Thirty years ago today I came tumbling out of my Mother screaming and covered in goop, the doctor spanked air into my lungs, a nurse snipped off a piece of my foreskin, my father handed out cigars in the waiting room and my mom smiled in exhaustion. It was done. It was the same year and the same month Elvis Presley died, Jaws and Star Wars were released and Sam the dog told David Berkowitz to go on a shooting spree with a Dirty Harry-style revolver in a sweltering New York City.
I was born during the Dog Days of summer.
The hottest point in the season.
Every year during this time something truly remarkable and vile happens in various parts of the world. Hurricane Katrina. Wild Fires in Greece. Cholera outbreak in India. Hundreds of miners drown in China flood. Massive roadside explosion in Northern Iraq kills hundreds.
That’s just a smattering of headlines over the past few weeks. The ones that leak in through the television snow. The little pieces of information that make August an auspicious month during the year. If I was a betting man I’d say that I’m incredibly lucky to have been able to survive the apocalypse, which was supposed to happen 10 years ago, according to Sarah Connor. There is the thought of predestination paradox where had Skynet not sent a terminator back to kill Sarah, John would not have sent Reese back to protect her and of course conceive John. Harlan Ellison’s I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” had that initial idea that a super computer becomes self-aware and triggers the end of humanity or at least 98% it. The Wachowski brothers tried the same thing with the Matrix and of course there is always Our Trusty Asimov and his I, Robot stories. None can forget the implications of Phillip K Dicks dreaming androids drawing comparisons to our homogenized brave new world where more money is spent on physical augmentation such as breast implants than is spent on Alzheimers research.
Do the years get better?
Or do my tits get better?
I reference these things because there are a million scenarios that play themselves out in my head every minute of the day. Choices that I made that directly affected my future. Now with thirty years under my belt I’m looking forward to making more choices. What will I have for lunch today? Maybe some Quik powdered chocolate in a glass of milk with a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich and some Oreos to finish it off. Those little creature comforts cut through the noise. They can stop the outrage fatigue I’ve had since Sept. 11th and quell the squall of rage I’ve held in my ever blackening liver since Nov. 3rd 2000 when I wished a category 5 hurricane swept across Florida and silenced all those fucking voting machines. I reference these things because I’m hardwired to question everything. I’m hardwired to expect more from people than they may be willing to admit they have in them. It is a philosophy of expectation I learned from my father.
So do all these seemingly random pop culture references and political musings have a point in this piece?
You who read this want your information in bite sized morsels. You are most likely reading this because you want to see what I have to say. The same could be said for the reason I’m writing. I want to see what I’m going to say too! I’m surprised what comes out. It’s a form of therapy. It’s the equilibrium I need.
There are lines that you can draw from disparate sources such as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and society’s current obsession with celebrity and appearance – there is no amount of shaming our society can do to make someone like P Hilton drift off into obscurity. We’ve moved from adoration of success to the obsession of failure. We want to wallow in squalor and bathe in the idea that some starlet who had everything laid out for her; money, success and fame, is dumping it all down the drain while staring at a palm mirror through reddened and glassy eyes with a rolled up twenty in her hand. Is it the ultimate form of rebellion to just give up to vices and pour yourself out of your celebrity skin in front of a million flashing bulbs and video cameras? No. Methinks it is just slow suicide.
I want to feel validated. I want to feel like that vote I handed to Nader in 2000 wasn’t about winning the election or giving it to Bush or taking another informed voter from Gore but that it was about doing what I felt was right at the time and wishing that everyone could make their own educated and informed decision as to who to vote for. Alas, most people are robots, self-aware enough to eat, sleep, shit and fuck occasionally without ever asking why, who or what as long as it feels good then it must be good.
We’re animals. Robot animals. And we’re living in the nightmare that writers like Aldous Huxley, Ellison, Dick and Stephenson have been imagining. The violence that we live with daily is magnified during the dog days. It’s the heat of the Northern Hemisphere working on our subconscious where eons ago our ancestors rode across vast landscapes with truncheon and spear and sword to conquer and bleed into submission those that would alter or change the status quo.
Do not fear. Fear. Do not fear. Fear.
We are at war because war is profit. It is an industry that can be perpetually fed. Trillions of dollars into the effort and there will always be someone with a job and a big white house to eat Kobe steaks and caviar in.
We’ve had hope shoved up our ass. Just words of hope. No real sign of it. No large group or government making an effort. No miracles. No second coming. This is the realization age. We will realize that in our species infancy we are destined to rot in quotidian suburban malaise, buying groceries, driving cars, going to church, making lists and standing in line.
There is a silver lining and each of us has to look just hard enough to see it.
This is my beautiful wife.
This is my beautiful rented duplex.
This is my family.
These are my amazing friends.
This is the hyperlocal network of hope.
These are the inspirations for a million more songs and stories.
This is something I wrote when I turned 30.