Friday, January 27, 2006

Geekspotting - Episode III: Revenge Of The Aging Boomer

I quit once before. Really I did. After all the arguments around election time and being accused of being a "neocon" by some dumbfuck Baby Boomer because I talked about John Kerry being a crappy candidate, I decided it was enough. Besides the fact that I would get into arguments with an idiot college kid from some southern Christian school when he would compare homosexuality to pedophilia and bigamy (gay marriage issue was being pushed by the right during the election you remember) or the moron conservative from Kansas claiming that the NAACP is a racist organization, there was the attacks and diatribes from the aging Boomer. It wasn't that one had to be left to get his respect, it was that one had to agree with every one of his ideas and be his kind of lefty or you were just "helping the right." LouieB was trying to hold onto some sort of semblance of his past coolness, if it ever actually existed, that bagging on other people made him feel better about himself. He tried to use the words of the great anarchist Emma Goldman to prop up his reasons for voting for John Kerry. (I had a picture of her as my "avatar" - a picture that accompanies all of a person's posts - for a while, which is why he tried this tactic) I tried to explain to him that he was crazy if he was trying to argue that Emma Goldman would endorse a guy who lives in a $12 million home among other expensive vacation property. I would get long rants about how he knows so much more about anarchist than me or whatever other bullshit he would say, and then for some weird reason he then kept calling me comrade for a while. I'm telling you, he is a bizarre little man.

He actually preferred that others not be as liberal as him because it made him feel special to be the old lefty voice of reason or something. It made him the king of the board and woe to anyone who appeared to want to knock him off his throne. He loves being the old guy on the board, he thinks it makes him wise by comparison or something. He loves to tell us "young liberal" that we don't know how to have a good protest. He obviously missed the news during the week of the WTO protest in Seattle a few years back, when I choked down more tear gas in a week than he probably did during the entire Vietnam years. But it didn't matter to the dipshit, you had no lefty cred unless you did the exact same things as him, during the same time frame. This is a common illness among many in his over-hyped and under-achieved generation.

It was funny during the build up to the election because he got so frustrated with other people from the left who didn't see things exactly his way that he posted another long post that included the promise that this was the last he had to say and was going to stay out of the political threads until after the election. This of course lasted about an hour before he was back in it. My favorite thing to do was quote his promise every time he posted something in the political threads. He got really angry with me and accused me of stalking him because I was reminding him that he promised to stay out of the political topics. He really never had any intention of staying out, he just post things like that so others on the board would say "Oh Lou come on, stick around we like you" and other stupid shit like that. He would also call people something like "neocon and then ten minutes later claim he didn't do that. Someone would then show him the post where he did it and he a lot of the time would still deny it.

So I had enough of the headache and stopped checking in at

And I was really good for a while. It had a lot to do with me starting this blog, which was the purpose of it at first. But I eventually fell back in. Really I just started checking back in to see things like tour dates that this guy who calls himself Solace (probably the one guy I would actually want to meet from the geekboard) would post and would often be the first place I heard about somebody on tour. But I made the mistake of checking out the threads again and I eventually was just sucked right back in. And this lead to more insane arguments with the southern Christian kid who calls himself "ikol" (apparently the name of some angel backwards. Who knew? Who cared?), or the Kansas Christian who calls himself "Uncle Wilco" and would claim that he was an "independent" even though you could get him to admit that he never voted for anything other than Republicans in his entire life. It still boggles my mind that Wilco has fans like this. My rejoining the fray also lead to the previously mentioned confrontation with the white-middle-class-fratboy with low self esteem, EL FAMOUS.

Then there were the music arguments that are just stupid. The whole "I know more than you" attitude just got so annoying. You know those record store clerk characters from High Fidelity? Funny, right? But imagine an internet message board full of them. Not so funny and cute in real (or virtual) life as they are in movies. Jamming an icepick in your eye can be more enjoyable that talking to these people. And a lot of them love Wilco, which is just a shame. I was talking to my buddy Trevor not too long ago, a guy who is a musician and also promotes shows for his job. He said something that really struck me as right on. We were talking about music, and Wilco in general, when he said something about avoiding getting into a conversation about music with a guy in a Wilco shirt because you're just asking for trouble. Trouble meaning basically about an hour long treatise on music where you don't get a word in edgewise and when you do you are told you're wrong. About everything. Our friendly neighborhood Baby Boomer was awesome at this too.

In my final days LouieB posted a long monologue/diatribe about the newest Wilco release, a double-disc live album called Kicking Television: Live In Chicago. His rant went on forever (like most of his postings) about how dare people call it "non-essential" and it is the greatest recording of an event ever and if you don't like the set list you are not a real Wilco fan and blah blah fucking blah. Someone would then post a short something about why they didn't like it very much but if LouieB does then that's cool by them. LouieB then would post another long rant questioning the persons taste, sanity, and intelligence. And he also did one of his favorite things to do when arguing any point about Wilco. He started a sentence with "When I was talking to Jeff (Tweedy, lead singer of Wilco) after the Otto's show last year, I said to him...." And then he would tell us what Jeff said back. He would do that a lot, somehow thinking that because he's one of those backstage hangers-on it gives him some sort of credibility. Or that if he says Jeff agrees with him that that somehow proves he's right. Yea, the guy who leads the band is at all likely to say "You know Lou, I disagree with you about this being the best version of Wilco ever, this line-up is just really weak and I'm really disappointed with myself."

It would go on like this forever, but I stayed out of it. The new live album had already become a tired argument. Basically, Wilco has put out the most boring live album since Depeche Mode's 101, or maybe even since Frampton Comes Alive, but if you dared say so you would feel the wrath of the old hippy wannabe. Seriously, I'm the biggest Wilco fan in the world, as most of my friends would attest, and this live album is a snooze-fest. Just like their most recent shows have been.

Mr. Generation Vietnam could even combine the music and politics idiocy from time to time. During the build up to the presidential election, Jeff Tweedy had taken to making a lot of funny jabs at Bush during Wilco shows. I, of course, think they were great. There were some people that weren't a big fan of him doing this. Wilco has never been a particularly vocal political band and a lot of people liked it that way. Some people don't go for the Bono treatment at concerts. To each their own. But if anyone said that on the message board they caught the grief of Mr. B. There were some people who said that even though they agreed with Jeff's politics, they just wanted to hear the music, not any political rants. LouieB attacked these people mercilessly, calling them neocons or "not real liberals" or even Bush supporters. Even after they would explain that they hated Bush and Republicans, they just didn't like their music and politics combined, the stupid Boomer just didn't get it. He continued to accuse people of exactly the opposite of what they said they believed. He then brought out his "big guns" of "When I talked to Jeff after the last show, I thanked him for his political speeches."

Well good for you fuckhead. I began to think how sick of this guy Mr. Tweedy must be, with Lou lurking backstage waiting to talk to him all the time.

But the straw that broke my back would come right after this. LouieB had been posting for some time for a get together of the Chicago based people on the board at a club on Chicago's South Side. He was basically unsuccessful, as a lot of people expressed interest, but nobody else went. The funny thing was him writing a review of the night after he went by himself. I was mildly interested in the thread because I miss Chicago and like reading about places I've been to. One thing that he said at one point bothered me. He mentioned at one point that there was no good way to get there on the CTA and he wouldn't suggest that anyone try it. My public transit geekiness kicked in at this point. Now, there is virtually no place in Chicago you can't get to on the CTA so I took issue with this. I wrote that this was bullshit and then wrote detailed instructions on how to get to the club with a combination of "L" train and bus, which would include getting off the bus at the stop right in front of the club's door. I also explained how you could call a cab from the club after the show, since it would be so late, to get to the L station for only a couple of bucks. A completely doable situation that I had done before. I ended my post with a flippant remark, "I swear, North Siders act like the South Side is a Third World country some times." This set off a fire storm. By the time I checked back in LouieB had already responded with two long posts, which means he responded to himself before I even wrote a second thing about it and was basically debating himself. He started off by saying that this was just my way of "dumping on" him like I always do. He also defended himself against some sort of charge that he was a racist. A couple of others chimed in to say that LouieB wasn't a racist and I couldn't figure out what the fuck they were talking about. So I responded that I didn't call anybody a racist (what I had meant by the "Third World" comment was that North Siders act like the South Side is a far away distant land with no modern conveniences or transportation), and even put more details in about the public transit options there are to that particular place. LouieB then posted another long diatribe that basically accused me of wanting the girls of VC to get raped and also repeated that he wasn't a racist. Then me again: "I didn't call anyone a racist, nor did I imply that anyone was a racist."

Then LouieB wrote another monologue that again accused me of wanting people to get raped, that I was ridiculous, idiotic, delusional and that I in fact did mean that he was a racist.

Me: "I didn't call you a racist. And all I'm doing is sharing information about how someone could go to this club on the CTA and be just as safe as driving down there and parking a block away and I've been down there many times this way"

LouieB: Looong monologue explaining to me how I implied that he was a racist, questioning my claim that I've ever even been to that neighborhood, let alone that club and wanting me to prove it, and trying to prove that he knows the neighborhood is not a safe one by bringing up a murder that happened on that street - 20 years ago. I shit you not, he really used a murder from two decades earlier as his only example of how unsafe the area is.

Me: I explained I don't care if he thinks I've been there or not, I'm just trying to let people know that you can get there by public transit if they want to and be relatively safe at the same time. If he disagrees that's fine, I said, but just like the argument over the Wilco record, his view is not the only one and there's no reason to call me names or accuse me of calling him a racist.

Other people chime in to say that LouieB is not a racist. Holy Fuck! I post again that I didn't call him a racist and that just because he claims that's what I meant that doesn't make it so. Then LouieB post another long diatribe calling me foolish and what not, and thanking people for defending his honor, saying shit like he's been riding the CTA since before I was born, and that I've probably never even been to that neighborhood (again with that claim, even though I knew exactly where the bus stop was), and then saying something about my wife going to that neighborhood by herself and would I want her to get raped or something along those lines. This got me really pissed. I started a long reply to tell him to leave my wife out of any conversations we have because she's none of his business and how this is another example of what a weasel he is for doing that and I would never bring his family into one of our arguments. I was pretty livid.

But then in the middle of writing it hit me. It wasn't that I was letting some pathetic aging Baby Boomer on a message board piss me off that was getting to me. Or that I was caring so much about what this guy was telling other people about getting around Chicago, even if he was wrong (but that was a sign of the addiction to be sure). It was that I realized I was in danger of possibly becoming this guy. It was then that I had the same feeling as the moment I decided to quit smoking for good. It was a feeling of "this isn't what I'm about, so I'm going to stop." I finished my post with a "So long VC, it's been unreal," and I got out. I didn't go back to check the Boomer's idiotic responses or anything. I just signed out and walked away from the computer.

The sorry part is that I know exactly how he responded anyway, without even looking.

It has been almost a month now since I last logged on to ViaChicago. I think I finally have it beat. Sometimes I find myself looking it up on the favorites menu, but I always stop myself. It's like when I quit smoking and would find myself reaching into my pocket when I got off the subway or while waiting for the bus. Old habits die hard. But I really don't miss it. The number of hours that I wasted on there was staggering. When I left the board I had passed the 2000 posts mark, accumulated over the course of 2+ years. Someone congratulated me when I hit it, or I may not have even realized. I certainly didn't want to become one of the people who bragged about it like it was some sort of accomplishment. Seriously, some people at that place have celebrated their 10,000th or 15,000th post (like LouieB and EL FAMOUS, just to name two) and the site has only been around since about 2002 or so. And they wear it like a badge of honor, even to the point of people trying to catch the leader all the time (usually a guy called Analogman). I always wondered what they are so proud of. It seems to me like saying "Hey, I'm so cool! I watched my millionth hour of TV!"

But it is over for me now. Every day I'm getting stronger and stronger.....

Monday, January 23, 2006

I Love The 80s!

So I'm up late the other night, watching TV and drinking rum & Fresca (watching my calories you know). I'm flipping through the channels and come across The Breakfast Club on some free movie channel. Now, I was in high school when this movie came out, so it says more to me than it says to, say, any random Baby Boomer or "Generation Y" kid. By the way, it seems that we've really given up on any creativity in naming our generations. We go from Baby Boom to Generation X, but then nobody can think of something to name the next one other than a sequel to the Gen X name? Poor Douglas Copeland has to be doubly pissed-off now, I don't think he liked it when even just one generation was named after one of his books. But I digress.

What was I talking about? Oh right, The Breakfast Club. So I was watching a little of it after I came across the movie by way of channel flipping. And I was thinking about how most of my friends have written it off as outdated and too cheesy. But you know, for all of the movies faults, it still works for me. There is definitely a hokeyness to it, that can't be denied. John Hughes certainly had a ay of overwriting movies too. He just can't let anything go unsaid or let an actor use subtext to get the point across. One example is after Anthony Michael Hall's character talks about how the flare gun (that he was going to kill himself with) went off in his locker and the others start laughing. He's been crying and says "it's not funny." But the others can't help laughing and soon he starts laughing himself at the realization that it is, in fact, funny. But John Hughes couldn't help having the character throw in the line "Yes it is," so that the audience will get that he now sees the absurdity of the whole thing. So some unnecessary dialogue is definitely a problem.

I only described the above scene for people that may not be in their thirties, because if you are you more than likely know that whole scene by heart anyway, and don't deny it.

But for all its cheesiness and preachy way of telling us that we're all alike deep down, it still works for me. I recognize a lot of those people from high school. Sure it breaks down the whole social structure of high school down to five easy groups, but that's what high school basically does on its own. And it is easy to remember what it was like trying to survive being a teenager when watching The Breakfast Club. And the best character by far is Ally Sheedy's basket case Allison. For me, she sums up the whole movie, and teenage life in general when she says "When you grow up, your heart dies." And when asked "Who cares?" by Emilio Estevez's jock, she responds with an emotional and emphatic "I care." Gets me every time, including watching it the other night. Or it could have been the rum & Fresca. This is probably why my wife doesn't like me staying up late at night drinking and watching TV.

One thing I would change about The Breakfast Club though. Instead of getting the girl at the end, Emilio Estevez's wrestler guy, Andrew, should have gotten the shit kicked out of him instead. That would've been sweet.

As the credits rolled and Simple Minds kicked in, I flipped again and came across Madonna's Like a Prayer video starting on VH1. I thought to myself, "Wow, I forgot how creative this was. Black Jesus figure, burning crosses, Madonna wearing lingerie through all of it. Amazing!"

I decided that was enough rum.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Geekspotting - Episode II: Attack Of The Whiteys

When I was still living in Chicago I would go to this great internet place near my apartment. It was great because it was cheap and they were open 24 hours and I didn't have a computer so it was my only way to go online. All I did online anyway was email, read several newspapers, check for music news/tours of my favorite bands, and see what was happening in baseball. The 24 hour aspect of the place was the best part. Since it was such a cheap place (I don't remember for sure, but I think it was something like a dollar/hour or close to that cheap, which is probably why they went out of business) they were always really busy during the day and I couldn't always get on a machine. Since I like to stay up late anyway I would go in the middle of the night, say 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning after a rehearsal or a show I was doing (or after the bar), and there would only be a couple of other people in there. But sometimes those one or two other people would be freaky. There was sometimes these couple of guys that would be at different computers but on the same web site that was either a chat room or message board. And they would type like madmen and talk to each other while doing it. And they would be saying things to each other like "Oh my god, did he just say that to you?", or "Ooooh, you burned her good", or "Fuck him man, he's an ass hole", or "Watch this man, I'm totally going to scorch this guy."

And they would get really worked up and animated, punching the keys harder and harder if they were having an argument with some unseen internet person. Loud gasps at perceived slights and cheers for each other when they "got somebody good." I remember thinking how pathetic they were. "What losers. That'll never be me...."

I love music. Sometimes I'm an obsessive music fan, as many of my friends would tell you. I especially love Wilco. I've seen them now somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 times, including Jeff Tweedy solo show. Probably the only person I've seen more is Robyn Hitchcock, who I started seeing before Tweedy ever even started touring with his first band, Uncle Tupelo. Wilco is certainly not the first band/musician I've been obsessed with (the list includes U2, REM, Hitchcock and Billy Bragg, among others), but no doubt they have been my favorite band since their second album, Being There, came out in 1996. The name of my blog was even inspired by a lyric from that album. So, it's fair to say, I'm a fan.

I always thought of myself as "the music fan" in my group of friends. You know, the one who knows so much about different bands and is tuned into what's going on. You know, I saw myself as the "hip" guy when it came to music. Turns out that hasn't really ever been the case. I might be more "music obsessed" of most of my friends but I am not by any measure the only one who is into music in a big way. Mostly it's that I like a lot of different stuff than a good number of my friends and I've always been way more vocal about my opinions on music than most of them. Like a lot of music geeks, I wear my heart on my sleeve and a chip on my shoulder. I would get so annoyed with friends who I would play something for, that I considered a masterpiece and they wouldn't dig it. "What are you, CRAZY!!!" I would say to them. I always thought it would be cool to know more people who were into all the same music as me, especially people who are obsessed with the same band. You know, other people that would also do things like go to all three nights of a Tweedy solo concert at the Vic Theatre or plan a trip out to the east coast to visit your fiance around the dates of the Vermont and Boston Wilco shows. This would turn out to not really be the case.

As I wrote earlier, I signed up on the Wilco fan site message board after moving to Boston in 2003. After several months of trading for copies of live shows and entering conversations on a multitude of topics on the message board, I was already an addict. Like any drug, you don't realize your an addict while you're still having a good time. It is only when you start to hate it and can't stop that it may (or often may not) dawn on you that you have a problem. Even petty little arguments didn't make me realize it right away. Someone might shit on me for professing a love of Michelle Shocked, or call me an ass hole for saying I consider Guided By Voices or Radiohead overrated. But it was all OK at first, just some spirited conversations. My favorite was a woman who really didn't like The Replacements and referred to them as "just drunk Midwesterners." I completely disagreed with her but told her I loved the way she made fun of them. Some people took great umbrage with her though and would start digging on her favorite band just to be ass holes about it. And that would eventually disintegrate to name calling and other insults. Basically, some people took things way too seriously. A person could get called all sorts of names for not endorsing the greatness of whatever indie cool band or classic rockers

Then we got closer and closer to the presidential election of 2004. And just like everywhere else in the country, tempers got hotter and hotter. Mean spiritedness became the law of the land. Even people that apparently agreed with each other politically would snipe at each other. I was told by this pathetic baby-boomer called LouieB that I wanted Bush to be reelected. According to him (and many others), not only was I to blame for his first election by voting for Nader, but I must obviously want him to win again since I was supporting Kucinich. Gotta love it when someone tells you your motives for how you vote or do anything else. I tried to explain that if I wanted Bush to win I would just vote for him, but that didn't seem to compute with the dumb hippy.

One of the worst is this douche who calls himself EL FAMOUS. You read that right. You really have to wonder about the self-esteem problems of someone who gives himself the nickname El Famous, with all caps no less. He seemed to see himself as the all-knowing cool kid on the board, as well as "the funny one." You ever meet those guys who think they're really funny, but aren't even close to actually being funny? And that their insults or put-downs are clever, but are really just childish and stupid? Everybody seems to know one of them, and ViaChicago has their very own George Castanza. Most of his humor seemed to be centered on something to do with Yetis. My guess is that he found out what one was and thought it was a funny word. Kind of like Beavis and Butthead would. "Heh heh, Yeti. Yeah, heh heh, that's a great word. I'm going to use that in all my jokes now."

You could always tell when he didn't have a counter argument to what you were arguing. He would do something like post a picture of a crying kid (Get it? He's calling you a baby. Genius!) or some bad put down that he would follow with his trademark "Owned!!!!11!!!!"

I understood the "owned" part of his pedestrian, Midwestern, middle-class white boy exclamation, but I never did understand the exclamation points with the number 11 in the middle. I suppose it was meant to be funny, whatever it meant. There were a lot of things that I think he meant to be funny that just never were.

It is so glaringly obvious that the guy was extremely unpopular in high school and got beat up a lot. Later in life, by his own admission on the board, he couldn't get his wife pregnant without help from medical science. So I guess everyone else has to pay for his doubts about his manhood. He couldn't fulfill his dream of being a bully in the real world so the cyberworld will have to do. He is a legend in his own mind. And he decided at some point that I would be his main target. I think mostly because I wouldn't put up with his shit or just let him bag on people without calling him on it. I like to stand up to bullies. Even pussy cyber-bullies. It really became some sort of weird stalking thing. I could be engaged in a conversation with someone else on the board and he would suddenly chime in and start bitching at me about something I said to them. And he would say he was just defending a friend I was attacking. He would even get defensive about shit I didn't even say or mean. I made a comment one time, how this conversation even got started I have no idea, about how less children get adopted because of the increase of the effectiveness of fertility drugs. He jumped all over me of course. He seemed to think I was attacking him because he and his wife had fertility treatment. He went on and on about the cost of adoption and that was the real reason for it. It was just ridiculous. I wanted to say, but didn't, that if you are going to be defensive about needing help to knock-up your wife, you probably shouldn't tell everyone on an internet message board about it. But he needs the attention, that's why he does it.

This guy was so starved for attention that one time he posted a long monologue proclaiming he was quitting the board and that he wasn't appreciated and he was sorry if he offended people and blah blah blah. So of course he got what he was fishing for. People telling him he was all right and "please don't leave the board" and other stupid shit. Of course he didn't ever actually leave the board, nor did he ever have the intention. That same day he had already signed up and started posting with another user name, I believe it was El Diablo. He stuck with that for a while before too many people had figured it out. Geez, what a loser.

Really I shouldn't have even bothered talking to the little twerp. He is exactly the kind of suburban frat-boy type I try to avoid being around at all cost. The suburbs around Chicago, where this dweeb lives, are full of them too. Guys who wish they were back in college doing beer-bongs and date raping drunks sorority sisters but instead are working some sad, unfulfilling office job at a shitty place like Motorola in some horrible office park complex in Schaumburg. All the while stuck in a horrible town like Palatine, where the most exciting thing to do is go get $1.50 PBRs at Durty Nellies and listen to yet another crappy suburban cover band. If you're lucky, maybe they'll do that Journey song and dedicate it to the World Champion White Sox! All you need to do is puke in the Burger King parking lot by the end of the night and you've had a classic Palatine Saturday night.

It really came to a head during the whole hurricane Katrina week when I got sick and tired of his (and others) holier-than-though judgments of the survivors. Typical of the white, middle class members of the ViaChicago community, he kept going on and on about the people looting and "how can they do such thing?", and "I can't understand" and "WHY WHY WHY?!?!"

I then made a point that it was really easy for middle-class white folks to be sitting in their air-conditioned home or office (where they are so overworked they have plenty of time to be posting on pointless message boards) sipping on their lattes judging the actions of a group of people that have just experienced a disaster beyond their comprehension. I pointed out that these people were trying to stay alive and that if they had been in that position they have no idea what kind of things they might do to survive. Well, I really upset the herd this time. I heard it big time. I was told by several people that they knew for sure they would never loot from a store no matter what happened. It was so ridiculous that these idiots couldn't even wrap their brain around the idea that they could do something irrational or even officially (gasp) illegal in a desperate situation. My typing became pounding as I tried to reason with these privileged white people in their comfortable lives passing judgment on a group of people that had basically become refugees in our own country. The best, of course, was the response from El Famous. Not only did he defend his statements, but he went in to a long passionate defense of his right to buy a latte from Starbucks if he wants because he works hard for his money and if he chooses to buy an expensive coffee drink then I shouldn't judge him for that.

That was just priceless. But not nearly as priceless as when he decided to defend FEMA and accused people of being armchair quarterbacks for criticizing Michael Brown and Company. He was an even bigger dumbfuck then I thought. And I had found myself in the same cyber-social situation with someone so fucking stupid. It made me want to scream.

At that moment I thought of the immortal words of Statler and Waldorf from The Muppet Show. You know the lines:

"Why do we always come here?
I guess we'll never know
It's like a kind of torture
To have to watch the show."

I also thought of something my buddy Mando said to me one time about only listening to music that was so incredibly white. I think it was finally starting to dawn on me what he was trying to say.

My addiction was at its peak, though. But I was about to hit rock bottom. And the bottom would look a lot like an old baby boomer.

To be continued...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Kids Are All Right

Geekspotting trilogy will continue soon. In the mean time...

Did you see this little news item from a couple of weeks ago? Seems a guy was not allowed into a dance at his high school because he was wearing a kilt. Good thing these principles are paying attention to the important stuff. Who knows what kind of a anarchist these kids will become if the boys start wearing kilts. Oh the horror.

After a big stink was made by a lot of people (I guess 1600 people signed an internet petition) the school relented and offered an apology. Of course a lot had been made that it is "historical dress" so it is appropriate because it is the kid's heritage and men wear it in Scotland and blah blah blah.

But what if the kid (or another kid) had come in wearing an evening gown? I'm willing to bet that the school district would have stuck to its guns. See, one is something that was OK for Mel Gibson to wear, but the other one is "faggy."

This is the kind of shit that pissed me off in high school and still pisses me off to no end. Who the hell are teachers and other adults to judge what these kids wear to a dance or to class? Isn't telling boys that they can't wear skirts or dresses the same damn thing as telling the girls they can't wear pants? As long as their tits, asses, dicks, and vaginas are covered does the world really need a dress code beyond that? If some high school boy wants to wear a tutu and tights to school what is one good reason why he shouldn't?

Principals and teachers need to grow up.

This is just like when I was in school. There are kids bringing guns to school and teenagers who can't read, but the teachers are worried about them wearing caps in class or t-shirts with curse words on them.

How about we worry about whether or not they know who the members of the Supreme Court are and let them worry about what they wear? Kids like to do goofy stuff. At least it may be goofy in adults eyes. How about we let them?

We should be a lot more worried about the fact that this kid had to learn about his Scottish heritage from the movie Braveheart. He learned more about Scotland from Mel Gibson than he did from his parents or teachers. Now that's something to be concerned about.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Geekspotting - Episode I: Loserdom Begins

Hi, my name's Out Of Tune (everyone together now: Hi Out Of Tune!), and I'm a internet message board addict. It's been five days since my last toke on the Wilco fan-geek site. I have a problem. But I'm trying to stop.

It all seemed innocent enough at the beginning. Just having a few laughs trading some live shows, talking about the tour, and other random music musings. Nothing to heavy, and I always said to myself that I could stop at anytime. It was only supposed to be a temporary form of entertainment. I signed on to ViaChicago after I moved to Boston, a town where I don't know anybody except for my wife. I figured until I got settled I could waste some time talking to fellow Wilco fans and collecting live bootlegs. And it was OK for a while. I got my first little taste from Texas, with a note saying there's more where that came from and I know where I can get it. It was three shows I think. Jeff Tweedy solo in Chicago from January 2003, legendary shows that I had attended. Oh the euphoria of those first hits on the bootleg pipe! I was hooked. More and more shows came my way. Post a request on the board (something like, "looking for 7/4/01 in Grant Park, Jay's last show with the band") and you'd get a "PM on the way" message. (PM standing for "private message", your own little mailbox on the board, for you uninitiated folks). You would arrange for a trade, and your "dealer" would soon have something waiting for you in your mailbox a few days later. Pure bliss. But soon, that's not enough. The high is good but I start craving a bigger fix. I wanted something harder than my gateway drug live shows. Soon, I'm joining conversations on the board.

Now I'm entering territory I never thought I would. I had a roommate a few years earlier that I used to make fun of for this. Hers was a Mystery Science Theater 3000 board. She would watch the show while posting conversations with fellow MST3K junkies. I thought to myself, "I'll never get into things like that," and thought how pathetic it was for an otherwise well-adjusted person to be wasting their time communicating with people on the internet that she didn't know. It seemed to be such a waste of a lovely person's talent and personality. And people on the internet give themselves weird names. It's like the stupid CB handles in the 70s, except even dumber than "Bandit" or "Country Weasel." And on music boards it can be ridiculous. About the only thing I hate more than hip-hop names is white twenty-somethings from the suburbs who went to Ivy League schools with hip-hop names. Calling yourself Def Ice Notorious Slim Daddy DJ Jazzman Freshy Cool when your name is really Gilbert just seems stupid. No way did I want to enter a world where these people hung out. If I had only listened to my own admonitions.

I suppose every addict has an excuse for how it started. I guess mine was loneliness. Boston is a tough town to meet people and at the beginning I wasn't working much except for trips down to New York to direct a play twice a week. In between, I was home alone a lot during the day. It started slow, as all addictions do. If you've never been on a message board, here is a little description of how it works: Someone starts a topic of conversation called a "thread" and writes a little something about the topic in a "post." Others on the board can then reply to the post and so on and so on. It becomes something like a conversation at a party but without interruptions. I eventually began to think of the threads as "lines" of the drug that I would soon not be able to kick. The next step up from the gateway was doing lines about the band. It was your general pedestrian conversations. "Put in order, from favorite to least favorite, all of the Wilco albums." "Favorite show you ever saw?" "What will the next album be like?" "What do you think of the new lineup?" "Why did Jay really get kicked out of the band?"

Soon I needed more and more lines and I strayed into the other music topics. And the high got even more intense. Conversations about he Decemberists, long dissertations about why The The is such a great band, posting the lyrics to one of your favorite songs (but not identifying it, that is too unhip. They should be able to figure that out on their own), even a thread where you could post a picture of the album cover that you were listening to. It was called the "now playing" thread, or "NP" for those on the in. And there was always some info on an upcoming tour of somebody I wanted to see. It was ecstasy. Hours disappeared. After this I figured I had already gone this far, so why not take the full plunge? I already went from smoking to snorting, so what the hell, why not just start mainlining? It was time to jump head first into the general topics threads.

Oh my god! As soon as the needle went into the vein I was taken away to another world. Movies, books, hobbies, baseball, politics (oh boy, especially politics). Anything and everything you'd want to talk about and there it was. No need to leave the apartment for social interaction or go out and have a real life or actual relationships. All I needed was here, except maybe beer (but somebody would usually post a "Now Drinking" topic much like the NP thread and would post pictures of the can or bottle of the beverage they were currently enjoying.) There were even a few Republicans hanging around for me to get into arguments with.

Life seemed good.

I was completely unaware of the descent into madness that awaited me.

To be continued...

Friday, January 06, 2006

It's Racist-Pat!

Well, our old buddy Pat Robertson is at it again. I'm sure a good number of you heard about his statement regarding Ariel Sharon's stroke. If you haven't, here is a little taste for you:

The prophet Joel makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who, quote, "divide my land." God considers this land to be his. You read the Bible, he says, "This is my land." And for any prime minister of Israel who decides he going carve it up and give it away, God says, "No. This is mine." And the same thing -- I had a wonderful meeting with Yitzhak Rabin in 1974. He was tragically assassinated, and it was terrible thing that happened, but nevertheless, he was dead. And now Ariel Sharon, who was again a very likeable person, a delightful person to be with. I prayed with him personally. But here he is at the point of death. He was dividing God's land, and I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU, the United Nations or United States of America. God said, "This land belongs to me, you better leave it alone."

Sweet, huh? Now, with all of the bible quoting and his blustery way of talking, you may not quite understand what exactly Pat is really trying to say here. Luckily, I speak Idiot fluently, having been born in Iowa and all. So I will give you all a better translation of what Pat was really saying:

Those God-damned camel jockeys don't deserve to live in the Holy Land, and God is going to strike down you fucking Christ killers if you let them have any of it.

Pat really should hire me as his speech writer. I can save him a lot of words and energy by just getting him straight to the point of what he's really trying to say.

No word from the Falwell camp yet. But I'm sure it won't be too long before that jerk will have something to say.

For anyone who still doubts, despite their support of the state of Israel (which they have self-serving reasons for doing), that evangelicals hate Jews, here is a thought I've had lately: According to what evangelicals believe, anyone who accepts Christ as their personal savior gets in to Heaven. No matter what they've done in life. So right before Hitler killed himself it is very possible he hedged his bets and proclaimed his love for Jesus or something along those lines.

And that means this: It is very reasonable to believe, in the views of an evangelical, that Hitler is in Heaven and Simon Wiesenthal is rotting in Hell.

Chew on that thought for a minute.