd was certain they weren’t from around here. By the time I got back to my seat my Montsanto Chicken Entree Slurry was cold.

Where were we?

Mom likes Macklemore, but I have no serious opinion of him one way or the other. Also, as a sorta semi-suburban dad I have been exposed to much of the music the young people like by way of Alaska Wolf Joe. As such we’ve heard MF Doom, Tyler the Creator, and Death Grips among others. Thankfully we’re old enough that, while we can appreciate some of the genre, we will never be drug into a conversation about Kanye vs. Kendrick. Should it come up all we have to do is look glassy eyed and a tad confused.

Sorta like somebody needs to take us back to the home.

Otherwise please remember this about streaming. You can hide you streaming history. Unlike cd and vinyl albums no one can reach into your streaming and produce the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and ask, “What the hell do we have here?!?!?!?”

DISCLOSURE: while AWJ isn’t under foot these days I do get suggestions via Twitter and Spotify about new music that’s out there and that’s why this is my idea of suburban dad rap.

And for those of you who like a little something about current affairs –

Moving along –

A Rick-orous vetting of the subject

The front page and the lede are pretty obvious. My own interest usually lies in what you find several pages in or long after the jump. Digitally what starts to pile up around the edges during a week like the one just past says something about how people are expressing their inner voices. Despite all that’s happened in the past seven days an unusual number of posts about Rick and Morty have been turning up in my various feeds.

Why?

Most of the content revolves about how dark and realistic the show is. My mini-binge of watching four whole episodes did show that – even for a cartoon- the knock-down drag-out fights between Morty’s parents are less cartoon-y than anything you’d see on Dr. Phil. Otherwise the show strikes me as somebody’s serious allergic reaction to every family sitcom from the 80s.

Since the show is broadcast way past my bedtime and since I’ll never figure out how to access the streamed version (QED) it seemed natural to reach out to Alaska Wolf Joe for an explanation of all things Rick and Morty.

AWJ asks that you watch this one-minute clip before reading on because:

For context, Rick has turned himself into a pickle to avoid family counseling. I should note, for further context, the the family counseling itself is mixed with absurd coprophagia jokes – which serve to diminish the counselor’s accreditation – and which seems to highlight the suspicion that, as usual, the mental health profession is nothing but one huge scam which is insincere. Rick attends this session as a pickle.

AWJ writes:


Rick and Morty is an animated television comedy series which concerns the adventures of one Rick Sanchez, grandfather to Morty Smith. In between this is what may or may not concern a paper cardboard rendition of the American family circa 2010, which entreats an evenly distributed apathy. We have a chronically depressed mother with deeply inhibited anger, and a father who no longer functions as the patriarchal arbiter of control but rather a haunting of the old patriarchs to be mocked – an accelerated Homer Simpson, drunk off of his own oafishness to the point of banality but a deeply subversive impotency. And of course we have something of the strange figures which millenials occupy in the form of their children, one being a generic teen girl (who’s only personality is signified by some mild-mannered form of consumer vanity, make what feminist critique of that you will), and the other being the eponymous Morty of Rick and Morty.

Of course, in this, I have not characterized exactly what the foremostly eponymous character stands for: one Rick Sanchez. The problem being is that Rick Sanchez does not bear even the faintest resemblance to the rest of paper-mâché renditions of media clichés blended with our own postmodern anxieties. Well, perhaps he resembles the latter part, that part being a certain unwritten postmodern anxiety – for Rick Sanchez is more or less a walking caricature of a certain egoism which openly calls itself nihilism. And this is why, of course, the show is truly despicable. Our main character is a strange caricature of the ubermensch, who is an alcoholic “great man of science” (independent of any lab, and independent of any research) who attempts to play fast and loose with intergalactic aliens not as any form of moral superiority, not as means to a Will to Power; no, he simply does it because he is bored.

The show is intent on forcing you to listen to the same unfortunate talking points that anyone who wants to tell you that they are a self-professed existentialist will offer you; namely that there is no God, there is no meaning, and that Science proves that our universe is inherently chaotic. Therefore, instead of truly grasping for any intrinsically person moral truths in this chaotic world, we instead should just know that there is no truth, and accept that our fate is ultimately meaningless, and that science was right all along. This last point perhaps is the one which is most curious, considering that it really was not a talking point of the existentialists, who more or less were concerned with the human experience in regards towards life and death – not in meaninglessness, but applying the recently developed phenomenological model towards these inquiries of meaning and authenticity. But even as Nietzsche or Kierkegaard predated phenomenology, and are both clichéd as being rather dour individuals, they too were nowhere near the supposed blind-faith “scientific” nihilism of our current predecessors. They stressed an individual’s choice, continually, to find meaning or to affirm faith – and especially for Nietzsche, in defiance of this apparent void which could come to fruition as the idea of “Nihilism.”

Indeed, this show is most despicable because it professes this bleak void in self-styled smugness, and despite this, offers no ethical perspective whatsoever. Life is horror, we are all going to die, no one will speak our name at some point, etc. etc. And this is comedy. That is precisely what is so despicable. This is comedy. Who are we supposed to be empathizing with? Who are we supposed to be laughing at, or laughing for?

But I would like to justify that the problem is not itself a worldview of virulent and universal absurdity. In fact, there are two authors which I could consider immediately who also regard a form of universal and cosmic absurdity, if not total nihilism. But what is more, I would like to establish that I believe that they fulfill some duty within the content of their own work, such that they can be considered morally responsible for the ideas which they espouse. One of these authors would be Franz Kafka, and the other would be H.P. Lovecraft.

Regarding Kafka, I want to establish that his universality is the universality of the absurd – a world in which all of its proponents were equally absurd as one another, and that it was inescapable. But what is important to note is that he thought that this universal absurdity was human made, and implicitly, could be fixed by human action. This is most evidenced by his behavior towards his own works. It was reported that when he wrote them, he read them out to his private circle of friends, and these were extremely rapturous events. They would all break out in laughter – even if a bitter laughter – over the terrifying and absurd moments in his novels. Nonetheless, I find this laughter moral. The importance of what makes something moral is precisely that it prescribes a world that is other than it already is; at the minimum, it serves a hypothetical which tells us how we should regard the future of human life. It is impossible to read Kafka’s novels and feel that, despite the banal horror which haunts the lives of his protagonists, that he ever condones this system. Kafka, if he is to be remembered at all, is one of the first satirists of the horror that could become the capitalist, socialist, and fascist bureaucracies of the twentieth century – and we are sure to remember him not just a satirist, but as a moralist who strictly warned us of such systems. As such, it is only fair that we can say that Kafka concerns a moral stance within his work.

Lovecraft, on the other hand, is a much stranger case. A large amount of the fear of alienation and destruction which haunts his works is the production of xenophobia and racism. It is hard to encounter his works without seeing the hints of something which became repressed in his more significant works – namely, the suppression of the Other. But in between that, he forecasts a void which is no less significantly universal, and which distinctly forecasts scientific nihilism but also the limits of scientific nihilism. The fear of Lovecraft, of course, is that when we finally pierce the veils of human knowledge and of the scientific method, we find out that what exists beyond the veil either hates us, will annihilate us, proves that we are infinitesimally small within the scheme of the cosmos, or all three.

I will consider that Lovecraft is a wrong moralist. The world which resulted from the racial intermixing of American culture hasn’t destroyed us, and for the most part, the discoveries of science haven’t come to destroy us yet – pace, all the horrors of warfare (primarily the nuclear, which Lovecraft did not live to see.) But it is unmistakeable that Lovecraft had a moral purpose of his world in which he forecasted cosmic nihilism and annihilation, fear of the Other and fear of man’s knowledge – he advocated what can be considered an almost reactionary turn within society. He may not necessarily have literally advocated a politics, but it is hard to read Lovecraft and think there is not something hidden underneath this Gothicism which is profoundly in desire of something. And that is why I, if somewhat dubiously, have to call him a moralist: he is a moralist of science, in saying that we should watch ourselves lest we find the wax wings of our scientific innovation too close to the sun. The cosmos may be a horrifying blur of chaos which man has best left untouched, but we can avoid this fate if we return to a purified humanism.

I want to connect this to the fact that I feel ultimately that Rick and Morty lacks any sense of moralization in the goals of what it satirizes or what it portrays. It is worse than simply misunderstood Nietzscheanism, it is Nietzsche’s enemy, the raw prospect of nihilism. Rick and Morty asks us to laugh at a hollow parade of pop cultural clichés underneath the guise of a minimal science fiction plotline. And indeed, isn’t it somewhat absurd I can be saying all this of what essentially amounts to a watered down cartoon version of Back to the Future? But Rick and Morty no doubt has philosophical pretensions, and what is worse, it is undeniable that certain elements of its audience take it to be philosophical on the whole. As such, it is a work which must bear the weight for the morality of its representations, and clearly fails to do as such.

This is why it is despicable. Of course it is absurd to ask that a work which essentially amounts towards being a pop cultural distraction should be moral. But it is hard to find in the entire work a single point of prescription, of hope, of meaning. Rick and Morty is the worst type of fiction, for it is neither aesthetically pleasing, nor wholly entertaining, nor does it open us up towards anything which can be considered a new perspective. Instead, it seeks to reaffirm ourselves of our worst suspicions: no alternative is viable to the society that we live in, family is a banal formality which makes everyone miserable, the universal is uncaring and chaotic, morality is wrong, religion is wrong and God is dead, the only good interest is self-interest, and scientific development is always Good and Right. This is the ideology of Rick and Morty. The ideology of Rick and Morty is the ideology of Late Capital. It professes these values because it allows us to become subservient to the disappearance of the human subject under the masses of data, underneath the metaphysical burden of the scientific world which the scientific model has produced. Rick and Morty is a popular portrait of what we can establish as the current human condition, and now more than ever is it apparent that our current human condition is the dissolution of humanity into data points. Rick and Morty is complacent with our current cynical world view beyond all other complacencies. And complacency is morally irresponsible. Thusly, it is morally irresponsible.

There is no need for us to create any piece of artistic media which claims to kill idealism, for we are already all materialists. We are materialists wandering through the black night of morality, in which one can look up at the limitless stars, which looks suspiciously like the monitor lights of server stacks, and realize that they are all dying – and in which no elder god or bureaucrat can screech at us from the deepest reaches of this infinite moral abyss. In this night, under the faint and dying light of the moonless cosmos, all cows are black.

And if you have 23 minutes to spare – here’s the Readers Digest Condensed and/or meta episode that sufficiently sums up the series.

If you’ll excuse me I have to go now and see if Medium would be interested in 5000 words because I was just wondering if it’s hot in here or is it just me?

Please enjoy this musical interlude while I’m away.

Want whipped cream on your Dr. Pepper?

“Nothing beats the taste sensation when maple syrup [claps his hands] collides with ham.” Dale Cooper, government employee

“But I am, of course, a dirty leftist commentator, and will play fast and hard with the truth.” Alaska Wolf Joe


“The younger people are probably the most junior people on the team; for them to say something, they would have to be really confident in themselves. To have a younger millennial account person go up to a senior creative person and say, ‘We’re not going to do this, we think there’s a problem with it’ — that’s an uncomfortable power position to put a young person into. Products don’t solve problems. They’re trying to present a product as a solution to a very large, very important, very serious cultural and societal problem. The only way a company can get away with doing that kind of thing is if they’re really doing something. You can’t tell me that you’re doing that, Pepsi.” – Mara Epstein, Ph.D., Professor of media studies at Queens College


“I think the message that Pepsi hoped would come out of it is that Pepsi is in touch with what is going on. It would get young people thinking, ‘Is Pepsi a brand for me?’ But they missed the point. It’s completely overproduced. If you want something to feel at all genuine, why are you using celebrities? Let alone celebrities that have no association whatsoever with the thing you’re advertising. It makes sense that this was done in-house because it doesn’t have the creative rigor that an outside ad agency would bring. People at the agency rip each other to pieces if something isn’t good. It’s harder for that stuff to get made by an ad agency. I think what probably happened in this case is that someone just really wanted to use Kendall Jenner. Someone inside attached themselves to the thought that she is really of the moment. It’s really transparent when we do that. If you’re going to use a celebrity, you really need to have a good reason to use them. The world is craving authenticity, even if authenticity is a completely overused word. People want these things to feel real. Like use real people. This ad was the least relatable piece of communication I’ve ever seen. It feels manipulative. People are not stupid. I think they were smart to take it down. It looks like it could cost $2 million just for production alone … And having Skip Marley do the music doesn’t make a difference. Even if you had Migos do the soundtrack. Even if Offset had written the soundtrack, purely out of love for Pepsi, it wouldn’t have worked. – ad exec who did not wished to be named

“The Theater of the Absurd dramatizes the recent dilemma of Western man, the man of action who appears not to be involved with the action. Such is the original and appeal of Samuel Beckett’s clowns. After 3000 years of specialist explosion and increasing specialism and alienation in the technological extensions of our bodies, our world has become more compressional by dramatic reversal. As electrically contracted, the globe is no more than a village. Electric speed in bringing all social and political functions together in a sudden implosion has heightened human awareness of responsibility to an intense degree. It is this implosive factor that alters the position of the aristrocrat, the teenager, and some other groups. They are now involved in our lives, as we in theirs, thanks to electric media.” Marshall McLuhan 1958

“It is not very easy to fix the principles upon which mankind have agreed to eat some animals, and reject others; and as the principle is not evident, it is not uniform. That which is selected as delicate in one country, is by its neighbours abhorred as loathsome.” Dr. Johnson

Now and then we like to have an outing that will keep our credentials as cultural anthropologists in good working order. Our preferred destination for such things is Los Angeles, but time and Alaska Wolf Joe’s ongoing experimentation with being a coastal elitist on the opposite coast have limited our options. Sure, Portland’s close, but even there we’ve worn down the possibilities there to little more than running out some tepid snark about the town being wholly dependent on foreign beard oil.

Instead we decided on coastal Oregon so that we test the proposition, “In Heaven there is no high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) that’s why we put it in everything here.”

Make yourself comfortable, we’re gonna be here awhile.

The central engine that drives coastal Oregon forward is neither lumber nor tourism. Instead the entire area seems to run on a limitless supply of pancake batter and whipped cream. The more successful eateries resemble one of those infinitely re-arrangeable executive toys you’d find in the SkyMall catalog. It makes little difference if you come alone or with a party of 12. The tables can be bent or shaped into any number of configurations as if they were made from Silly Putty instead of wood. The ensuing breakfast, which the locals still believe is the most important meal of the day, is surprising low on dairy products. Perhaps the butter would only get in the way of the whipped cream, several flavors of syrup, and soda pop which seems to be every bit as popular as coffee at that time of day.

These scalable breakfast nooks also come with attached gift shops as knick-knackery is a serious component in the coast GDP. Each offers a wide selection of Christmas ornaments year-round and the following items, each of which we took a pass on:

– Plush Oregon Duck mascot
– Plush Santa Oregon Duck mascot*
– Plush leprechaun Oregon Duck mascot*
– Plush Easter Bunny Oregon Duck Mascot
– Plush camo/Rambo Oregon Duck mascot
* Denotes discounted item

Pushing away from the breakfast table and wandering out to work off the HFCS we’d injested we found this retail establishment.

When we tried the front door we found they weren’t open yet, but my mind was reeling.

Vegan alligator?

Is he in a tank in the back or some old bathtub? Did they caulk up and old show stall and keep him there? Does he have a name like Free or Wind? Wondering aloud about that last one Mom said, “Alligators live in water, so you gotta think of a water sign, probably Aquarius or Aquaria if it’s a gal gator”.

OK, but does he do tricks? Does he play hacky sack with a trainer? Can tourists buy little bags of pressed quinoa cut into shapes that look like little fish?

Because if those were around it would blow open the synapses on each and every French postmodernist alive!

Oh hey – speaking of semiotics – while in Oregon my Tuesday began with this 3-minute video popping up in my Tweety.

And my afternoon ended with Kendall Jenner sticking the HFCS to The Man!

Here to explain all things related to those on the lower rung the Kardassia is our own Alaska Wolf Joe –

Consider, I suppose, that the Pepsi ad is much like the Syrian attack which it so closely pairs with chronologically, a simile of bourgeois hors d’oeuvres and red wine, flesh and blood. Perhaps as Barthes would point out, red wine itself creates insatiable thirst at best, and at worst is a consequence of the social event (war). (Barthes’ Mythologies, “Wine and Milk.” To summarize here, I recall Barthes’ analysis of wine as being paradoxically dry but thirst quenching – in that in his own terms, “[…] at least thirst serves as an initial alibi for its consumption[…]” (Mythologies 79) To note briefly here of war, it is similarly a galvanizing act of quenching, its initial process claims to be a reagent in the reaction of peace, at least at the outset.)

I. Pepsi

No doubt in the mythology of the infamous Kendall Jenner advertisement, Pepsi itself is portrayed a nourishment of the body, that which quenches thirst. A better question to be asked of the commercial may be this: Why are they thirsty? The ideological supposition itself is immediately formed, “They are thirsty for justice!” but this is a lie.
I read it as that they thirst because they are attractive, creative, and have a surplus of sexuality – they are thirsty precisely because they are bodies in motion, but particular bodies: bodies of enjoyment. This thirst is not caused of a natural biological need, rather at the outset we can compare it with surplus value: it is the thirst of those who can afford to waste their biological energy in Spectacle. It is their raw hedonism of pleasure through protest, pleasure through art, pleasure through imagined narratives of “countercultural critique” which enables them to be thirsty. It is the perspiration of jouissance. They can only afford this thirst because of their status with regards to Capital. If they were truly proletarian, this Spectacle would be impossible, the thirst would become dangerous. It is not so disparate of course, worker’s hands have still manufactured this Pepsi, but it is precisely this which causes these young bourgeois to thirst. For the workers themselves are already thirsty, are already suffering – they could enjoy a nice cold Pepsi. The young bourgeoisie lacks this thirst; they do not have nearly such a miserable condition in life. They must become more symptomatic, more laborious. They must create thirst in order to enjoy this Pepsi. And what an enjoyable Pepsi it will be, once they have earned it.

To compare, here is Zizek on soft drinks:

A more pressing issue is at hand that regards the political in the commercial itself. I had recently watched Fritz Langs’ Metropolis, a great film of ambiguity regarding the bourgeois support of the worker as Spectacle. One of the things most mystifying about the film is that we do not know precisely what it is that the machines do. In the inadvertent gaze of Langs’ directorial sensibility and the overtones of the script, this renders the workers even more as an inanimate object unto themselves – even more as an undifferentiated whole only recognizable for labor value, removed and alienated of their subjectivity, brought through to the “self-consciousness” of their position in the master and slave dialectic. There is nothing more they are conscious of, and nothing more that we are conscious of, than that they are laborers. Their machines are nameless, their work is nameless, and they themselves (virtually) are nameless.
Contrast this, of course, with what we are offered here in the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad. Its most infamous initial image is simply of that of protest signs devoid of any coherent message. It is a revolution without organs. A woman in a hijab scribbles on photography. What is she photographing? Kendall Jenner poses in front of a mirror. What is she modeling for? A man plays a cello. We do not hear the music he plays.

It extends too to the actions: This man perspires over his cello, this supposedly Muslim woman throws these photographs aside, Kendall Jenner discards her wig and (miraculously) changes into a proletarian costume, revealing her “authenticity”.

Why?

Inevitably, there is no answer. For what is there to consider of it but Spectacle? What are they joining, of course, but Spectacle? The musicians in the street, the break dancers whispered of briefly in the montage are the most authentic consumers in the whole commercial: they are already aware that this is a celebration, a perverted Carnaval, a burlesque of revolution.

Do not focus on the moment which has now cemented itself in our cultural conscious of Kendall Jenner handing a Pepsi to a cop1. Focus on the sequence afterwards, in which the cop smiles and looks over at the other cop in a knowledge of agreement. An agreement to what? An agreement to enjoyment. This is precisely what is novel about this commercial, what is truly revolutionary. For there is no longer a moment of free love, the uninhibited flow of orgone, no longer mass revolt, no longer “hanging them by the last bit of rope which they will sell us” there is—enjoyment. The revolution here is that the entire world will become a Pepsi commercial. The gross surplus enjoyment, the raw and impossible jouissance of all existence is nothing but an orgiastic enjoyment of Pepsi unto infinity.
Consider then the impossible fantasy of a Pepsi commercial, so enjoyable that it never ends – it is a never-ending montage of fantastical commercial enjoyment, it is this revolution without organs which we have glimpsed carrying on ad infinitum, it continues until the entire world’s factories have stopped, that the world’s population is starving, the clouds have darkened with pestilence, our urine has turned black with blood from kidneys which have tasted naught but Pepsi for years, and finally into the absence of God’s position in the heavens a lone voice screams: “Pepsi!” This is the horrid jouissance of Pepsi. The impossible horror of a commercial reaching its liminal conclusion in death.

Is this not how the end of the world will look? Will it not look like this commercial?

AWJ’s thoughts on Pepsi and Syria continue here.

As that’s all a bit much to chew on in one sitting, no matter how much Log Cabin syrup and whipped cream you put on it, I shall be succinct.

Barthes becomes difficult to use in after information becomes suddenly ubiquitous and easily manufactured. The old media was based on the scarcity of the means to produce content which is why co-opting symbols – as seen in the video above – made sense. His Mythologies remains an important read and maybe well go into this more at a later time.

Meanwhile – being the low season on the Oregon coast the store’s hours were highly variable and thus my search for the vegan alligator will have to continue in the summer months.

Until then I will whistle this happy tune.

Burial and internment at Commode Gardens

“Bear’t that th’ opposèd may beware of thee. Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice;Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment. Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,But not expressed in fancy; rich, not gaudy,for the apparel oft proclaims the man.” Polonius from Hamlet Act I Scene III

“They (strippers and burlesque performers) wear their audience when they take off their clothes.”- Herbert Marshall McLuhan

“In Being and Nothingness (1943), Jean-Paul Sartre wrote that man wishes to possess things in order to enlarge his sense of self, and that we can know who we are only by observing what we have. Studies of ownership and identity – by marketing experts, anthropologists, psychologists and sociologists – come to the same conclusion: we project our sense of self onto everything we own. According to Russell Belk, a professor of marketing at York University whose 1988 paper about possessions and the extended self remains a touchstone for all subsequent research, this kind of projection serves a valuable function for a healthy personality, ‘acting as an objective manifestation of self’. Humans have a fundamental need to store memories, values and experiences in objects, perhaps to keep them safe from memory loss; proof that, yes, that really happened. It is not even necessary to own these totemic items for their charge to hold. People speak about ‘my’ television programme, ‘my’ movie star, or ‘my’ seat in a classroom – a form of possessive self-definition that extends to matters of taste as well as to stuff. Questions such as: ‘Are you Beatles or are you Stones? Blur or Oasis?’ are examples of how taste funnells us into tribes that proclaim our aspirations and ideals along with our interests.” – Lee Randall

“Vulgar and inactive minds confound familiarity with knowledge, and conceive themselves informed of the whole nature of things, when they are shown their form or told their use.” Dr. Johnson

“Well Mack the Finger said to Louie the King, ‘I got forty red, white and blue shoestrings and a thousand telephones that don’t ring…’” – generally attributed to Ovid

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My Facebook page seems to be dying. This comes with all the personal angst of coming home to a dead goldfish. (OK, coming home to a dead goldfish – minus — the angsty six year-old wondering why Mr. Swimmy is upsidedown.) The general cause can be traced back to a Facebook quiz that was making the rounds which showed just how large your vocabulary is. Most of the people in my feed routinely turned up with vocabularies well over 30,000 words while I barely managed to crack five figures. Some how my low score seems to have triggered a slow migration of people away from my FB page. Again – not that it concerns me, after all I’ve reached the advanced aged where I’m either going to endlessly repeat myself or forget what I was going to say.

How many words do you need to do that?

Jejune? De rigueur? Phlegmatic?

Oh, please!

Those cows are long gone from the barn.

Mom, who’s razor sharp when it comes to all this social media jazz, said, “When this happens the first thing to do is stay up all all night vauguebooking your butt-hurt, but that’s kinda teenager-y for somebody as ancient as you.”

Point taken.

Instead I decided to put some thought into the matter. After a tiny bit of lengthy consideration, I decided that I can be something more of an oddity than I already am. Imagine what would happen if I wrote a novel with that teensy vocabulary. On the low end I’d be some sort of side-show come-on for Oprah’s Book Club and on the other I’d be the Booker Prize MacGyver who coughed up an award winner using only a paperclip, a 9-volt transistor battery, and some gum.

Which brings me to where we’re going with this mess – a short excursion back to the 1960s.

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“For a couple of years he’d been a used car salesman and so hyperaware of what that profession had come to mean that the working hours were exquisite torture to him. … Yet at least he had believed in the cars. Maybe to excess; seeing a parade seven days a week, bringing the most godawful trade-ins; motorized metal extensions of themselves, of (the drivers’) families and what their whole lives must look like, out there so naked for anybody, a stranger like himself, to look at, frame cockeyed, rusty underneath, fender repainted in a shade just off enough to depress the value … the inside smelling of hopelessly of children, supermarket booze, two, sometimes three generations of cigarette smokers, or only of dust … “ from The Crying of Lot 49

That passage has always managed to light up my brain like a cheap pinball machine. Two kinds of people sell things for a living – those who have a natural talent, who put not one iota of conscious thought into it, and those of us who understood it as something like learning a second and very difficult language, and by doing so we gained uncomfortable insights into how complete strangers’ lives worked.

Whether we liked it or not.

The endless psychic grind of selling comes when the moment in each sale when you see what exactly the thing sought will be an extension of the buyer. Does it match the decor? Does it come with the latest version of Dolby Surround? Is there a different one with even more rinse cycles?

How will this thing announce my coming?

How will this thing represent me to others?

Objects come to alleviate personal insecurities the same was Tylenol suppressed the pain, but does nothing for the cause. Show me what some one is shopping for an I can tell you what problem they’re trying to keep at arm’s length. I met so many people who found that the things they bought were the commodification of angst and insecurity- whether they knew it or not. Lately I’ve come to see that the same is true of our politics. Whether we noticed it or not for 50 years we’ve been on a slow path to the commodification of political belief. The process accelerated over the past 30. Big media didn’t really pigeon hole anyone so much as give us things to try on. Fifty years ago the media at least tried to show how each aspect of a political party fit into a greater whole. It was easy enough to do as the 60s. Reporting tried to follow zeitgeist to its lair in the weltanschauung. Reporting was all about mapping what we would call today an ideological eco-system. Reporting tried to answer the question, “How does the niche relate the the whole?” I’m not sure when that changed, but it certainly changed after I came of age. Reporting became more like a yardstick or a checklist. Somewhere along the line the question became, “What do you believe among the things on this checklist and how ardently do you believe it?” Exploring how something fit intoa greater whole was abandoned for a baedeker approach – less designer and more off the rack – more easily picked up and easily traded in. AM Radio and cable news were really the best when it came to destroying the worldview in order to save the worldview.

Nuance, to borrow an old phrase, doesn’t play in Peoria. Roll that up with tv and cable news being nuance proof and you wind up with designer political views. It’s off-the-rack or nothing at all. Anybody who is pro-life and a climate change believer is merely someone who mixed up items from different departments and needs to stop by customer service. Media, especially cable news, has not moved beyond the point where it cannot allow for gray areas. Therefore our beliefs are no longer tracked as a whole, but as part of a preferred designer collection of information.

You pick a political identity and in order to report it the media lays out everything associated with that identity. Your extension into the world is less the result of your own thinking and experience as it’s just something you managed to pick up on the way home.

Like picking between an Android or an iPhone.

Social justice? Balanced budgets? Climate change? Pro-life?

Reporting says there’s an app for that.

Political identities then become a mass produced item as if your beliefs were left on the porch by UPS or were oozed out of the long end of an extruder.

OK – right there.

Extruder.

That’s a big word and I know what it means and before you get all poo-ass’d uppity about it, I gonna use it in a sentence.

Violetta blushed jejunely as Archbishop D’Rigeuer lead the procession of the hydrated around the royal extruder at the Blessing of the Phlegmatic.

Look at all those big-ass words.

BOOO-yah you FB quiz-makin’ motherfuckers.

The way I figure it, you gotta sneak up on those Booker Prize high sheriffs. Maybe run out a couple of Harlequin novels first and then BAM!

They’ll never what hit ‘em.

Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride 2

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ED NOTE: Each year the old hippies in Black Diamond ask their neighbors, the survivalists, to keep an eye on the yurt so they can come to town for The Folk Life Festival. Folk Life takes place each Memorial Day weekend at the Seattle Center. This year while the Folk Lifers we having a stomp and yodel to an endless array of banjo solos another concert was taking place on the other side of downtown.

Our own Alaska Wolf Joe has the details.

Review: The Mighty Death Pop Tour, or, Faygo Armaggedon: A Tale of Two Fucks (not given.)

“It seems like ICP fans give a violent and terrifying impression [to most people], when they actually just go enjoy Guy Fieri rapping badly while being sprayed with soda.” –Anonymous

Violent J (Joseph Bruce) and Guy Fieri (Guy Fieri) are often compared together as being near look alikes, if not indeed odd impersonations of each other. Their voice is even on a similar register, with Violent J at more of a guttural high baritone and Fieri at a high pitched American tenor, despite the fact that vocally one sounds to be a classical ‘thug’ and the other has the beginnings of ‘American Television Host’ mixed with the sprouts of eminent douchebaggery. It is even true that, given the right circumstances, they could most likely get into a professional wrestling match. This is not a new thought of comparing the two. I had contemplated this while standing in the line to get in, which I did not know would take forty minutes.

The first thing that you will notice that deviates from the image of an Insane Clown Posse concert in your head is the fact that the makeup is not perfect. In fact, the makeup is awful. Genuinely. I did not know that clown makeup could be an imperfect art, but it is here. It reeks of absolutely amateurishness in every sense of the word.

I am waiting in the line, passing the twenty minute mark. I have already seen two pipes, but it was a mild incident compared to the rest of the day before; but now: a burst. “Eat up, motherfuckers!” and like that, three rainbow colored rice krispies (crispies? can never keep that straight) seem to appear out of these pocket less Juggalos. “Hey, you gotta enjoy life …” some sort of optimistic riposte to an unforeseen force. It’s beautiful, watching clown-face makeup people scarf down hash-oil soaked krispies. It’s all in an attempt to get them finished before entering, where apparently, they will kick you out if you have such things. A spliff/reefer/roach is slowly making its way down the line, it never directly touched hands with me but touched hands with everyone else. It’s as if to suggest ‘You don’t belong here’ spelled out in the vague essence of hemp smoke.

It’s unbelievable. Today I have consumed more second-hand smoke of anything than ever before. Most Juggalos seem to have a cigarette problem. This really merged well with the rest of the tobacco I’d experienced before today, which, by all accounts, was still far less than the amount of weed I’d experienced.

Eventually, I enter, after being pat down by what must be a set of TSA agents in their spare time with a look of utter contempt in their eyes. It’s a lackadaisical experience, which sort of sets the tone for the subpar violence of this concert. “It’s not likely anyone would genuinely bring a gun,” is the message, “but maybe they might have a knife – but we’ll let that slip, because we doubt they have enough ill will in them to use it.”

The space is small. As in, at any point you are less than 25 feet away from the stage. I’m hiding in the back balcony because it’s the clearest view of the performance, and I’m not interested in the herd on the floor for any shenanigans. The preshow acts become less and less eccentric. I will not note anything other than the two hours that took to get through them, because they are, as is the rest of this concert, a non-narrative experience, for differing reasons. I will note one though.

‘Kung-Fu Vampire’ was in fact a letdown. By all standards of the performance, I was far from enthralled. Because, and I doubted this was possible, Kung-Fu Vampire offered less than what was expected. Kung-Fu Vampire’s raps were not audible (he spoke the fastest of anyone tonight, despite looking the most sober) and his appearance was not flamboyant. His hair was in an exquisitely simple pomade back without being excessively long, his makeup was nothing more than eyeshadow, and there was certainly no clown makeup. He was wearing a red bowling shirt and slacks. Yes, a red bowling shirt. The sort of casual 50s kind of bowling shirt, as in rich middle aged white guy from that period.

The mere description of the name ‘Kung-Fu Vampire’ would indicate any myriad of possibilities – who knows what could be possible? – a Transylvanian Glam act that aspired to mix the aesthetics of Kung Fu movies as stage theatrics with ICP’s self-termed musical genre of ‘Horrorcore rap’, a black belt rapper whose entire act consists of downing a quart of Goat’s blood on stage, a soul musician who seems to have gotten entirely lost and is performing in an entirely wrong musical location and tour yet was eccentric enough to fit, a Chinese Zen master who does Insane Clown Posse covers … the possibilities were endless. I got an imitation of ICP by one man who given enough time could perhaps create a show as wholly theatric as theirs; but nonetheless, a novice. One could even tell from his related anecdote to the audience: “This is the only time I’ve played a city twice … make it fucking rock more this time!” [note: paraphrased.]

The last of the three pre-show acts, the Moonshine Bandits, the most audible of the night (a country rap group) had finally wrapped up. The fifteen minute excessive intermission has ended prior to the Insane Clown Posse’s final entrance. The stage is set: two tables of Faygo Cola (non-diet), a gigantic functioning (with lights) scary clown head at the back of the stage, two additional sets of lights, flamboyant colors of the walls even in the dark.

The lights go dark. They go up now, and the opening is an entirely unironic rendition of Fucik’s ‘Entry of the Gladiators’ done on an electronic toy piano (it’s very hard to describe that kind of sound). Their inspiration from the world of professional wrestling is most clear at this moment. I’m at a loss to see the stage, as arms in the air and there is no vision in between the constant fits of motion in the audience. That’s a bit of a lie, but they’re near impenetrable for the first minute. But then it starts, and oh my god, there is no pacing. There is no narrative sensibility, it just comes at you.

At first, when anyone (and even I) must have had the right context to even understand the words ‘Insane Clown Posse’ their immediate reference is going to be ‘Miracles’, the song that made the internet top 40 chart (in terms of memetic attention at any given moment) for the following lyric:

Fucking magnets, how do they work?

… much to the internet’s incredibly serious vanity and ire over having to correct scientific ignorance with barely educated scientific fact boiled to an everyman’s level, it was the perfect storm.

We don’t have to be high to look in the sky,

And know that’s a miracle opened wide.
1.

However, I was myself a bit surprised at the words here on the poster. “Witness the Faygo Armageddon.” I had intrepidly googled this days before, and the first video presented me a view of the end of the set, wherein Violent J is shooting blue Faygo out of a cannon on stage. Rationally I thought “Oh, this must be a special end of set thing where they go all out” and thought “Well, maybe they might throw some Faygo out into the audience once or twice beforehand.”

No. This is all fucking out Faygo from the start. Genuinely, I did not expect this much soda. The set started with it being thrown. And then it continued. And continued. And continued. And continued. And really, it never stopped or intensified at any point until the end – it became one continuous mass of it. This is the performance, for you see:

Nothing is audible. None of the lyrics. None of the fan’s screams. None of the music. Nothing. Just a wave of sheer noise with some motifs and themes that may come over (the word ‘fuck’, the word ‘faygo’, ‘juggalo’, repeated samples of music that is not themselves theirs, the sound of their voices, etc.) but I cannot remember a single lyric from them in the entirety of the night. None. Just sheer noise. But the theatricality of what they have, it is wonderful. I even gleefully joined in when thrown a bottle of Faygo and rang it around the top of my head as if an aspergillum to these proceedings, while shouting ‘Whoop Whoop’.

The apex of the night, as shrill as anything else that comes from this belongs to the ending, which like all dramatic ironies has been promised to us from the beginning. As surely as we know that Oedipus will find out his incestuous deeds, we will experience the Faygo Armageddon. And it occurs.

The fans flood the stage, and it climaxes to a cascade of Faygo running over the audience in all directions, one man has become almost entirely naked and is drowning himself in a pure flood of Faygo. Dousing himself, emptying bottle over body over his flabby and beer bellied body. It is a disgustingly American display of pure and unadulterated ecstasy.

Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope have disappeared elsewhere. The lights come up. There is no afterthought, epilogue, or curtain call. And then the most beautiful view of the flooded floor comes up. There is no more resolution to the matter, the apex is left untouched as a testament to the work that occurred before. These are masters of performance, not of deep human sensibility, and the act is well solidified after being around for 24 years.

2/4.

1. More commonly: The elephant/tightrope/circus music; but I feel that (and not in a pretentious way) the fact that Fucik remained an almost entirely unknown composer except for one bizarrely situational piece that is now being used by the Insane Clown Posse as entrance music is an exceptionally beautiful irony.

2/4.Novel. More commonly: The elephant/tightrope/circus music; but I feel that (and not in a pretentious way) the fact that Fucik remained an almost entirely unknown composer except for one bizarrely situational piece that is now being used by the Insane Clown Posse as entrance music is an exceptionally beautiful irony.
“Insane Clown Posse Performs Complete Annihilation at The 13th Annual Gathering [FAYGO ARMAGEDDON]”

Youtube. User: SOSEntGroup. September 3, 2012. May 26, 2013.

Of minor interest: I had been told earlier that, when touring out of country (eg. Europe, Australia) Coca-Cola, Pepsi, or other local products are used in place of Faygo for some reason regarding Faygo itself being unable to be used by themselves in such mass quantity. I am myself curious as to how much they must carry around with themselves after seeing the concert.

'The sound of radio static from a distant room'

“There is nothing, I believe, new in the (architecture of an) Arab Mosque; it is an unconscious revival of the forms used from the earliest ages to denote by symbolism the worship of the generative and the creative gods. The reader will excuse me if I only glance at a subject of which the investigation would require a volume, and which, discussed at greater length, would be out of place in such a narrative as this.” Sir Richard Burton c. 1851

“Our notions of Mecca must be drawn from the Arabians; as no unbeliever is permitted to enter the city, our travellers are silent.” – Edward Gibbon

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Terrestrial radio’s grip on us isn’t what it used to be. Mom’s down to listening to only one station which is run by children who are overly enamored of k-pop while Alaska Wolf Joe thinks of the device as quaint. As for myself I have a variety of apps on my iPod touch which fetch all manner of music. Lately I’ve been to some of the hipster stations Accuradio coughs up. Hour after hour I have listened to artists play their ukeleles and sing in voices so faint and twee that it is possible to believe they never made a sound.

The only reason I bring this up is that this was the week when we learned Al Gore was selling his cable tv outlet to Al Jazeera. That lead Mike to say that he thought talk radio would explode the next day. Maybe it did and maybe it didn’t but you’d never know it by us. The left-leaning station went to being sports talk (Here’s it’s obit, part 1 and part 2.) while the right-leaning stations have signals every bit as faint and twee as the music I’ve been listening to.

At this point let me say that this is about radio and not Al Jazeera. Last winter when I had the flu I got to see a bunch of AJ-TV as I dropped the remote and didn’t have the energy to get off the couch to find it. The programming is largely the same as what you see on public access tv. You know, that stuff by the overly earnest folk who made VHS copies of some DVD and hurry it down to the public access studio so the like minded can be more fully like minded.

Every bit as fire breathing as warm tapioca.

If you wanna see some real ‘Merikka hatin’ you need to see RTTV which comes straight from that French famous person’s tax haven, Russia.

I don’t think they talked that much smack about us when Khrushchev was alive.

And the cable company serves that up 24 hours a day.

Moving along –

I long thought that by the time wi-fi for the the car console then terrestrial radio would go over the cliff in flames. I’ve had to revise that as people are becoming more comfortable with using their smart phones for a variety of uses. Given that I’ve now revised my thinking to see terrestrial radio as having gone through a very significant transition in the past few years. Until 2010 radio was a lobster in the tank by the meat case.

Today radio is a lobster in a pot that’s becoming steadily warmer by the minute.

It is difficult to argue with the fact that the medium is loaded with what Barry Ritholtz calls “zombie ideas: the memes, theories and policies that refuse to die, despite their obvious failings.”

Now if you’ll excuse me I’ll return to listening to tiny, tiny voices emerging from my iPod. We didn’t have anything like that in my day. We didn’t have any trouble hearing bands back then.

TMI

“Actions are visible, though motives are secret.” Dr. Johnson

This was the week where I started out with somewhat less than half an idea about what to write and, as the long-time readers will tell you, I’ve never let a little thing like that stop me from going off half-cocked. Life’s too short to wait for a complete idea and if we all waited for one there’d be nothing on the Interweb(s). But as the week progressed I was completely blindsided by an incident that shot my concentration all to hell. It was brief, it was spectacular, and it was white hot.

And I am not in any position to cough up the details.

Mom calls it The Curse of Knowing (tm pend) – you know it, but you can’t do anything about it. Right now it’s something I can’t talk about because I’m not really supposed to know about it. Which is not to say that if the shit would stop getting so close to the fan in six or so months I could disclose everything. Redaction is worthless as it was a purely oral exchange. But if there was a redacted transcript all you’d see would be the articles, prepositions,conjunctions, and wave after wave of obscenities. Until then I can only hold on and tell you what you’re missing.

At one point Speaker A put forth an idea. While Speaker A was able to finish the thought Speaker B took offense to something stated very early on and that was that. The rest of the time was taken up by Speaker B who performed the delicate act of walking the fine line making sure that everyone was blamed while making sure everyone felt equally threatened. The tone was surprising in that just when you thought the bellowing would boil down to “COME AND GET ME COPPERS!” it would pirouette into something much more “NOBODY GETS OUT OF HERE ALIVE!”

Had the incident been a sitcom from the 1980s it would have begun with the words, “Tonight on a very special epidsode of…” and ended with everyone hugging having learned a very valuable lesson. But that wasn’t the case as this is the 21st Century where everyone believes as Emperor Palpatine does – hate gives you focus, it makes you strong.

Having said all that I know what you’re thinking, “Was there a threat to tattle?”

Yes.

Please don’t think I’m taking it lightly as I held off to talk about it at the end. It’s more of a case that I’m just not sure who this very important authority figure is who will be on the receiving end of the tattling. I could Google the name or run a quick search on LinkedIn, but that would negate the essential half-assedness required of any post on this page. (QED 1999-present)

And we can’t have that.

With that I must take my leave. I have to prove that no self-respecting Bolshevik can go about his business without first having obtained a library card. Until then here’s some music to make you feel old.

An-Archie is All American

Sorry kids, but IMHO the Occupy Movement needs to be taken seriously. Eons ago when I was in college the general rule of thumb was that about 12 percent of the population controlled all the wealth. If it’s true and that’s gone up to 99 then we’re in serious trouble. If this does nothing else buy get Wall Street’s attention then it will be a success.