Sunday, December 28, 2008

W@H: An Introduction

"It's nice to be playing a record about aging really badly and losing your edge on your birthday. Ha ha, very funny, god." --Scott Lucas, on Here Comes the Zoo during the 7 Night Stand Look at me! I'm Captain Suburbia I'm lightin' all the birthday candles In utopia It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Captain Suburbia! The weeds will grow The gray will show and My garage will overflow Lucky me! I'm Captain Suburbia --Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers, "Captain Suburbia" Scott Lucas and Roger Clyne are kind of like the older brothers I never had. Lucas has been doing his thing with Local H since the early '90s and I've been on board since As Good As Dead, except for that stint between Here Comes the Zoo and Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles? when I kind of assumed Local H had disappeared for good. Clyne brought the Refreshments in to my life in 1996 and, except for that stint after they broke up and before I knew that the Peacemakers existed, he's been around since. I see Clyne and Lucas as a yin and yang that's become more pronounced as they, and I, have grown up. See, back in the mid-'90s both of them wanted to be rock gods and both of them missed their chance. The Refreshments were a one-hit wonder with "Banditos," while Local H got royally screwed by the Island/Def Jam buyout. Both are now indie rock stars with a cult following of deeply devoted fans. But Clyne seems to be happy with where he is while Lucas seems bitter. The difference, I think, is that one of them aged badly and the other didn't. We all dream big when we're young. Children dream of being rock stars, astronauts, or Presidents. They don't dream of being middle managers or career bureaucrats. I wanted to be an NBA player. But then I made the mistake of being 6'2", white, and not possessing the jump shot of John Paxson or the ability to sport the tiny shorts of John Stockton. I also wanted to be a writer, so there's one dream that's not dead, but the point is that I never dreamed of having the words "Business Analyst" on my business card. I still, for the life of me, don't even know what that means. But the thing is, I'm not who I wanted to be when I was a kid. I'm not who I wanted to be when I was 20. But I am who I want to be now. And that's really all that matters. I look around my 780 square feet of suburban Chicago and see potential. I'm mechanically inclined I'm blissfully insane I'm rescuing the sacred From the jaws of the mundane I'm livin' the dream Now I can sleep through anything Hey now (hey now) Hey now (hey now) Hey now (hey now) Look at me! I'm Captain Suburbia --RCPM, "Captain Suburbia" I'm closer to thirty than twenty these days. I don't regret never making the NBA. I don't regret never being a Navy fighter pilot (my other big dream. Ironically enough, I'm too short for the NBA, too tall for the cockpit of a F/A 18 Super Hornet). I don't even regret not having gotten around to writing the great American novel. I don't think a 20 year-old who's never done much of anything should be trusted with the great American novel. I've got some halfway decent genre fiction sitting around from back then and a novel I once thought was great, but it was too self-involved, too aimless to really count as anything other than the musings of a sheltered kid. No, what I regret right now is wasting my time on girls who weren't worth the time. What I regret is spending my time focused on aging the right way instead of aging my way. What I regret is falling in love with the idea that life had to be difficult and acting accordingly. I read books about what it meant to be a Christian man. Mostly it was R. Kent Hughes' The Disciplines of a Godly Man and John Eldredge's Wild at Heart. One was a book about how to live, the other a book about why we live. I did this thing for a brief period where I had a morning and an evening devotional period. The morning period was spent reading the Bible. The evening period was spent reading some morally uplifting book about Christian living. I think it lasted about a month. Anyway, I went out a few days ago to pick up a copy of John Berger's Ways of Seeing. It was the same day I was putting together my thoughts on the stupidity of the Father Wound. I came home with Ways of Seeing, but I also came home with Robert Bly's Iron John: A Book About Men, from whence John Eldredge seems to have cribbed his best stuff in Wild at Heart. I also got Berger's On Looking and was loathe to not pick up Umberto Eco's On Ugliness, but that was $45. I'm not entirely sure what's up with me and essays on art these days, but I'm fascinated. So here's my plan: I'm going to go back to Wild at Heart, this time accompanied by Robert Bly, Joseph Campbell, and, of all people, John Berger. It's not going to be exactly like Slactivist's deconstruction of Left Behind, nor The Cynic Sage's hits on Every Man's Battle (by the way, Mr. Sage: Mercy Ministries sucks. We know. I'm actually tempted to make a few hits against Teen Challenge, since I know a guy who went through TC and is going, like, insane right now. But the problem is that you're preaching to the converted right now. And the people who believe in it will simply take your thing as persecution and use it to add to their resolve their faith in the program. That's my two cents, take it or leave it. All's I'm saying is I want more sarcastic attacks against the dillholes who wrote Every Man's Battle). I don't think Fred or, um, Sage, ever believed in the stuff they're deconstructing. I did. I'm also thinking of making it more of a topical thing than a page-by-page thing. This is mostly because I already know where I'm starting...

3 comments:

Slartibartfast said...

At least you were too tall for F/A 18s, I had to cope with just not being good enough.

As it happens that was a good thing, but at the time it certainly didn't seem so.

Geds said...

Well, to be fair I also have the uncorrected vision of a newborn mole and probably have the reflexes of a drunken walrus when compared to the average Navy fighter jock.

It's just that tossing those other things in kind of ruined the joke...

Fiat Lex said...

Sounds like a fun project.
Reminds me of the time, couple years back, when I tried to do Purpose-Driven Life with my mom. I kept trying to point out the dark underside to all the smarmy platitudes. She kept trying to convince me that that wasn't what they were really saying, that wasn't the real message, I was just imagining the threat. Which wasn't my point, at all.

So yes! Preach to the converted, I promise to enjoy and even comment occasionally!