7:15 – Alarm goes off. Lie on sofa-cum-bed-cum-home while contemplating calling out of work with bad hangover or plague. Used both excuses this month. Get up.

7:25 – Shower. Sit under hot water while ruminating on the emergence of the white-collar wage slave as a new underclass. Brush teeth in the shower in an attempt to shave valuable seconds off morning routine.

7:40 – Out of shower too late. Scour room for correct black belt. Upon failure put on brown belt and wear glasses with unfashionably thin black rims in an attempt to make up for it. Curse my choice of lightly-stained shirt and third-wear pants out of single twitching eye.

7:43 – Miss L2 bus as I exit building.

7:45 – Stare at bus schedule pensively while deciding if the additional $.95 to take the metro is worth getting to work on time. Do this until the next bus in fact arrives. Congratulate myself on being so decisive.

8:30 – Work starts. Just now changing buses at Lafayette Square. Think bitchy comments about political elites on issues of the day I don’t understand. (Oil spill, financial services reform, Armenian genocide etc.) Hope no one sits next to me on the X2.

8:40 – Stew all the way through Chinatown about crushed hopes.

9:00 – Arrive 30 minutes late. Check e-mail, Facebook, news.

9:30 – Check work e-mail. Examine paperwork for jobsites I didn’t know existed.

9:32 – Close work e-mail.

9:40 – Leave to get coffee and bacon egg and cheese croissant.

10:10 – Return with coffee and bacon egg and cheese croissant. Uncap coffee and blow on it. Try to save portions of croissant to go with coffee. Fail.

10:35 – Take impudent phone call from person interested in free labor. Engage in second bitter anti-capitalist mindrant while explaining that twelve hour days, while economically desirable, contravene guidelines and goals of program, law, Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

11:00 – Tab between Facebook, gmail and YouTube as I stare into the distance. Imagine that I look very thoughtful, penetrating and majestic. Fantasize about leading potential future dictatorship with accompanying fashionable clothing paid for by other people. (Masses recently released from capitalist oppression?) Wonder if all Communist regimes must have the same color red. Prefer burnt orange. Unsure of the symbolism of burnt orange. Research.

11:40 – Begin processing paperwork from yesterday.

11:42 – Someone trips over dangerous extension cord hooking my computer up to inconveniently distant electrical outlet as the outlet under my desk continues to be mysteriously non-vital. (T+ 3 months, 1 week, 2 business days.) Dangerous extension cord finally breaks and is rendered unusable.

11:44 – Complain to superiors about dangerous extension cord and continuing outlet injustice.

11:50 – Accuse co-worker of stealing back-up extension cord. Co-worker uncomprehending and incredulous. Coded passive-aggressive conversation about missing cord, general job performance, life and family history. Resolve to satisfaction of neither.

12:00 – Look for new extension cord.

12:04 – Grow frustrated and steal extension cord from unoccupied computer.

12:24 – Unoccupied computer apparently not so unoccupied. Convince myself that I am a more important part of the organization. Play dumb.

12:30 – Restart paperwork.

12:35 – All paperwork done improperly. Return to original senders with questions. Confident this will be the last I hear of it.

1:00 – Seethe over Michael Lynche being voted off American Idol.

1:05 – Co-worker calls with work question. Spend 30 seconds on this. Spend subsequent conversation on injustice of Michael Lynche expulsion. Expound theory of ethnogeographic voting patterns preferring contestants from the rural Midwest and South living in economically depressed and racially homogenous areas. Complain about my hometown’s lack of spirit. (Think better re. economic depression and racial homogeneity.)

1:20 – Corrected paperwork returns. Horrified.

1:40 – Relief as corrected paperwork evinces further errors. Return to sender.

1:47 – Someone has come into the office and begins to sing in a suggestive fashion. Co-workers are applauding. Subsequently they begin a heated discussion about the taxation of prostitutes.

1:55 – Angry participant misdirected to my desk as a result of colleagues’ sex worker summit. She is seduced by obsequious apologies and officious civil-servanty manner into thinking the mistake was hers.

2:10 – Another call. Mother. Witness and reflect mutual anger about Michael Lynche. Offer unqualified legal opinions about defaulted mortgage.

2:43 – Get mother off the phone in time for kickoff of major soccer match.

3:03 – French team highly disappointing. Begin sorting backlog of other paperwork.

3:05 – Papercut requires immediate emergency medical attention.

3:10 – Convalesce. Write a blog post as part of healing.

3:13 – Abandon blog post. Begin desultory Gchat conversation with infrequently-seen friend. Conversation fails as weather, job and future plans occupies barely five minutes including typing time and friend does not watch American Idol. Fail to muster passion for philosophy, international relations and all other topics.

3:30 – Go for a walk.

4:00 – Missed three goals and a red card.

4:10 – Angry phone call about site visit. Say calm, reassuring things to complainant while I scribble increasingly vile profanities on my notepad. Caller placated by the time I reach the lower intestine.

4:30 – Frantic e-mail from superior regarding statistics for which no one has the necessary information. Write 300 words explaining this in lieu of “No.”

4:50 – Concerned about increasing backlog of work, initiate time and motion study of my working day. Determine that most productivity lost is a result of repetitive attempts to placate angry callers. Resolve to cease answering phone.

4:52 – Decide I am a servant of the people and time and motion studies are in any event part of the edifice of capitalist oppression leading to escalating white collar wage slavery.

5:15 – Inadvertantly stay past closing time, missing parade of punctually-departing employees past my desk. Angry at continued exploitation by bureaucratic capitalist superstructure, resolve to come in late tomorrow as a retaliatory gesture. Congratulate myself for being fearless standard-bearer of the revolutionary vanguard.

5:16 – Leave.


Thoughts, 11 March 2010

11 March 2010

1) There are few sensations more utterly horrifying than that of oncoming flatulence in a crowded Metro station. There is a reason I take the bus if I’ve had beans in the past three nights.

2) I went to do a Google search today. The number one fill-in for “why are” – I was going Mr. Google a question about curio cabinets – was “Why are black people so loud?”  Undoubtedly racist, but now I’m tapping into some of that Google magic. Which I suppose indirectly makes me a racist. Or a racist lover.

3) Walking through Congress Heights I noticed something.  The houses there are not much different than any of those in U Street, Columbia Heights or Adams Morgan – indeed, many are nicer. Why, then, are the neighborhoods so different?

But of course we all know there’s a very key difference about Congress Heights: no Mexicans.

4) Does anyone reading this want a bottle of Gold Listerine?  Seriously.  Little-used.  I tried it without cutting it with water and the skin inside my mouth peeling off and I was desperately dry for a week.

But for you I’m sure it’d be fine.

5) Someone I know just got married. He’s a month younger than me. This is the seventh person I’ve known, directly or through friends, to be married. The first popped about six months out of high school.

In the words of a married woman herself: JUST SAY NO.

But of course it’s probably the perverse incentive of tax. I want a new tax, on married people, to pay for subsidies towards daycare. And a ban on the public exhibition of a child from dawn to dusk.

6) I also want a tax on methane. Did you know that methane as a greenhouse gas is 20 times more potent than CO2? And did you know where methane comes from. Farts. Specifically cow farts – or they always say cow farts. I think that’s the government trying to deflect attention from the real culprit. You know what I’m talking about. You know who you are.

I’ve heard of a solution: Carbon capture and sequestration. Take a big hole in the ground; fill it with the gas; cover and done. Only trick, I guess, is to get the gas down there.

Brb metro.

1. Please enjoy the second comment from the top on this shirt from Old Navy. If you can’t immediately see why it’s idiotic, reread it. You’ll get there.

2. Also, better late than never, another glorious headline from The Grauniad:

Undoubtedly assisted by a hooded Weiner

3. I thought of the following puns for the snowstorm:

  • Blizzaster
  • Snow job
  • Snowthrall
  • Blowstorm
  • Snow-how (as in, “The District of Columbia dramatically lacks snow-how”)
  • Blizzerk
  • Snow what?
  • Snows before hos
  • And courtesy of my roommate Alex, snow class

4. This snowstorm has brought out the best from Mayor Adrian Fenty, principally because it’s forced him to wear a hat.

5. If I had known what this week was going to be like, I’d have bought a plane ticket on Thursday and gone home to Florida for a week. This would have been a lovely time. Instead, this has not been a lovely time. It has been a distinctly unlovely time.

Although maybe if I’d gone to Florida, there’d have been a sunstorm. Like if a solar flare coincided with an eclipse – but a surprise eclipse, so we didn’t expect it – and there was some kind of radiation leak from MacDill Air Force Base. And then I’d be trapped in my condo avoiding bombardments of crazy Independence Day-style firestorms, radiation, and hurricanes made of hot wind.

With my luck.

6. Michelle Tractenberg and the guy who plays Guillermo on Weeds just popped up on this episode of some primetime hospital show on NBC. And he’s gay. I did not see that one coming. I thought he was totally going to mack on Harriet the Spy before I remembered that she’s underage and totally unstable on top.

7. To my Facebook friends: please stop inviting me to support your candidates for office. Especially if it’s for Congress. If I had my way nobody would be elected to Congress. Congress would be one person who sits in that high chair they built to feed Dennis Hastert who nods sagely, if a little disinterestedly, as I proclaim a legislative programme. Incidentally this is not unlike my first and last experience watching Congress in action – right after Katrina. So little would be disrupted.

But then maybe I’d have to have others. I’d just encourage them not to vote. Perhaps using armed guards at the doors. I think that would be strong disincentive for any attempts to make me suffer suffrage. Charlie Wilson, rest his soul, was never particularly troubled by the need to actually be at Capitol Hill. Can it be hard to find 500 or so Charlie Wilsons? No. In fact it would be extremely entertaining. Congress could be Sex and the City… which I suppose would make me Stanford Blatch.

Or the City Councilman who wants Carrie to piss on him.

Hey Adrian – can I borrow your hat?

Thoughts, 17 November

17 November 2009

  • Sometimes, when I don’t feel very clever, I read the comments on YouTube videos.  This invariably makes me feel better. Consider the retort of a Grecian on this trashy Eurotrance video, which boldly asserts “i can bet that i am more human than u are by the fact that i have a phd and emotions.” Indeed, sir.
  • Systems of taxation are, invariably, simultaneously fair and totally nonsensical. One is liable to dismiss the former as a result of the latter. Especially when one is essentially extending  a no-interest short-term loan when one’s own debts cry out for payment.
  • For the reasons above, I intend someday to nationalize the GM corporation, engage in a campaign to make it radically unprofitable, and then sell it to a wealthy dilettante, preferably a foreigner. This asymmetry will please me.
  • Have you ever noticed that Sarah Palin supposedly “transferred schools” shortly after Andy Kaufman allegedly died of cancer?
  • I have come to believe that I occasionally lose consciousness and do a great deal of work for persons unknown. If you are persons unknown, please come forward in order that I might be able to more adequately complete my tax information.
  • As a result of all of the above, I am reconsidering grad school.

No brains November

12 November 2009

There is apparently some phenomenon whereby people across the country find an excuse in every single arbitrary temporal phenomenon to take leave of their senses and create a hideous fad.  (Generally this is college students, as they are the only ones both underoccupied and overstupid enough to embark upon such fetishes.)  What am I talking about?  Today, No shave November.

I'm getting ED just looking at them

I'm getting ED just looking at them

What is no shave November?  The fact that you ask fills me with bile.  Essentially, come November you don’t shave.  That’s it.  The point of it to the best of my knowledge is to drive me still closer to the inevitable mental breakdown that began when I didn’t get a Power Wheels at three. They were awesome. Katie Gardner had one. I didn’t. I didn’t even have one of those stupid plastic cars you pedaled around in yourself like a fucking Flintstone. Seriously, I could’ve just walked. It was indoctrination into car culture. Fortunately Captain Planet deprogrammed me.

How serious is “No shave November”? Check out the beginning of this post by a self-identified participant:

Yes, it is time for me to earn some more points to my man card.

And now my eyes are bleeding.

This gentleman goes on to describe “NSN” and even provides a helpful video of his 2008 effort in case you’ve never been to a bowling alley or sexual assault trial and so don’t know what an unkempt mid-twenties Caucasian man looks like. (Though, since he may have linked here, I don’t mean to imply that this unkempt mid-twenties Caucasian man either bowls or sexually assaults. But I don’t know that he doesn’t. Why won’t he tell us? I’m just asking the question.)

Incidentally when I went to search for this episode of South Park to use as a comic aside I got a post on the Atlantic blog about the episode, which complains that

it starts off quite violently, with a shooting at the school that resonates a bit differently in the wake of Ft. Hood.

This is unadmirably ridiculous. Not once when watching the episode did I make that connection, nor did anyone else watching with me; and the idea that an actual (and deplorable) massacre at a US Army base has any relationship to a man mistakenly shooting dead a nine year-old boy because he confused him with a forty year-old trucker who’s sleeping with his wife, or that a person would or should feel some sense of connection between the two, is not just ludicrous. It’s not just actually insensitive. It’s anti-comedy. It’s the sort of connection Glenn Beck himself would make, which sort of proves that South Park‘s point is not exclusively about Glenn Beck.

The worst part about No shave November is that invariably the people who participate with the greatest vigor are those who have the least capacity for facial hair. (If I lacked moral objections, this would be my fallback position.) At the adjacent computer – not the girl working on a program for the first meeting of the “Lusty Lady Book Club,” which is pleasantly to feature Lawrence and Dangerous Liaisons, the other one – is a kid my age who looks like Timothy Hutton. In the late 1990s. In his made-for-TV movie about Aldrich Ames. That’s bad.

And indeed, within the space of a week, a crowd of otherwise normal-looking men (and one must imagine some very questionable women) are suddenly sprouting similar patches of SOS pad all over their faces.


You know. This guy.

Why do you do this?  Why? It doesn’t make sense. It’s not right. Why do otherwise normal people suddenly look like that evil security guy in Richie Rich after Professor Keenbean sticks a burlap sack with sticky solution over his head. Remember that guy? In Richie Rich? Do you even know what I’m talking about?

Whatever. It’s immaterial. What happened to our morals – our values? Why can people walk around all day long not shaving their beards and looking ridiculous and getting Power Wheels and nobody does anything?

So here’s what I’m going to do. (Because I’m a citizen. It’s my duty.) I’m making a new tradition. I’m making Forced Relocation February. I’m making a list of everyone I see participating in No Shave November and I’m going to have them deported to Greenland. I have this power. Citizen-power. Obama said I can. And I do.


This will be a much more wholesome tradition than stupid No Shave November. It will bring us together, as we slide the burlap sacks over the (awkwardly-bearded) faces of those to be moved. It will be constructive, socially. We’ll get to do this together and the deportees will get homes. And health care. In Greenland. And Greenland will, I don’t know, maybe get a soccer team. And I will get what’s mine. At long, sweet last. You hear that, Katie Gardner? MINE.

I smell a conspiracy

11 November 2009

Why, precisely, is the exemplar of federal employment a chef?


He appears to be smiling because what’s for dinner is my freedom.

Thoughts, 9 November

10 November 2009

  • I enjoy it when a man named Boehner is sloppy about pronouncing his words. I did not enjoy it, however, when I discovered that he isn’t the congressman that represents the town in Glee.
  • When fire drills occur, people who leave the building after an allotted times should be directed into “corpse zones.” They should be informed that had this been an actual fire, they would be statistically dead, and should then be taunted by those who were more prompt.
  • I have not once heard anyone talk ironically about Kaká.
  • I don’t like to think of myself as unemployed. I prefer to think of employment as unhuman. Of course continued unemployment will make me unhuman, too, so in a sense I have already lost.

Sing it with me:

Incidentally, that strapping young black man is apparently Jaleel White, who would grow up to be both horribly typecast on Family Matters (which the kids starting college now probably don’t remember at all because they were 5) and ironically good-looking. He starred with Reginald VelJohnson, whose name is actually VelJohnson. My friend Amy would tell you that that’s nothing in terms of ridiculous names. But people don’t often get goofy with the surname.

Really I just wanted an excuse to post a picture of Reginald VelJohnson.

This post (I was trying to write something vaguely coherent?) has been brought to you by Charlie Brooker, who feels precisely the way I do about aging.  Of course he has it slightly worse: he’s old.

P.S. Though he’s totally right about old people and Lady Gaga.

If you live in the Western world and have at any point crossed paths with a television set, you’ve probably seen, heard or rioted against this classic Kanye West moment:

(N.b. In order to prop up Viacom’s flagging market share this grainy, shitty video will probably be removed in fairly short order. This means you’ll have to do their own research. I trust you.)

Now it would be easy to simply dismiss Kanye as a gay fish, but I won’t.  I’m a sensitive man who understands the soul of the frustrated, lonely multi-platinum recording artist.  Indeed, I dare say Kanye’s story is not as  superficial as it seems. He’s not just some nutty overpaid radio star. Oh no, my friends. Kanye’s doing something here. Something big. Something, dare I say it, historic?

I must tell you first about a favorite philosopher of mine.  His name is Soren Kierkegaard.  His first name is spelt with that fucked-up Danish ‘o’ and I don’t have the patience to look up the alt-code.  But you get the idea.untitledLittle Soren was a strange child – needless to say.  There was a sense of brilliance to him, tinged distinctly with creepiness, perhaps inspired by his selfish siblings who insisted on dying of unpleasant 19th century diseases while Soren was young.  Except his brother. He became a bishop. It’s enough to fuck anybody up.

But eventually little Soren’s parents died and he now had both a solidly middle class upbringing and enough disposable income to avoid real work – as any true philosophical genius must.  And so he set off to make his great works, which challenged the assumptions of his society – and eventually all the world.

Starting to sound familiar?

Try this on for size:

“He writes because for him it is a luxury that becomes all the more enjoyable and conspicuous the fewer who buy and read what he writes.” – Kierkegaard, Either/Or

“I wanna make popular music, but I want less fans.” – Kanye West, Vibe Magazine

Kanye helpfully said that quote while I was in the middle of a second reading of Kierkegaard. It was thoughtful of him. I think it might have been fate.

Because you see, it got me thinking. The work from which that quote was taken, Kierkegaard’s Either/Or, was a really obscure attack on the philosophical mores of the time. He charged that it allowed only two ways of living life: engaged “aesthetically” in drinking, carousing, whoring and other assorted douchebaggeries; or “ethically,” which consists of getting married, being bourgeois and dying old with children. But Kierkegaard said no!  There is a third option. In his case it consisted of Jesus, but this was the sort of Jesus in whom belief and love are accepted as absurd and cherished for it. Kind of a bad ass Jesus.

Both you and Coach Carr need to step away from the underage girls.

Both you and Coach Carr need to step away from the underage girls.

In order to communicate this point Kierkegaard wrote stories, not works of philosophy, and made his point through characters of his own creation – all of whom were thinly-veiled puppets himself, buried deep within still more obscure twists and turns. The person referenced by the quote above was one of these, Johannes the Seducer, who busies himself by trotting around Copenhagen stalking, meeting and then seducing underage girls before he unceremoniously dumps them at the end of a six-month period. (Consumer protections have always been strong in Denmark, even if statuatory rape laws have not.) The book is about Johannes’ relationship with Cordelia, a 16 year-old girl. You might be forgiven for mistaking this character for Kierkegaard, who had his heart broken by… a 16 year-old girl.

Johannes the Seducer, Kierkegaard’s doppelganger, acts a lot like Kanye does. Kierkegaard did, too, at least in his youth. Both were devil-may-care; both stirred unending controversy in the media for their public comments; both, despite protesting about wanting fewer readers, could barely contain their word vomit. (Kanye shouts in that blog of his; Kierkegaard published constantly, including a postscript five times longer than the book it followed.)  Both have issues with their treatment of young girls. And both, of course, are deeply concerned about finding their place in a world in which they don’t quite fit, a world with nothing to believe in. Kierkegaard was never really accepted by anybody, or read outside of Denmark before 1900; as for Kanye,  as late as 2005 some of his plastics still said Kayne.

This is how I cracked the code, you see. Kanye is not just an out-of-control narcissistic superstar. He is not just the out-of-control narcissistic superstar. But he’s not doing it simply because he has everything a person could ever want and still finds himself empty, unsatisfied and alone. I mean, he’s not Michael Jackson. (Too soon?)

No. Kanye is in fact out to teach us all a grand lesson. Kanye is in the process of creating from his very own self a living embodiment of the philosophy of Kierkegaard, one that will make Kierkegaard’s own seem petty and silly and in the process shake our very world to its core.

First he attains his greatest success and greatest controversy. He’s young, insecure, desperate to set his place in the world. (Why else his madcap declarations about already being in the history books?) He does everything wrong and nobody likes him even as they recognize his brilliance. But it can’t go on forever, can it?

Him... or Kanye?

West 52, Monkey 48

He’ll have a change of heart, settles down. Pumps out some kids, maybe gets himself elected to Congress? (Don’t you even tut like it’s at all improbable. People in England elected a monkey.) He’s calmed down, got respectable. But he’ll still be missing something, as will we all, deprived of random outbursts of his lyrical genius and social insanity.

That’s when he reaches the third stage – the religious stage. But this isn’t the 1900s, is it? Maybe this isn’t anything like what Kierkegaard wrote. Maybe it won’t involve Jesus at all. I don’t know. Who can know what a genius like Kanye, who has by now transformed his entire life into a very living a work of philosophy and art, the greatest of all time, will develop when the glorious climax of his life explodes into our consciousness? Will he bring upon us an entirely new philosophy? A new religion? Will he, indeed, reveal himself as the Promised Return of Christ himself?

None of us can know where this onrushing epiphany will lead, or indeed when it will happen. None of us can dare to predict. But we can have faith – dear friends, we can know that it will someday come! Because the sheer tonnage of excellence that Kanye revealed last night, the depth and breadth of his long and tortured road into our very souls, cannot be foreseen any more than it can be denied. He is doing something great – just as he has always said. And we’ve never listened!

Kanye will teach us. He will teach us because he loves us… and he loves us because he loves himself.


Remembering Ted Kennedy

28 August 2009

Keith Richards was once asked what he thought about the death of Princess Diana.  He replied, “I don’t know.  I never met the chick.”

So long, Senator.