Listening to: “Rubber Ring” – The Smiths

The weather today (rainy, gray, not too cold) reminds me a lot of London in the winter. I was thinking of London today, how sort of aimless, cash-strapped, seeing lots of plays, drinking lots of beer, I was when I was living there–and it reminded me a lot of now. Oh, how life runs in loops.

Anyway, thinking of that time and that place, I ran across this video:

When I was there, I spent a whole lot of time just wandering the city, looking for weird little bits of historical shrapnel and back entrances to hidden places. The Shunt Vaults, which are mentioned in the video, is one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. Trippy performance art and tequila shots in old wine cellars under the London Bridge. One of the things I really love about London is how much history is piled on top of other history, how many and old stories you can find just by ducking down a side street. It’s something I really want to poke into in World’s End, once I get up and cracking on that project again.

Blargh. Time to keep searching for gainful employment. Got an interview at Starbucks next week, yup yup.

Somehow this wasn’t where I pictured I’d be three years outta school. Oh, younger self, if you only knew.

…….

In case you haven’t heard, journalism is getting wicked dead. I’m torn between wanting the Globe to hang in there and wanting them to get scared so witless, they actually morph into a decent newspaper. Let’s not talk about possibility number 3 just yet…

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If you make the decision to tough life out as a working writer, it’s pretty much a given that at some point or other, you’ll have to supplement your income. And that means part-time jobs, thankless jobs, mindless jobs, labor-intensive jobs. But you take your lumps, because hey, it’s all just fodder for your future novel/memoir.

Yours truly has worked her fair share of side gigs–waitress, office assistant, PR rep, lab study participant, etc.–for the sake of some extra income. And I’m planning to dive into the exciting world of food service again, very soon.

But apparently–and I’m totally stoked about this–there’s a universe out there where professional writers don’t have to do any jobs but writing. They’ve never had to lift a finger in their lives to do anything more strenuous than clack away on their laptops.

And if they do, well–well gosh, it’s just quaint, isn’t it?

Take it from this New York Times piece by Caitlin Kelly, a freelance writer who decided to pick up a part-time job (part-time as in once a freakin’ week) working as a salesperson at a clothing boutique–for funsies!

Sometimes I feel like Alice slipping through the looking glass, toggling between worlds. In one world, I interview C.E.O.’s, write articles for national publications and promote my nonfiction book. In the other, I clock in, sweep floors, endlessly fold sweaters and sort rows of jackets into size order. . .

The contrasts between my former full-time job and my current part-time one have been striking. I slip from a life of shared intellectual references and friends with Ivy graduate degrees into a land of workers who are often invisible and deemed low-status.

Congratulations, Caitlin. You just discovered that there are other people in the universe! People who aren’t journalists. And have crazy things like diversity and no college degrees. OMG!

(more…)

Listening to: “Tiger, Tiger” – Bishop Allen

When I was in college, I was covered on my parent’s health insurance plan. After college, I had a full-time gig as an editorial assistant that provided some really crappy health insurance, but it still covered the big emergency stuff. I was laid off from that job in the spring of 2007, and I have been uninsured ever since then. I weened myself off the prescriptions I was taking at the time, and stopped going for annual appointments. If I’m ever in a fix (eye infection, sinusitis, stingray puncture, etc.), I go to urgent care centers and swallow the expense.

Do I want health insurance? Of course. Do I think I’m “invincible”? Of course not. I’m a freelance writer. Sometimes I’m a waitress. Last fall, I got laid off (again) from a “full time” job that didn’t give me benefits. These days, I live paycheck to paycheck, and sometimes without paychecks.

I live in Massachusetts, where supposedly healthcare is universal.

Bullshit.

(more…)

Listening to: “The Crook of My Good Arm” – Pale Young Gentlemen

You ever get the feeling that civilization is like, umm… collapsing? Maybe it’s just that I’ve been reading the news more often lately than usual, but I think it’s more than that. I think things really, really suck right now. Why is it that the top stories in the New York Times right now are that some douche Senator got reamed out, and that some baseball teams are having a tough time with their umpires?

Cause if you look at a little lower on the page, looks like the US launched a coupla airstrikes in Syria and Pakistan! A little more important than Ted Stevens being caught with his hand in the pie, wouldn’t ya think?

The Times says in their afterthoughty article that US commandos shot militants who had been feeding Iraqi terrorist cells. But other news outlets are reporting the Syrian’s account of things: that the attack killed 8 civilians. Syrian foreign minister Walid Muallem calls it “criminal and terrorist aggression.” I’m not sure what the fuck happened, but I think it boils down to the fact that’s it’s really bad to launch an air attack in a country you were trying to have good relations with. And now we’ve got an international incident going and everyone hates America even more than they already did. Nice job, guys.

Oh yeah, and Pakistan. We blew up some shit in Pakistan to get a Taliban guy and killed at least 20 people. Awesome.

Meanwhile, some neo-Nazis were planning on killing Barack Obama and 100 other people, Sudanese rebels are killing Chinese oil workers, 3 guys opened fire at the University of Central Arkansas, the economy is blowing even worse, Radar Magazine is folding…again, a kid whose mom let him play with an Uzi at a gun expo shot himself in the head, and poor Jennifer Hudson’s family has another death to deal with.

Things are… not looking good. Again, maybe I just didn’t notice it before. But I dunno. Ah well, time to go do some non-world-helping freelance writing to make ends meet. Cheers.

……

And now, a happy poem:

The Second Coming
W.B. Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert.

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Listening to: “Freddie Freeloader” – Miles Davis

I never thought the day would come when I’d say this, but: I’ve become a political junkie. But I’ve always hated politics. What is wrong with me? I’ve been asking myself this question in between sessions of checking the polls, watching clips from the Rachel Maddow Show, witnessing Sarah Palin fuck up again and again and again, and looking at photos of Obama being gosh dern cute. (I know, I’m a filthy, filthy liberal aren’t I? Oh yeah, baby, you liiike it.)

But why is this my new form of online procrastination? What happened to photos of narwhales, minimalist webcomics, obscure music blogs and anonymous people’s impotent rage? Why do I care so goddamn much about this goddamn fucking election?

There’s probably a longer answer, but the short answer is that Barack Obama is the first politician in years that hasn’t struck me as a total dickbag. ((It helps, of course, that the competition is sooo dickbaggy.)) In fact, I really think I like him. He’s actually an inspiring, intelligent-seeming guy who actually makes me feel kind of good about America–not what it is now, lord knows–but what it could be. Like when he says stuff like this. He really does work as if he lived in the early days of a better nation (That’s an Alasdair Gray quote, by the way, swiped off the side of the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh).

All this keeping up with the news has even made me try to, well, keep up with the news. I started puttering around some major news sources’ homepages to see who thought what was important. A snapshot of some pages’ headlines, around midnight EST:

The NY Times is all about how a circus ringmaster is retiring. The BBC wants us to know that Communism is trendy again. The Guardian’s on about a PM embezzling from the Russian government. The Washington Post talks about some botched federal contracts. The Boston Globe’s top coverage is the Secretary General of the UN’s speech at Harvard. The LA Times highlights a piece about the President of France’s crisis-handling capabilities. The Times of India has what should arguably be everyone’s headline — the launch of India’s first moon mission. Al Jazeera, oddly enough, centerpieces Obama leaving the campaign trail. The Wall Street Journal highlights his edge in the polls over McCain. USA Today offers a dreaded trend piece about US travelers abroad getting grilled on politics. Le Monde in France spotlights a doctor shortage. The China Daily’s top story is Bush’s talks with President Hu. The Chicago Tribune talks about sadistic local cops. South Africa’s News 24 covers a fatal plane crash.

Moral of the story(s)? No two agendas are alike. Obviously, papers are more localcentric. But even take a look at the American papers alone, and you see a very different set of priorities.

—–DRAMATIC BREAK——

OK, I just watched the Palin-Drew Griffin interview on CNN, and I’m too mad to write anything more that’s even remotely coherent. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more useless journalist than Griffin. They might as well’ve let a Teletubbie interview her. She twisted Joe Biden’s words so viciously, and dodged questions, and Griffin nodded and smiled, and she lied and lied and–OH GOD I HATE HER. I have to go stick my head in a tub of ice cubes now.

I have spent the past 24ish hours forcing myself to pay attention to the Republican National Convention, and being subsequently enraged, nauseated, and depressed by what I see. The speeches themselves (Giuliani should be excommunicated from New York City for that shit he tossed), the coverage, and worst of all, that sublimely ignorant grin on the face of America. But this article in the Herald really, really, takes the fucking cake:

SARAH PALIN MIGHT INSPIRE GALS TO TRESS FOR SUCCESS

Will the “Sarah Barracuda” beehive be the updo of the season?

The Republican vice presidential nominee wowed the crowd with her speech – and her hairstyle – Wednesday night, prompting fashion pundits to predict that the deconstructed coif will be the most requested look for fall.

“The half-up, half-down look is pretty current,” said stylist Mitch DeRosa, owner of Mitchell John Salon in Boston. “And I like the bangs to the side. I think yes, a lot of women are going to want the Palin look.”

Better yet, ladies can show their political preference by sweeping their bangs to the right or the left, DeRosa added.

Yes. Because that is what we should be concerned about. Sarah Palin’s up ‘do. Her violently pro-life stance? Her flat denial of the human role in global warming? Her lack of non-Alaskan experience? The fact that she wants to de-classify polar bears as an endangered species? The fact that the GOP brass aren’t letting the media talk to her cause then they’ll find out she doesn’t know shit? No no no, silly woolly-headed lefty. The hair is the real issue. Funny, I haven’t heard anything about Joe Biden’s fab tresses.

And women of America? Screw voting. Let’s leave that to the menfolk. We can broadcast our political views proudly with some well-placed bangs.

I suddenly wish I didn’t even have bangs.

Finally, here’s some dirty laundry-shaking from the fantastic Jon Stewart on the “Gender Card”:

Listening to: “Kalamazoo” – Ben Folds

Let’s just call a spade a spade here, huh? Or in this case, let’s not call it a spade if it’s not a spade. So here’s your lesson for the day: NOT CAMPING does not equal CAMPING.

According to the ever-incisive, journalistically daring, in-no-way-lame Boston Globe’s latest trend-wank piece, the glamping craze is sweeping the country like a plague of boils. Yes, glamping–“glamorous camping.” The latest insipid portmanteau to worm its way into the lexicon, possibly even worse than such botulism-inducing “words” as staycation, infotainment, and Newgrass.

The idea of glamping is that you go camping and experience the great outdoors, except without actually camping or experiencing the great outdoors. Not uncommon are “camping butlers,” WiFi stations, and s’more delivery services. Cause you know, s’mores are incredibly difficult to make oneself:

“Lori Karger of Weston may be the ultimate luxury camper. In April she and her husband, Stewart, spent a night in a two-story air-conditioned, beautifully appointed treehouse at the year-old Winvian resort in Litchfield Hills, Conn. Winvian sits on a private 113-acre estate with a a Frenchtrained chef and 18 themed cottages designed by different architects. Several of the cottages evoke the fantasy of being on a wilderness camping trip.

These include a $1,700-per-night “camping cottage” with trees painted on the walls and a ceiling painted like a night sky, and the $1,950-per-night “charter oak cottage,” with an actual charter oak poking up in the living room. All cottages, including the treehouse, have fireplaces, jacuzzi bathtubs, Italian linens, espresso coffee systems, radiant floor heating, and pop-up plasma TVs.”

THAT’S NOT CAMPING, you flaming, flaming bags of douche. That’s a fucking luxury hotel room with a fucking tree in it.