Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Days After

While I am not the Obama Zombie that was talked about in The Onion, I am suffering a post-election hangover. Then again, I think the entire country is. Yesterday the Dow dipped below 8,000 and there are reports of possible 10% unemployment by sometime next and year and all the Bush admin can do is pocket enough shit possible as they walk out the door... WTF!?!?! Ok, I'll admit it. I would love to blame Bush for this since he deserves it for being the lamest lame duck president ever. Invisible since September, Bush's incompetence has become even more pronounced in the wake of the classiest consolation and acceptance speeches in recent memory of national American politics. Can anyone imagine Bush being as magnanimous as McCain or Obama were on that Tuesday evening? This is a man who, respective of your political feelings, is simply a public embarrassment. If you are a Republican you have always known this but dare not speak it for four years; if you are a Democrat you are sick of saying it.

However, I am blaming Obama for my hangover. Yes, Obama. On that Tuesday evening I was as high as I have been in years; on Wednesday I was in love and, well, when the hell are you gonna call me Barack! Yes, I know we only have one President at a time but I need you to call me. I am waiting by the phone, the economy is crashing, Al Quaeda is calling you names and pirates, yes freaking pirates, are on the rise. On that Tuesday earlier this month it was like we had the greatest date ever. We ate a modest bistro, had coffee, you told me about how much you loved your mother, I cried, you told me not to as she was "in a better place". I shared about my abusive past, the one were I hadn't done enough to get out of that eight year relationship, and you simply nodded as you gently held my hand, picked up the check and took me to coffee and an Italian Ice. The leaves had turned, not fallen and the air was crisp. We walked, you talked and we kissed... and you haven't freaking called me since!

And now I am getting mad.

Yes, I know you are thinking of me... you think about all the time, but you just broke up with the Senate and you have to wait until after the Holidays to see me.

It's complex... you can't afford to be our president yet. I get it. But all I want is a phone call. A little pick me up. Something. Just tell us you love us won't you?


The truth is it is bad. The economy is in the dumps and all I am doing is waiting for Turkey Day to see my life. Being separated has been tough and budget cuts at the University are scary. My work is taking off, and I take solace in that and the fact that I have free nighttime minutes on my phone plan. The only two songs that mean anything today is the cheery march into the apocalypse that is The Arcade Fire's "No Cars Go" and MGMT's "Kids". Both of the songs do what bands like REM and Talking Heads used to do well: provide distinctly "art pop" palettes of sound upon which the lyrics splash impression after impression. They defy the pedagogical forces of narrative in order to swath listeners under the hedonistic pleasures of pop, no matter how negative they may be. If Gogol Bordello, the single best rock band I have seen in ten years, offers its listeners a positive lesson in pleasure (hey kids, have sex, get rowdy, you can change the world, etc.), then they are today's Clash as they embrace the multi-culti forces of globalization and wrap it around the punk promises of change, now for the moment and make certain it damn well counts. I can't say that about Arcade Fire and MGMT. Their very reservations, which are hardly emoesque, seem to square more with my feeling that the what we can do now is march forward, into the future, work for change and hope it comes.


Which brings back around me to the only media reasons to be joyful these days: 30 Rock and the American version of The Office. As the former has spun off into even greater moments of surreal comedy (last week's "Night Court Reunion" was my personal TV highlight of the year so far), The Office has shown more heart this year than I could have even hoped. Between Michael Scott's most recent lost love, Pam's return (which will bring with her impending regrets, no doubt), Andy's future break up with Angela (or perhaps not) and Kelly Kapur's recent "dream fulfilled" (sh'e dating Ryan again) have given the show a depth that I simply didn't think it could achieve. And by depth I don't mean the smarmy melodrama of late MASH. Rather it seems to me to be the only comedy on American TV that has taken Del Close and Charna Halpern's words about Truth in Comedy to their logical end. The Office works not so much because it is comedic, but rather because it is painfully true and touches nerves that, for me, were only hinted at in shows I love such as The Larry Sanders Show or early Roseanne. After The Office, I need the refresher that is 30 Rock


Ok, enough for now. Will talk more about research later. I should note that things have bogged down a bit as we are at the end of the semester here at ODU. Nevertheless, the writings have come and the grants are being written and submitted. Such is the life.

And Barack, if you get around to it, call me.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Sick Days, One Day, Cher Day, Bragg Day, Hey Hey Hey

Let's begin with the beginning. After my wife came to visit last week with my stepdaughter, the germs they spread decided to take up temporary residence in my sinuses. It's been one limping day after another as I try to get healthy. Still, I am doing what I can to get through election day. Instead of knocking on doors, I decided that data entry was the best I could do and the whole kit and kaboodle will culminate with me working the polls beginning at 5:30am (polls open at 6am) until 4pm. I will tell you more about that sometime this week.

But with one day left, I have a few random thoughts I would like to get out of my head before I start to grade...

1) Facebook is forcing people to get connected who they never wanted to be connected with again. The result has been a rise of self-reflection about more past relationships than anyone could have imagined. Score another side effect for online social networking.

2)Obama rallies have begun to rekindle the best hopes of the 1960s. My wife went to the Obama rally in Columbus and the above picture is of about 20 or so people doing the electric slide (or bus stop to others) in the middle of High Street. The rally drew about 60000 people and my wife walked away really emotionally drained, as if this was the greatest event that she had ever attended. For what it is worth, she and the rest of her family are all Hillary supporters and she has harbored quite a bit of cynicism about Obama's campaign. That said, she has been a supporter for months but I don't think she expected this kind of feeling. But people dancing in the streets and acting positively under the direction of a leader can only energize you with hope. It can also be dangerous... but I don't think I see anything too wrong with the electric slide. It can make you feel like the future can be different if all work and dance together. What a feeling!Click image to view

For what its worth. I didn't think that that feeling was possible again.

3) The A&E Cher Biography I watched yesterday was the best television I watched all weekend.

4) The Billy Bragg show, which I saw last week and will blog about this week after the election, was beyond great. Not as good as the Gogol Bordello show I saw this year, but a solid, if distant, second.

5) I really miss Fat Albert. I just wanted to say that. I think I am in need of the DVDs... anyone?