Category: culture

From the moment I step out of my building, I can see something strange is going on in the world.

Perhaps it is because I was playing Fallout 3 – the new painstakingly detailed First Person Shooter for Xbox 360 about the world after a nuclear apocalypse wherein a dictatorship like American government known as The Enclave continues to broadcast euphemisms over any available transmission source long after the holocaust – that I am particularly off-put by the ominous red glow hitting the bottom of the cumulus clouds – at noon on a sunny day.

Los Angeles sunset through volumetric fog from the fires, 2008. Photo by the author.

I comment on this to the cashier at the Lebanese Pizza/hookah lounge, about the color of the clouds and how hot it is and he assures me that where he comes from in the heart of Mexico, this would be considered a cool, moderate climate.  I get my food, and stop in to the Russian deli where I purchase some pelmeni and a jar of pickled mushrooms.

It occurs to me, as I drive down Sunset Blvd. on a very hot mid-November day, that John Coltrane and Dizzy Gillespie just wouldn’t make any sense were I at my cottage in Northern Ontario, Canada amidst the soft blowing tips of the spruces and the gentle rippling of the lake, but they sure do here;  punctuating the frenetic activity of these Hollywood streets as hundreds of drivers negotiate one another’s hierarchy and whether to let one another in, race past leaving a wake of exhaust and dust, or simply pull over for an iced mochaccino.

I am at a gas station where the price of gas is exactly ten cents less per gallon than the one directly across the street.  I pay the attendant and notice a flashy picture of Barack Obama, newly elected president of the United States, on the cover of TIME magazine flashing a suprisingly smug smile, with a monocle and cane, driving a Rolls – an article about Barack and FDR.  As I exit two gangstas climb out of their polished SUV, shuffle through the parking lot in their unlaced Timberland’s, giving me a once over.  No problems here.  A woman dressed like a gypsy sifts through the garbage at the bus stop.  Across the street people brunch on the sidewalk, discussing their screenplays.

I reseat myself behind the wheel, and the DJ from the radio is talking about how it is a tough day for Los Angeles:  Sylmar, a town just north of the San Fernando Valley (that’s the porn capital of the world to those of you living on Mars) is on fire – six hundred families have lost their homes overnight in a trailer park.  In Montecito, a paradise-like town near Santa Barbara, forty homes have been lost to the fires.  Similar stories in Corono, and Olive View – where patients ran from a UCLA hospital when a wild fire raced down the foothills of Los Angeles, burning nearby office bungalows.  There are several dozen more stories like this today.  I wouldn’t have known had I not turned on the radio.  Mom will probably call at some point to see if I am still alive.

I turn onto Hollywood Blvd. and spot a twelve-year-old kid with headphones like earmuffs jogging, red-faced, down the sidewalk, followed a block later by his chubby, aging father, who struggles to keep up.  I recognize that I am now closer in age to the father than to the son.  I got carded when I purchased cigarettes yesterday.

Jim Dickens plays “Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Blues” – his telecaster snaps back in anger, but he keeps beating it down; mean, and sultry.  It reminds me of a song by a band that used to play at the Whiskey – a racous epic having to do with L.A. women and how her hills are filled with fire.

Given the heat, I decide to close the venetian blinds in my apartment, smoke a cigarette and play Fallout 3 until it cools off outside.

12 minutes and counting since I deactivated my Facebook account + 400 friends, plus PR channel for my various digital exploits.  Wow, now that feels better.

I held off joining FB for a long time because I can still vaguely remember the sense of awe and dread I felt when observing my 12 years younger brother and his prissy The Hills reject girlfriend perambulate through the voyeuristic obsession of checking out what their homies were up to.  Eventually, a desperately close friend of mine who is a “New Media” consultant talked me out of and into acquiescing, arguing that I should at least be savvy to what they were doing with Ajax and how Facebook trumped MySpace which at one point I recall trumping this Napster spin-off called Friendster.

So — good.  I put out an indie album (a real from-the-heart effort) at the beginning of 2008, my first release in 12 years on a CD no less and spent the remainder of my year getting schooled about the way things work now, which is to say – forget print, its all about the music blogs.  I now know about SEO, affiliate ads, linkbacks, watering holes, Linkshare, Clickbank, Kontera, Amazon Associates, Adsense, licensing content, ezinepublisher, bloggers paying their rent with promo CDs at Amoeba, Sonicbids, mirpod, odeo, Ning, viral videos, ROFLcon, Stumbleupon, Reddit, Furl, Mixx, Reverbnation, Trig, Twitter, Fanpop, trackbacks, NoFollow, DoFollow, LinkedIn, Wayn, Spock, Plaxo, Sharethis, and every other goddamned way of clamoring for anyone who I ever met or whomever I met has met that might exist.

Found objects in space.

Found objects in space: a user created profile image

And it’s done.  The US has its first ever dark-skin colored president, the Dems control the house and senate, the DOW goes up and down faster than the mechanical bull at the Saddle Ranch and its time to move forward.

Web 2.0 is over.

In my last post I announced the death of viral videos.  Now I am speaking with some certainty that Web 2.0 has to lay its head in the loam and expire its last breath.  No it’s not because I “want real, meaningful relationships back.”  It’s because it’s just, in toto, a glorified SPAM button that leads to nothing more (I promise you) than Google analytic and Adsense report mashing and at best the world’s biggest flash-mob-cum-grassroots-electoral-campaign.  That does not discourse make.  Mobilize?  Perhaps.  All good, but now what.  You got 80 years ’til you give up the ghost – what else?

Joel Salatin is a farmer that produces beef, poultry and pork.  He will not ship his non-USDA, totally natural product to you via any means because it defeats the purpose of his obsessively local-grown ethic.  When pressed he will confide that he is not a beef-manufacturer or a Luddite, traditionalist, purist, or grassroots, return-to-the-way-things-were thinker, but rather a post-industrialist.  He is looking at what’s here and how to expand it into new ways of approaching our well-being, continuity and enjoyment of things,  dealing in complexities not often ascribed to the “humble farmer.”  He will tell you that he is a grass-farmer.  And that the cheeseburgers we eat are the product of what the animals over which he lords, ate.

That’s where I am headed; not a return to some puritanical  time before Facebook, but rather to the next iteration.  A better-sustained dialogue into the experiences possible and the evolution of what this mass-consciousness means.  The Tweets are nifty, but let’s form a paragraph.  Let’s not dally.  Things move faster now, but that is not a strong enough argument to settle for ADDled brevity.  There is something beyond that thought, and if you have the courage, you may find unclaimed territory.  I want to meet you there.  Press me, challenge me, let’s climb the next summit together, because we sure can’t do it flashing postcards at each other from the digested murmurs of our fragmented IDs, Twittering and FB updating away, grasping for attention, lost in the sea of unformulated meditations on the boundless ecstasy in which life itself revels.

I import the indelible experience of Web 2.0 into this uncharted space, honoring its potency, and expect something that builds upon its Mind-Meldish, Chrysalid potentiality.  But enough is enough.  I have no idea where that leaves me, us, yet.  Isn’t that, again, exciting?

psst go go get your life back…

Opine, damn you.