We meet again old friend.

As I turn 27 in this, the 27th week of the year, I can’t help but look back into the past.1

Look at this helpless fucking thing.


Life may be difficult and grim and empty sometimes, well a lot of the time, but I’m sure in the end there’s more joy than pain.

Idiot. You can bet it didn’t expect to live another 27 years. And you can be damn sure it didn’t expect for things to turn out like this.

I am not the man I thought I would be. This is not the life I thought I would lead. I am not sure what to make of that.

In case you can’t tell, I’m not really good at birthdays. Never have been. They are 24 relentless hours designed for withering introspection. To an already far too introspective person, it can get to be a bit much.

A poem:

‘Resume’

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp;
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

- Dorothy Parker


Happy Birthday to me, indeed.

There is some good news though. I’m not in yet and I don’t want to jinx it, but I just applied for membership to a very exclusive club, and so far I think it’s looking good. My preliminary meeting seemed to go really well. We all got along like a house on heroin.

Not sure how to show me how much you want me to know how much you know that I changed your life forever? May I make a suggestion?

I was planning on writing a much longer piece on life and inevitably death, a thoughful exploration into the central questions of human existence, a meditiation on how you shouldn’t wait for life to happen to you, you should happen to life, an exhortation to punch the face of God. Instead, I think I might just go try my best to get arrested.


Double True.

They say old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill2, let’s hope they’re right.

  1. “The past, Conan?” “Yes Andy, all the way to the year 1982. []
  2. I always liked to think I was young and treacherous. []

So, I don’t know if you guys have heard, but Michael Jackson died.

I actually met the man once; I was seven. I am exaggerating, but not joking. When the Jackson clan moved to Los Angeles, Michael briefly attended my elementary school. Years later, in possibly the most surreal episode of my life, it was arranged for our auditorium to be dedicated in his honor.

But more on that in a bit.

I was never honestly that much of a fan. I think I was a little too young to appreciate him at his peak. Sure, I remember Thriller, hell I remember being genuinely freaked out by it, but I didn’t really get into music until my teens, and say what you will about the impact of his career, it was pretty much over by 1994.

My cousin, on the other hand, was an admirer. At four years my elder, she was the perfect age to idolize and lionize throughout my entire childhood. Everything she did seemed so exotic and grown up and dangerous. She was also big into New Kids on the Block, so maybe I should’ve known better.

Regardless, that was my initial window into the King of Pop. Well, that and my Genesis. This was all I knew about him in the second grade: that he was more famous than the President and that all the cool kids liked him.

And so, it came to be that on October 11, 1989, I had my only skirt with fame. My memory of the event is like most twenty-year-old childhood memories: hazy and convoluted and disturbingly sexual. If I’m to be honest, I remember Jackson never actually entering the auditorium for security concerns, but who am I to argue with the Gay Lady1.

What I do remember though, is where I was sitting (roughly), that the kids I was sitting with weren’t my close friends and that kind of annoyed me, singing “We are the World”, and the short-circuiting current of excitement and terror2 that ran through the kids, and presumably the adults as well.

And it occurs to me now, though I could hardly know it at the time, that I was just about the age Michael was when he last had anything remotely resembling a normal life.

In the wake of his death, there is much talk of Jackson being the last great superstar, that his brand of fame, in the era of John & Kate and Spencer & Heidi and Pull The Trigger & The Nightmare Stops simply doesn’t exist anymore. Fame is spread too thin these days. With so many legions of grubby, scrabbling little parasites, desperate to suckle at the teat of public attention, none can grow too fat.

There is also much talk of the cycles of abuse and how those played out in the life of arguably the most famous entertainer of our age. Which raises the question of whether it was his personal life and the domestic miseries it entailed or his unprecedented3 level of fame that led to his, well, downfall. These are all worthy questions, but ones we will never have adequate answers to.

I think the most interesting thing about Michael Jackson is how he was a decades long social experiment played out in human form. Only one who soared so high could plummet so low. I cannot imagine a more chilling cautionary tale. Fame is a curse and success the poison through which it acts.

Need further proof that success is the worst thing that can happen to a person, besides failure that is? Dane Cook was a promising young comedian with an exceptional sense of physicality in his act. Thousands of douchetards later and he’s a washed up, apoplectic hack. Dave Chappelle struggled on the cusp of obscurity for years until he was finally given the platform he deserved. Now where is he?4

Of course, Jackson was not just famous or successful, he was beloved. In the first twenty or so years of his career, through his work, his position in history, musical and otherwise, he garnered as much good will as any non-magical human being ever could.5

But then as he declined in musical and cultural relevance, his madness, for what else to call it but madness, took greater hold. As thrilling6 and groundbreaking as his music was in the 80s it simply could not compete with the literal danger implied by the burgeoning rap scene. “I’m Bad. No, really, I’m quite Bad.” doesn’t have quite the same punch as “Fuck tha Police”.7

And so, with little career to speak of keeping him occupied, he became more reclusive, more extravagant, more other. Elvis, by way of Howard Hughes.8

Then came the first child molestation trial with its $22m settlement.9 And the skin bleaching. And the continued sleepovers. And the botched plastic surgery. And the botched plastic surgery trying to correct the botched plastic surgery. And the second molestation trial with its not guilty verdict.10 And the Jesus Juice. And the marriages of, if not convenience, then almost certainly confusion. And the masks and pajama pants. And in a rare moment of genuine, well placed and yet horribly misdirected anger, the baby dangling.

He became a stranger. He was no longer one of us.

And just as he was poised to either make a triumphant comeback or secure his fixture as a permanent, cheap, late night punchline, his heart gave out.

His death was, like his life, to say the least bizarre. Certainly taking the world by surprise11, he honestly seemed too famous, too weird to ever die like one of us commoners.

Coming in the midst of, and overshadowing the rest of the celebrity genocide that took place that week, his death served to throw into relief a life that was too big to parse while it was ongoing.


If you strike us down, we shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.

In the end, a man died, but something else lived. Chris Onstad put it better than I ever could.

Personally, his death had no discernible effect on me until I actually listened to one of his earlier songs.

I heard the voice of a talented child forced to grow up well before his time and in that voice a promise of great and strange things to come. When you listen to him as a child you can’t help but imagine the alternate paths his life could easily have taken12.

King Of Pop Dead At 12…He had so much potential to blossom into a gracious and mature human being. As it is, the world will never know the genius Michael Jackson might have become had he grown up.”

- The Onion

Not to write out of turn or presume to out Onion The Onion, but well, here you go.

JUNE 25, 2039 — Michael Jackson, 80, died today after a long battle with heart disease. He passed away surrounded by friends and family in his surprisingly modest Bel Air mansion.

After slumping record sales in the early 90’s, Mr. Jackson faded gracefully from the public eye, only resurfacing to help produce the records of promising new singers and providing his signature baritone voice for the occasional commercial, most famously in his role as spokesman for Black Nose African American Beauty Supply.

He is survived by his sister Janet, his wife, Shondra Jackson, their three children, five grandchildren, and their beloved family dog, Blanket.


(Sources: 2 3)

Jackson’s rise and subsequent fall13 is at once tragic, mystifying and absurd. They say it’s the mystery that endures, not the explanation. But, maybe there’s no mystery to his life at all. Maybe this is simply what happens when someone is that celebrated14. The system always finds a way of correcting itself.

The auditorium as it stands today.15

  1. I guess that works better for the SF Chronicle. Still, if New York gets a nickname we want one too []
  2. Remember terrible and terrific share the same root. []
  3. Barring his late ex-father-in-law, of course. []
  4. Relaxing comfortably in his fat palatial estate, I would imagine. Let’s hope he got out in time. []
  5. Clearly, exempting Barack Obama from this back-of-the-envelope proclamation. []
  6. I’ll understand if you stop reading now. []
  7. Straight outta Gary, a crazy motherfucker named MJ. True enough, just the wrong kind of crazy. []
  8. Are we sure Hughes and Debbie Rowe aren’t related? []
  9. The court of public opinion found him not guilty by reason of we’d really rather not think about this right now. []
  10. He made ThrillerThriller. []
  11. Well, not everyone. []
  12. Sliding Butterfly Doors. []
  13. If he had just done it the other way around! []
  14. Remember celebrity and celebrate share the same root []
  15. There is talk of rededicating the auditorium. That is the most wicked stripe of hypocrisy there is. If the issue was that it was inappropriate for someone twice on trial for child molestation be honored by an elementary school, his dying did not negate those charges. They still happened. Unless everyone thought that Jackson himself was going to show up at this school and like some gay vampire (Yes, yes, aren’t they all?) was going to derive untold power from his name emblazoned upon it, and was thereby going to molest up a storm. In which case, nevermind, this makes perfect sense. Either you think he abused children or you don’t. Either you think regardless of whether or not he abused children, he should not be associated with a school or you don’t. When did elementary schools lose their balls? []

Because if there is a hell, surely I have bought my way in several times over by now.

(via Chip Zdarsky)

He was right under my nose the whole time! Literally, my nose was in that room over there.

I spend a not insubstantial amount of time thinking about the impending zombpocalypse. How to prepare, necessary survival skills, the best strongholds, the benefits of virological vs. voodoo based outbreaks. I am not alone in this. For all my years of preparation though, I’m disappointed that the simplest idea never occurred to me. Hiding in plain sight.


No one here but us abominations.

Rick, a soft spoken Montrealer has that shit covered. Fucking Canadians! What haven’t they figured out over there? Besides governing themselves, I mean. Hey, we only just got it sorted a few months ago, so no worries.

I was planning on getting tattooed one day, but it seems I have to start saving now. None too soon, apparently.

McCain’s hopes and dreams.

T+7years

T+7years


One of the definitions of sanity is the ability to tell real from unreal. Soon we’ll need a new definition.”

Alvin Toffler