Tag Archives: lindsay lohan

The Boom and Busts

I’m worried.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been stuck in a rut.  I haven’t been able to get much writing done.  I’ve been hot-and-cold, trying to balance a few spurts of energy with an overwhelming desire to lounge around my apartment like a lazy zoo animal (one might call me a bipolar bear).  Last night, I built a pillow fortress so that I could Lay Like an Egyptian while playing Sporcle in bed.  It was really quite sad.

I’ve tried to get out of this rut.  I started an exercise routine (it’s on the Wii, but it still counts).  I took a cross-country trip home to Boston.  I even started reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which went against my “act coolly indifferent about the new ‘it’ book and pledge never to read it until it reaches the bargain bin at Borders” mantra.  But even with all these attempts to jolt myself out of inaction, I still feel like a booted car.

Recently, I’ve been thinking… what if it’s not just a rut?  Perhaps I’m a Boom and Bust, like Lindsay Lohan, Tiger Woods, or any young, attractive person who becomes heinously ugly as time passes by.  Once full of potential, with bright, rosy futures…the B&B is now the quintissential example of a person who peaked too soon.  So, am I one of them?  Am I on the way down, too?  If I am, indeed, Busting, then (1) can I make a comeback like Kobe post-rape or Hugh Grant post-prostitute?  Or am I just going to (2) flatline into oblivion, like Ryan Leaf and Jonathan Taylor Thomas??  And is this rut really the beginning of the end?  Am I going to just get worse and worse and worse until my head explodes into complete and utter failure?

Well…

No.  I’m not JaMarcus Russell.  Though I may be eating ice cream breakfast sandwiches today, soon enough, I’ll recover from this little rut. I’ll get my head back in the game.  Because I work too hard.  I want it too much.  I can’t be a Bust.

(Phew.  Thanks for the inner pep talk, me.)

…Plus, I don’t even think you can Bust without a Boom, right?

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Unbreak My Lung

Everyone in this world has a rival.  It could be your BFF, like Bert and Ernie.  It could be your sworn enemy, like Tom and Jerry.  It could be a totally contrived rival, like the E*Trade baby and Lindsay Lohan.  In any case, the worst feeling in the world is when your rival gets spotlight, and you get the shaft.

There are numerous examples of rivals overshadowing their just-as-deserving counterparts.  There’s the Anorexic Olsen Twin and the Other One.  There’s “Abercrombie” and “And Fitch.”  There’s John Hancock and everyone else who signed the Declaration of Independence, except with uglier handwriting.

However, the most lopsided pairing in terms of misguided attention is the rivalry between the heart and the lung.

While lungs have mainly focused on their job (breathing), the heart has developed a frivolous side hobby: enchanting an entire subculture of lovestruck followers.  The heart has become a symbol for romance, lust, desire, wanting, turtledoves, cupids, and other things that can make you gag.  Its popularity has spawned thousands of songs featuring hearts, from artists like Toni Braxton, Phil Collins, Billy Ray Cyrus, and the Backstreet Boys.  The heart has become so synonymous with love that it has catapulted to the top of the vital organs list.  We’re fine with losing our lungs, but please don’t break our hearts.

And yet, the irony is that actual hearts look nothing like pictorial hearts, the defacto symbol of love.  If you want me to show you the shape of my heart, I’LL SHOW YOU UPSIDE-DOWN LUNGS.  But lungs, the dutiful workhorses of our bodies, get no attention.  No one worries about lung-ache.  No one says “I lung you,” even though “lung” sounds more like “love” than “heart”.  Other than Radiohead’s obscure 1994 song, “My Iron Lung,” no one writes sappy songs about lungs, even though we can’t live without them.

Our lungs have never gotten credit for love, romance, and happiness.  Instead, the heart has basked in all its glory. Our attention-whoring heart is the A-Rod to every Jeter, the Warhol to every Malanga, the Edison to every Swan.

But then again, times change.  So, if you ever encounter another example of an unfair rivalry, a healthy mediation is necessary: sit down with both parties, take a deep breath… and have a lung-to-lung.

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An Hegelian Analysis of Pop Culture, With Commentary on Flava Flav

(To be honest, I don’t know who Hegel was, but I’m the preeminent Flav scholar this side of West Texas.)

A few years ago, an interviewer asked me what my favorite movie was. In any other circumstance, the answer would have been easy: Miss Congeniality, a story about an undercover cop-turned beauty queen who saves Miss Rhode Island from exploding onstage, as William Shatner dances and serenades the crowd. A true classic, in my opinion. However, in that moment, I reckoned that Miss Congeniality would be about as well-received as an outbreak of swine flu.  A Beautiful Mind, I decided, was a safer bet. It’s my favorite movie, I told the interviewer, because it depicts how Nash overcame the psychological struggle within himself to bring about one of the most important mathematical theorems of our time.

And on that load of crap, I got myself into college.

Looking back now, it’s easy to see how this little white lie could have been conceived. Whether we like it or not, we live in a world where classical music and Jane Austen are seen as culturally superior to “Boom Boom Pow” and Agatha Christie. Our society favors the New Yorker over Us Weekly, Italian wines over Franzia, and opera over Oprah. A line is drawn between “high” culture and “low” culture, based on some ephemeral idea of quality as defined by tradition, or reputation, or, more likely, some really old guys. Many of us have accepted this order, convincing ourselves that we too are high class: the smartest, most accomplished, and best-looking scholars and future leaders of America… the creme de la creme. Why then, should we debase our exceptionally-gifted minds with the crap of the masses? Why should we indulge in tabloid reading and Britney Spears?

Some might argue that there is value in consuming “low” culture just as there is value in consuming “high” culture. As future leaders, perhaps we should study and understand the whole of American society. Bad TV, movies, and music are as much reflections upon the audience as they are vehicles of culture. Lindsay Lohan’s boozing can tell us a lot about the current attitude toward alcohol in America’s youth, which is important, because, as Whitney said, the children are our future.

Of course, it’s obvious that most people don’t watch The Real World to isolate the psychological impact of seven strangers, picked to live in a house. So here’s a new approach: instead of trying to find intellectual ways to justify consuming pop culture, why not embrace it? Don’t sneak your Cosmo behind The Economist at the gym. Don’t pretend to channel surf on Flavor of Love. Don’t be embarrassed that you know all the songs on the Miley Cyrus CD. Almost everyone is affected by pop culture: we all know who Brangelina is and who K-Fed is not. We all know the words to “SexyBack” (they’re not hard…). So instead of fighting it, belt out “See You Again” unashamedly. Indulge in a little Flava Flav… and follow up with a Sandra Bullock TBS marathon. Enjoy the undeep, unanalytical, unintellectual publications like InTouch Weekly, filled with uncompoundable compound words.

So, I am finally ready to proclaim Gracie Lou Freebush, rogue cop, as my cinematic heroine. After all, the mindless crap that is pop culture today does not seem that mindless anymore. Whether that’s because it has made me dumber, or because I have learned to justify it in my own weird way, no one should feel guilty for their entertainment preferences (unless, of course, you’re a fan of Gigli). Don’t be that uptight, humorless guy who wears argyle socks, quotes Ayn Rand, and looks down on the rest of us while we get fitted for our grillz. Instead, dump the math, forget the opera, stop being polite… and start getting real.

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Whitney Houston Has a Point: The Children Are Our Future

…And it’s looking like our future is grim.

Recently, I’ve heard myself lamenting quite often about “kids these days”. With such esteemed role models as Paris Hilton, bingin’ Lindsay Lohan, and a semi-literate former President (thank you, Texas), it’s no wonder that fears about the future generation are growing. Here is a cynic’s list of a few concerns I have for young’ns today…

  • Each day, we hear another story about drunk teenagers getting into car accidents, mugging strangers, lighting fires, and/or vandalizing buildings. bustedShows like MTV’s “Busted” chronicle these transgressions, but in typical MTV fashion, the thin veneer of morality is superseded by deference to the teenage delinquents (much like the spoiled brats in “My Super Sweet Sixteen”). So, getting arrested is now permanently in the “cool” category. To rephrase President Bush’s famous quote, “Is our children learnin’?”, we probably ought to ask, “Is our jails big enough?”
  • Also in the “cool” category: There has been a huge swell in the teenage baby-making business. We have seen girls keeping pregnancy pacts and looking for homeless suitors to be their baby daddies. Celebrity teen moms are churning out newborns faster than Levi Johnston can get out of Wasilla. From Juno to Juneau, pregnancy is “in”.
  • And just how are these pregnancy pacts being made? Well, by text message, of course. A side effect of improved technology is illiteracy. As kids spend less time at home and more time with iPhone, the language of MySpace becomes the language of our space (oh, snap). That is, all communication will be through a limited assemblage of letters and numbers: C U L8ER, IM GOING 2 JAIL 4 LIFE (but watch my MTV show at 9).
  • chuckAnd finally, with countless fellatio-themed jams on the radio, and hit TV shows that glorify sex, drugs, and underage drinking, we must blame the media for its omnipotent role in poisoning the young minds of America. Because if it weren’t for lollipops and Chuck Bass, Jamie Lynn Spears would not be pregnant again. Kids these days…

Considering all this, if the children are our future, I’m scared. I’m hoping that Whitney was in one of her bad spells when she made that prediction. To loosely channel Van Halen via The Kinks, where have all the wholesome times gone?

…Then again, I grew up with Monica Lewinsky, Cuban cigars, a stained Gap dress, and the Starr report moonlighting as a supermarket tabloid. Not to mention 90210, O.J. Simpson, Dennis Rodman in a dress, Pam and Tommy Lee, the height of Jerry Springer, the birth of video games, the Michael Skakel case, beanie babies, Furbys, and acid-washed jeans. All weird, and potentially poisonous to the brain. And I think I turned out OK… So maybe we should just let the kids lead the way… and remind us how we used to be.

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Justifying Our Love for David, Justin, Britney, And Of Course, Madonna

It starts with shortness of breath. Next comes the hyperventilating, the eye twitches, the body spasms, and mangled speech. The flailing arms come out soon after, trying to seek reassurance from anyone passing by: “Did you see that? Did you see him? That was him! That was him!” Deep breaths. Regain composure. Put the crazy face away, and try to look nonplussed that David Beckham just walked RIGHT by you, and grazed your shirt with his arm. David Beckham. His arm. Your shirt. That shirt will never get washed again.

Sound familiar, or likely?

It can be easily argued that we live in a celebrity culture. With resources like People.com, TMZ, and the ever-infallible Perez Hilton, we know more intimate details about celebrities than we do our own friends and family. I may not know the name of my best friend’s ex, but I do know that Jared Leto used to date Cameron Diaz, who used to date Justin Timberlake, who used to date Britney Spears, who used to date Kevin Federline, who used to date nobody famous… that is, before dating, impregnating, marrying, and divorcing, Britney Spears. Through the celebrity-stalking bible known as Us Weekly, I’ve learned that Michael Phelps likes Chinese food, Ricky Martin likes boxer briefs, and Lindsay Lohan likes women. From watching E! News and listening to Ryan Seacrest on the radio, I have developed a wealth of celebrity trivia that would make my high school US history teacher cringe. What year did Madonna’s first album come out? 1983. Who played the little girl in Remember the Titans? Hayden Panettiere. What did Jessie take that got her “so excited” but yet “so scared”? Caffeine pills. No, I may not know exactly what Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do, or where to find Pakistan on a map, but I can tell you that back when they were married, Dennis Quaid cheated on Meg Ryan. (Plus, I’m guessing that Fannie/Freddie and Pakistan/Iraq aren’t all that important anyways.) It may be hard to justify, but celebrity stories trump news stories every time.

For many of us, celebrities are just incredibly fascinating. Typically most of us would think that it’s crazy to camp out on the sidewalk for hours, just to get within screaming distance of a children’s book author. We would find it odd to reach out and grab at random strangers’ arms, legs, and (other) body parts. Perhaps we want to get close enough to verify that celebrities are, indeed, human. And so we change our shopping route to follow them at the supermarket. We stare at them, enraptured, as they do mundane things that all of a sudden seem fascinating. We try to take a picture of them buying carrots with our camera phone. Maybe all of it is just to confirm that they too eat food, walk places, and have boring days. Maybe it’s to reassure us that they are, kind of, just like us.

Then again, if they were really just like us, they wouldn’t be celebrities. So we live vicariously through their awards nights, champagne parties, airport rampages, and drug busts. We dedicate our whole day to wait in line for tickets to see Madonna, and we set aside The Shirt That David Beckham Touched for framing. It may not be right that we place celebrities on a higher pedestal than prime ministers, Congressmen, royalty, philanthropists, teachers, doctors, firefighters, police officers, community organizers, war veterans, environmentalists, public defenders, public servants, social workers, human rights activists, and often in the case of young people, parents… BUT, celebrities have brought us entertainment in the form of Britney & Kevin: Chaotic. So, I feel quite justified.

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An Hegelian Analysis of Pop Culture with Commentary on Flava Flav

(To be honest, I don’t know who Hegel was, but I’m the preeminent Flav scholar this side of West Texas.)

A few years ago, an interviewer asked me what my favorite movie was. In any other circumstance, the answer would have been easy: Miss Congeniality, a story about an undercover cop-turned beauty queen who saves Miss Rhode Island from exploding onstage, as William Shatner dances and serenades the crowd. A true classic, in my opinion. However, in that moment, I reckoned that Miss Congeniality would be about as well-received as an outbreak of herpes… or, perhaps, a screening of Beverly Hills Chihuahua. A Beautiful Mind, I decided, was a safer bet. It’s my favorite movie, I told the interviewer, because it depicts how Nash overcame the psychological struggle within himself to bring about one of the most important mathematical theorems of our time.

And on that load of crap, I got myself into college.

Looking back now, it’s easy to see how this little white lie could have been conceived. Whether we like it or not, we live in a world where classical music and Jane Austen are seen as culturally superior to “Lollipop” and Agatha Christie. Our society favors the New Yorker over Us Weekly, Italian wines over Franzia, and opera over Oprah. A line is drawn between “high” culture and “low” culture, based on some ephemeral idea of quality as defined by tradition, or reputation, or, more likely, some really old guys. Many of us have accepted this order, convincing ourselves that we too are high class: the smartest, most accomplished, and best-looking scholars and future leaders of America… the creme de la creme. Why then, should we debase our exceptionally-gifted minds with the crap of the masses? Why should we indulge in tabloid reading and Britney Spears and The House Bunny?

Some might argue that there is value in consuming “low” culture just as there is value in consuming “high” culture. As future leaders, perhaps we should study and understand the whole of American society. Bad TV, movies, and music are as much reflections upon the audience as they are vehicles of culture. Lindsay Lohan’s boozing can tell us a lot about the current attitude toward alcohol in America’s youth, which is important, because, as Whitney said, the children are our future.

Of course, it’s obvious that most people don’t watch The Real World to isolate the psychological impact of seven strangers, picked to live in a house. So here’s a new approach: instead of trying to find intellectual ways to justify consuming pop culture, why not embrace it? Don’t sneak your Cosmo behind The Economist at the gym. Don’t pretend to channel surf on Flavor of Love. Don’t be embarrassed that you know all the songs on the Miley Cyrus CD. Almost everyone is affected by pop culture: we all know who Brangelina is and who K-Fed is not. We all know the words to “SexyBack” (they’re not hard…). We all love sensational stories of six-foot lizards and the guy who ate 23,000 Big Macs. So instead of fighting it, belt out “See You Again” unashamedly. Indulge in a little Flava Flav (yeah boy!)… and follow up with a Sandra Bullock TBS marathon. Enjoy the undeep, unanalytical, unintellectual publications like InTouch Weekly, filled with uncompoundable compound words and phrases only found in strategerical presidential speeches.

So, I am finally ready to proclaim Gracie Lou Freebush, rogue cop, as my cinematic heroine. After all, the mindless crap that is pop culture today does not seem that mindless anymore. Whether that’s because it has made me dumber, or because I have learned to justify it in my own weird way, no one should feel guilty for their entertainment preferences (unless, of course, it involves talking chihuahuas). Don’t be that uptight, humorless guy who wears argyle socks, quotes Ayn Rand, and looks down on the rest of us while we get fitted for our grillz. Instead, dump the math, forget the opera, stop being polite… and start getting real.

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