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Willie's Off-Brand Web Journal: August 5-August 9, 2003

Thursday, August 7, 2003:

Last night, just before I went to bed, I started reading Abuse Your Illusions: The Disinformation Guide to Media Mirages and Establishment Lies, an anthology of articles that unearth a bunch of the scary things that go on behind our collective back. (Without- I assume- toppling over into Behold a Pale Horse-style silliness.) And in the preface, Richard Metzger wrote something that I thought was oddly coincidental after the entry I wrote yesterday, and I thought I'd mention it: "Overcome your cynicism; things can change. It's about time for the culture of complaining in America to come to an end. Educate yourself. Seek out contrarian news sources, and find other people who think the same way you do, and get off your ass and make your world a better place." It was a nice bit of reinforcement for me.

Of course, it was immediately followed by an article exposing how the Bush administration used the media to spread the lies that drove Cynthia McKinney out of Congress because she'd called for an investigation into some of his shadier practices. So that set me right back to thinking that attempting to change the world through organized protests and action is a lot like using a taser in an attempt to subdue a crystal meth addict: by all rights and logic, it should be an effective way of getting things done, but when you're trying to affect something that's so impossibly out of control, it just doesn't work.

CURRENT MUSIC: Heavenly vs. Satan by Heavenly.
Full of chili.
NUMBER OF ROCK MUSICIANS THAT WINONA RYDER HAS DATED AT THIS POINT: Seven, according to People. (She's now with 43-year-old Page Hamilton from Helmet.) My new goal, upon releasing the upcoming Disclaimer album, is to start receiving romantic overtures from Ms. Ryder. That's when I'll know I've made it. Of course, this is probably unrealistic, since I'm sure her romance with Mr. Hamilton is The Real Thing.
TIME: 6:08 PM.

Doot? | |

Wednesday, August 6, 2003:

This country is like a big, colorful circus where years of neglect, penny-pinching, and laziness have led to everything going irreversibly wrong all at once. Spokes are snapping on the ferris wheel, trapeze artists are splattering on the ground, fires are blocking all the exits and the crowd has turned unruly, beating the hell out of one another in confusion, and the ringmaster has gone insane and is bellowing a strange mishmash of threats, occult prophecies, and maniacal demands over the PA system.

Is it just that I work harder to be informed now than I did before, or have things always been so insanely bad, all across the board, and I was too young to notice? Because right now, we've got a president who wants to fuck with the Constitution just to prevent gay couples from marrying, because he's peeved that the Supreme Court recognized that homosexuals are, y'know, people. (Seriously- how, exactly, would gay people getting married deprive us breeders of... anything? Except, in the most intolerant of cases, a feeling of schadenfreude that ha ha them queers cain't get married?) In California, they're gearing up for what will presumably be a hilarious gubernatorial race that's going to more closely resemble a drunken hog rodeo than a dignified example of democracy in action. The RIAA is being allowed- hell, encouraged- to bankrupt college students who would rather check out music beyond the 20-artist playlists of Clear Channel radio without being forced to pony up $19 for a frickin' CD. The arguments of anyone who questions these things are instantly dismissed as propaganda from the "Liberal Media," as if such a label- unfounded nature notwithstanding- negates the need to actually come up with solid refutations of such arguments... and that's not even getting started on the whole Iraq thing, or the economy, or the way church and state are suddenly allowed to hump each other, or any number of other greedy, stupid, unjust things that just keep ballooning.

Jon and I were talking last week about whether it's even worth it to be informed anymore. All the power in this country, and the world, is so concentrated in the hands of a teensy group of people who are just going to do what they want regardless of what the majority of the population thinks (see the Iraq war) that what's the point of keeping up with things? If all the informed opinions and protests and action of those who want to right these wrongs are ultimately as ineffective as the lack thereof among the complacent... why bother? None of it counts anyway. I mean, I'm not considering just yelling, "Screw it!" giving up reading, and limiting my voting habits to American Idol competitions or anything. I find world events interesting, appalling though they are, so I plan to keep up on things no matter what, but my interest is so futile! And on one hand, I've always been taught that it's my duty as an American to be aware of what's going on in my country and my surroundings, and that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance etc. But on the other hand, to quote a number of newscasters shortly before they got fired, "If rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy." Why torture myself and get all wound up by reading about, say, the Pentagon's plan to allow people to gamble on terrorist attacks (which was quickly shot down, thankfully)?

Yeah, I feel icky for even typing that rape quotation above. Sorry about that. I've just always found that phrase darkly funny- not in and of itself, but in the fact that it exists at all. Someone, at some point, actually thought, "You know, I love the sentiment behind the axiom 'If life gives you lemons, make lemonade,' but I wonder if there's a way to phrase it that would cruelly mock an awful, violent crime. Hmmm..." I love humanity.

CURRENT MOOD: Concerned, but powerless. An empowered and informed member of society.
Because I don't want to do that.
TIME: 5:00 PM.

Doot? | |

Horribly sad moment last night: I went to Applebee's for dinner (house salad and cheez stix), and a woman and her pre-adolescent son sat down at the table behind me. The kid was probably 10 or 11, and was really heavy in that awkward way kids usually are before puberty hits. On top of that, he had an unflattering bowl cut (you know, as opposed to a fashionable, Kyan Douglas-approved bowl cut), and glasses about as thick as four quarters set back-to-back. He had a Garfield book tucked under one arm, and as soon as the waiter greeted his mom and him, the kid asked, in a wavery little-kid voice, "Do you have lasagna?" I'm sure that poor kid gets eaten alive and shat out daily at school.

Oh, and also: everyone needs to go to Mark Prindle's "Who's Next?" page and vote for him to review all those Sesame Street albums. Thank you.

CURRENT MUSIC: quebec by Ween. "Give me that Z-O-L-O-F-T! No longer pissed! You don't bug me!"
CURRENT MOOD: Craving Zoloft.
TODAY'S HORRIBLE TRAGEDY: My new blue sweater-shirt thing seems to have been indelibly stained with some reddish substance in the forty minutes since I've gotten dressed, during which time I haven't even done anything.
TIME: 9:45 AM

Doot? | |

Tuesday, August 5, 2003:

I just finished reading Blankets, which is the new autobiographical graphic novel by Craig Thompson, the guy who wrote Good-Bye, Chunky Rice- one of my favorite books ever, and the source of that "Doot?" thing I put at the bottom of every entry. (I spent way too long trying to come up with some clever way of merging the words graphic and autobioGRAPHICal just then, and they all came out nonsense.) It's a predictably great book, and it certainly blows the doors off Chester Brown's I Never Liked You, which covers similar autobiographical terrain, but as I've said in a previous entry, uses way too many ellipses in its storytelling to make for an effective whole. Blankets is 600 pages, and gratifyingly thorough in the way it covers the painful details of Thompson's adolescence, with special attention paid to the crushing, hypocritical fundamentalist environment in which he was raised, and the awkwardness of his first true love. (Though he presents it all in a much less blunt fashion than I just did.) If anything, I wish the book were longer, because I read it all in three or four hours, but I suppose I was spoiled by the richness of Box Office Poison, which took two whole nights to read. And it's definitely a book I'll be reading a few times anyway, so it's totally worth checking out. So go do it.

Nine! Woohoo!
12:55 AM.

Doot? | |

PAST JOURNAL ENTRIES: May 3, 2003-May 9, 2003. May 10, 2003-May 16, 2003. May 17-May 24, 2003. May 25-May 31, 2003. June 1-June 7, 2003. June 8-June 13, 2003. June 14-June 21, 2003. June 22-July 1, 2003. July 2-July 13, 2003. July 14-July 20, 2003. July 21-July 26, 2003. July 27-August 4, 2003.