Monday, March 7, 2005

We really thought that if we both got iPods—the big honkin’ ones with like 60-gig of memory and a cool carrying case that makes us feel utterly up-to-the-minute and young again—we’d stop finding contemporary society to be a continual screech of disquieting annoyance. Yet here we are, the music industry’s annual masturbatory chuckle they call “the Grammies” long over and our iPods chock-a-block with slippery funk rhythms, still finding many modern trends to be Ashlee Simpson-offenses against our delicate eardrum souls. Forthwith, those things making us cringe this week.

Music Too Hot for Work
The object at hand is the recent U2 single “Vertigo.” This song has reduced both of us to unproductive and nigh-upon-uncivil quivering masses of flesh cowering between our iPod earbuds as we affect some sort of work-appropriate activity when in fact we are RAWKING OUT on the job.1 For those of you think that (a) U2 is a washed-up stadium rock behemoth that is not as cool as the Arcade Fire, (b) you’re tired of that iPod commercial and you would never think a song from a commercial was cool, or (c) Bono is a leftwing celebrity-weenie who should shut up about world hunger and just play music, our reply is: Have you heard this song? And, oh yeah, Bono and Liam Neeson (the Irish bastards) are both sleeping with your girlfriend.

People with Jobs That Make No Sense
Speaking of work: everyone we know, but everyone, now has a job that we cannot understand no matter how many advanced degrees we accumulate or how many cocktail parties we gamely attend while nodding sagely and lustily eyeing the Chex Snack Mix. It seems that all of America is now a “consultant” and not only does nothing but also works for no one. We demand that people return immediately to jobs that can be explained in a single non-jargony sentence such as “I am a fourth grade teacher” or “I make shirts for cocker spaniels.” No more Web-based marketing-integration specialists, no more “technical assistance” consultants for state-affiliate organizations, and—for crissakes—no more telecom-IT-network maintenance programming. Somebody, please, get a real job before China puts us all under martial rule.

Concern Over “The Obesity Epidemic”
O.K., folks, look: America is fat. It’s what we do. It’s what our boys are fighting for. Ever since Elvis deep-fried his peanut-butter-and-bacon sandwich, it’s been our birthright. So the news that grownups in this great country are more “wide load” than “compact” is not a news flash. 2 If you like the Ho-Hos you’re gonna be packing a few extry, so quit whining or straighten up and fly right. And don’t get that Al Roker staple-your-stomach surgery either. That shit is sick and kind of gross. Didn’t mom tell you to chew your food? Long intestines are just like that, only—um, enzymatic. So don’t shorten, staple, spindle, or other wise dick with your GI tract. Just drink, like, water instead of Yoo-hoo and walk some stairs. Or buy some proper shoes and go run. But no intestine-dicking-with. And Al Roker’s head is now way to big for his body. You don’t want to end up looking like a flesh-and-blood bobblehead now, do you?

Ringtones That Sound Either Like (A) Actual Songs, Not Cheesy Casio Synth-Songs or (B) Like Actual 1930s Telephones
First off, we have nothing but admiration for cell phones and cell-phone users, the ruder the better. Life is too freaking dull and having some goober talk to his wife about her upcoming gynecologist appointment in the local burrito place is entertainment to us, not to mention how it makes us feel about our burrito. 3 But here we get nostalgic for the early days of the ringtone, when people had just started to branch out from the irritating “Nokia Song” to get classics such as “Für Elise,” “The William Tell Overture,” and “Genie in a Bottle” but (and this is the key) all played only in single beepy computer notes. This dorky sound was cheeky and great—Hey, it’s Beethoven, but it’s on my stupid little cell phone! Now people’s phones are capable creating surround-sound polyphonous MIDI arrangements that make it sound like the person actually has Yo-Yo Ma and violin-diva Anne-Sophie Mutter in his front pants-pocket. It’s a phone, people, not a boombox. Of course, the opposite trend of having your cell phone ring as if Thomas Edison owned it is just the kind of pseudo-nostalgia we hate. We know several people who like to say, “I should have been around in 50s!” at which point they usually start singing “Mack the Knife” or “Strangers in the Night.” 4 These people, antique ringtones, and Anne-Sophie Mutter all: disquieting, deeply so.

Hey! What’s the fucking deal with people who write “G-d” instead of “God”? I mean, is this some kind of “taking the Lord’s name in vain” thing, or is it some kind of weird atheist thing? In other words, this particular affectation is so nonsensical and vague that you don’t know if it’s the fundamentalists or the heathen who are behind it. On the one hand, if you believe in a Big Guy Almighty Pulling the Daily Strings Dude, do you really think He cares if you type out His name properly using the vowel? I mean, in your eyes, He invented vowels, right? On the other hand, if He doesn’t exist, if the world is a chaotic whirl of chance and meaninglessness, writing “His” name without the vowel isn’t exactly some kind of self-actualizing nihilistic touché, is it? We must consider renaming this column “Flat-out Idiotic Modern Trends” as this one is not really disquieting but just dopey. We do not want anyone to dare write out our names in full from now on, O.K.? Make it “W-ll” and “-d” from now on. St-p-d!

Next installment: The mad horror of child protection device proliferation in our otherwise convenient and R-rated homes.

1 Will is doing better than Ed, since he still manages to present himself before students four times daily and communicate coherence of some sort. Ed is a mess. He is like some Blue Man Group cattle-call audition before they’ve decided you are worth the expense of making you up. His bald head bobs and weaves spasmodically, banging against the wall of his cubicle whenever that fucking chorus kicks in, and his “yeah, yeah, yeahs” at the end are drawing complaints from the bank branch on the floor beneath him. It’s really quite horrible.

2 The whole fat kid thing, though: now that’s troubling, and is a direct result of school boards in the 90s whoring out their students’ milk money to Coca-Cola in exchange for the computers they couldn’t afford to buy because public education in this country is funded at about the level of herring inspection in Finland. So that’s a real problem right there. Shame on you school boards! Double shame on you, Coca-Cola! For this and for Diet Vanilla Coke, which sucks.

3 Exception: We do not want to be interrupted by ringing cell phones while we are listening to “Vertigo.” Even worse: a “Vertigo” ringtone. We know some of you already have this, and the only solution is a revocation of your cell phone privileges until Bono and Liam Neeson are done sleeping with your girlfriend.
4 Only one of these songs, by the way, was a hit in the 60s (and the other in 1959 when the 50s were about petered out), which just goes to show you that most people don’t have a clue about what happened yesterday, much less before they were born. Side note: In a fistfight, Sinatra would have turned Bobby Darin (or Kevin Spacey, for that matter) into applesauce.

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