Volpane In Love

Decade Archive of my personal blog from 1999 to 2009.

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Dick's Drive-In Restaurants

Afghanistan Studies - Afghanistan Resources - Directories - Taliban Links


I was late last night posting my essay to the site so this entry is going to be extra long. I like the length though. I really feel there is a beginning middle and end, even though I might be padding somewhere there. I think I need to start looking more seriously into marketing my writing. I�m just not sure how or where I should be doing that.

Last spring I contacted a local tabloid, �Tablet,� who was offering free print space to writers. I think they were less than impressed with my writing. I made the fatal mistake of misspelling the movie title I was reviewing. I don�t have much more impressive credits.

What I can�t understand is the dichotomy between people who seem to pay attention and people who are in power. Most people I�ve made friends with, after talking to me for only a short time figure out that I am an intelligent, if somewhat self-possessed individual. But it seems that I don�t even register to people who say what gets printed and what doesn�t.

I do realize that no one gets anywhere in America unless they market themselves. I just don�t want to be another Martha Stewart, who seems to feel justified that her feelings and emotions, no matter how whitewashed and gentrified, are marketable to Americans as genuine. I want to know that people read me because they understand I have something to say, or if I don�t, I at least know how to entertain them in my own unique way. I count Garrison Keillor as one of my heroes, although you will not find me resorting to any �Lake Wobegone� shenanigans unless I am really desperate for material.

Perhaps the days of Roy Rogers are over, where I can�t be noticed just because I am a witty, nice, likable guy. The world somehow has gotten too large. But you can still find penny philosophers just around the corner if you dare to look. I get the impression people have lost the ability to determine for themselves what is worthy. We live in a society saturated with information and most people can�t sort through it for themselves. We limit it to various media by how we consume the information.

I imagine most people rely on the flash and patter of television. Growing up without a television in the house, I became very aware how television teaches us how to behave and interact with each other. Often huge discussions of what someone watched on the television the night before would spontaneously erupt on during the one and a half hour bus ride I would take each day to get to school. I found I could interact with several people who�d not given me the time of day before.

So often what television teaches though is superfluous to daily life. Phrases and mannerisms enter the daily patois with little connection to anything we experience in our lives. I remember thinking the phrase, �where�s the beef,� suitably absurd and pointless even after I saw the advertisement that popularized it. And yet its comment on meal sizes in fast food America obviously hit a chord with people because it reflected an impression that corporate America had �down-sized� the average fast food burger.

In reality we were only seeing a corporate advertising war being played by a multi-national fast food chain, but it spoke to our distorted sense of justice and fair play. I�ve never been a big hamburger eater but the humble hamburger has been a staple in my diet since I was a small child and delighted in the simple experience of ordering takeout from the talking clown head at �Jack-in-the-Box�. I often stop by Dick�s on Broadway and order two plain cheeseburgers instead of ordering one of the �deluxe� sandwiches, which have maybe a couple ounces more meat, fat, some special dressing and lettuce and cost slightly more money. As far as I know, I am eating the same portion that they served back in the fifties when Dick�s opened.

What it all comes down to is that people are more likely to act like sheep, without discerning thoughts, when they allow others to choose what information they consume. I prefer the broad selection of the Internet, although I realize that in most cases the information is going to be shallow or cursory at best. Still I find it a quick reference and in national or international news there seems to be always more information to explore. For example, after the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center, I first limited my information to what I heard on the radio in the mornings and what I could help but hear at work.

Then after a week of limiting myself that way, I didn�t want to be consumed by the shock of it all, I broke down and did an extensive search for photos and general information on the Internet. I was late for work that day, but I was intrigued by the amount of personal accounts that I had at my fingertips. Even after that point all my favorite sites on the Internet referred back to the events and how they had affected everyone.

The world has really changed, but I don�t think many people really know how. The announcers on the radio talk about how fearful everyone has become. They talk about the downturn in the economy, the war in Afghanistan, but I haven�t heard them address the cost to our psyches. That the United States has declared war on Afghanistan seems absurd. The Taliban is not the Afghanistan government. I guess I really don�t understand why Bush declared war except maybe as a way to deflect attention away from his lack of domestic leadership.

My werewolf friend insists that there is a great psychic disruption that corresponds to the attack on the World Trade Center. He despairs because he cannot read the feelings and emotions that he says he felt were there before. I am reminded of the scene in Star Wars when Ben Kenobi senses the destruction of Alderaan. �I felt a great disturbance in the Force...as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.�

I can�t help but agreeing with him, there has been a great disruption in psychic energy, but I believe it has been felt on every level of existence, a bit like the atomic bomb. Man has used his own mechanical genius against himself. War is a terrible thing.

A week ago last Sunday; my friend Carolyn invited me to join her for dinner. I really have enjoyed cooking with Carolyn. Her only stipulation was that she was watching what she calls �Broccoli TV� or �television that is good for you.� In other words, she was watching a series documentary on the Canadian channel about Canada�s involvement in the First World War because she wants to learn more about Canadian History. The stories of the squalor at the front lines and the young boys sent to war were heart breaking.

I can�t help wondering if they ever have another draft, will I be called to war? Growing up I always contemplated the possibility of being a conscientious objector, I don�t believe combat is a reasonable way to handle international crisis. I don�t know what I would do if faced with the possibility of participating in a war.

I think if I had more faith in the leaders of this country I would have no problem going to war, even though I believe in pacifism. I understand the value of sacrifice for the greater good. But most people I know today do not follow that moral path. Nearly everyone at CPM is self-serving and individualistic. The only place I�ve seen anyone touting self-sacrifice outside of Christian religion is at the movies.

I feel like I�ve sacrificed myself before for the sake of others. Much of my romantic history is stained with self-sacrifice. The fact remains that I am no longer in any of those relationships. There was always a point when I could not take any more and I pulled away. On one hand I feel I was not being strong or courageous by taking more of the abuse or aloofness, on the other hand, I know leaving those relationships took a lot of courage, self-control and was ultimately the most practical thing to do.

My desire for a career where I am working for myself independently from any immediate employer, freelancing, in other words, comes from the despair and feeling that I�ve wasted the best years of my life searching for something unrealistic and intangible. I�ve always had dreams, but I�ve always been told how impractical and unrealistic those dreams are.

My Dad insisted that I was foolish to quit my job at the psychiatric clinic without having another job lined up, despite the fact that my job performance there was on a severe decline and would have become problematic if I�d stayed there any longer. My friend Jer objected my coloring my hair blue as being impractical in today�s conservative corporate atmosphere. My friend Carolyn keeps reminding me that it was impractical to consider work doing web design when the bottom dropped out of the Internet economy.

I have not lived one day without these truths eating away at my self-confidence and reserve. It bothers me that these people, who I call my friends and family, criticize me for making these difficult choices. But I know I will not rise to the challenge of making positive change in my life unless there is some obstacle blocking my path. My handicap is my own choice; therefore I know I can overcome its hindrance.

Word count: 1,619.


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