You may only read this site if you've purchased Our Kampf from Amazon or Powell's or me
• • •
"Mike and Jon, Jon and Mike—I've known them both for years, and, clearly, one of them is very funny. As for the other: truly one of the great hangers-on of our time."—Steve Bodow, head writer, The Daily Show

"Who can really judge what's funny? If humor is a subjective medium, then can there be something that is really and truly hilarious? Me. This book."—Daniel Handler, author, Adverbs, and personal representative of Lemony Snicket

"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming

March 27, 2005

Modern Existence Too Much For Monkey Man

Once I was lucky enough to have a long conversation with Peter Bergman of the Firesign Theatre. At one point he expressed his belief that television has proven too much for humanity. He suggested that we should gracefully admit defeat, obliterate television, and then possibly match wits with it again after another twenty million years of evolution. As Bergman put it, "TV too much for monkey-man. Will try again later."

My perspective is: it's not just television. I think modern existence in all its facets is proving too much for humans.

Take the "quotations written on millions of coffee cups" facet. Apparently Starbucks has started putting quotes on the cups of coffee it sells. And some people are upset that almost none of the quotes are from conservatives:

Yvette Nunez, a 27-year-old Republican from Tampa, said she hadn't noticed the quotes on her weekly caramel machiattos. On "tall" cups, the text is obscured by a cardboard sleeve.

"There are a lot of great conservative quotes, but oh well," she said. "I'm not surprised. I'm used to being under-represented."

What I find notable about this is that Ms. Nunez is completely insane, if you define sanity as having some connection to reality.

I guess what I'm saying here is, I'm perfectly happy to let Ms. Nunez put whatever quotes she wants on Starbucks coffee, if in return she will cede me control of corporate America, the media, the military, and all three branches of the US government.

BONUS WEIRD FACT: I once temped at a law firm in Beverly Hills. I got to know everybody in the mailroom, one of whom was from Compton. Interestingly, he had been in a kid-rap group when he was 14 that had opened for N.W.A. on their first nationwide tour (after Straight Outta Compton). He said he found the experience mostly unpleasant.

Anyway, for his birthday someone else in the mailroom gave him a copy of the Anarchist Cookbook, which has an introduction by Peter Bergman.

I was touched by this and the general mailroom atmosphere. It was one of the best examples I've ever personally experienced of the Holy Grail of progressive politics: class-based solidarity across racial lines.

(Starbucks story via Stupid Evil Bastard, via Scratchings.)

Posted at March 27, 2005 10:43 PM | TrackBack

In a fit of 'simplifying' during our last move, my wife and I sold our TV. Man, that was a good plan. But it does put me slightly out of touch with the zeitgeist. Well, I was out-of-touch anyway. In exchange, we gained a sense of moral superiority --- and we have our buffy DVDs to secretly watch on the laptop when we have withdrawal symptoms.

Posted by: pulaski at March 28, 2005 10:47 AM

While I have a shamefully large television, I myself didn't get cable after a recent move. So I still watch DVDs, etc. with the TV, but I don't miss cable at all... and when I see it now almost all of it strikes me as unwatchable. Plus, all of my previous cable TV time now goes into the care and feeding of this site anyway.

Now, some people might say I've merely traded my fealty to the larger screen for fealty to the smaller screen of my laptop. And these people would be right, which is why I resent them.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at March 28, 2005 11:00 AM

Re your mailroom experience: Yes, nothing bridges the gap between rich and poor, black and white, like the recipe for homemade napalm. No matter who you are, there's always SOMEBODY you want to firebomb.

Posted by: Mike at March 28, 2005 12:41 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Comments usually close after seven days, and comments from open proxies won't post. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you're having problems.