Category Archives: News

We look at the big headlines to provide humorous commentary on the world around us.

This Hard Knock Life

Growing up, I had two life goals.  The first was to own a half-dog, half-monkey that I would call a “donkey” (pronounced “dunky”).  The second was to become a Grammy-winning, multiplatinum rap star.  Needless to say, I have failed on both accounts, rendering my life, so far, an abject failure.  But while my dream of owning a donkey may be a biological impossibility, my rap dream lives on.  So for all you record execs out there, reach for a tissue box — This is my story.

I. LI’L GANGSTA

In 1997, I bought the cassette tape of the album No Way Out by Puff Daddy and the Family.  It was the first piece of music that I had ever owned, which made it all the more special. Despite its explicit content, the album spoke exclusively to the sensibilities of Asians with money-grubbing tunes (“It’s All About the Benjamins”), internationalist flavor (“Been Around the World”), and slow, lispy talkers (Mase, who became my personal favorite member of the Family).  It was also an added bonus that when Mase rapped about “living in tenements”, “tenements” sounded an awful lot like “Tiananmen,” which I used when arguing with my Chinese parents over the artistic merits of what they believed was devil music.

Despite my parents’ objections, I started secretly collecting tapes (and later CDs) of rappers like Mase, B.I.G., Tupac, Jay-Z, and yes, even Ja Rule.  I printed out lyrics and kept them in a 101 Dalmations folder, trying to cover my rap obsession as innocuously as I could.  I began going to Barnes and Noble just to read The Source magazine.  For my eighth-grade art project, I did a pencil drawing of Tupac.  In music class, I played a censored version of Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up” as my contribution to the list of the “best songs of all-time” (the other nominees included a crapload of Beatles/Stones/Elvis nonsense).

I spent most of my time, however, just huddling with my Walkman (and later, Sony Discman).  I practiced rapping, channeling my no-good, big-tyme, gangsta self (rap name, Li’L T, with capital letters exactly like tHaT).  Sure, I was a twelve-year old Asian girl from the suburbs who had never been shot at, but I had faithful dreams of rap stardom.  I wasn’t trying to be nobody’s hero — I just wanted to be heard.1

II. THE DISILLUSIONING REALITY

On December 11, 1997, I wrote a letter to the editors of NBA Inside Stuff in which I asked them to put me in touch with Penny Hardaway, Stephon Marbury, and Grant Hill.  I thought that once I developed a correspondence with my favorite basketball players 2, I could ask them to join my new rap venture, tentatively called The Chop Suey Bunch.  My solo act as Li’L T was going nowhere: I’d already penned a handful of songs, but I was getting very little traction outside of middle school.  Thankfully, I’d become socially aware enough to understand that awkward-Asian-girl-rapping was never going to become a phenomenon, so I had to find a worthy performer to “spit my rhymes” (if I couldn’t rap, I had to make up for it with ghetto-talk).

Thus, I turned my attention towards recruiting performers to lend me their street cred.  They would be the ones to perform my songs, go on tour, and wear balloon pants in a strobe-light-filled music video.  And honestly, who wouldn’t want to rap to these lyrics?

(The following are verses from actual raps I wrote. Keep in mind I was 12 or 13, and obviously really weird. Special thanks to my dad for keeping these embarrassing computer files in a folder labeled “Teresa Raps”.)

JOE SHMOE
I look in my fridge / It’s really kind of gross
Mold is growing on the bread / Like the kind on my toes
Oh there is a squeak / I know it’s a mouse
They’re always in the fridge / And all around my house
I hear a huge snort / Sounds like a person I know
But it’s really my dog / His name is Joe Shmoe

THIS WORLD
I was born in Indiana / On May 26th I came out screaming
Everyone was happy / Everyone was beaming
‘Cause I came into the world
‘Cause I came into the world
Everyone was happy
‘Cause I came into the world

As you can see, I had immense talent (and ego, as evidenced by “This World”).  But after months of waiting, I never heard back from NBA Inside Stuff, or any of the other would-be performers (Chris Rock, Shaq, and the editors of The Source) I reached out to.  Their implicit rejection was disheartening.  It was also a wake-up call.

III. NO WAY OUT

By the summer of 1999, my rap dreams were pretty much over.  I’d just started high school, Mase had gone into retirement, and a cutie-white-boy band called N’Sync had become my new obsession.  My experiment with rap looked merely like a passing phase, allowing my parents to finally exhale.

They should have known, though, that weird teenage phases never die.  And that’s what’s great about phases–much like rap in the 90s, they embody the naivete of youth, encouraging our older, wiser selves to reconnect with our silly young dalliances.  So even though I failed to achieve commercial success as a hip-hop star, now, more than ten years later, I still have an eerie recall of late-90s rap lyrics.  And at times, I’ve even been able to use this talent for good.  One night at a bar in Boston, after perfectly reciting the lyrics to Jay-Z’s “Can I Get A”, I finally got the words I had longed to hear: “Hey girl, you are STREET!” 3

You best believe it, son.

IV. COMEBACK?

For those who may still be doubting my rap abilitiez, I just want to leave you with this final song, dated January 8, 1997.  As of today, I’m still unsigned by the major record labels, but I know it won’t be long.

PETS
I have a cat named Carrot-Top / Also a fish named Fanny
My lizard’s name is Lizard / And also a rabbit named Granny
My parrot is named Bubba / My snake’s name is Spence
My pig’s name is Hamburger Bun / I got a frog for eighty cents

And just a note: I didn’t have any pets growing up.  See, now that shows the breadth of my creativity.

Li’L T out.

—————–

1. This is a quote from Puff Daddy’s “It’s All About the Benjamins”, which includes one of my favorite lines of all-time: “Tryin’ to get my hands on some Grants like Horace.”  Classic. 
2. Don’t judge me for liking Stephon Marbury. He was good once.
3. Fine, this was said by a white guy, but it still counts, right?

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Filed under Arts and Entertainment, Random

Occupying Wall Street

It’s Monday, July 10, 2006, and I’m wearing a dark suit and pantyhose, standing in a sea of dark suits, all nervous and fidgety.  It’s the first time I’ve worn something from the Misses section at TJ Maxx, and it feels like a personal milestone.  Goodbye, Juniors, with your bedazzled t-shirts and l.e.i. jeans with patches on them: I’m a suit n’ pantyhose woman now.  And why wouldn’t I be, here, in midtown Manhattan, standing in the marbled lobby of a $40 billion company on the first day of my summer internship, the first job to pay me more than minimum wage, the first place where I’ve spent a whopping $89 on a suit jacket to still look like a street urchin in a Brooks Brothers catalog.  I’ve made it, Ma, I’ve made it!

As our group of eighty-or-so interns is herded into the auditorium for orientation, we pass through sleek elevator banks hidden by translucent glass panels, the ultimate markers of lobby opulence.  I never thought I’d end up in this kind of fancy place; in fact, my almost-Marxist teenage self would’ve totally pooh-poohed it: “Ugh, so corporate.  Gross.”  But now, sitting in a plush leather chair, facing a gourmet spread, I’m thoroughly ready to drink the hoity corporate Kool-Aid: drink it, guzzle it, pour it into an IV bag and take it intravenously, whatever.  All I know is that I have just one goal now: do well this summer and get a full-time offer, ‘cause this is where I want to be.  Maybe, just maybe, I could work here for the rest of my life.

“Hello, summer analysts,” the HR rep says. “Welcome to Lehman Brothers.”

HILARITY ENSUES

My mom always says that you don’t know what you like until you try it.  This is her rationale for why “trying out” Wall Street would be a good idea (although this doesn’t seem to extend to drugs, skydiving, or black guys).  In truth, I’m totally up for it.  All my friends are working in banks, so Wall Street sort of becomes our white-collar pregnancy pact.  We get the chance to live in New York, make money, and piss it away like spoiled-rotten socialites–what could be better?  Plus, there’s a certain prestige that comes with working on the Street: If you manage to land an internship at one of the big investment banks, you earn 50 douche points for Gryffindor, and everyone at Harvard wants to be Head Douche.

So that’s how I end up at Lehman: eager, young, impressionable, and in search of shits and giggles.

After our week-long orientation, I’m placed in the Equity Research group, reporting to a man who is the spitting image of Mr. Bean (perhaps with less charm).  His second-in-command, and the guy who is in charge of dealing with me, is a big, rotund, former offensive lineman who I call Diabetes, but not to his face.  While they’re nice, well-mannered, aromatic men, I get the feeling that despite my best efforts, giggles will be hard to come by.

Once I start the job, Mr. Bean and Diabetes have this crazy notion that I’m actually interested in what they do.  So they regale me with stories about free cash flows and outsize valuations and setting appropriate price targets for the stocks they cover.  Diabetes gives me a stack of research reports to read, which I use to create a little fort in my cubicle to play Berlin Wall (“Left hand, tear down this wall of annual reports!” “Okay, right hand!” *Crash.* And that’s the end of the game).  I find ways to amuse myself, because while Lehman might have a lot of money (in 2006), it’s severely lacking in personality.  At one point I try to joke around with Mr. Bean: “You’re such a lucky guy, getting to play around with all these models.”  Blank stare.  “Like, financial models.”  Blank stare.  “It was a joke.”  Curt nod.  “Okay, if you need me, I’ll be at my desk, trying to draw a pterodactyl in Windows Paint.”

I have a feeling this will be a long summer.

DEPRESSION HITS

As the weeks go by, I start to understand why bankers have such a high suicide rate.  The job is a depressing combination of number crunching and Powerpoint presentations.  Sometimes the highlight of my day is doing extensive data entry.  Other times, I get the privilege of formatting a chart.  I’m beginning to think that my job can be filled by a seventh-grader with basic typing skills and a knack for bar graphs.

Soon I realize that I can get by with minimal effort as long as I present something that already confirms Mr. Bean’s hypothesis: “You were right again, the lagged NASDAQ index is a better indicator for revenue trades.”  This strategy seems to work well, especially when combined with my flowery new finance vocab.  Still, even though I’m barely working, often eating, and most likely napping in the handicapped stall with the bench in it, I’m in the office past 9 pm every night.  Because despite the Wall Street stranglehold on words like “optimization” and “efficiency”, the mantra of “face time” rules over them all.*

In my last week at Lehman, I’m given an offer to return full-time.  At the start of the summer, I would’ve been ecstatic.  Now, I’m not so sure.  Diabetes takes me out to lunch to discuss “my future at the company.”  His argument is a good one: it’s a great offer, at a prestigious company, in the best city in the world.  But I have spent the last eight weeks painstakingly manufacturing fun in a job I hate.  I know now that no gourmet spread will be able to sway me.

So, I decline my offer.  Two years later, Lehman declares bankruptcy.  I guess it was a good decision.

SHITS AND GIGGLES

I never foresaw the economic crisis that would lead to Lehman’s demise.  As much as I like to think that I psychically predicted this, I simply left because I didn’t enjoy the work.  And since that summer, I’ve been detached from the turmoil that’s surrounded Wall Street.  I can sympathize with both the protestors and the good people I used to work for.  Ultimately, though, I hope that both sides can see that we’re in this slog together: We need our banks to efficiently allocate capital, and we need an informed public to keep it in check. We need enthusiastic young people to work hard and kick out those caught napping in the bathroom.

But no matter how much we compromise, everyone—people and institutions—must recognize the human fallacy that can be the source of our problems: it’s much harder to take a stand on your own, and it’s much easier to blindly follow the crowd.  That’s how I ended up shoveling shrimp cocktails into a TJ Maxx power suit, and that’s how our country got stuck in this current financial mess.

When I was at Lehman, our group published a 100-page research report in August 2006.  In the report, we predicted that one of the stocks we covered would be trading at $32 by next year, based on our sophisticated (financial) models.  Diabetes had wondered if we were being too bullish, so Mr. Bean asked me to compare our target to that of the other banks.  After a thorough Bloomberg inquiry, I found that we were right in line with the Street: all the other big firms (Fidelity, Moody’s, Merrill, etc.) were giving targets within spitting distance of $32.  So we went with it, confident that we were in the ballpark.  Make little ripples, not waves, they say.  All these smart people can’t be wrong, right?

A year later, the purported $32 stock was at $3.

Oops.

————————

*Also, in most big banks, if you work past 8 pm, you can order dinner. If you work past 9, you can get a black car to take you home. So if you’re already there at 7:30, why not stick it out for another half-hour and get some food out of it? Resourcefulness.

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Filed under Careers, Economy, Life

Why Women Hate Sports

All women hate sports.

OK, this is not entirely true.  “All” women do not hate sports, just as “all” men do not love sports, just as “All That” was not all that “all that” (in fact, it was mediocre programming at best).  But, as a writer, I must make sweeping generalizations to stir up fake controversy and drive enraged traffic to this site.1 So, I stand by my claim: ALL WOMEN HATE SPORTS…with a few clarifying points:

  • When I say “all women”, I’m referring mostly to the following female groups: those who get bedazzled manicures, those who know how to bake a pie, and those who own more than two cats.  These groups are mutually exclusive.2
  • When I say “sports”, I’m referring to the three professional sports that the average American male watches most: Baseball, football, and basketball.  Hockey doesn’t count, because it is ruled by Canadians and all women have a soft spot for Canadians because of Bryan Adams.
  • When I say “hate”, I really mean it, guys.  Women do not tolerate sports.  They actively hate sports with an overwhelming rage equivalent to missing a sample sale.  It’s that serious.

So now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it: Why do women hate sports?  Is it a feminist repudiation against a misogynistic society that unfairly celebrates a jock culture?  No.  It’s actually far simpler than that.  There are  four clear-cut reasons why women hate sports.  If we understand these reasons, then perhaps we can save sports for women.

Jealousy. This is not where I say that women hate sports because they’d rather be spending time with their man.  Don’t flatter yourself, guys.  Women don’t want to spend more time with men. Instead, the thing women are most envious about is how much men actually care about sports.  If Cavs fans in Cleveland were asked to choose between keeping their wives or bringing LeBron James back, how many guys would leave their wives?  ALL OF THEM.  Men can rattle off facts about the Cowboys’ winning percentage on the road, but they can’t remember the date of their anniversary.  They can tell you the name of the Cubs’ fifth starter, but they can’t recall the name of their middle child.  To women, it often seems like men are programmed to cry only at a funeral, a birth of a child, or the aftermath of Game 7 (oh, and Toy Story 3, unless they are robots).  Men care about sports in ways that defy logic: They will develop a routine (the Red Sox will win if I sit on the left side of the couch, but not the right side).  They will chant in unison.  They will scream at the television.  And they will grow a playoff beard.  (And it’s always a disgusting one.)

Obesity. How do you watch a sporting event?  Sometimes sitting down.  Sometimes standing up.  Either way, you’re getting fat.  Yes, it’s ironic that sport inspires men to gouge themselves on beer and nachos, thus turning them into flabby masses that do not resemble the heroes they so admire on the field (unless they are a fan of CC Sabathia).  If we didn’t have sports, would men actually stress-eat a bucket of chicken wings every Sunday?  Hopefully not.  Our sports-watching culture has led to a corpulent male population chock-full of beer-bellied dudes and Type 2 diabetes.  Women, at least, have a good excuse for getting fat (We carry your children, dammit! Let us have our whoopee pies!).  Men have no such excuse.  The reason men are fat is because of sports.  And women hate them for it.

Cheaters. It’s hard for women to like professional athletes because 99% of pro athletes are adulterous cheaters.  Well, that might be an exaggeration… 98% of pro athletes are cheaters, and women hate men who are unfaithful.  Women classify cheaters in the same category of “shitty man” that includes murderers, rapists, and wife-beaters.  On the other hand, male fans have the moral fortitude of a perforated sponge.  Men will forgive their fellow shitty man as long as he delivers in the clutch, but women will never, ever, ever forget that the guy cheated on his pregnant wife.  Sorry, Tiger.  Unfortunately, our sports heroes of today (Kobe, Favre, A-Rod) are all veritable, no-good, douchebag cheaters.  Throw in a Rape-lisberger and a heartbroken Eva Longoria, and women will turn their backs on pro athletes.  All it takes is one bad apple taking pictures of his junk with a cameraphone, and no women will root for this lot of shitty men.

Crotch Grabbers. There is only one thing that women hate more than cheaters, and this is watching men grab their own crotches.  In an average baseball game, crotchshots are shown almost as often as something interesting happening (finally… a single…).  Come on.  Does an extra mini-appendage really need that much maintenance?  Players — we know that you are a man.  You don’t have to prove it to us. And since you have millions of dollars, perhaps you could invest in some medication for your below-the-belt ailments.  Athletes should only be playing with one ball, thank you very much, and that ball should be made of leather.

So, to Roger Goodell, Bud Selig, David Stern, and all men out there, if you want to convince women to like sports, please take the following advice: (1) Players: Soap.  Use it down there.  (2) Owners: Discourage your players from marriage.  Women will put up with philanderers (this is why women still love George Clooney), but they will not put up with cheaters.  (3) Fans: Lay off the dip.  You’re getting fat.  And even though it sounds terrible now, just consider two words: veggie platter. (4) Boyfriends, Husbands, and Fathers: Care about your women as if they were on your fantasy team.  And if that doesn’t work, well, then just trade us. Please.

1. This crappy, “gotcha” headline is an ode to other articles that make ridiculous sweeping generalizations of entire peoples: “Why You’re Not Married” or “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior“.

2. I estimate that these three groups make up close to 60% of all women.  But “60% of women hate sports” is not a good headline.

NB: I love sports.  But I do hate crotch grabs.

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Kim Jong-Il is Coming to Town

It’s that time of the year again, when the big-bellied man up North holds center stage.  He’s rounding up his minions, firing up his sled, and getting ready to dole out holiday gifts with gusto.  What will he bring us this year–maybe a Kindle, a brand new pair of socks, or perhaps a plutonium-fueled nuclear fission bomb?

Of course, I’m talking about Kim Jong-Il, the jolly yet combustible man-who-always-wears-sunglasses-and-would-be-a-great-Oakley-spokesman-if-he-weren’t-a-ruthless-Communist-dictator.  It all started  right after Thanksgiving with a random November  attack on a disputed South Korean island.  Then, with his son/successor/Mini-Me by his side, KJI proceeded to make numerous threats to blow South Korea to smithereens… yes, season’s greetings from your favorite  psychopathic, WMD-waving dictator.  Who doesn’t love the threat of world-ending nuclear war?  What will he bring us next year–an anthrax-exploding Christmas card signed lustily by the Chinese and Russians?

North Korea has always served as a great American buzzkill, trying to ruin our holiday season by being crazy.  So, to get you back in the Christmas spirit (and to take your mind off uranium isotopes that could melt your brains), please celebrate the holiday season with joy, laughter, and of course, more of Kim Jong-Il:

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The World According to Google

Classic debates, as settled by Google:

LIBRARIANS vs. ACCOUNTANTS: Maybe you hate fun.  Perhaps you just can’t sleep. If you’re in search of a good cure for insomnia, you should reach out to a librarian or an accountant.  One good story about the Dewey Decimal System and/or GAAP accounting should put you right to bed.  But which of these trusty professions is LESS boring and MORE fun?

GOOGLE SAYS: Librarians, with a whopping 2.6 million hits vs. a paltry 1.7 million for our accountants.  They might be ordering an audit check on this one.  (And, in an amazing twist, it turns out that librarians may actually be more fun than clowns. Shame on you, clowns.)

WALL STREET vs. MAIN STREET: It’s the age-old battle between khakis and jeans, white collar and blue collar, Madoff and low-life petty thieves.

GOOGLE SAYS: Wall Street…  Is this at all surprising?

BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE vs. UGLY PEOPLE: Are human beings really that superficial?

GOOGLE SAYS: Yes…  Beautiful people get 7.7x more hits than ugly people. If this is applicable to real life, then you should never, ever, go to a bar with a beautiful person.  She’ll get 7.7 free drinks to your measly one.  I would de-friend anyone who is more beautiful than you.

CALIFORNIA GIRLS vs. CALIFORNIA GURLS: One contains the correct spelling of the word “girls.”  The other doesn’t.  This should be easy, right?

GOOGLE SAYS: What the…  From now on, I am blaming teenage illiteracy on Katy Perry.  You don’t know how distressing this result is for me.  What’s next?? Are “gurls” going to “twurl” around school?  Will we be ordering ice cream with chocolate “swurls”?  Is Maytag going to be challenging “Whurlpool”? Kill me now.

DEMOCRATS vs. REPUBLICANS: Just in time for midterm elections: Let’s settle this once and for all.

GOOGLE SAYS: A resounding victory for Democrats!  Of course, this very scientific approach may have some flaws.  It could simply be that Dems are more computer/tech savvy than their Republican counterparts.  Or it could be that Republicans simply prefer using old school communication methods (perhaps carrier pigeons and/or messages in a bottle).  And, of course, a direct translation of this result would presume that Communists actually outnumber Republicans.  Just another example of the dirty, liberal media, right?…OR, is (Commie) Red the new black?  Google never lies…

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Bring Her Back

The big news in the entertainment world this week has been all about American Idol — who will be the judges for next season?  Simon’s out, Ellen’s out, J.Lo’s out, but Steven Tyler is (reportedly) in the mix.  Yawn.  Well, even though I no longer watch the show, I am here to make my plea.  American Idol, please bring back… PAULA ABDUL!  

Abdul was with Idol from the very beginning, ever since its auspicious start in 2002.  She was there back when Simon Cowell was still an unknown British crank, and Ryan Seacrest was just the spiky-haired sidekick to Brian Dunkleman.  Throughout the years, Abdul established herself in Idol circles as the sweet, caring, and often-incapacitated judge.

While Abdul was often criticized by critics for not being critical enough, this criticism is ultimately flawed (kind of like this sentence).  Although Abdul’s contribution to the judging panel was limited, her presence truly transcended American Idol.  With Paula, she wasn’t just there for the music.  Instead, she was so much more.  She brought critical issues to the forefront, opened dialogue on everything from healthcare reform to prescription drugs, and spearheaded long-needed change to America.

Some examples of her most important work:

A Leading Proponent of Healthcare Reform: In 2005, Abdul landed on the cover of People Magazine, detailing her “Medical Nightmare.”  In the article, she discussed the chronic pain from an old cheerleading injury that led to some of her bizarre Idol behavior (eg. slurring her words, falling asleep, clapping as if she had flippers instead of hands).  Although she didn’t say it explicitly, Abdul was making an unmistakable call for  reform.  After all, if one of the wealthier women in the country can’t get adequate care, then how is Joe the Plumber going to survive?  Plumbing is more taxing than cheerleading, you know.  And now, five years later, we have universal healthcare. Thank you, Paula “Pelosi” Abdul.

A Feminist Beacon: Controversy arose when dismissed season 2 contestant Corey Clark claimed that he had a 3-month affair with Abdul during the show’s taping.  His book, “Sex, Lies, and Paulatics” not only stretched the homophonic properties of the English language, but also exposed a potentially sordid side of Idol.  However, (if true) the affair only revealed that Abdul used her power to lure young men to her britches.  She was simply following the timeless example of men who have done the same.  (Of course, her one transgression was that of choosing Corey Clark… bad taste, Paula).  But still, without Abdul’s message of female empowerment, we wouldn’t see a record number of women running for office in 2010. It’s a lot easier for cougars to prey on young men when they have the full backing of a political platform.  Meg Whitman’s male interns better watch out. 

paulamoneyAn Economic Bellwether: Abdul reportedly turned down a $5 million+ deal to return to Idol in August 2009. Although nothing has been reported about a potential comeback this year, last year’s offer clearly indicates that we are recovering from this recession.  If Paula Abdul is being offered $5 mil to get drunk and make nonsensical comments on TV, then we better be creating more jobs in the meantime.  And if Paula refuses to come back, then I’d be happy to mumble and drink scotch out of a sippy cup on primetime television. I’ll even cut you a discount and do it for $1 mil. 

I think I have proven my point: Paula Abdul is so much more than a singer, dancer, choreographer, and druggy cougar.  As she would say, “You’ve got a sensitive side of you… got, uh, total, uh spicy side of you… You are real.  You’ve… got… to keep going.”  And on that, I rest my case. Bring back Paula Abdul to American Idol! 

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Coming Out of The Dark Ages

Growing up, I was surrounded by a lowbrow smorgasbord of R.L. Stine, Salute Your Shorts, and Mortal Kombat.  Instead of reading Chaucer, I double-fisted Goosebumps and the Babysitter’s Club.  I Chose My Own Adventure and got diphtheria on the Oregon Trail.  I listened to explicit rap.  And though critics may feign horror at my culturally-deficient childhood full of commercial drivel, I thoroughly enjoyed not being a hoity-toity opera kid.  (Plus, as a member of the cultural underclass, I was always able to make fun of the highbrows and their pretentious madras pants.)

I mention this background only because I’m about to double back faster than Joe Barton not apologizing for apologizing for apologizing (yes, you read that right).  Now, as a slightly-more cultured adult, I’m concerned that true art is dead.  In my view, we’re suffering from an ugly, modern-day Dark Ages (or perhaps, Twilight Ages?): hundreds of years later, historians will look back on this era, from the neon parachute pants of the ’80s to the plasticized “real” housewives of today, and they’ll think, “Jeez. What was in the water back then?”

You might not agree with me, but let’s take a look at this era in music, literature, and the arts.  In music, Michael Jackson is the singular ray of enlightenment.  He doesn’t have the same feel-good story as deaf Mozart or orphaned Bach, but his legend is still comparable.  Fine, I’ll give you MJ.  Let’s move onto literature, where we’ve failed to produce any seminal work outside of wizards and vampires in the last 20 years.  Outside of those two series, I can’t think of any book that has garnered attention as an “instant literary classic.”  (Maybe James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces, but that only comes to mind because of the Oprah shakedown.)  And finally, I am hard-pressed to name a contemporary artist today who works outside of TV or film.  Maybe this is ignorance, but I’m guessing that we’ll never see the likes of another famous Picasso or Warhol in our future, tech-centered world.  After all, why spend years painting some masterpiece when you can just Photoshop?

So what are the implications of this?  Well, I’m worried that kids won’t be able to write sentences longer than 140 characters.  I’m afraid that genuine laughter at the theater will soon be replaced by muttering “LOL.”  And I’m terrified that Snooki is a household name.

But then again, my fun-killing crossover self is probably just resisting the inevitable change in our definition of art.  Perhaps hundreds of years later, we’ll have redefined  “highbrow culture” to comprise of scatalogical humor and excessive hair spray.  Maybe then we’ll recognize the Twi-Hards as a social and literary movement akin to the Beats.

But I hope not.  Because as a card-carrying member of the current cultural underclass, I still reserve my right to make fun of the hoity highbrows.  And I won’t be able to do that if I’m one of them.

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