Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Flyer's Chocolate

If you are a meth addict living in the Los Angeles area, you can make $900 by participating in a study of the drug's effects on the human brain.

Who would be crazy enough to participate in this study?

A meth head, that's who.

It would take a lot of powder-courage to waltz into a hospital--now more than ever a territory ruled by 'the man'--and admit to serial illegal drug abuse. It would not be hard for an enterprising police officer to simply follow all these subjects out of the hospital and bust them five minutes later, after they smoke rock in their car, the bathroom at Burger King, on their back porch, etc.

Risky. But $900 buys a hell of a lot of meth...

What is more interesting about this offer, as usual, is the moral question.

Meth is legendarily-addictive--shouldn't we be protecting these hopeless addicts from themselves, helping them to kick the habit, however difficult that may be? Instead, they are oddly rewarded for their gross misstep with a $900 payment.

Where do you think that $900 is going to be spent, in most cases?

I'll give you a hint--it won't be used to purchase baby formula or make the car payment. The baby lies motionless and stiff in its crib, forgotten, and the car was repossessed months ago.

Not only that, but I wager somebody out there in radioland heard the same commercial I did and had one of those once-in-a-lifetime, lightning-bolt ideas-- to start smoking/injecting meth, in order to participate in the study, thereby paying the rent. You know somebody did. Lord knows there are more than enough half-wits out there...

And so the study is now doubly questionable--rewarding and creating meth addicts, supplying them all with a cash infusion to purchase more meth.

I bet if I asked one of the doctors running the study, he/she would argue that if there were no lucrative payment, there would be no subjects. And without meth-brains to study, he/she would not be able to help...cure meth brain.

I bet if I asked the smartest doctor working on the study, he/she would turn from the cat scan machine, shrug his or her shoulders, and coolly say to me:

"Hey, it's better than having them running around stealing."

And he/she would be right. Nothing like a dose of realism.

Meth fact of the day, courtesy
"One of the earliest uses of methamphetamine was during World War II when the German military dispensed it under the trade name Pervitin. It was widely distributed across rank and division, from elite forces to tank crews and aircraft personnel. Chocolates dosed with methamphetamine were known as Fliegerschokolade ("flyer's chocolate") when given to pilots, or Panzerschokolade ("tanker's chocolate") when given to tank crews. From 1942 until his death in 1945, Adolf Hitler was given frequent intravenous injections of methamphetamine by his personal physician, Theodor Morell as a treatment for depression and fatigue. It is possible that it was used to treat Hitler's speculated Parkinson's disease, or that his Parkinson-like symptoms which developed from 1940 onwards were related to use of methamphetamine."

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Degradation of Language, the Decline of an Empire

With the appalling lack of interpersonal communication between people younger than age 22 or so, the explosion of text-based cellular and internet communication--each complete with its own dialect--along with the growing prevalence of Spanish and other 'invasive' languages, and the long-gestating plague of literature-aversion, it should come as no surprise to you that English is firmly on the downslope of prominence; we are now slowly sliding down the backside of a bell-curve, much like the once almighty Dollar. Not that language is tied to the dollar, but, in this instance, the debilitating cracks in each institution can be traced back to the same source: Greed.

America during its heyday was little more than a giant, relentless steam engine, fueled by the combustion of millions of impoverished dreamseekers. Cheap labor, plentiful resources, no rules except the ones we make and the ones we break. Heroes abounded. Possibilities were limitless. A ripe chance for utopia, but man cannot protect himself from himself. It is his fatal weakness.

We Americans started out with plenty of space to flex the old muscles, plenty of opportunity to start things over, and plenty of grand ideas. We exploded onto the world stage as the most feared and loved nation on Earth. As Machiavelli predicted, we have had it well for quite some time now as a result.

But it is easy to become gluttonous.

That sentence is acceptable now, in published material, whereas I was marked down for opening a sentence with 'but' in school. Colloquialisms are now in the dictionary. Symbols are acceptable substitutes for letters. Abbreviations are the norm. Few read books. People meet their spouses via computers.

Why? Because we are too busy. Too busy to call somebody, so we'll just text them, or check their Facebook status to see whether they had any stated plans that evening. Too busy to write complete words when we do.

Why are we so busy? Because Americans now are working longer hours than their fathers, for less money and less benefits. The '50s dream of a computer-aided 10-hour work week have been vaporized by the computer-aided 70-hour work week. There's more money in that, it turns out.

When is there ever enough, when there's always more? More money to be made, more beauties to ravish, more enemies to destroy, more newcomers swiping at that luscious pie on the windowsill, or at least wanting to, waiting to. A smart giant chooses his battles carefully, however, and does not try to destroy everything and everybody else--he fools them into thinking they are in a great position, in control.

Today France is wealthy, powerful, and one of the most prideful countries in the world, despite the fact that their heyday is long-since buried. This is so only because we allowed it. We learned from our study of the Romans that it is far too difficult to unify and govern far-flung territories; it is much better to let them take care of themselves, provided they remain an ally, let us trade with them, and rubber stamp all of our decisions with regard to global policy.

Besides, if we destroyed France, where would we vacation? DisneyFrance comes complete with an Eiffel Tower, a French Quarter, crepes, baguettes, all the stockinged legs you could shake a stick at, and a nation of voluntary servants at every luxurious resort, restaurant, bar, and brothel. We had to bring our own Starbucks, though. And Burger King. And KFC. And Coca-Cola. And Wrigley's Gum. And MTV. And movies. And music. Nothing like a taste of home.

The Romans used swords and spears; we Americans wielded our culture as a weapon, and the world wept at our feet. Oh, sure, we had military might as well, but not so much that we could have coated the globe and, even if we had, it's difficult, costly, and time-consuming to take over your enemies/allies with guns--a sneak attack is far more subtle and strategic.

The world was ours because we allowed the other nations to operate under the impression they were autonomous, when in fact we pulled the strings. They appeased us, we gave them money. They gave us money, we gave them our goods. We acted, our enemies reacted as planned. The populace elected a ruler we didn't like, we funded guerrilla armies to place a more 'likable' candidate in office. That candidate got a little power hungry, we made him disappear.

This method of world domination was extremely successful in building the United States as the most powerful empire in history. Yet here we are today with few allies, more enemies, a trade deficit, declining real wages, pervasive ignorance, an artistic vacuum, a marketplace ruled by teenagers, a fractured language, a fragile and obese population, a dwindling army occupied on two fronts...our poisonous culture has proved too effective a weapon; it has even destroyed its creator.

The Roman Empire crumbled because it got too big for its britches, and to think America is any different is dishonest--we have over-stayed our welcome in the Imperial Lavatory, as had the Greeks before them, the Ottomans, Spanish, British, and French after them.

Although our method was unique, the result is the same--our reach has become too vast, our enemies too numerous, our greed too compromising, our citizens too wealthy, obese, clueless, and soft. We are the prized hog at the county fair, and every passerby drools in anticipation of our demise.

The question remains--did we stink it up a bit too much in here for the others?

Most intelligent Americans get their news from comedians. So do kids, if they get it at all. Children play video games instead of sports. Junk food is their food. They speak however they like, like. They don't shun the establishment--they ignore it completely, except when they listen to and watch the made-for-the-masses politico-corporate brainwashing drivel that fills our radio stations and our cinemas. They have no time or desire to work to find better material and so they unwittingly buy into the scatterbrained propaganda of the ruling class.

Parents let their kids read whatever they want to read and do whatever they want to do. Parents yell and scream a lot, but eventually surrender. Parents watch Two and a Half Men instead of the news. Parents eat and drink and smoke and drug their problems away. Parents have to pay their slaves these days, and pay their servants even more. Parents buy a lavishly-advertised image and receive a flimsy product produced by slave-wage drones half a world away. Parents abhor the behavior of their offspring. Parents are aware that things are changing and fight it, which only makes it worse.

Arnold Schwarzennegger is the governor of California. We market video games to grown men and music and books to teenage girls. There are more lawyers than farmers. We spend more than we earn. The most successful movies are based on comic books, teen fiction, and defunct television shows. To compare our Presidents to Emperors, especially these days, is hardly a stretch. The Romans used democracy as an ingenious smokescreen, while increasing the power of the oligarchy; so do we.

Like Latin and French, English has had a spell as lingua franca. What's next? Mandarin? Cantonese? Hindi? How long will it be before English is no longer the official language of our own country, replaced by the dialect of peasants, as Latin fell victim to Italian? Or will we speak Spanish? Hindi? Will English one day become a quaint ancestral language, maintained only in the homes of the poisonously-conservative bourgeoisie?

Like a rocket with an empty booster, our acceleration has ceased; we are now powerless as to our fate. We will exit gracefully, I hope, as Italy and France before us. We will concentrate our efforts on more important things than warfare and mass-production. We will learn to make the perfect cappuccino, bake the perfect loaf of bread, cook the perfect meal, tailor the perfect clothes, cultivate the perfect wine, develop an interest in philosophy, and talk ourselves to death in a cafe off the square, as our currency plummets and other countries fight each other.

It's the political equivalent of a retirement home.

Well, who is waiting in the wings, willing to duke it out for the top spot? Who will we Americans have the pleasure to serve in our boutiques, cafes, galleries, and brothels? Will China have a go of it? India? The E.U?

They still have time, mind you--plenty of time. Our demise will not be sudden. There are still people in the world who are able to speak Latin, and French clearly isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Just as the Roman Empire survived the sack of Rome by moving the capital to Istanbul, where it carried on for 900 more years, our fall will be cushioned by centuries of mediocrity and flattery. Our son, as it were, has granted us the privilege of dying in solitude, while preparing to take the reins.

But what sort of playground will this new power acquire? How long will their tenure last before mankind is plunged into darkness and barbarism once more? A fitting final act for the comedy that would make anyone smile.

The Earth is ill. Pollution of the air, land, and sea. Overextraction of resources. Eradication of flora and fauna. Destruction of the ozone. Unpredictable, severe weather. Catastrophic overpopulation.

We will milk this beast to death, by Jove! And why not--that's what it's there for! There's plenty more where that came from, and if there's not, then you should have gotten there first! It was delicious!

The Earth will recover, as it always has, but that will be long after man brings about its own demise. So who cares that when my nephew is my age he will watch a rapper or valley girl deliver the news, in their underwear, in ten-second bursts on his phone? Who cares that he might never read a book from start to finish? Who cares that he might have sex exclusively virtually? Who cares that he might have sex with a thousand women? Who cares that at some point he might have a microchip implanted in his body? Who cares that in his lifetime we will run out of oil? Who cares that he might see nations go to war over drinking water?

Nobody cares, because we have all given up, given in to the idea that we just want to lay around an eat and drink and fornicate while somebody else does all the work for a change. We let ourselves be ruled by power-hungry lunatics, who unwittingly cultivate our ruin. We have accepted our demise, even if we are not all yet aware of it. We work toward our demise each day, because it's easier than constantly striving for better. We eat another donut instead of the dangling carrot, because it tastes better. We nap, rather than fight.

Don't get me wrong--I am not some crazed Conservative aiming to right the ship and fight to keep America on top. Nor am I a wacky Liberal who is naive enough to think the crazy train can be turned around. On the contrary, I simply enjoy watching fate take its course, watching this comedy unfold. After all, I have a pretty good seat, and as long as the wine keeps flowing, I'll die with my eyes open and a smile on my face, wishing I could stay until the end.

Monday, July 7, 2008

It's Just So Hard to Keep a Good Slave These Days...

An actual email a friend of mine received this week:

"Hey everyone,
Quick email to let you know that my beloved assistant, Francine, is leaving me to do bigger and better things – like taking an awesome job at #$%* in digital media. So, I’m looking for someone to replace her. If you know of anyone please send her the resume – I need someone who’s going to give minimum 1 year commitment, can work really long hours, read scripts at night and weekends, run an office, admin duties as well as creative, and have some knowledge of writers, directors, producers and more importantly agency assistant contacts. Francine will do the preliminary interviews for me. Please be warned this is not a cake job – Francine can explain how exhausting the reading can get as well as assisting two execs.

Hmmmm...and let me read between the lines here--the pay is shit, right?
Sounds perfect!!!
I just really want to work in Hollywood!
With all the stars!


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Gotta Love A Crazy Bitch

So, Leona Helmsley, who married her way into a multi-billion-dollar real estate empire only to become one of the most infamous bitches of our time (figure that out...), is still causing trouble almost a year after her death.

The woman notorious for her assertion "we don't pay taxes--only the little people pay taxes," as well as for her subsequent 19-month stint in prison on charges of tax evasion, not only left $12 million to her dog, Trouble (pictured above), but also, it turns out, left the bulk of her $5-8 billion estate to a charitable trust that is required to spend that money on dogs.

In a mission statement attached to her will, Helmsley laid out her goals for the vast fortune she would leave behind.
"The first goal was to help indigent people, the second to provide for the care and welfare of dogs. A year later...she deleted the first goal." (courtesy
Very wise--I don't care what anybody says, dogs are more important than humans. The indigent people of the world thank you, Ms. Helmsley, wherever you are (lying lifeless in a limestone mausoleum on 3/4 of an acre in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Westchester, New York, which is to be acid-washed once a year, according to her will).

Now, all this stupid bullshit aside, I find it interesting that one's last wishes, which seem in this case to be very clearly stated, can still be legally altered.

A judge in New York has already reduced Trouble's inheritance from $12 million to $2 million. The same judge has also given $10 million dollars to two grandchildren deliberately left nothing in the will. Talks are already underway as to how best circumvent Helmsley's mission statement, in order to spend money on projects unrelated to dogs.

As much as I agree that the money could go to much better causes--such as indigent people, education, conservation--the fact of the matter is that this was not her choice. Her choice was to spend the money on dogs. So...why is it even up for discussion? Why is there even a 'case,' as it were? Strange...

I mean, if she wanted to buy $46-worth of scratch-offs for every one of the 172 million estimated pet dogs in the world...who are we to stop her?

Bonus -- My favorite Leona Helmsley story:
"On March 31, 1982, Leona's only child, Jay Panzirer, died of a heart attack. Leona sued her son's estate for money and property that she claimed he had borrowed; Mimi, her son's widow, (who lived in a property Leona owned) received an eviction notice. Mimi later said the legal expenses wiped her out and 'to this day I don't know why they did it.'" (courtesy

Mamma Mia!

Gotta love it when a professionally-designed (and heinously ugly) poster for a multi-million-dollar movie* misspells an actress' name.

I didn't have to check to see that her name really is ChriStine Baranski.
But I did.
And it is.

And she's scary looking, by the way.
And needs a new P.R. rep...

In other news, Mamma Mia--despite its inherent shittiness--will always have a special place in my heart.

Why? Because when I lived (for a month) at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada, I used to wake up every morning to the pungent smell of burning tobacco and the equally-pungent tunes of the promo for the Mamma Mia musical.

As if being hungover, underslept, and living in Vegas wasn't enough to make me want to jump out the window already...

The musical--based on, and incorporating, the tunes of ABBA, if you can believe it--was playing in a dedicated theater within the hotel and, therefore, one channel on our TV was devoted entirely to playing a promo for it in a continuous, unending, eternal, infinite loop.

My roommate would watch this channel for hours on end, seeing how long he could stand it; his tolerance was at the same time impressive and criminal.

And so, to Chainsaw Chuck Morton in Chicago--I know you been waitin' for this joint to drop for a long minute now, my man. Here you go--eat it up. You don't even wanna know the strings I had to pull to get this milk dud made...

*Believe it or not, this movie somehow cost $65 million to make, according to several websites I checked, including this one. Wow. Were the crew's water bottles made of solid gold?