One of my top ten movies of all time, even though I’ve decades since outgrown my Bukowski period. This is the full movie. Enjoy!
Here’s your Superbowl-and-circuses, Citizens™! Please enjoy the clash of these broken, opiated gladiators we have assembled for your pleasure. You will also enjoy these messages exhorting you to buy more products and services. Because the awareness that you have no value as anything but Consumers may upset, you are encouraged to treat our crass blandishments as entertainment. More entertainment to entertain you! We have been assured that there will be no shortage of websites that will fall all over themselves to give you a chance to watch our ads online, just in case, heaven forfend, that you were unfortunate enough to miss the opportunity during the game itself. We aim to please, as long as pleasing means you’ll like us more and buy more of our useless garbage.
Oh Oracle Google! Consort to the Apple-onian godhead, second among our modern pantheon, the smoke of our ad-view offerings wafts skyward, and your powerful limbs engorge with ad revenue. It is a mere 4% of your Olympian might that does not spring from selling us Product, and we in turn swell with pride. Even Facebook, so unloved but so tightly wound around our lives like the snakes on fleet Hermes’ staff, even Facebook is an ad-revenue eyeball-offering 85%-er.
Our Dionysian rites, on screens big and small, are littered with more Products more!, sometimes so risibly over-the-top as to temper the bite of tragedy with some welcome if undeliberate corporate comedy. And music — oh terpsichorean muse — we enlist your aid in winging ever more goods into our hands. Goods, I say, because goods and products are the same, and they are Good!
OK, enough faux-classical silliness. Yes, the cranky old man has a wild hair up his butt again. But all of these things and more boggle me right upside my head.
Just a quick note for those few, those brave, those patient who haven’t completely migrated to Facef*ck or ThighSpace or Twatter or whatever social disease network is the flavour of the moment, and still stop by or RSSize the ‘bottle to get an occasional taste of Grandpa Wonderchicken’s Old-Style Longform Bullshit.
A while back, one morning, when I heard that Kevin Rose (of Digg and the late, not terribly lamented Pownce) had a new Twitter-parasite site called WeFollow, I lost my shit (“You might follow, you tiny-dreamed weasel farts!” said I to myself, or something of the sort.) and bought a domain, threw up a WordPress site, wrote a screed and did a couple of photoshops, all before lunch. If I was that productive all the time, I’d be… well, I wouldn’t have the time for insane vanity mini-projects like that, I guess.
Still: here it is, the lastest addition to the burgeoning Wonderchicken Industries™ Network. Share and enjoy.
So I was hanging around at the Metafilter, as I do, and I was posting the occasional comment, as I do, and drinking beer, as I do, because it was a Friday night, and that’s what I tend to do on a Friday night.
Another guy, this Canadian guy, this guy who’d lived in Japan for a few years and eventually gone back to Canada, someone I’d identified with even though I don’t rightly know if I ever will actually go back to Canada, had said
At least it’s not hockey. What a stupid sport.
(Although these are my true feelings, to say this publicly in Canada is close to something like sacrilege, and I’m not exaggerating.)
So I got my shit all up in a righteous internet uproar and said (and reproduce here because I’d like to remember I said it, self-indulgent and shouty as it is):
I spent a decade or two of my post-pubescent life, times when I was actually in Canada at least part-time and it seemed to matter, telling people how much I fucking didn’t care about hockey, because, you know, that’s what a certain kind of guy does. But I’d sit and watch the goddamn game and drink a hell of a lot of booze and take whatever drugs were to hand and make inappropriate and often successful sexual advances at the desperately bored women who were hanging around unwilling having their own fun while the idiot rinktard puckheads got their stick on.
But I’ll tell you this: I fucking love hockey now, in retrospect, but only in the abstract because I love the idea of stupid toothless meatpuppets beating the living shit out of each other on the ice for the amusement of the Home Audience. I used to poo-poo all the Sport, oh dear, Maynard my Special Friend it’s so commmmon and tedious, I in latter days used to and still do wave a dismissive hand-back at the reality TV and the unreality TV and the fake pretending to be real pretending to be fake winking at the real, I did, I do, but you know what? these days I love it all. I love it all in equal measure to how much I despise it because I am absolutely sure that things, where ‘things’ is meant to be Our Collective Cultural Heritage A-squander, where ‘things’ is meant to be the inexorable ramscoop of the idiocracy screaming V2ey nose-down into the fake peatbog made of plastic turf and celebrity poop, it’s OK that it’s all turning to Entertainment and Distraction at a rate of (k)nots, and I get a Roma-rsonist frisson from tossing my cigarette butts and lighting support blazes out on the periphery hoping ring-a-rosy all burn down without me having to make a stand.
So, yeah. Hockey is stupid, duh, but you know what: the problem with hockey is that it’s not nearly as goddamn stupid as it used to be or should be, when the gladiators dropped glove and knocked pearly white teeths out onto the ice in a spray of blood. It’s gotten smarter since then, instrumentally more reasonable, disappointingly less savage, and that’s a cheat and a con and it’s more modern and marketed and less satisfying.
Fucking weedy reedy thinskinned worthless goddamn civilization we’ve built.
When you grow up in the far north in Canada, if you’re at all curious about the world and the people in it, you can’t wait to get out. As soon as you’re able, you head out to the big city, for work or school or whatever you can get. It isn’t such a different story from kids growing up in the boonies anywhere, where it’s Montana or Gangwon-do in Korea, western New South Wales or the Cyclades.
I grew up, for the years that counted at least, in Fort Saint James, British Columbia. During those years — the early 70′s to the early 80′s — it was the End of The Road. Vanderhoof was the asshole of the world and we were forty miles up it, we said, recycling that old standby. The paved highway ended in the Fort, and to go further north meant logging roads and endless washboard and pothole gravel, dusty in summer, solid ice in winter, and slicker than snot the rest of the time. There were a couple of reservations further up there, and a few scattered fishing lodges and mines and logging camps. Wilderness, though, for the most part. Endless dense forest carpetting mountains, nap worn smooth in spots by crystal-clear cold lakes and rivers. Germanson Landing. Takla Landing. Leo Creek. Deese Lake. I’d like to say I hunted bear in these places wearing nothing but a breechclout and bowie knife, but with parents who were grappling with living on the frontier after moving from southern Ontario and a little shellshocked by family tragedy, the names of these tiny, isolated places were almost as exotic to me as Tokyo or Timbuktu. We didn’t stray too far.
But our own tiny town of 2500 or so was frontier enough for anyone, and, in what feels all these decades later like a deliberate, considered balance to the more bookish side of my nature, but was probably just imposed on me by the environment, I spent a lot of my time outdoors. In the summer especially, I’d spend 5 or 6 hours a day just behind our house swimming in the cold runoff-fed waters of Stuart Lake, or buckling on my first-gen Sony Walkman and riding my bicycle further and further out along the limited network of paved roads that snaked out along it, or to the south towards Vanderhoof, or the 10 or 15 kilometers north to the saw mills, after which the asphalt just stopped. Looking for something.
You know what? I’m a little weary of hearing about your conferences, your camps, your cozy cash-on-the-barrelhead confabs. I don’t want to know what web-shaking new thoughts percolated through the sponsored-by-Starbuck’s IRC backchannel while some Internet Smellovision™ rep droned and powerpointed onstage. I don’t really need to see more Flickr pictures of grinning gaggles of bloggers glistening with teraflopsweat, a little too eager to prove that they socialize in other venues besides World of Warcraft.
Don’t try and tell me that ‘business weblogs’ or ‘the business of weblogs’ are anything but business. Go ahead and do your business. Make your money: we’ve all got to. Convene with your peers and drive your value propositions down the ROI highway. It’s all good. We’re lucky if we can make a living doing something we love. But if what you do and what you say in this shared textual space of ours is about selling something, then it’s about selling something. Don’t bullshit us. Lines blur; everything gets a price tag slapped on it.
I’m not looking at your ads, and there’s no way I’m clicking them, unless I’m right-clicking on them to add them to my Adblock list, and I’m cursing you for making me go through that small tribulation.
Then my nose opens up and the fingers begin to flex when I read again how you were talking to that netfamous guy about this other well-known weblog guy, because that’s what famous internet guys do — they network. They do it publicly, and dignify it by calling it ‘conversation’. Networking obviates the need for latex gloves while giving a socialmedia reacharound.
Conversation as intercourse. Intercourse as commerce. You know somebody’s getting f–ked. I think it might be us. Ad copy tattoed on our lover’s forehead, and we’re so inured to it that we don’t even notice anymore. We’re trying to make love in the middle of the marketplace, but we’re just getting screwed.
Conferences are where salesmen go. Because that’s what salesmen do — they network. They sell. They place ads where we’ll see them, so they can sell us something. Salespeople. Salespersons, I guess. Salors and salestresses. They sell. Lomans, not shamans.
We’ve got the salesman archetype etched into the cultural DNA by now — we see cheap suit a little sad, a little desperate, the armpit-stained Flying Dutchman of the strip malls. We hear faux-friendly NLP-creepy patter, we cringe, even if we’re not sure why. Salesman selling something at us makes our sphincters tighten in a pre-fight-or-flight reflex. Does mine, anyway. And thanks at least in part to the blithely worshipful way that your average blogjockey has of beating the bones together at the foot of the Google Monolith, Adsense has infiltrated our online culture, has made slightly sad dry-haired Holiday Inn revenants of all of us, trapped in a coach seat next to some guy trying to sell us some shit we don’t need, waiting to get a word in edgewise so we can sell him some shit he doesn’t want.
My god, it’s full of ads! Ads by Goooooooooogle. There’s something hidden in that inviting string of ‘ooooooooooo’s waiting to be teased out by a modern day steganographic Nostradamus. While making his ‘o’ face.
(Yeah, I flog Dreamhost here, and I run Adsense on one of my other sites. I’ve become as guilty of this sort of whoring as the next poor rube. I’m squatting as deep in the shit as you are, pants around my ankles, ‘raising the level of discourse’.)
‘But wonderchicken, my cranky friend,’ you may well object. ‘If you don’t like it, just stop reading it! Nobody’s holding your feet to the fire here. Let those who can and want to spend their time and money sitting in threadworn conference centres with others of their adoptive sept and clan do so, and do not begrudge them their participation in the Monetary Blogdustrial Complex. It is an Engine of The New Economy! It is a bitwork bulwark against the Old Media Hegemony, from which we can together launch our Social Media Enfilade! A rising tide of advertising and self-promotion lifts all boats! We need the evangelists and the shills to Get The Word Out! The Long Tail will always be there wagging the Big Dogs, rich strata of abandoned and automated weblogs, linkfarms and pr0n, and lonely people bellowing out across the virtual rooftops to their audiences of search bots, googlenauts and bemused relatives. The human experience, made hyperlinked. Google will index it all, and get rich on the carrion-clicks that it sells to the office cubicle fools who Aren’t Us! It’s a Brand® New Day!’
Yeah, I know. But I felt like I needed to launch a barbaric yawp into the aether, because I miss it sometimes. And these things can be bad for you if you just let them build up inside. Hi Dave!
Now, I usually do make a token attempt not to follow up one mock-apoplectic rant with even more negativity and waving of the stiff central digit, but sometimes resistance is futile.
Or maybe I don’t. One of the things that keeps me from losing my sense of humour these days, from metaphorically climbing the clocktower and metaphorically mowing down some motherf–kers, is that reality continues to gear up, rev up, and blow the ad-decaled doors off of satire and parody and all those other words whose meanings I’m a little fuzzy on. You don’t have to dig very deep to bring up some rich, loamy laughs.
Those of us who like to tell a funny joke once in a while (and some do it better than others) to keep the eyeball pressure down so that goo doesn’t start jetting out in waxy spurts all over our kith and kin, we’re hard-pressed to say much that tops the news of the day, though. Flipping on CNN for a few minutes yields more black-souled yucks than when we try and fail to wax Swiftian, let alone wax Brazilian. There’s no payoff, and nothing’s sadder than a failed Swifty.
Well, OK, dead babies are maybe sadder. I’m playing this fast and loose, as usual.
Anyway, this was supoosed to be one of my usual curmudgeonly contrarian screeds that veers from quixotacular tilting at the capitalist machine, to random cursing and mumbling, to alienating and insulting my weblog comrades, so I’d best get on with it.
In case you didn’t follow the link, Blogonomics is a conference dedicated to the lofty goal of cashing in on weblogs, on board a cruise ship from Florida to Cozumel. You couldn’t make this up. I couldn’t, at least.
Check it out: they’ve even hidden the fine print at the bottom of this page by making it almost the same babyshit colour as the background. Oooh, that’s clever! Very business-y! Tells us a little about who they’re pandering to, too.
Screw Blogonomics in its speedo-clad afterdeck-hottub authentic-voiced bum.
Better yet, somebody take up a collection, and get me and Rageboy and on this f–king boat, load us up with speed, rye and cigarettes (or some coffee for Mr Boy, I suppose, since I seem to recall he’s left the Joy of Intoxication behind), and let us write open some new blogholes for these people.
That’d be some kind of fun. And hell, even if the Quintana Roo coast has been thrashed to a Jose Cuervo-flavoured pulp, we can still make a few bucks off it, right? It’s only business, after all.
Update: for some very much related thoughts that aren’t just ranty wordplay, go read Dave, who has said what I would like to about the background to this with, as always, more light and less heat than I throw off.
Weblog people love to jerk off into the Google Kleenex™ (still in beta), rub the resultant mess all over their faces, then post about it on their sites. They’re putting the Goo into Google at thousands of litres per second. They’d pile on and collectively hump it into a smoking hole in the ground if they could find enough holes to plug with their techno-weiners (or grind its G-pelvis to dust, if they’re she-geeks, I suppose).
Investors love the Goo as well. If they got in on the ground floor, they’ve made enough money that they just don’t give a shit what’s going on in the dungeons beneath the Googleplex. “Hell, the cafeteria lunches are legendary, and the corporate motto is “Don’t be evil”, right? Look at that stock price! We’re too busy running around naked with bouquets of rolled-up dollar bills sticking out of our asses to worry about details!”
Advertisers, the whoring undead scum that take everything they touch and convert it to shit, they’re nuts-deep in the Goo. After all, Google is an advertising company first and foremost, now. If it’s not the world’s biggest trader of weapons of shit conversion, it’s certainly the most exciting. “The eyeballs! The delicious sweet tangy eyeballs, filled with goo! Let a thousand text-ads bloom!”
Hell, I use its services a hundred times a day, literally. There’s wonderchicken goo in the bucket, too.
We live in a world where the country that calls itself the Champion of Freedom and Democracy tortures prisoners in an archipelago of secret prisons. Where the evil dimwit homunculus known inexplicably as the Leader of The Free World unapologetically claims the right to spy on the communications of his own citizens. A squinting faux-cowboy weasel who launches his hobbyhorse war in Iraq on lies, grudges, and incompetence one day, sells it as crusade for Freedom, then turns around, drops and mouths the potent rhinohorn-stiffened economic cock of the Chinese the next. Don’t get the wrong idea, though. It’s manly, Texas-style dong-wrangling. It’s realpolitik.
And it’s enough to make your head spin. Rather than green vomit, though, words fountain out, splash and drip down the walls.
But hang on: the plot — convoluted and far-fetched as it already is — thickens. The Freedom Through Torture (Liberty Through Surveillance Department) gang wants Google to disclose information about its users. Google says “No way, we’re like totally not evil!” Almost the very next day, as they used to say in the fairy tales, Google then turns around and says “Hey, we’re totally going to censor search results in China, though! It’s not all that evil, right?” Are you seeing a pattern here, too?
Google is full of shit. The fact that they’re not the only ones does not excuse them.
And though there are a few weblog people out there saying “My little revenue-goo stream is not worth throwing in with this kind of thing,” the river of Goo shows little sign of drying up. Same thing goes for the investors, not surprisingly, and the marketing shit-alchemists know there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
So Andrew McLaughlin, who is Google’s Senior Policy Counsel, whatever that means, says:
Noted Large and Smart weblogger David Weinberger, who is indeed Smart, and Large in the sense that he is one of the brighter sources of light in our in our texty netherworld, and casts a long shadow in the cashosphere that has attached itself limpetlike to us over the past couple of years, well, he gives Google a bit of a pass, though he admits to ‘being torn’ in face of McLaughlin’s justification. Well, OK. It’s true that nothing is black and white. Grey is the new black.
In classic wonderchicken style, I’m entirely untorn, though.
Andrew McLaughlin is also full of shit. That’s no surprise — he’s a lawyer, right? But his artless waffle tastes a lot like Bush’s pet lawyer, Alberto Gonzales, helping to justify torture. But you know, only some torture. “Waterboarding, sleep deprivation, ‘stress positions’, psychological cruelty? Evil? Well, less evil than thumbscrews, castration, disemboweling, stuff like that, right? We’re totally all about the freedom and the democracy!”
What’s inconsistent with Google’s corporate motto — remember, it’s “Don’t be evil!” — is being evil, you asshole. Remember #6, from the ‘ten things’: “You can make money without doing evil.” This isn’t rocket science, and David Weinberger notwithstanding, it’s not complicated.
Google is a company, and more significantly an advertising company, and that means that the truth is that nothing can come in the way of whoring itself out for a sleazy but necessary buck or two. You have to keep your investors happy. It’s evil to get down on your knees in the filth and suck that cock in the back alley, then stab the guy and steal his wallet. It’s less evil to just drain the goo and let him stagger away. Yay! Everyone’s a winner, and you can rest easy, at least after you’ve scored some smack to keep the demon at bay. You have to keep your dealer happy. Not to mention your pimp.
Google doesn’t need to be in China. There are other search engines, domestic and international. The absence of Google is not going to suddenly deprive those poor Chinese citizens — the ones looking over their shoulder to see if the government is watching — of the ability to find information about washing machines and condoms. The only reason Google ‘needs’ to be there is the money. The sweet, filthy, repressive, execution-happy, police state money. Google wants growth, because that’s what investors want. Growth. Not the metastatic cancer cauliflower kind of growth either — they want those graphs pointing skyward, proud and erectile. They want to get in to China, build a foothold. And they’ll do evil to get that market share.
But there’s no actual need. No need to get down in the filthy alley in front of the Chinese government. Let Baidu have the money. Let someone else do it. You can make money without doing evil.
“Removing search results is inconsistent with Google’s mission, providing no information (or a heavily degraded user experience that amounts to no information) is more inconsistent with our mission.”
Let there be no confusion. Google’s mission is to make money. And holy crap, those Chinese have got some money these days.
Words have meanings. We’ve never been at war with Oceania. f–k you, Google.
[Update, long long after the fact (June 07 2006)] : ‘We were evil, Google founder admits.’ The ‘it’s only business’ apologists can commence to sucking my balls….. now.
I’m sicker than a gut-shot monkey on the set of a Russ Meyer titty-spectacular, I’m boreder than a glory-hole sander at Bar Sinister in Amsterdam, I’m queasier than Buzz Aldrin chokin’ down the buzzcut nitrogen punishment in orbit.
Whatever. I’ve been infected by self-important look-at-me wanktards* spurting their goofy podcast jism all over the blogobucket, so I got hammered and recorded my last post for posterity.
DOWNLOAD AND READ ALONG WITH THE WONDERCHICKEN (or die) [5Mb], MOTHERBASTERS!
*of which I am one, or else why would I do this?
Update: My old good friend the mighty Bearman
has taken the audio and backed it with some of his superb piano playing. The web is so damn cool. Thanks, man!
I’ve been writing these long screeds then changing my mind, stopping and starting and just generally mucking up my state of exquisite zen rage by second-guessing myself and revising.
Revising is just plain evil.
So here, in no particular order, are the hard black slippery cores of the three pieces I’m probably not going to end up writing.
To the Bush Administration (and ever single last one of you Yank bastards who voted for them) :
Go f–k yourselves.
To Korean men, one in five of whom (according to the Korean Institute of Criminology) purchase sex four times a month (thus making it a US$21 billion dollar industry, worth 4.1% of GDP) :
Go f–k yourselves.
To the whorebloggers intent on monetarizing this virtual place of ours (and thus turning it into a sea of sh-t) :
Go f–k yourselves.
There. That feels better.
Rudy Giuliani. Rudy f–kin’ Giuliani. I caught the last 10 minutes or so of his horrifying public deep-throat of his paymasters in the Fellato-drome as I was shovelling down my lunchtime bibimbap this afternoon. In the way of a good journalist — which of course we know all bloggers aspire to be, with ‘blog is to journalism as waffle iron is to pita bread’ our battle cry — I’m going to pretend that I watched the whole thing with rapt attention, rather than with one eye while I mixed a big dollop of gochu-jang into my rice.
What kind of man could this unhinged bastard be? That he actually believes the kinds of things he said, up there with his naked face hanging out, boggles the mind. It would seem, unlike the president whose steaming sidewalk turds he unhinged his jaw to gobble up — whether in the name of tribal solidarity, or clean streets, or merely because we live in a world where public fabrication in the name of self-preservation trumps the lives of thousands, I don’t know — that he’s not merely a stupid man. How could he possibly justify the audacity of the warispeace platitudes and outright howlers he lobbed out over the heads of the assembled herd animals in the pit? Most of the assembled groundlings, interestingly, appeared to be a little bemused and confused as they milled and mooed that there was a distinct absence onstage of naked Iraqis chained to the pillars or homos cruficied and bloody in front of the stars-and-stripes. Is it possible that the fog of bullsh-t that was emanating from this opportunist f–k up on stage was choking them, too? Perhaps not, but I’m eternally the optimist.
“As I stood watching the towers fall, I turned to Bernie, and I said, ‘Thank God George Bush is our president’.”
Really? Did you really do that, Rudy? And how, for the rest of your life, will be you able to live it down, if you actually did?
To Giuliani’s credit, perhaps, was the look in his piggy little eyes as he limped his way through his clumsy litany of weasel-sh-t doubletalk. You could see it, if you looked closely: ‘Help me!’ his eyes seemed to be saying, while his mouth continued to force words out around the mechanically-reclaimed Republican meat that was occluding it. ‘Let me the hell out of here! I’ve sold my soul and made a foul, demonic joke of my integrity, and the price wasn’t high enough! There’s no way back from this, and I’m nuts-deep in the toothy maw of the beast!’
But f–k him. He made his choice. He’s a force for evil now, whether or not he ever was anything but. He’s on the side of America! The! Great! America! Mom and apple pie! America! Freedom and equality for some! America! Commerce is honour! America! Hurry up and get those ovens finished, so we can get this Final Solution thing underway! America the proud torturers! America! With us or against us!
I have mentioned before that I’m against you, right, America?
Just so we’re clear.
My mission to annoy and alienate as many Very Important Bloggers as possible (for street cred, daddy-o!) continues apace. The hum from the hive rises threateningly when it is disturbed. The sound soothes me. I step back, then, drawn by the hypnotic throb of the multitude, step forward again and take another f–king whack at it.
No, really. I like to be liked, honest, but I’d rather truth-tell than ass-kiss. Be a lot easier if I had a clue what the truth was. Still, I’m not a-gonna pucker up, either way.
Looks like I picked the wrong month to stop sniffing glue.