Friday, February 19, 2010

#21 Subway Performers

[by way of explanation, I know that lots of people don't like subway performers but the amount of dirty looks I get from people when I express my exacerbation or ask them to stop makes me feel justified in including this as a proper SYANATNL topic]

So you're sitting there on the subway minding your own business and all of sudden a group of kids sets up camp in the middle of the train and turns on some godawful beats and starts breakdancing wildly kicking everyone in the shins. Or a team of trebly mexicans starts mariachi-ing in your ears. Or a group of a capelliacs inflict their insipid harmonies all over you. And you find yourself re-reading the same paragraph in your book 3 or 4 times because you can't concentrate with all this infernal racket. Or suddenly you can't remember whether Eero Saarinen was an architect or the conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra completely breaking your crossword flow.

And why? Because these people think they have the right to inflict their "culture" or "art" on you. Because at least that group of kids is not hanging out on the street getting into all sorts of god knows what. But since when are those the only two options (up to no good or imposing your breakdancing nonsense on unwitting subway riders)??? And the thing is, the really insidious thing is, that your average subway rider encourages these people. Easily half of you sit there and smile and enable them. How delightful! How artistic and wonderful! Oh what an enterprising group of talented young kids!

NO! These people are fascists. Do they give you any choice? Do they ask, before they begin whether what they're about to do is going to bother anyone, anyone who has absolutely no choice in what is about to be inflicted upon them? No, they don't. They don't care about your choice. They're fascists.

Listen, when I'm on the subway, I'm stuck there. I'm not at a club, I'm on the freaking subway. I'd prefer not to be there and the last thing in the world I need is to be forced, involuntarily forced, to consume your stupid art. I don't inflict my writing on you. (EXCUSE ME LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED TO NOT LIKE? KALE!) This is why I wear noise-canceling headphones: NO SPILLAGE. I make every effort to minimize in all ways possible the extent to which other people on the train are forced to deal with me and I (as we all should) expect the same. Subway performers are anathema to the whole program and need to be stopped, not encouraged. They are a blight, a pox, a vile extroverted disease. So please, what ever you do, do not encourage these people. Do not give them money or a kind look. Put on your noise-canceling headphones with an air of extreme annoyance at being forced to drown out their insipid fascism. Heck, if you're really adventurous, do as I do, and ask them if they could kindly keep it down. No one should ever be forced to consume another person's art. It offends even the most basic principles of respect and civility and you should not only be allowed to not like it, you should just plain not like it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

#20 The Dislike Button

Now I know this seems like it's right up my alley, but I don't trust the dislike button one bit. It reeks of cynicism and snark, and it may just be a significant step toward the apocalypse.

Now, as you know, I have no problem with not liking things. I like not liking things or at least support people's right to not like things without fear of being ostracized or otherwise dismissed. But the dislike button isn't about not liking things, it's about hopping on a hate-wagon.

And that makes all the difference in the world. This blog, my friends, isn't about hate. It's about not liking stuff and being able to admit that and have it be ok. And there is a yawning abyssal of space between the two.

 In fact, joining in a communal, giggling, sniggering hate-fest is what the dislike button is all about. It's not even really a dislike button. It's a hate button. People don't want to admit that (and it doesn't present the same ring of counterpoint with the "like" button that "dislike" does), but really that's what it is. It's about gleeful hissing meanness. Disliking stuff should be an expression of independence of thought and aesthetics, not "cold dissing" your friends. "Oooo, this is such a great idea. Just think of all the possibilities. We can just click dislike and then that'll totally pone (pwn?) him, awww yeah, the dislike button is the HYPE!"

No. It is not the hype. It's shallow and cowardly.

If you really dislike something, own it, explain it, spell it out honestly and without fear. Don't press a button. That's weak, petty, childish and small. You're better than that, I know you are.