Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Forgetting Mom's Birthday

I'm not so enthused about blogging tonight. While stopping by my parents' house this evening, I learned that I'd forgotten my mom's birthday a few days ago. Dad suggested I wish her a happy birthday. There was some disappointment in his voice. The best I could manage was a perfunctory "Happy Birthday." It didn't help that I was borrowing a boombox and folding chairs for the Fringe show. "Hey, I'm just gonna take this CD player, these chairs, wish you a happy birthday and then be on my way."

Now I feel guilty. That leads to feeling angry at Mom for making me feel guilty. The anger often triggers violent conversations with myself wherein I spit verbal venom at my parents' imaginary holograms. Sure, they're generous with money and material support, but that will never make up for the fact that she checked out emotionally when I hit puberty. And why can't he see that?

I've covered this in other posts, and I really don't wanna go over it again tonight. I'll be funny again tomorrow.

Monday, July 27, 2009

An Open Letter to the Stylists of Uptown

Dear Stylists,

Is it really that difficult to cut my hair? I would think my hair and my desired hairstyle offer few challenges to a competent hairstylist, but apparently I am mistaken. For some reason, our nations' cosmetology schools have ceased to produce graduates who can effectively deliver the short, no-frills, by-the-book male haircut that has served our country so well for decades, if not centuries. None of the Uptown salons I've patronized has produced a stylist able to cut my hair in a manner consistent with my expectations.

Not one, with the notable exception of Great Clips, that national chain of supposed cookie-cutter, dime-a-dozen, cut-by-numbers stylists. Only in that bargain-basement (but still well-appointed) hair salon have I found anyone with the surprisingly rare gift for cutting my hair to my specifications. Victoria was the first Great Clips angel to descend from the heavens (a la Frankie Avalon in Grease) and bestow on me the hairstyle I have often imagined but only fleetingly worn. Sadly, the Powers That Be at Great Clips do not allow us to schedule haircuts with our preferred stylists. Thus have I been denied the safe harbor of Victoria and left to drift into the nearest random port whenever the shaggy hair-storm blows me back out to the Sea of Salons.

The last 2 times I've landed in the capable hands of Mary Jane. She's a looker, let me tell ya. Her skin is a sultry bronze color, her hair dark and nicely framing her face, her figure trim with curves in just the right spots. Also, she has a ring through her septum, but it doesn't make her look like a cow or some other barnyard animal as it does for many others with the same piercing. Under one eye is a tattoo of three black dots in a crescent formation. I don't know what it means, but it's pretty hot.

She gave me a fine haircut and provided some good banter. I'd like to think she's into TV On The Radio, vintage greasy-spoon diners and Critical Mass, but her style could also belong to a Lady GaGa-loving, vegan Republican. (Of course, only one of those would be a deal-breaker.) You always hope for the best with the pretty ones, no matter how much evidence piles up in the "con" column.

There's always a sexual subtext when a woman cuts my hair. That's why it's always nice when the woman is cute (except when it's really awkward). The female stylists must be aware of this. A haircut involves persistent, albeit slight, physical contact, often of a sensitive nature. A thigh will press against my hand as it lies innocently on the armrest, a flat stomach will brush past my shoulder, and my head may even be pulled back to nestle just under the cleavage between two breasts. It can be quite a treat for a man as under-sexed as I.

In conclusion, Mary Jane is a great stylist, as much for her BUST-Magazine-covergirl looks and friendly demeanor as her styling ability. If only every hairstylist in Uptown possessed her combination of pulchritude, congeniality and talent. Then this would truly be a Heaven on Earth.


Sunday, July 26, 2009


Yesterday's post ended on a rather sad, bitter note, so tonight I'd like to lighten the mood with some comedy. I attended Improv-A-Go-Go and witnessed some excellent comedy. I could probly count on one hand the number of times I've seen the show since moving to Uptown 6 years ago, which is quite ironic since I saw it many times in the months leading up to my move. In Improv-A-Go-Go terms, if I were a Scottish village I would be Brigadoon. And if I were a cast member of Happy Days, I'd be Donnie Most. (Right? Family Guy, anyone? Am I right? Don't leave me hangin'!) Why did my attendance tail off so dramatically? Because it got to be really awkward for me. After several months, I still hadn't broken into the IAGG clique. It doesn't help when you're socially retarded, although (meaning no offense) they didn't seem much more advanced than I.

Today was a very good day. We had tech rehearsal for the Fringe show. (A People's History of Love at the Bryant-Lake Bowl. Check fringefestival.org for details!) It went quite well, considering the actors hadn't heard many of the sound effects before. This final week of rehearsals should be fun. I'll be manning the tiller again, since Noah has 2 other shows in which he's actually performing and he's given us everything we need for the dance numbers and blocking over the past 2 weeks. It feels good having this chance to guide the show down the stretch run, offering plenty of encouragement but not sparing the whip. All kidding aside, I don't wanna "lay down the law," as it were. Doing so would make the experience unpleasant for me and may discourage the actors. Though surely there's something to be said for the disciplinarian approach, considering how many great directors have employed it. But for me it would be the technique of last resort.

Before and after the rehearsal, I noticed quite a few attractive women at the BLB. It made me think about why I'm getting back into this crazy comedy/theater game. Am I still just searching for acceptance and love and (while I'm at it) fine-lookin' women to have sex with? I do wonder if all this artistic striving is only my way of trying to make friends and meet women (to have sex with). Are all my comic and theatrical conceits mere pretentions to exquisitely intellectual dysfunction and, therefore, eminent fuckability? No, I don't think so. By now I'm pretty sure I've realized that there are better ways to find those things. At this point, the only thing that could keep me writing is a genuine need for self-expression. Of course, the possibility of those other perks doesn't hurt.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Peak Oil Glasses

(I wrote most of this in Rice Park in downtown St. Paul, beginning at 12:06 pm. It's important to know that to fully appreciate the post.)

I find myself in a place that would strike any Minneapolitan as strange: St. Paul. I moved to Mpls. in the hope of acquiring a social life, if by no other means than sheer osmosis. But Mpls. is not that happenin'. It only seems that way because St. Paul is dead. I'll give St. Paul one thing though. It has held onto much more of its old buildings, making it far more architecturally appealing than downtown Mpls.

I'm forced to wonder what will happen to these buildings if our society collapses, mainly in the sense of resimplifying, not necessarily falling apart. I look at most places through these Peak Oil Glasses, trying to peer into a future of energy descent.

There was a little girl whom I thought might be waving at me. It turned out she was waving bye-bye to a pigeon. They'd had some good times together. The bronze girl standing in the fountain is skinny, but she's got a nice rack. Sculptors sometimes neglect the rack. Or they just have bad taste in models. Threatening clouds are rollin' in. The Landmark Center's clock tower is facing me. Consequently, I'm instantly aware of the time. I like that. Now I don't even hafta reach into my pocket.

Peak Oil Glasses are the opposite of Rose-Colored Glasses. It's a lot like Life After People, that History Channel miniseries. I see abandoned buildings overrun with weeds and vines, trees growing in parking lots, streets filled with bikes and stripped-down cars rusting on the shoulder. I'd guess within a decade the ratio of bikes to cars on the streets of Uptown will have reversed itself.

It's not a pretty picture (except for the bikes), but we'll at least get a chance to redeem ourselves for the monumental waste of abundant energy and resources in the 20th Century. We had the power to make almost anything, and we chose to produce continents of crap, mountains of manure, oceans of offal. What will our descendants think of a civilization that churned out enough disposable goods to inundate every home on the planet with useless bric-a-brac? I only wish every Fortune 500 CEO had the foresight (or the sense of shame) to meditate on that before they invent another emotional need for us to fill with stuff.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Monetize Your Dreams!

With the Fringe Festival fast approaching, I've been trying to think of how I might make a living once my ill-gotten (corporate) gains run out in Sep or Oct. Stand-up, freelance writing and selling plasma have all occurred to me. (If you have any suggestions, please send them along.) Returning to CorpWorld is out of the question. I'm actually now willing to starve rather than work another corporate gig. It may be a moot point, but would I even be willing to perform comedy at a corporate event? Probly, but I'd still feel guilty about it. Ideally, I wouldn't have to take any corporate money, but that seems like a luxury I can't afford. My main goal is to no longer allow CorpWorld to drain me of energy and the will to live. So if I could do something I enjoy on the corporate dime, I might be OK with that. Besides, where do you draw the line? Are you gonna refuse the money of patrons who work for corporations? I've never heard of anyone doing that. So what's the difference if you take money directly from the company (assuming they impose no conditions on your work)? As far as I'm concerned, it's a fuzzy line.

Could I possibly make a living as a writer? I mean right now, without any significant experience on my resume? It seems sad to me that I made at least $12 an hour entering data, yet my writing (which is composed of far more profound insight than the data I entered, in my opinion) is apparently worthless in the capitalist sense. There's a tab on Blogger labeled "Monetize." I would gladly monetize my personal thoughts and feelings if I thought I could make real money off of them. Isn't that what working artists do? The problem with this blog is it isn't fictionalized or stylized or otherwise creatively distorted in such a way that the people I discuss cease to be recognizable. I can't hide behind artistic license.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I either hafta get more creative or stop talking about people so bluntly. I'll also try and blog every day to see if I can build up an audience. And if any of you want to send me money for my work, I'll gratefully accept it. Just don't ask me to endorse Hostess Zingers or that new reality show, More to Love, much as I may be a fan of the first and improperly curious about the second.

The problem with starting an artistic career now is the artistic bubble may be bursting. There will always be demand for art, but our society's aggregate wealth has likely peaked. This is the point in the blog where I pontificate on Peak Oil. It feels like I haven't pontificated on it in a while, so I'm going to indulge a bit. We may be witnessing the bursting of the biggest bubble in history, inflated as it is with fossil fuels and the technology we've developed to take advantage of those energy sources.

(I feel inadequate as a Peak Oil writer though, so for now I'll defer to blogs like John Michael Greer's The Archdruid Report that put mine to shame.)

Seriously though, the potential collapse of society has informed many of my choices in the last 4 years. It was the only reason I cashed out my 401(k) last year. It motivated me to quit my temp job last month, and it may be compelling me to leave CorpWorld for good. It's pretty easy to quit your job when you honestly believe the whole economy is about to go belly up and there won't be any money left in gov't coffers for unemployment insurance anyway.

I used to feel crazy for believing that everything could just fall apart, but I no longer do. Partly because I've learned a lot of people agree with me, even though many of their theories differ widely with mine. But mainly because I've gotten over the initial shock of the discovery and have had 4 years to process it and reexamine the evidence in a sober light. I'll admit that I may still be biased in favor of the societal collapse theories due to my failure to find a meaningful job or romantic relationship in this capitalist Eden. However, an expanding economy would improve my chances of finding a writing job and would eliminate the need to move to the boonies and become a farmer.

I feel too scatterbrained to compose a satisfying essay tonight. I'll just end it here and hope my brain is more organized tomorrow.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Commie Gray

Back in '04, when I became a left-wing radical, I had some reservations about joining the Arise! Bookstore and Collective, our local leftist looney-bin. I was afraid none of the members would have a sense of humor, and they'd all be wearing black and gray. Everyone knows that leftists are only allowed to wear black, gray and, occasionally, red. Blood red. I remember the episode of Seinfeld when Elaine had a communist boyfriend. He only wore bland, gray shirts and jeans. Elaine tried to get him to wear more fashionable clothes, but he refused because his dad had been blackballed, if I remember correctly, from the garment industry. That's the only time I can recall an overtly leftist character appearing in the pop culture of my youth and adolescence. The '80s and '90s were generally apolitical, a period of relative prosperity that kept most people contentedly distracted.

But there were many subtle jabs at the Left in the supposedly apolitical pop culture of that era, so subtle in fact that I can't remember any. Family Ties was an interesting example. The parents were former hippies shown in an admiring light, while the son, Alex P. Keaton, was a Republican portrayed as a young Gordon Gekko. Head of the Class featured an ex-hippie high school teacher who was a font of drug-scarred wisdom. I wish I could blame this on Growing Pains. Now that I think of it, Small Wonder was probly an allegory for the dehumanizing effects of the Soviet system. Yeah. I'm gonna go with that.

Imagine my pleasant surprise when I found the radicals at Arise! to be quite warm and funny. They weren't the angry, dour people I'd been led to believe all leftists were. Although the colors of the bookstore's sign and website are red, black and white, and a few of the members stick to a punk wardrobe of black with the odd splash of red. They haven't totally dodged that stereotype, but it does set them apart from the rest of Uptown, so it's not a bad choice of color scheme. It certainly works for the White Stripes and the Chicago Bulls.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Brand Loyalty

I worked out at the Uptown YWCA today, in an effort to get the most out of the final 2 weeks of my membership. In the shower was a guy with a Nike Swoosh tattooed on the outside of each foot. In my sneaker-mad adolescence I might've modified my body in the same manner, but the intervening years have endowed me with a certain amount of restraint and integrity. Even though Nike's athletic shoes can still inspire in me orgasms of aesthetic ecstasy, I've been innoculated against supporting their slave-labor practices. New Balance, for all its derivative shoe designs and Chinese-made products, is much more to my liking now. But this brand loyalty is based on substance, not style. Well, maybe a little style.

Will this seemingly inconsequential paragraph on shoes provide the jumping-off point for a discourse on some topic of immense gravity? Probably not. I just happened to eat a Mocha Swiss Roll from the Wedge (quite tasty) and am wiling away the early morning hours until the caffeine wears off. Since I packed in my steady corporate gig last year I've noticed an increased sensitivity to caffeine, and I was never fond of the buzz of coffee to begin with. Eating those coffee beans nestled on top of the roll was a mistake, but I just can't say no to a chocolatey dessert late in the evening. It will surely prove my undoing.

It's 2:01 am and one of the two people who live upstairs in our duplex just got home. I wonder what he was up to. There are things I could write about my duplex-mates, but I'm afraid of hurting their feelings. It will have to wait for another time. The hour grows late, and I weary of this ennui.