Saturday, February 23, 2008

More Late Night Ramblings

One of the hallmarks of "Generation X" is that they possess both a repulsion and strong attraction to nostalgia. The idea of gaudy 80s Hair Metal and WWF superstars pop up in conversation as objects of ridicule and emblems of a simpler, happier time. While I'm not sure if my age qualifies me for inclusion in this group, I had a ten minute conversation with a few friends last night that went more or less like this:

Me: "Honky Tonk Man"
Them: "Ultimate Warrior. Shaking the ropes."
Me: "Brutus the Barber Beefcake looked like the lead singer for Slaughter."
Them: "Remember the British Bulldogs?"
Me: "The Bushwackers."
Them: "What about Flotsam and Jetsam?"
Me: "They should have an Intercontinental Belt in the UFC. You know, for the fighters the fans love but who could never be champs."
Them: "Ravishing Rick Rude had handprints on his tights."

To continue on with this fairly accurate transcript would be pointless. What struck me however was that it wasn't a conversation at all by any rights. There was no context nor any cohesiveness. The ten minutes we spent together wasn't an exchange of ideas. It was much closer to the experience of pulling pictures out of an old photo album, one we collectively shared in our memories, to recall our heroes in their prime and wonder where they fell apart.

No Depression Magazine is going out of business after their current issue is released. The news was announced on Apparently their ad revenue had fallen to the point that it was impossible to continue on after 13 years. The magazine was so closely tied to the music industry that it had no option but to suffer along with it. This is sad, because not only are we as a nation losing a generation which appreciates the album as a form of expression, but we are also steadily losing a generation of young voices and readers.

By the end of this month I will have sent stories out to every literary journal, magazine, and church bulletin in the country. In a few months I will be greeted by the rejection slips from many if not all of them. I can only take comfort in the hope that maybe one of my stories will hit, and in the idea that I might develop a healthy rejection-related masochism over the next few months which will be fed at little cost by the United States Post Office.

Writers and poets have a strange attraction to prisons. In the minds of those I've spoken with prison represents quite time alone with steady meals to do our work in peace. I wonder why monasteries don't have the same daydream appeal, but can only conclude it has to do with the fact that being bothered by chores and meditation seems more of annoyance than the occasional chance that we might be stabbed to death with a homemade knife.

Attention spans are dropping. I fast-forward through thirty-second-long clips on Youtube. I speed up movies that get slow and zip through commercials on my DVR. Technology helps us live faster, and this worries me. An old Tai Chi instructor once warned me not to rush through life, because if I did I would only get to the end quicker. This is one of the strikes against reading. It's slower, contemplative. The speeding up of our world is apparent in the nostalgia cycle with television shows like "Best Week Ever." A few years from now we can look forward to fast-forwarding through wrap up shows about how great the last twelve hours were.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Bitchin' Fiero

First let me start by saying that I am far from a motorhead. When it comes to cars I can't go on about superchargers or the superiority of specialized suspension kits in comparison to their factory counterparts. My knowledge is basic. I know where the gas goes, and have a vague understanding of how to change my oil. In an emergency I might be able to change a flat tire, but the odds are probably fifty-fifty. Lately, however, I have been picturing my dream car.

The car I envision speeding down a leaf strewn country road in is not a classic muscle car like a Ford Mustang. I don't picture myself taking the turns in a chopped up Chevrolet Chevelle or Dodge Charger. No, my dream car is a Pontiac Fiero; a silly half-breed of sports car and sub-compact with all the styling the late 80s had to offer.

I am aware of the Fiero's drawbacks. For one, there is no backseat. The interior is a little cramped which is obvious by the way the stereo speakers have been mounted in the headrest of the driver's seat rather than in the dash. It's also not that powerful for a sports car, and due to the fact it doesn't weigh very much when compared to other sports cars it tends to be more than iffy when driven above seventy-five. The Pontiac Fiero though does have it advantages.

The first advantage is that it's cheap. Fiero's on ebay range from three hundred to around two thousand dollars. This is due in large part to the fact that most have hundred of thousands of miles logged on them by this point, and have long since been marked by cigarette burns and the occasional spilled beverage. It's important to lust after the achievable. Life is easier that way.

Another advantage to the Fiero is that I can appreciate its awkward charm. It looks like a suped-up go-cart which hopes to be a real sports car one day. It has potential which has never been fully realized. It just needs a chance- a fresh start.

Lastly, how many Fiero do you see on the road today? Camry's are as ubiquitous as SUVs. Mini-Coopers and Impalas make me yawn. If I had a Fiero and drove it with pride and vigor I can imagine my neighbors watching me pull into my driving with awe and confusion. Maybe they would approach me with a smile and say, "Are you driving a Fiero now?" I would nod and lean against the hood with a toothpick in my teeth.

So my dream car might not stun showroom crowds in Detroit or pace laps at the Indy 500, but for three hundred dollars I can imagine the American highway would be a little fiercer. I can see myself driving into the sunset in a little firecracker that never found its footing, past its prime, taking another shot at being a true sports car.