Aug 18, 2010

This Could Be Your Last Issue!

I am addicted to magazines. I cannot resist any offer for 75% off the newsstand price. There, I said it.

The problem with magazines is that they all somehow make me feel bad. And I’m not talking about advertising – which has been actually proven to make people feel shitty – I’m talking about editorial.

Last night, I was reading an article in ELLE by some nutso who had a life-long hang-up about being short. She would answer her door in platforms, worked at a gym but would not take advantage of the free membership because co workers would see her in sneakers, you get the picture. Yeah. She’d be in the midst of a hot date when the dude would exclaim, “you’re so short.” Oh, the horror. As usual, I’m buried in page 3 of this nonsense by the time the author actually states her height. You guessed it. She’s taller than me.

This always happens; I should know better. I’ll be reading this story about someone who experienced XYZ and how horrible it was/is, and it will always turn out that whatever XYZ was/is – I have it worse. Since I read predominately “women’s” magazines, these are almost always issues of physical appearance (you know the one about the woman who “struggled with her weight all her life,” whose “rock bottom” was like being 150 at 5’7). On occasion, I get to read about health issues, income and education. Fun, fun, fun!

At one point, this observation led me to add non female-centered publications to my subscription list. Enter Car & Driver, Old Cars Weekly, and Tricycle (the Buddhist review – how’s that for backlash?). But even these gave me grief. Yesterday, after reading some very entertaining reviews of vehicles I’ll never own, I decided to check out C/D online to see what they had to say about my car. The first search result? “The Greatest Automotive Flops of the Last 25 Years.”

C’mon, man, come the fuck on.

We’ve all heard the clich├ęs about cars being extensions of ourselves, so I wasn’t all that surprised by this. Not that I’m calling myself a “flop,” but the author’s description of the Crossfire Coupe as a “bright-eyed hunk of weirdness” did hit a little close to home.

As usual, I’m not really sure what I’m trying to say (after all, that article on the “Yoga of Creativity” in Tricycle has totally got me doubting my talent as a writer – and a yogini, for what it’s worth) but I do know this: it really doesn’t matter which magazines I read. So much in this world is intended to make us feel bad about ourselves for one reason or another. So, whether it’s ELLE making women feel bad about floppy boobs or C/D making me feel bad about my floppy car, I just got to keep telling myself that it’s all by design.

Ads, editorial, it doesn’t matter. They’re all selling something...and at a mere fraction of the newsstand price, I'm sure they'll sell me another subscription.

Aug 6, 2010

Long Gong Memories...

My memory of college is hazy. Academically speaking, I’m not sure I took away all that I should have and, God knows, I put too much effort into things that did me no good. Evidence: that “A” in plant biology and that “C” in graphic design.

That’s why a random college flashback I had today – in the middle of a design job (how you like me now, professor d-bag?) – totally caught me off guard. This incident might very well belong in the “you had to be there” category, but on the off chance that any of you share my bizarre sense of humor, here we go...

It was spring 1996, the end of my freshman year. For some dumb rhetoric final, we had to prepare an “argument” about a current events issue and present both front of the whole class. This self-debate would be followed by three minutes of questions from the class that the presenter would have to answer from both points of view. Yes, it was just as screwy as it sounds. The only reasons I remember this exercise in state-funded schizophrenia was that 1) I hated public speaking, and 2) sitting through the “arguments” from my fellow classmates was something like watching The Gong Show.

Surprisingly, I do remember what my issue was: Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf’s refusal to stand during the national anthem (kinda ahead of the times bringing up that shit in a pre-9/11 world, huh?). However, I don’t remember the questions I got or my grade. And, even if my life depended on it, I couldn’t give specifics on what the other kids yammered for one.

Before I go on, let me set the scene. I went to the pasty white College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota. The majority of kids hailed from heartland suburban (in contrast to NYC suburban, which is actually more urban than Minneapolis), semi-rural, and rural areas. So, yeah, we’re talking zippo in the way of racial diversity or urban culture let alone any familiarity with East Coast/West Coast rap wars.

Back to Gong Show 101. A girl gets up and starts in on how Tupac Shakur is still alive and that he left all kinds of clues and shit (I’m paraphrasing) to support this hypothesis. Evidence of his faked death was supposedly in song lyrics, videos, symbols hidden in bling worn by his Thug Life crew, you name it. It was obvious that she personally believed this side of her “argument” as I remember her devoting well over the allotted 50% of her presentation time to it.

Why is this so funny? Picture a classroom of a few dozen white farm kids listening to passionately presented “facts” of malfeasance surrounding Tupac’s “death.” Facts accompanied by visual aids, to boot. And by visual aids, I mean a poster board collage consisting of photos of Suge Knight, album art, and Tupac’s tattoos.

Oh, man. I remember biting, BITING, the insides of my cheeks so I didn’t burst out laughing. Meanwhile, the rest of the class was completely befuddled. I’m sure this was the first many of them have heard of this fucking nonsense – Makaveli rising from the dead to seek revenge against the East Coast and whatnot – let alone heard a real live black person speak.

When the Q&A portion rolled around you could hear crickets (really, our campus was quite woodsy).

 As I said upfront, this story may not make any sense to anyone but me. All I know is that I’ve forgotten about it for almost 15 years and I’m putting it down now so I will remember it 4eva.

Tupac lives after all, y’all.

Aug 2, 2010

Christmas in August

I stayed in the car as John ran in to FYE to pick up a DVD for his friend's birthday. He returned with a big smile on his face. "The DVD was on sale, so I got you a present," he said.

"Close your eyes and open your hand."

As transactions prefaced with that phrase usually don't end well, I was leery. Seems I had good reason:

In case you were wondering, she "says 3 unique phrases as her head bobbles."