Thursday, December 31, 2009

By way of re-introduction

New Year's eve seems like a good time to come back. Also, I'm currently employed in a job with minimal supervision and significant downtime, a job that works in a way conducive to reflection and the occasional blogging urge.

I very nearly forgot that this was the end of a decade... most decades seem to have a certain feeling of completion, a feeling that common themes defined the last 10 years well enough to speculate upon at their close. But I think that this decade will be characterized for its distinct lack of cohesion. There are obvious things... the inexorable march of technology, the political significance of a nation so stung by eight years of conservative overreaching that they elected a man that mere months earlier had been deemed unelectable. But there is so little to draw together from these past ten years. There is not that nice, tangible "decade" feeling to point to and say, this, this is what we got out of the "oughts."

The NPR stories have gotten me thinking about who I was at the opening of this past decade, and the very different person I am now. To wit:

On Dec. 31, 1999, I rang in the new year with high school friends in an empty house in the Denver suburbs. I was 18 years old. I was attending the University of Colorado at Boulder (I was majoring in Communication, also known as the "I have to pick a major? major") and was miserable among the alien culture of coke, bulimia and apathy that characterized the late-90s college experience.

Jesus, was I ever really 18? Did that really happen? And if it did, was it really 10 years ago? I'm pretty sure I still have clothes from that year (Not that anything worth talking about happened in 2000s fashion. Boring.)

And here I am. 10 years later, I'm 28, working as an office manager for a local importer/manufacturer in a wretched exurb of Denver (at this moment I'm listening to Lou Reed on my iPod in an attempt to drown out my coworker's Christian radio). I'm engaged (good). I write for free when I can, and have more or less given up on ever writing for pay again (not good). I'm determined by the end of the next decade- hopefully sooner- to be happier with what I do for money. Happier with a lot of things, actually. Because right now I'm thinking about how quickly ten years can go by... and how empty it can feel when an entire decade draws to a close before you even know it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

shut up, fascist


Once upon a time, some friends and I decided it was really funny to teach little kids to say "Shut up, fascist!" when upset, rather than the typical little-kid epithets like "butthead" or "poopface." So I think it really amusing that "fascist" is now the schoolyard taunt of choice for Republican buttheads like Saul Anuzis.

The actual, historical horrors of real fascism notwithstanding, it speaks to the abysmal lack of direction and message of the Republican Party that they've resorted to the kind of semi-educated name-calling typically reserved for sullen teenagers. Did Obama revoke their facebook privileges or something? But here's the kicker. Anuzis doesn't even know or care what the difference is between the old standby of calling a liberal a "socialist" and his new, hip, punk rock "fascist" label:

“We’ve so overused the word ‘socialism’ that it no longer has the negative connotation it had 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago,” Mr. Anuzis said. “Fascism — everybody still thinks that’s a bad thing.”

Well... yes, because there are several nations that have adopted some form of socialism that actually, well, works for them. Socialism, in and of itself, is not a "bad thing" with the "negative connotation" it had 20 years ago, because in those 20 years, socialism has become a base from which to build a viable government in many parts of the world. Fascism is still thought of as a bad thing, because (as anyone with wikipedia access would know), nearly every example of it in action has resulted in the slaughter of thousands, forced labor, and government-sanctioned violence. Italy, Spain, Germany... the list goes on. Fascism is the worst kind of human behavior, brought to a vast scale by the worst kinds of human fears.

And at the risk of oversimplifying, it would seem that accusations of fascism would be more appropriately directed toward an administration of obsessive nationalism, oppressive religious leanings, sexism, racism, secrecy, state-sanctioned torture, corporatism, militarism, isolationism, surveillance and cronyism. I'm sure you can think of a recent one.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

who is muammar gaddafi?

I'm really intrigued by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. As a child, I remember seeing him on television, a dynamic figure, in expensive glasses and lots of bling. His life seems to be a map of post-WWII America's troubled and tangled relationship with the Middle East. He has been both condemned as a terrorist and praised as a humanitarian, depending on the current U.S. administration and the price of petrol. And in his newest incarnation, a champion of African unity and vocal opponent of Al-Qaeda, his political career has taken a turn Reagan-era politicos never saw coming.

While I maintain that Gaddafi is an odd choice, it would seem that Africa is merely seeking someone with experience in leadership... and while Libya may not seem the best source for a unifying figure, Gaddafi does have the distinction of holding together an African country for 40 years, and as the fourth-longest serving head of state (fun trivia: The top three are King Bhumibol of Thailand, Queen Elizabeth and Fidel Castro).

On the worlds' most troubled continent, perhaps Gaddafi is the closest thing to a constant.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

redemption

A bright sunshine streaks the faces of the seven million people congregated in the Capitol. It is a beautiful day. In every sense of the word.

January is not supposed to be beautiful. Beauty, it seems, is an elusive thing in a cold winter, a winter made all the colder by struggle and fear, anxiety and worry. But today is a beautiful day, in spite of so much. Because today, there is hope in the eyes of all those seven million people. There is hope in the face of the man we've chosen to place in front of us. Hope is what brings beauty in even the darkest moments. Hope is what made my ancestors survive January in sod houses in Iowa in 1890. Hope is what brought my grandmother through dust bowls and starvation. Hope is what consoled my great-great grandparents when they left everything they knew in a small Norwegian fishing village to till an unknown land far from their home.

And hope is what brings my heart to my throat now, when I see the tide of people in Washington. There is much to survive still. But hope will get us there.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

nocturne

It's pretty crazy how I can get on a roll when I want to, when I have a task at hand that needs completion (or at least steady progress). So this is why I'm up at three in the morning burning a mix CD for my fiancee and reading my friends' music blog (it's here, and yes, you should read it too).

The project I'm working on right now is rekindling my love for music.

I have two music stories due to The Onion by the end of the month and I was feeling pretty uninspired about both of them so I decided I needed to spend some time with the music I have, remember why I do this, of all journalistic endeavors.

It's helping. Since my music is virtually 100 percent digital at this point, it helped greatly simply to haul the CD box out from under my bed, go through the stacks, carefully choose which ones to upload and fondly remember where I was when I bought each one. Or even better, where I was when someone gave it to me (Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was in my Easter basket when I was 15, next to marshmallow Peeps and a Reese's peanut butter bunny). Touching music, the physical manifestation of it, reminds me of the actual work it takes to create it.

The stories are still rough. I still have interviews to schedule, outlines to create, research to do. But at least right now I can remember why I do it.