Friday, March 23, 2007

Thank God You Can't Go Back

“I have to tell you about Chuck.
He’s indestructible.
Well, he is six and one half feet tall;
and he’s witty and pretty and all-American,
I’m afraid…”

You will have to excuse me while I have a moment.
Actually, a series of moments.

I am a child of the eighties. Today, you will not catch me in a tiered, knit, turquoise and white mini skirt, but, in ninth grade? Look! There I am, walking down my institutionally-colored junior high school hallways with my backpack and my anorectic best friend.

I’m pathetic. I have dumb hair and grodey braces and I am chronically insecure and hung up on one boy who I will never have, though I will continue to try in my sad, anemic way for the next fifteen years.

(At least now, I don’t have braces.)

The 80’s can be faulted for many things. Girl mullets. Perms. Permed girl mullets. The above-mentioned mini skirt as well as many other Crimes Against Knits. Flipped up collars on pink polo shirts. Safety-pinned jeans. Bandanas wrapped around safety pinned jeans.

OK, I am focusing too much on the fashion disasters. But when you are in junior high and in the fifth year of your ten-year awkward phase, those are the things that stick with you. And show up in pictures.

My niece and my best friend’s daughter are both in seventh grade. They are very different from each other, but I know they won’t suffer the same inequities looking back. They are gorgeous and their clothes are good.

I have to admit that I don’t know about their music, however. I have hit that point where I no longer know what “the kids” are listening to. I don’t really mind. I kind of want to punch that Fall Out Boy kid, shoot tiny stinging rubber bands at John Mayer, and I wouldn’t know a Good Charlotte from a Bad one. The aforementioned best friend’s daughter has tried to tell me what is popular, and I am afraid I am just old.

It’s hard to relate when you can still buy new, albums from Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, and U2; The Red Hot Chili Peppers are winning Grammys; The Police are selling out concert venues; and teenagers are swooning over Johnny Depp. They weren’t even swimmers in the gene pool when “21-Jump Street was on.” At least I was alive in a four-Beatle world.

Heck—speaking of the Fab Four—even the Beatles have an album on the Hot 200 right now.

And, yes. I know they don’t call them “albums” anymore.

But I just got the best album in the mail. I’ll say one thing for the internet: it has reduced the scarcity of “collectibles.” It has reduced scarcity, period. At least in shopping. For people in the West. With money. And time to consume luxury products. It used to be that I would have to track down that one record store in the city that specialized in “imports” and flip through my favorite artists to fish out the singles from the UK and the alternate pressings. That is not necessary anymore, and the term “import” has lost its mystique.

That being said, it also used to be that if I wanted to hear “Bogart” by Nik Kershaw from the album “Human Racing,” I would have had to dig out my cassette tape from 1984 and hope that it still worked. And then, when it did not, cry. Instead, eBay and have opened up the world of Obscure Moments from my Musical Past, and I have received “Dark Adapted Eye” by Danielle Dax, “We’ve got a Fuzzbox and We’re Going to Use it,” “Giants” by The Bolshoi, and the above-mentioned Nik Kershaw gem. It’s heaven. I am 14, 16, and 18 again, but without the demeaning clothing, emotional turmoil, and unfortunate appearance of those times.

Instead, I am cooking soup, in a house I own, while my lovely and talented husband is off for a bike ride on a gorgeous Spring evening. Listening to my CD player shuffling those four fantastic discs at its discretion, drinking a pint of Guinness, and writing these musings on a killer computer. I'm not bragging. I'm just thankful. And lucky.

I loved the 80’s.

Or at least, I love them now.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Toil and Trouble

I don’t want to be a downer, but I don’t quite understand all the fuss about this latest Bush Administration scandal. So, they fired eight United States Attorneys for political reasons and lied about it.


It seems a little like busting Al Capone for tax evasion or giving Martin Scorsese an Oscar for “The Departed.”

“It’s not your best work, but... you’re due.”

Maybe America has just hit Maximum Scandal Density, and there is simply no room in the collective denial cavity for one more. After Ken Lay, Enron, and closed-door energy task force meetings; Abu Ghraib prison torture; no-bid contracts for Halliburton; Halliburton overcharges to the army for fuel; missing documentation for $1.8 billion in Halliburton charges; fabrication of evidence to get us into a prolonged war in which over 3,200 Americans and countless Iraqis have died; outing a CIA agent; and tampering with elections, to name just a few, it’s no wonder that these people believe that they are superheroes and cannot be stopped by mere humans. So far, it’s been true. When this one bubbled up, I just rolled my eyes and thought sarcastically “How SHOCKING! I cannot BELIEVE that our government would be involved in anything politically untoward.” I figured it would vaporize, just like the rest of them.

Then yesterday, a House Judiciary subcommittee authorized subpoenas for Karl Rove and others, and two and a half months after the attorneys were fired, the scandal just keeps roiling.

I think that my shock levels have been so altered and my sensibilities so numbed by six plus years of deceit and nefarious behavior that this one was just absorbed into my consciousness and stored away with other lies, like “I’ll call you,” and “Of course you don’t look fat in that.”

The Administration’s response to this event is the same attitude of scoffing challenge that I am used to. It rivals that of any 18-year-old kid still living at home: “Yeah? Well what are you gonna do about it?” *insert smirk and shrug, swagger out of kitchen into basement room*

This time, the message comes along with a buddy-like-yet-threatening-slap-you-on-the-back “Trust us! You don’t need a transcript or a fussy oath. We’ll tell the truth.” Well but of course; transparency is the modus operandi of this administration. They deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Because it turns out that The Bush Administration is very concerned with the separation of powers. Who knew? They are also concerned that someone out there might be doing something for political reasons that are less than honest. This is why they don’t want Karl Rove to testify, under oath, with a transcript: the constitutionally established separation of powers and honesty.

See, they should have explained that right at the very beginning. Clearly, they have precedent, posterity, and the country’s morale close to their hearts. It’s not because they are afraid of exposure, censure, and possible criminal charges. They have not operated for over six years in a culture of alarming opacity for reasons of greed or consolidation of power in the hands of a corporate oligarchy; it’s that they firmly believe in the sanctity of the plans of our Founding Fathers and the veracity and purity of their own motives. They do not want to take part in a political game such as this; to sink into the quagmire of political muck that the Democrats are slinging around.

Give those liberals a little bit of power, and they go and take advantage of our poor, beleaguered president and his posse.
They just can’t catch a break.

(By the way, I’ll be holding my breath until Karl Rove swears to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.)