Thursday, December 31, 2009

#17 New Year's

[I'm not bobby apologizes for there being so little SYANALTNL lately. He's on vacation and has been happily rant-free for a while, but...]

then New Years happened. Hear me out.

Shouldn't new years be at the beginning of spring or, per my people, at the onset of fall, when the summer's over? That sense of newness makes so much more sense associated with the new school year that marked the passage of time in a much more meaningful way when we grew up than this weird anti-climax post-halloween-thanksgiving-and-christmas-and-after-this-everything-is-going-to-be-cold-and-miserable-or-at-least-back-to-normal-back-to-business-so-let's-freak-out-and-go-apeshit-idiot-fest. There's something so kind of sad and desperate about the way people party on New Year's. It's one last grotesque and desperate hurrah.  And I mean how much money does NY waste on that freaking party with the ball, anyway? Meanwhile, I can't get an express train on the weekend???

Speaking of which, what brings someone to go to Times Square for New Year's Eve? What kind of odd confluence of genetics and life experiences leads someone to go do something that ludicrous? How do you get to a place in your life where you're saying, Oh, I mean no I can't make it because I'm going with a whole bunch of people to west 45th and 6th and we're gonna spend all night standing in the half-rain-half-snow with thousands of drunk and desperate people frenching each other? And then trying to get home and everyone kind of knows the season is over so they're just a little bit belligerent and a little more drunk and a little louder and a little bit more completely-impossible-to-take.

Anyone who's into the idea of changing new years to September 1st let's organize, get a petition together, write your congressman, meet up a nice hotel bar for a drink, something...or just bitch about it and agree not to participate. Who's in?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

#16 The First Snow of Winter

So it's the first snow of the year and I'm already pissed off. Everyone's completely delighted at the wonderful winter wonderland and all I'm thinking is that this crap is going to be disgusting grey slush in no time. It's the first real indication that you're basically going to be spending the next 3 months indoors, with outdoor time essentially being spent getting from indoor point A to indoor point B. And in that journey, you're going to half-slip on the ice-slush at least once, your nose and ears are going to burn-hurt, your lips are going to chap and god forbid it's actually snowing, in which case everything you and everyone else is wearing is going to be covered in the stuff and it's going to get all over everything and you can't even walk and do the crossword anymore b/c it's either snowing or too darn cold to hold the pen without gloves on and who can do the crossword with gloves on? I don't know about you, but I like being outside. I like walking on unslushy stable traction-granting ground. I like not having to try to leap over the little pools of standing arctic pond that settle at every pedestrian crossing and falling in at least once a week completely soaking my feet in the icy hand of death. I like my trains running on frigging time.

Speaking of which, so I'm on the subway this morning and the conductor announces "due to the cold weather express trains will be running local between 96th street and Chambers."(emphasis added)

What the hell is that??? That's like saying due to a water shortage, we will be screening "Yentl" in IMax 3-D every day, non-stop, for the next 6 years. But no one even questions it, they just nod their heads, seeming to say Oh, well that makes sense. No it makes no freaking sense. But everyone just expects the entire freaking system to break down just because it's cold or snowing. It basically gives the city carte blanche to half-ass it for 3 months.

I mean, yeah, there's definitely something pretty about snow when it first falls and you're at home all warm and safe, sure, I get that. But the gigantic hassle is completely not worth it. And any time I bring all this up, people will nod and agree with me and say, yes you are totally right,
but then when I say and that's why I hate the first snow of winter, it totally freaking sucks people always say oh no snow's great, it's wonderful, it's so pretty and wonderful and great and wintertime is a time to spend at home, with family and really take stock and enjoy the company of your loved ones. Um, I mean aren't loved ones for the most part best enjoyed when you're not forced to? Isn't being thrown in with your family for long hours out of a sense of holiday obligation or meteorological exigency a sure recipe for disaster? I mean doesn't it basically ensure a total familial meltdown?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

#15 The Greatest Love of All

"I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way..."

Ok, so this song really really pissed me off when it came out. I guess if you know me, you can probably guess I was a bit of an uppity kid, and I was hyper-aware of being condescended to and generally treated like an imbecile in the way adults do because, for the most part they resent kids, and simultaneously begrudge them their freedom and innocence while placing all the responsibilities for the future of the world on their shoulders. Maybe it's the home I grew up in, or maybe it's growing up Jewish, or maybe it was just me with a severely underdeveloped denial mechanism, but I never envied adults. I saw (and I think I was right to see) that for the most part we kids had it way better, with other people taking care of our needs in ways they clearly found extremely stressful. I just didn't see, even at that age, the profit-margin in adulthood. Sure, they had more freedom of movement, but at what cost? For the most part such freedom came saddled with the kinds of responsibilities and worries that were written in 24pt font all over their sad, tired faces. Yeah, I resented the fact that adults got to vote and I didn't, especially because I didn't really see any evidence that their opinions were any more considered than mine were, but I was willing to accept that because otherwise, the system really kind of worked in our favor.

But then this song came out and it just literalized how goddamn condescending and disingenuous adults were. You know how old Whitney Houston was when she recorded The Greatest Love of All? 22 freaking years old. 22!

How about you be the future for a little while?! I thought to myself. How about you lead the way and let me be a freaking kid instead of trying to pawn off all your frigging problems on me?! OK?! How about that?

And, you know what? You're not allowed to not like The Greatest Love of All. We've all been to that party at the end of the night when the DJ plays it and everyone starts singing it in the worst possible drunk-screech like it's the most profound freakin thing and every time I hear it, every single time I hear it, I'm that kid again, thinking about how shallow, how cowardly and impotent and flat-out unfair the sentiment of that song is.

And that's just the first line!

"I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadow" What? When you were 12?

"They can't take away my dignity." No but you're doing a pretty good job of that yourself.

"Give them a sense of pride, to make it easier, Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be." You're 22! How about reminding yourself how you are right now! and get the frack out my face trying to recapture the youth that hasn't even gone away yet, no matter how much coke you shove up yourself. It's creepy and annoying. I've got my pride ok, pride comes from within, which is what the frigging song you're singing is ostensibly supposed to be ABOUT! so not only is it condescending but it's also internally illogical!

Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all. Now that might be the first honest thing you've said because if this frigging song demonstrates ANYTHING, it's that you completely and totally love yourself so much it isn't even funny.

Ok, so maybe I'm channeling a young and mixed up I'mNotBobby, but I mean, you know what I mean, right? It's wrong. It's just all wrong.

Friday, December 11, 2009

#14 Beer

You know when you're, I don't know, 13, 15, 9, and someone older gives you your first taste of beer? And they're invariably older than you and this pretty much always happens at that time of your life when "older" means "better" in pretty much every conceivable way that matters to you. And so it's 2 in the afternoon and you've spent the afternoon out in the heat and there you are, and your older brother's hanging out with his friends and Danny, the one you know they all think is funny and cool and he's athletic and kind of a dick and there's something in the pit of your stomach that tells you this guy's bad news but all the girls in your class totally love him and talk about him all the time, and he's like, hey I'mNotBobby, c'mere, you ever had a beer before? And he hands you a cold bottle of Flitzenflachen and you're not sure, but you've thought about it before, I mean by that age, you've seen enough beer commercials and ads to think of it as this beautiful, translucently gold, foamy, cold-sweating-glass wunderbeverage and but while you're kind of scared of taking that oddly sacred leap away from your childhood, you're also anticipating this almost nectar-of-the-Olympian-gods type experience?

So you decide to do it, to have your first beer.

And then you open your watering eyes and can see them all laughing at you, laughing at this kid whose face looks like the entire world has gone through an enormous amount of time and trouble to play this lame little practical joke on him. And then it occurs to you, wait a minute, that makes no sense, people must actually really like this crap, and that's even more bewildering. So then you steel yourself and take a long deep gulp to show Danny, show him you're tough, you can take it. And he smiles at you, acceptingly, and the whole group of them are watching by now, encouraging you to drink drink drink and then confiding in you like you're one of them now, and saying yeah, it's a bitch when you first try it but you have to keep drinking it and you'll learn to like it.

But that concept is just completely and entirely foreign to your experience. Kids don't "acquire" tastes. Your body tells you whether you like something or you don't and for the most part, when you're a kid, you like what you like and you don't what you don't and you may for the sake of your parents force yourself to eat certain things you have a natural revulsion for but it's not really until you get older that either your tastes change or your power of denial is deft enough to start convincing you that you like things you don't really like.

Beer is one of those things, and I never developed a taste for it. I can't tell you how many times over the years friends have said to me "What? I'mNotBobby, you don't like beer? That's weird." And then they insist on getting me to try this one beer that they're absolutely sure I'm gonna like because it's "really good beer." And you know what? It tastes like friggin' beer. You know why? Because it's beer.

The cult of beer is pernicious. For some reason we go on and on about smoking and transfats and DDT and sugar-water soda and genetically-engineered food or the overpriced scam that is
organic vegetables and meat but beer is somehow completely off the table. I mean beer gives you, over time, that distended, perfectly round beach-ball gut that has to cause so many health problems it isn't even funny. Not to mention the physical violence of all kinds that attends its sacred position in the pantheon.

But it's off-limits, and has this odd kind of regular-guy credibility that is so completely retarded that every politician has to be seen out there forcing down a frosty cold one with a pandering, [literally] shit-drinking grin on his face. The fact that beer-drinking was a factor in the '04 election demonstrates just how ubiquitous and retarded the beer-cult is. To say nothing of the fact that people thought sharing a beer with a privileged little nancy who doesn't even drink sounded fun.

I mean if you want to drink the disgusting brain-killing wheat soda knock yourself out, but why does it have to be this showing-off competition kind of thing? Because I think, I really believe this, that it's kind of impossible to really like the taste of beer. I mean to PREFER the taste of beer over say, Ginger Ale or a Pina Colada. That's ok, I don't have to. I just hope I pass on my distaste for the stuff to my kids, because beer is stupid, people are stupider when they drink it and encourage each other in their stupidity in the process and eventually get into fights and punch each other in their mouths or have sex with people they don't like. There's really nothing good about it. There's plenty of other stuff to drink.

[SYANATNL would like to thank Serps at Learning to Crawl for this post's idea...although Mrs. ImNotBobby reminds him that she gave him this idea months ago and she is absolutely right and deserves full unabridged props for it....thanks honey!]

Friday, December 4, 2009

#13 PAIN!

No pain, no gain! Push! Do it! Keep going! 2 More! GO GO GO!!!!

And that's when my foot cramps up.

Pain is your body's way of telling you to stop doing something. I know we learn from pain, probably more profoundly than from anything else, but that's kind of misleading. What we learn from pain is to not do the thing that hurts. Pain avoidance has to be highly correlated to genetic advantage, that's why the learning mechanism is so strong. Now of course women have to endure a certain level of pain for obvious reasons, but for the most part, our anti-pain instincts have to have served the species better than the pain-seeking aberrations. I mean the caveman who was really into burning himself was probably not the most attractive prospect for procreation.

But if Nike commercials and pilates-fascists tell us anything, it's that if we're not constantly pushing our levels of endurance and cheerfully working through the pain we're not worth our
weight in child-labor.
People with high pain tolerances don't understand how much it hurts for the rest of us, and that doesn't mean we're weak. Yeah, there're genetic predispositions toward variant pain-thresholds and I'm ok with that, I mean if you've got a high threshold and you don't mind feeling that burn and even kind of get off on it, well, OK, mazel tov, G-d go with you, go get 'em buddy. You're probably gonna look better for the first 30 or 40 years. But don't condescend to the rest of us. You're the freak, you're the aberration.

But you can't say that, you can't complain about the pain because that makes you a wuss and G-d in heaven if there's one pariah-class in this lonely, busy world, it's the wusses. Well the wusses inherit the earth. The wusses avoid situations that might get them into trouble and pay people to move their pianos and grandfather clocks and sofabeds and consequentially don't get crushed by them (at least as often). The wusses say, you know, I know getting hit in the face hurts and so I'm going to avoid situations where that might happen, and, over time, in the long run, they get in fewer fights, and survive longer. Sure, fighting toughens up the winners, but Goliath went through a whole bunch of young go-getters before that punk David suckered him with a lucky shot. It was the cowerers, the wusses, who carried on, married, had babies and passed on their wussful genes.

I say, "no pain, no pain."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

#12 Voting

[I vowed never to make a political post, but I think, really, this post is resolutely apolitical, or at least politically neutral.]

Do you ever feel kind of icky when you're standing in that booth? Apart from the sincerely urinalistic feeling?

I mean I know our forefathers went through etc etc etc so we could have the privilege to whatever whatever whatever, but I mean honestly. We don't really genuinely ever really know who it is we're voting for, do we? I mean 99% of the people you vote for or against are people you've never even really heard of. And even when we do there isn't often any real correlation between the reasons people vote for X or Y and what actually happens with respect to those reasons. And people's reasons are, for the most part, completely ill-informed anyway. I'm not blaming people for being ill-informed. Hell, I'm ill-informed. And so is everyone else. Because really, in reality, it's kind of impossible to be well-informed on any particular data-driven issue (as opposed to "moral binary" issues like abortion and gay marriage, which, for the most part are not data-dependent or predictive, they're just judgment calls and I have no problem with making those because I don't need to understand anything to make them) over which there's controversy, because there are people who are way smarter than you (or me, or the politician running for office) who have devoted their lives to studying just this one particular thing (e.g., tax policy or the effect of CO2 on the climate or energy policy or international political and defense policy), and they disagree. Those people have way more information than you could ever hope to have or process and they disagree (and not because they're corporate hacks or self-delusional hippies despite what either side will tell you...for the most part all of these people have good faith reasons for believing what they believe). And why do they disagree? Because, really, these issues are, for the most part, unknowable. At least insofar as predicting what SHOULD be done about anything. No one really knows what's going to happen if, say, we have public healthcare, or alternatively, if we don't. And yet everyone gets so riled up over the thing. The thing they don't really know or understand or could possibly understand because the whole system is way more complex than it is possible TO understand.

And that's assuming that you know, when you vote, how those names on the thing relate to the issues you've made these arbitrary decisions about, and that the people those names represent are actually going to behave in the way, vis a vis those issues, that you think they are going to. Which they aren't. And you, the voter, also probably don't know any of this anyway. I mean honestly, what do you or I really know about who should be the City Public Advocate or State Senator or Congressman or President or School Board Member and why? Most people who vote have no idea who they're voting for or why.

Which is fine, but it certainly doesn't fill me with a sense of pride in fulfilling my civic duty when I vote. Mostly it feels hypocritical or disingenuous or as I said, icky. But you're not supposed to feel that way. You're not allowed to not like voting. Rock the Vote, Choose or Lose, participate in the great American Democracy, the great debates of our punching little holes in this card for people you don't know, based on opinions you don't understand, and odds of predictive accuracy that favor the house big-time and in a way that is completely insignificant statistically anyway. That just sets off my internal absurdity-meter. Voting is annoying and impotent and kind of ridiculous when you think about. It should be OK to admit that, instead of participating in this gigantic denial-fest where everyone takes the opportunity to not only applaud themselves, but get in your face about what you should do and how you should feel about it.