Observations From A Dying Planet - I
(c) RayzRealm May 2003, all rights reserved
I decided to open a new journal section for random observations rather than clutter up the normal daily, weekly, monthly Flight Recorder.
[Lights Out][Cell Phone Zombies][On The Road] [Wisdom Of The Body]
Welcome To The Monkey House
At times I think that never having been embraced by the lemming majority has been a mixed blessing and a curse. I never had a ton of friends, and was certainly not the toast of the town, which gave me a certain freedom to look at the world subjectively from the outside. Throughout my life (I've been writing off and on for over 40 years now) many people have told me in private that they found my observations and comments a refreshing change from the norm, A lot of my readers have admitted via e-mail exchanges and private conversations with me that I say in writing what they only feel comfortable thinking. I have never considered myself to possess any special talent for writing, I merely write whatever flows through my stream of consciousness. I've been writing and keeping journals in one form or another since the early 60's.
When I was a kid, my dad used to tell me to "keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut, you'll learn a lot that way. And stop to smell the roses once in a while." I've always been an observer, a bit like an an invisible alien from another world, who has come to study the human rat race.
I have a habit of linking back to the past to make a point in my writing, so hope you are not too annoyed by this quirk. I'm usually trying to make a point, usually one highlighting the devolution of modern society.
Jesus referred to people as "sheep". They could have just as easily been called lemmings. Most of them have always felt uncomfortable in my presence, probably because of my lack of desire to follow the herd over a cliff. George Bush is using this rhetoric now, "if you're not with is, you're agin us." I don't see the world in black and white as I"m told to do, I see it in various shades of gray. I guess I would never make a good fundamentalist, and am destined for the everlasting fires of hell. I'll see most of you there; we'll have a drink together. And now, it's on to the random neural noise, in no given order.
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The Lights Are On, But Nobody's Home
I don't know what's wrong with people these days. I remember a time when you met someone new at at work, a party or other social event and exchanged phone numbers. They said they'd call you on Tuesday to make plans for the weekend, and usually always followed through on their promise. This was during a time prior to answering machines, voice mail, e-mail, cell phones, cable TV and the Internet. It was easy to make friends then and most people always had the time to meet, socialize, and develop relationships. When you called someone at work, a secretary (real human) took the message, passing it on. You called the phone, gas or electric company, your doctor, the bank or any other service provider and a real person at the other end answered.
Something sinister happened during the 80's, people continued to provide phone numbers, but when you call, more often than not an answering machine took the call. I found as time went on, fewer and fewer people returned the calls taken by household robots; they could pick and choose who they wanted to talk to, so why bother answering at all, screen all the messages, then decide.
I've met a number of people who had to make a decision of what media they wanted me to contact them through, "Uhhh, lets see, should I give you my home number, home cell number, home FAX number, work number, work cell number, work FAX number, pager number, my work e-mail address, my personal Bumbiter e-mail, Backstabber e-mail, Yahoo e-mail, AOL e-mail, earthlink e-mail, MSN e-mail, hmmm. Tell you what, I think I'm in the book, listed under John Smith." People's attention spans appear to be very scattered these days, with all the modern household diversions. Just to make a movie or dinner date with a friend requires you to book six months in advance, with the disclaimer that you are only being penciled in. If a better, more interesting, stimulating or profitable offer comes up in the interim, they reserve the right to indefinitely postpone your prior engagement, "hi this is Joe's personal secretary. He regrets to inform you that he will have to cancel your offer to go see the Matrix Reloaded. He has a chance to score with a well known porn star, and has been invited to a posh South End Private party and orgy which takes precedence over watching some stupid movie that he can see any time with you. Joe hasn't been laid in 2 weeks and feels this is more important to his ego and well being than hanging out with friends. He'll call you to reschedule within the next couple of months."
Of course the call never comes. People today seem totally unable to make and keep commitments. I'll have to check the want ads again to see if the Trappists are still looking for a few good monks.
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Night Of The Cell Phone Zombies
I know, I know! "why do you always mention the cell phone zombies?" But there is something mighty weird going on. Almost overnight streets and cars became filled with people of all ages, races and walks of life, moving through the world in a state of oblivion to their surroundings, cell phone velcro'd to their ear, as they yammer on about nothing in particular, "Jennifer I just walked by Starbucks...ok coming up on Pottery Barn now. Ooh they have a sale on candles, I'm going inside, call you right back."
No matter where I go, people are all on their cells phones, as if they were on a vital mission from God; in restaurants, coffee shops, movie theaters, restaurants, bars, at the beach, churches, while sitting on the throne in a public rest room while the line outside the stall gets longer and longer, in their cars, on buses, trains, planes, boats, even after death in their caskets. I keep wondering, 'what is so damned important that everyone has to be online and connected 24 hours a day?'
OK, I confess I have a cell phone, but it spends most of the time turned off in my desk drawer. I had a grand total of 8 minutes air time for last month and 0 minutes the month before. I had originally gotten a cell phone when my buddy Doug was living in Chicago, and used it almost exclusively for long distance calls from home to him, Warren, Bob and an old friend in San Diego Paul. During that period I did save a huge bundle in long distance charges, but I never used for the sale of calling someone when I was out and about, "hello, is this the Samaritans? I just wanted to let you know I just walked by a Starbucks....now I'm giving a homeless person a couple of dollars...hold on, I'm crossing the street now."
I often see mentally ill people in the streets of Boston talking to themselves. It's getting hard to separate the schizophrenics from cell phone zombies now that a lot of them use the hands free features. On many occasions I've been walking behind someone who for all practical purposes was carrying on a conversation with Harvey the invisible 8 foot rabbit, Jesus, Satan, Napoleon or the tooth fairy, until I noticed to tiny cable going up to their ear, connected to a small boom microphone.
The miracles of technology never cease! Now a lot of cell phones have live video, which is patriotic in a way since we're all being encouraged to spy and report on the slightest bit of suspicious activity.
And there are the cute, heart warming ads that make you want to run right out and buy a video enabled cell phone, "mommy, the rat looked at me, and then he squeaked", the mother of course breaking down into tears. Let me tell you how this scenario would have played out when I was a kid with my mother.
"Mommy the rat looked at me and then squeaked."
"WHAT! you little shit! why are you calling me to tell me that? A RAT! I hope you didn't touch it. Rats all carry diseases! You come home right now! Your father is going to give you the licking of your life when he gets home! How many times have I told you not to take mommy's cell phone from her purse! Where are you? Are you with that Johnson boy! He's nothing but trouble. Did he touch you, did he DID HE! Godammit your come home right now! "CLICK!"
I'm sure that some enterprising person has already used this feature for porno on the go. As college jock Bart Rambutt, plugs Heather the cheerleader in the back of his dad's SUV, all of his frat buddies can share the experience live, "reach out and fuck someone."
Verizon runs an ad that was cute the first time I saw it but got old very quickly. It's always the same ad with a slight twist, a nerdy looking guy walking around and stopping every few feet, "can you hear me now? Good! Can your hear me now? good...."
Osama bin Laden is hobbling through the caves in Afghanistan as bomb are exploding overhead, ceiling and dust falling from above, "Abdul it's me Osama, can you hear me now? Good, praise Allah!", walks a few more feet, "It's me again, Osama, can you hear me now? Ahh good, Allah be praised."
When I finally broke down and walked into the cell phone store I told the salesman what I wanted in a plan and we got into a long winded laughter filled conversation about cell phone zombies. He said that he had one but only used it on the road in case of emergencies and at home for long distance calls. he shared and interesting observation regarding the vast masses of zombies careening through the streets on their cell phones, "you know what, I doubt in real life that many of these people have any real face to face friends. They need to get a life, but hey! they want a cell phone plan, I'll sell them one.
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Behind The Wheel
I've been driving for over 40 years now, almost all of the miles racked up on econobox compacts with manual transmissions. My dad taught me to drive and taught me well, "son driving is no joke and a full time job. When you're behind the wheel, your attention should be on nothing else but your driving and the other vehicles around you. Always remember, drive defensively, act as if everyone else is an escaped psycho and you're driving for your life, watch out for the other guy, leave yourself an out, don't tailgate, weave in and out, don't speed, be a gentleman, give the right of way, it won't kill you to be courteous (being a courteous driver in Massachusetts is a capital offense punishable by death). My dad had driven trucks, both military and civilian and spent his career as a fireman, so had driven ever piece of fire apparatus. Dad was a precision driver and would not let me touch the keys to his prized Ford Galaxy until I met his standards.
It's amazing what I have observed while on the road, drivers, while driving: reading a newspaper or magazine, shaving, freshening up their makeup, eating, drinking coffee as well as suspicious looking beverages in brown paper bags, kissing, spooning, the family dog in their lap, etc. I have a hard enough time dealing with the radio or cassette player, let alone trying to complete a Powerpoint presentation on my notebook computer while in traffic. Don't laugh I have seen people tapping away on a keyboard and driving at the same time. And of course there are the ubiquitous cell phones.
All of the cars I've owned sat low to the ground so I have missed out on a lot of X rated entertainment during my commute. I drove a bus for a year while in college and once drove an 18 wheeler from New Jersey to Boston. Let's see, from my lofty perch above the motoring masses, I witnessed blow jobs being given to drivers from both sexes, one convertible where a guy was eagerly screwing a woman in the back seat while the driver was getting head from his passenger. The car did seem to be pulling some strange maneuvers before I was able to pass it; now I know why. I also saw a few guys masturbating while driving, talk about an urgent state of horniness. But enough about the more carnal driving distractions for now.
I was walking through a parking lot once past a Mercedes Benz. On the seat was a lap top computer, FAX machine and cell phone, all plugged into an auxiliary power junction box that was plugged into the cigarette lighter....oops sorry, they're not called cigarette lighter sockets and more, they're auxiliary power outlets. Geeze this car also had a GPS display in the dash, cassette and cd player. The driver must have needed more arms than Vishnu to manage.
And now many SUV's, mini vans, and overly pretentious luxury cars come equipped with VCR's or DVD players, not to mention the 18 speaker, 500 watt surround sound audio systems.
How can any mere mortal concentrate on the road when they have an entire home entertainment and office system in their cars? But we are lucky in America today, we are the land of the distracted, and home of the self important. And remember, in America everyone is a victim and he who's lawyer barks the fiercest wins the case. So be careful out there as you drive to your destination, is this clue less self important moron slams into your car while he was busy checking his stock portfolio, watching the baseball game and getting a blow job from one of those novelty mechanized thingies that suck and vibrate at the same time, it is all your fault for now seeing him coming in the first place.
When you add this to the other drivers who are distracted through recreational drugs, alcohol, prescription meds, anger, stress, bratty kids, carrying a gun, depression plus the unknown number of drivers who may be splashing around at the deep end of the pool to begin with, it's a wonder why any sane person would ever want to get on the road. Of course there are billions and billions and billions more cars and drivers on the road than when I started driving.
For more safe driving tips rent one of more of the following movies, "Duel" starring Dennis Weaver, "The Road Warrier" starring Mel Gibson, "Bullit" starring Steve McQueen, or "Speed", starring Keanu Reeves. Remember drive defensively, the other guy is out to get you and could very well be heavilly armed. And remember, don't play chicken or leap frog with 18 wheelers, they're much bigger than you and can flick the remains of your SUV off their bumper like a squashed bug.
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Wisdom Of The Body
I've recently engaged in converations regarding intuition.
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