Saturday, March 23, 2013

Midnight Snack

It's 2:30 am. I made myself some huevos mexicana con tortillas de maiz. and some raisin bran. I might have some french toast because I'm trying to gain weight. Silk brand soymilk is now my favorite for anyone keeping track. "Oggy likes Silk" will be this week's advertising campaign. If I could get 10,000 page views a day I could actually ask Whitewave Foods to sponsor me. But since only 5 people seem to be viewing my blog every day and none of them drink soy milk, I'll have to give free advertising to the wrong target audience. Fuck you and your cow juice. (Did you know they spliced the DNA of a spider into a female goat and when the goat matured and was given hormones to simulate pregnancy it produced milk as well as spiderweb-like strands that can be woven into bulletproof cloth by Vietnamese slaves?)


I haven't been sleeping very good lately and it isn't because Lanny Barby is retired. No, my mind is restless and I'm not sure this mattress was such a good purchase. I slept better on the Mexican whorehouse slabs of cold concrete. Instead of writing my Santa Cruz saga I've been listening to a Spanish language study course of 12 hours of pronunciation practice and I've been reading. The latest book I'm reading is called "Working" by Studs Terkel. I think this is the kind of journalism I could do because it's honest. It's only the words of people...interpret them as you wish. Terkel was a good sounding block and sometimes I think people recognize that whatever they tell me will not go in one ear and out the other, that I'm remembering everything...even when as far as they know all I think about are moped carburetors. A guy told me a story about Vietnam (he was a 20 year old Latino fighting in 1972 and ain't nothing changed 40 years later) They were drinking moonshine some soldier's mom sent from Tennessee, drinking and playing music drunk off their asses when suddenly mortar shells started falling on their compound. He jumped in a ditch..."And damned if someone hadn't shit in that ditch." he said. "But I wasn't about to get out of it."

I'm too proud to do any kind of assignment but I think I'll make myself available in case any publication needs a press man to cover an event....or even cover a war.

I need a generous per Diem, travel expenses, a photographer, a motorcycle, and $1K a day. You'll get a cover page story on hog hunting, border wars, space flights, LDS cults, funerals...whatever you want covered if it fits within my interest boundaries. If you give me carte blanc then I want pre-paid bail insurance arranged in advance because at this point in Pre-Revolutionary America the ghost of Hunter Thompson is not going to be allowed to disgrace any kind of event without being thrown in jail.
I'm throwing that out there IN CASE IT WASN'T OBVIOUS THAT I'M A COPY MACHINE THAT EATS POP CULTURE AND SHITS HIP CONTENT. I'll give you 10,000 words on any topic with 24 hours notice. Spell checking is extra.

Anyway, Working isn't good or bad. Terkel was such a great interpreter that he didn't have to personally interpret the interviews. It's no different than if you rode the subway in New York and instead of ignoring every person on the car with you, you walked up and interviewed them all one by one for twenty minutes each to find out what they did and how they felt about it. And working "more or less" comes down to personality but as one person says, "No job is big enough for a human heart." basically saying that if you have a monotonous task that comprises your 8 working hours then you won't be satisfied. But Terkel does find examples that can't be anomalies of Stonemasons, laborers, welders, tire jockeys, etc. who may not love their work, but their work suits them specifically. The mistake people make is seeing someone who loves their work as a carpenter and thinking if they become a carpenter then they will love the work too. This is called "projection"...and it leads to many discontent carpenters. It is generally not the work that makes the person happy but the way the work fits the person and how the person adapts to the work. It's specific. I'd like to be a stonemason...for one day. But what suits me is writing rambling essays at 2 am and playing goofy guitar songs. Those weren't career choices in High School. I do enjoy giving interpretive nature walks so you'd think I could get a job in a National Park but the closest I've gotten is a request to lead mules pulling a barge up a canal wearing clothes from 1890. So I keep writing.

If life is a hero's journey of mythological importance in which we venture into the unknown to face our fears and return with the elixir of change then our work must have some role in that journey. But as far as I can see...the average biography would be one of utilitarianism or expediency rather than romanticism. People took the job that was offered, or that their dad did. "I knocked my girlfriend up and they were hiring at the wood mill so..." The porn actor Harold Reems died the other day and he got his big break in Deep Throat because the lead male actor didn't show up that day...and Harold Reems was present and had a big cock. Would you call that a heroic journey by design? No, but we go with what's available...or our predilections enable us to find opportunities.

Terkel interviews five layers in the chain of command of Early 1970s Ford Motor Company. He doesn't mention why but I think it's obvious that he's trying to set up different mirrors into the same organization. If he moved from GM to Volkswagen then the reader wouldn't see the differences of opinion within the same group. The spot welder, for instance, has a lifespan on the job of a few months before the pace breaks his spirit. The people who excel at the job decide that they will triumph over the insanity...as a proof of a strong character...and others immediately see that the pace is insane so they eye management jobs...and then later reflect that they "didn't mind the assembly line" where they worked for a brief month. "Ford's been good to me," says the guy who now carries a clipboard all day. "They don't give a fuck about me," says the guy who does 48 welds per car, 30 cars an hour, for 8 hours and 5 days a week forever and has a floor foreman clock him when he runs to take a piss and has done so for four years. Hmmmm. Something seems a bit fishy...

But Terkel doesn't go the next step and he was probably glad he didn't have to overtly interpret the interviews because it would be a mess.

The nature of a consumptive culture is full of contradictions. Because of the demand of a growing population we need time saving measures like automation...and computers...and it adds up to far less time with family and friends than in the year 1810...because we work more monitoring the automation and the assembly of computers and our work is specialized so ma and child are nowhere to be seen at the factory. But what about those time-saving measures? Oh, that allowed us to produce more. It didn't save anyone any time. Even the engineers work longer and longer hours and there have to be more engineers to work longer hours trying to save everyone more time. Uh, it doesn't take genius to realize that plan is a total failure already. Not only are we losing more and more leisure time but more people are losing more leisure time and more jobs are monotonous assembly line crap that kills the spirit. You could argue that automation and computers had the opposite effect; they made our work hours longer and harder and less dynamic. Or maybe you can't argue that because you are merrily carrying a clipboard around all day while the Indonesian knits your shirt from goat milk thread. It's like when you were 11 years old and your hamsters had a litter of ten more hamsters...DID YOU IMMEDIATELY GO OUT AND BUY AUTOMATION DEVICES TO FEED AND CLEAN 12 CAGES OF HAMSTERS? Even a child could see the insanity that would lead to...but not clever humans who listen to popes wearing funny hats. No, the human population grew more in the last 30 years of the 20th century THAN IN THE PREVIOUS 2.5 MILLION YEARS. It takes an M.I.T grad to think a computer is going to solve that problem by making granola bars faster.

Anyway, the message I get from the book could easily be "Choose your work carefully" but that's not the full message. There is work ill-suited to all of us and work that is well- suited to all of us and generally we fall somewhere in between. We take the job that is available and quit it if it really sucks. Or we get a job that is perfect and something goes wrong and we lose it. Or we struggle with jobs we hate until finally we find a job we like and realize it takes way more work but we're more satisfied at the end of the day...and then we die...which is what happened to Terkel. Or we tell ourselves to be happy to have a job...which is a sad statement. Athletes like physical components to their jobs. That could mean fitting tires on rims. They don't particularly like talking to others. Social people like conversations...they like interactions and changing a light bulb is beneath them. Some people like to build with their hands (stonemasons) some people like to build with their minds (architects). Some people like to communicate but are shy so they learn to write. There is a job out there for you and chances are good it isn't what you are doing...

The message I get is that our economic system is haphazard and anti-social. The propaganda surrounding capitalism is perfectly designed to extol the virtues of capitalism...in spite of overwhelming spiritual and social evidence that it is a failure for the vast majority of any population that lives in its grips. Any attempt to preserve Capitalism is evidence we're not using our scientific reasoning skills very well and it's a mistake that is going to kill us all. It's like pointing to O.J. Simpson and saying, "He didn't kill his wife because this glove doesn't perfectly fit his hand." Except in this case the entire planet is on trial.


An interesting detail I found with the book "Working" the low wage laborers ($1.60/day for telephone sales to $3.20/hour for welders) all said they fundamentally liked the job because it gave them a sense of accomplishment but the pace and the social and ambient environment were anti-human...but they couldn't afford to quit so...blah blah. But the high wage folks like executive secretaries and advertising executives generally said there were fundamental elements of their job that they found utterly distasteful and even immoral but it was their job...so they did it anyway. For instance, the assembly line worker tried for perfection and was forced to imperfection by the pace. But the ad executive knew a cosmetics campaign was complete bullshit, hated the assignment, but did it anyway...even though they had the time and money to pass on the contract. I found that noteworthy. Ethically, a broke stonemason was obsessed with perfection/utilitarianism but the high paid yacht broker's only concern was being a middleman to frivolous toys. If a boat sank he didn't lose any sleep but if a brick was crooked the stonemason never forgot it.

Another interesting detail was that the prostitute, steelworker, piano tuner, spot welder, paperboy all actually answered the question: "What do you do for your job?" They could provide details like what the buttons were for on the welder or what street had dogs that barked. However; the press agent, the film critic, the installments salesman, managed to speak at length about everything but their job. After reading the film critic's interview I HAD NO IDEA WHAT A FILM CRITIC DOES. And that's funny because I ONCE WAS A FILM CRITIC.* My suspicion is that there are some jobs that appear vacuous and actually are vacuous. They have no substance. The stock broker blatantly said that everything is fixed on speculation and lies. He sells lies...and wasn't 100% sure why people believed him. He's a flim flam artist, a shill for myths.

Very few high wage earners had any long term experience as a low wage earner. Most of the company owners were determined to own companies from early on...as kids they found a way to manage other kids doing paper routes rather than delivering papers themselves...and they picked fields that had market value and a bit of personal interest. Though they wouldn't mind starting a company that they had no background in because the challenge of learning would be half the fun. The lower wage earners were mostly women or uneducated men. (this was around the years 1967-1973).

It really irked me reading about a hotel switchboard operator who worked 62 hours one week and didn't get paid overtime...the cords were falling out of her hand at the end of the week from weakness in her arms. Her quote encapsulated the false Nixon-era bullshit work ethic propaganda, "I was invited to a cookout but my work needed me so I figured I'd go to work."
And I think of the fuckwad House of Reps taking one vacation after another, sitting on their thumbs while they dangle more and more carrots in front of our noses, failing in every aspect of their job, spending $600,000 on a night in Paris, utterly useless motherfuckers whose only goal in office was to fix the real estate laws to allow them low interest home loans they could use to monopolize "income properties" that are rented by switchboard operators. HOW MANY COOKOUTS DO THEY MISS?? They are lower than dirt on a roach's ass.
The difference between a roach and a congressman is the roach works hard for his dinner


And that cunt Nixon had the audacity to talk about work ethic when he personally nixed the national health care movement and then mercilessly slaughtered Cambodians, hired thugs to steal election strategies, lied about it, and led the country into a war against Marijuana that totally fucked our judicial system while enriching all his goon squad cronies who owned prisons. ARE YOU KIDDING? With Quakers like him who needs Satanists?

The president of some college and the commissioner of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve went on a sabbatical to work in "menial"** jobs...and got fired as a dishwasher/porter. I think he managed to keep the job digging ditches. As rich as he was he said he walked the streets for three days actually getting depressed because he was technically out of work...

I'll end with an anecdote because all my life is going to be distilled into tacky anecdotes for digital insomniacs to read while eating salty sandwiches...

I've done a few jobs in my life solely for the experience of doing the job. I chopped apart a tree root of a tree in Mexico that was getting in the way of a future garden. If I'd been asked to chop apart 100 tree roots to clear the way for 100 gardens I would have passed on the project because I'm not like the switchboard operator. I know my job needs me, but I don't need my job...and the work will get done anyway. If I protest Hydrofracturing or start my own well rig business, the difference is about the same; it's insignificant. All that matters are my selfish desires. My goals are to define complicated social patterns that are actually being obscured by a barrage of pop culture smokescreens and government propaganda. Powerful people are determined to hide what America is becoming and I think we've strayed far from pure path...been led astray on purpose. The best way to know how to fix the problem is to investigate the problem and that required a deep cover stealth mission to every corner of North America. I've accumulated my research despite being called a dirt bag and a lost cause and other names by drones and fuck wads, and I'll be posting my findings soon. That was my fundamental job and everything else was secondary. So maybe our fundamental job, as defined by Terkel as being a prostitute or an elevator jokey or receptionist or stewardess or saxophone player, is too limiting. Aren't we all engaged in a multitude of jobs, some unpaid and some paid? It's 4:15. I wrote for two hours and didn't make a dime. Goodnight.

* A film critic goes to press screenings of films so their review will coincide with the release of the movie. They don't summarize the movie but try to interpret the intended audience and message and put it all into some kind of social context so the review itself stands alone as an artistic essay. A good review is better than the movie itself.

**There are no menial jobs.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.