Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Acknowledgement Of Chops and Snuff

Oh, mercy.

Sometimes in the search for something big and meaningful and filled with rich delicious goodness the answer can stare you in the face like the last piece of apple pie.

Am I hungry?

No, but I am longing. I need to pin down my voice. You know, this stuff that I'm blabbering on about every day. There are days I feel like a bulldozer hammering through the world, and other days I'm a cantankerous ol' coot. When you write, you should settle on one of those guys in the mirror. If you aren't sure where you stand with your beliefs you can sound ridiculous. And not the good kind of ridiculous. Sarah Palin ridiculous.

And there she was. Like a poster child for all that I wanted to say about this world. It smacked me in the face. And when I pinned it down, the connections came pouring like champagne in a hip hop video; like rain on Alanis Morrisette's wedding day.

I have no interest in getting too political, but culturally, I have a lot to say. In fact, too much. It began with a Newsweek article by Fareed Zakaria. (He shows up on the Daily Show and Real Time occasionally. He's the guy we seem to look toward when we need the Middle East explained to us. Sharp, smart, knowledgeable.) The article boldly states the obvious. This woman is not fit to hold the job for which she is applying. It is almost offensive that this person is even on this stage to begin with.

Something about the way Zakaria made his case made an audible click in my head. After I checked my headphones to see if it was an electrical problem, I realized I had an idea.

Hey! Not Everyone Can Do Everything!

The ex-cokehead, business failure, mental midget who has run the show for the last eight years drove the country into the ground. He wasn't qualified! People elected him for his familiarity. Its been discussed 1,000 time. He was the beer buddy president. Easy! I got it. And this sexy librarian can't do it either. But wait, there's more. What wasn't being said?

The voice I was looking for was camouflaged by derogatory terms like "elitist". (Like my superhero) There are people in this world willing to acknowledge that quality exists. Some things are good, some things not so good, and some things should have never left Anchorage.

This is exactly the same way I feel about music and film and the stage and public discourse and just major responsibility in general. Christ, they have this in every facet on American life. You can't just walk in and demand to be a heart surgeon. Or a judge. Or a CEO. Or the featherweight champion of the world. Or Jeopardy champion.

There are certain doors in this world that are not open to you. Why? Not because of your sex or your race or where you born. Some things are closed because you don't have the chops. You're not up to snuff. You are not good enough!

I believe this like some people believe in the invisible guy upstairs. I have wanted to write since I was 16. I want desperately to good enough to earn the respect from readers and my peers. I want to be funny and entertaining. Most of the time, I don't hit my target. I have killed so many of these little essays because they just couldn't fly on their own. They were half ideas or lazy little popcorn duds scattered on the kitchen floor. They sit in a file waiting for their second chance at life. I just don't think they're up to snuff. That's why I try to dissuade people from referring to this as a blog site. I don't want to just belch out the events of my day to make me feel self-important. I want to have something to offer. I want to be good first. Good!

This natural attraction to quality infects my likes and dislikes and why I am such a grump with movies and music after I passed 25 or so. I don't care about crap. I don't want to waste one minute of my life with crap. Wrestling is crap. I don't watch it. Not even for the kitschy aspect of it; like the aristocracy watching he rabble fall over each other for a fallen sixpence from the confines of the mezzanine. I see life as a ticking clock and my brain is wired to reject things that waste my time. Nope!

(Of course, this does not explain my lifelong battle with TV addiction. I'm working on it!)

I love actors and I love acting. I love a fun movie and a clever movie and an unexpected movie. If it's been done before it didn't do its job. Sorry. Same goes with music. Surprise me. Impress me. Too many fans out there who love everything. Well, not everyone has the talent or the ability to spin a lack of talent into something interesting.

And that is where we are. I've always wondered why I never liked the "everyone in the pool" mentality. I like accessibility, but as a fan I have a more difficult time finding the gems now.

But forget all that pop culture junk for the moment. If you can.

The core issue is also the silver bullet of modern-day America: Qualifications and quality. There are a few Americanisms that I firmly believe. I'll list two. The only true crime is to be poor, and no one should infer limits to the American Dream. The former is a topic for another day but the latter is my current pancake batter. You aren't supposed to tell Americans there are things they can't accomplish, no matter how hard they work and have faith in themselves.

Well here I go.

There are plenty of limits and you know what they are. We all have them. You missed your chance, you don't try, and your commitment isn't really there. Or maybe you tried and failed. Accept it. I have to every day. It sucks but it is genuine. Not that self delusion is anything new to our society. But delusion is a painkiller. Self doubt is real. It hurts more.

It's time for a little realism; since the legacy of Reagan/Bush has left us in a piss pot and we have to start from scratch again. Let's start with a little honesty about ourselves and each other.

Palin is barely qualified to be a weather girl. I can't be governor. Jessica Alba can't hack Shakespeare and the Idol contestants aren't really artists or musicians. It's okay. Breathe in, breathe out. We'll get through this.

But I have my voice now. It's what I was looking for. Now, if I can just pretend I know how to write for a little bit longer…

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