The Scholastic Swindle: Quashing Adolescence

Adolescence is so beautiful, even if awkward and insane — and perhaps precisely because of that. The world today with its blistering speed and global consumption has no place for this madness, this careening. And so kids are put on the straight and narrow, their demented energy harnessed by, and into, the capitalist engine (yes, the matrix).

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Why "The Wire"

Because it is relentlessly smart, never condescending, simplifying, reductive. On the contrary, it follows the proliferation, the entwining, the vast network of capitalist effect. And it does so with the basic stuff of art: affect. Rarely didactic, it gives us the exquisite timbre and tone of a humanity writhing and struggling amidst its own decay.

No one wins and everything is beautiful, hilarious, and depressing.

Stringer, going to MBA night school, approaching his drug business as any other business. Stringer, trying to make it in the straight game and being taken shameless advantage of and there's not a thing he can do about it. His partner, Avon, sticking to his gangster ways and getting fucked that way, too.

Omar Little, perhaps the greatest contribution to the American pantheon: his impossible but true ethics, his homosexuality, an outlaw from the law and the criminals alike, he is distinctly American in the tradition of Burroughs' Kim Carsons.

The ubiquity of the bureaucratic stupidity that reigns over everything — police, school, politics.

The pathos: oh, the pathos, so complex and so palpable, of the boys on the street, at the periphery of the game.

Cedric Daniels' cool fucking body and voice and posture.

The endless boozing, the only way to quiet the madness.

Kima's "marital" problems once she breeds are enough to eviscerate me. Oh, Kima.

The futility of Colvin's all-too-obvious wisdom and heart.

Bubbles: Jesus, Bubbles — the plucky junky who is had every which way and who is dying while we watch.

The ironic thing, perhaps, is that the very fact that The Wire was made — that something this smart and this well written and this critical could ever come to fruition — gives me the hope that is conpsicuously absent in the show itself.

To wit:


The Speed of New Publishing vs. The Speed of Me

The newest publishing platforms — text messaging and Twitter — are remarkably swift. Their speed is made for an information culture that seems always on the move. This is a fancy way of saying that texting and Tweeting are really built for information on the fly: "I'll be at the bar at 7," "Wanna get dinner?," "Listen to this/see this/go to this site."

These pithy missives hedge moving lives — move here, go here, do this — and are immediately forgotten. This is disposable, if useful, language.

I am not really a guy on the move. I have very few friends, even fewer of whom are local, and even fewer of those whom I ever see. No one is inviting me to dinner; I'm not meeting anyone at the bar. And as an increasingly old-fashioned nitwit, I tend to want my words to linger, to resonate, to reverberate.

None of this is a criticism of texting, tweeting, or the way people use them. No, this is only to say that I come to these media platforms from a slightly different angle. Blogging makes sense to me: I consider my words, I write many of them and publish when I'm good and ready. But texting and tweeting are of another order entirely. And yet I still approach them as the same old media: when I text, I want my words to provoke. And so I find myself sitting in front of my phone or Twitter, fingers poised. But nothing comes as I sit there, thinking. And then, finally, some incisive phrase occurs to me and in a mad rush I type it — only it's very slow going as I am still on a phone keyboard — hit send and, for a moment, I think: gold!

And then the poor recipient's phone buzzes. In their no doubt fast paced life, they check the message assuming it will drive them this way or that — to a party, an event, a cocktail. But, no, it's just some obtuse, poorly punctuated abbreviated rant from Coffeen.

Nevertheless, I enjoy this subtle and unintentional jamming of the information media flow.

(It's funny how, sometimes, applying the old methods to the new media can, in a way, be creative — a thought for McLuhan.)

The Posture of Things

You're shopping for a chair. As you browse the aisles, you note the variety — from backless computer chairs to high bar stools to plush ...