Monday, February 26, 2007

Rolling Meadows Saga (Part One): Must Be a Problem Back at Corporate

Approximately 10 days ago I made my very first visit to the chicago hinterlands. the way far up there northwest suburbs. And I shall never go back. oh no. I shall never go back. You see if there truly is an existence after this life, and the diety i have been instructed to believe in actually exists, and his deal is still on the table, and for whatever reason i come up a few straws short and end up not fulfilling my end of the bargain, and as a result must spend an eternity in utter torment, and said torment is manufactured in a devastatingly personal way, my personal hell would be finding myself stuck for all times in Rolling Meadows, IL.

I knew something was wrong right from the get-go. My dear Croft decided to take it upon herself and drive me up to the office building a computer prompted e-mail had told me where my autoCAD class was being held. Croftie was already late for her work when she dropped me off at an impressive twenty story number in the middle of nowhere, a.k.a Arlington Heights, IL. seriously, the building looked like the tower of Babel. Inside the plush front lobby was a security man. One of those no nonsense middle-aged men with graying temples and a demeanor that suggests they are taking it easy after an earlier much more violent career in something more or less security related. But those days were behind him and now he was taking it easy but just not letting anyone forget he could break a rhino in half over his knee if the need should arrise.

Security Man eyed me up and down. I obviously didn't belong here. I gave him my name and the company i was taking the class with and even though he found the name on his little printed out sheet thingy he still didn't trust me. After asking for my ID he 'let' me "wander around the lower floors, grab a coffee, whatever, since i was an hour early and i didn't need to be buzzed up to 18 just yet." I didn't want coffee but made some tea and ate some corn-pops i had brought and watched all the businessmans and ladies walking by in there power suits and blazers. Time crept by and soon it was 8:15am. my class started in 15 minutes. I asked Security Man to "buzz me up to 18." Funny thing was, nobody up there was having me.

Nobody answered. not then. not at 8:30am. not at 8:45am. By this point i was close to a panic attack. the first day of my class, a class i spent good money on, a class that had begun 15 minutes ago that i was not yet a part of but should be was already underway. After much begging and pleading I forced frazzled Security Man to let me up to the 18th floor. There i found the Autodesk Office, locked up tight. nobody around. I knocked. The time went by. I buzzed. the time went by. I freaked out. That is when a dapper fellow with a bit of Mr Rogers in him walked up behind me and let me inside the office. He assured me that "oh no, classes haven't been held here in months, that there would be donuts and coffee on the table right there if there was a class being held, but there wasn't any donuts because there hadn't been a class held here in months." I sat down and took a few deep breaths. Rogers patted me on the shoulder and made a call.

I assumed the class hadn't had enough folks enrolled and had been canceled. I assumed that Autodesk did not teach this class anymore and that somehow i had not been notified of this decision. No and no. There was a class. I was enrolled. But said class was being held at their office in Rolling Meadows, a 15 minute drive away, and boy were they sorry about the mix-up. Another lady in the class had the same problem. Only somehow her company had been contacted at the last minute, and tragedy was averted. I was a part of no company. Invisible, non-existent companies cannot be contacted. I was uninformed and late for the first day of class.

I had Rogers call a cab. I then called the office in Rolling Meadows to let them know I would be there soon. A gruff voiced man who i spoke with, let's call him Scrappy, said "forget the cab, I'll come and pick you up. Its our fault, let us fix things." 10 minutes later a very confused cab driver walked in the plush lobby and I pretended not to know what he was there for. Security Man did his thing, was all tough and showed the befuddled chinese cabbie who most certainly was in the right place that he was in fact in the wrong place. another 5 minutes and i walked out past the blinky eyed cabbie and Scrappy gave me a ride into Hell.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

random dude on a bus

i read a chuck klosterman article once that had the following thesis: What most people think of as guilty pleasures are not actually guilty pleasures. now i don't remember the essay/article's name or where i read it, and i'm not even sure if the above thesis is the actual thesis chuck was driving at, but that's not important. What's important is what his words made me think, regardless of chuck's actual point.

basically you ask a random dude on a bus to name a guilty pleasure and he'll say 'American Idol'. or ask hipster lady and she'll say 'that justin timberlake song.' chuck's point (again, see my caveat above) is that there is nothing intrinsic to the named cultural artifacts that makes them bad enough to be a true guilty pleasure. in fact pitchfork famously gave J-tim a good review, so in a sense, hipsters everywhere should be able to embrace Sexxyback for the groovething that it is.

the question then becomes what exactly constitutes a guilty pleasure? chuck's answer is honest to goodness bad things, like illegal drug abuse or prostitution. cocaine use is a guilty pleasure but like the band Journey is not.

now i'm too much of a goody-goody to have a klosterman sanctioned guilty pleasure. liking comic books doesn't count. the fact that i spend close to $50 a month? not bad. the 'guilty pleasure' that comic books have taken the place of? video games. and i gave them up mostly because they stopped being fun. and they stopped being fun because they got more and more complicated (and expensive). but comics have only gotten more and more 'approved' in the past 10 years. and with great writers breaking to the fore and truly spectacular artists doing some pretty remarkable things, what's not to like? So I suppose as long as my habit doesn't become so extensive that i need to start turning tricks in the U of C library stacks again for funding i'm in good shape.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Ode to the North Wind

things i said, thought of saying, thought better of saying during the cold snap of the last few days:

"Wow, stuffing that big towel onto the window sill has brought us one step closer to surviving the night."
-me, the bedroom, last night

"What did we do to deserve this!? Why, Mother Nature, Why!?"
-me, shaking my fist to the heavens, being sub-zero gusted standing with Croftie outside the Medici on 57th St, this morning

Croftie: "Barry?"
Me: "Yeah, that's Barry."
C: "I haven't heard him purr this loud in weeks!"
Me: "I don't think he's been this warm in weeks."
C: "any chance of moving him?"
Me: "none."
-me, croftie and a Barry between us, sleeping, last night.

"Mother Slut-bucket!"
-me, walking out the front door and around the corner to the garbage can wearing just flip-flops, saturday afternoon.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Ignignokt Funny

Earlier this week in Boston a presumed terrorist bomb plot was debunked and revealed to be the product of a quirky ad campaign for a late night cartoon series. Aqua Teen Hunger Force, a series which has anchored Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block for years has a feature film being released this Spring. The show features a crew of anthropomorphized fast food items and a revolving cast of surreal creatures, from a cybernetic 'Terminator'-like Thanksgiving turkey to a half dozen or so extraterrestrials, among those, two Atari pixeled punks called mooninites. It was a mooninite named Err, that was rendered on small Light-Brite boards placed throughout Boston that spooked the public and authorities into assuming a terrorist threat.

Now the 'War' on Terror has spawned many undesirable repercussions, some of them serious like the loss of civil liberties and the invasion or privacy, some of them merely inconveniencing, such as restrictions on airborne carry-on items. Yet the 'War' on Terror appears to have engendered further insidious effects on other parts of our daily lives as well. The recent advertising bomb hoax proves, among other things, that post 9/11 Americans have been groomed not only to be paranoid, but to fear things they don't understand. As such the field of cultural production (in this case Art and Advertising) is a prime target for scrutiny and repression.

How is it that a marketing campaign can bring a city to its knees? Its simple. Aqua Teen has never been and never will be embraced by the majority of Americans. Its intrinsic logic, if you can call it that, is too alienating for most folks. Consequentially the series' idiosyncratic nature is what makes it popular to those who know and love it. It is, by its own very nature, marginalized. It cannot ever be mainstream or it would cease to be what it is and become something else.

Now, advertising for something like this is a tricky endeavor--one might even call it impossible. It would take a skillful advertisement indeed to not only explain to Joe American just what the hell Aqua Teen is, but to prove to him it is good/interesting and that he should go out and spend money to see the cartoon's feature film. In short, it is a losing proposition, so the folks behind the advertisements that were produced did the only thing they could: made the product placements as off-beat as the show is itself. It shouldn't come as a surprise then that not only were the advertisements rejected by mainstream America, they were an assumed terrorist threat!

I have known for some time that the 'War' on Terror has slowly been changing the way we all see our world. Yet I had never given any thought to the fact that it is helping to 'mainstream' our culture, physically constructing individuals to fear everything in the margins of society so much so that they seek to eliminate those margins altogether. Sure, the Boston Aqua Teen bomb hoax may seem like a laugh (and it is indeed quite funny, unintentionally and sort of sadly so) but it illuminates an ideological process that must be exposed for what it is. And mocked ruthlessly. I mean how much fun would it be to live in a world devoid of a Fast Food superheroes? The answer is Even less fun than it sounds.

Perhaps things should have been handled like this