please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Friday, February 25, 2005

what a shocking bad steez!

One of my favorite books is "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds", by one Doctor Harvey Mackay. The publishing date was sometime late 1800's, and furthermore, I seem to have mislaid my copy. Or sold it. Whatever. Anyway, as the title suggests, it's a study and overview of all the stupid things the human race has entered into, over the course of years. I think he is wrong about some of them (there really are Freemasons), but his passage on the Crusades is remarkable, maybe only for the fact that I don't think anyone had viewed the Crusades as mass insanity, at least not in print, before. For all its acerbic eye toward everything that Ape Born Wrong does when in a crowd, it puts itself neatly alongside the best of Mencken, Vidal, Hitchens, Bertrand Russell...
So there's a great chapter in there about trends. Oh, my. He discourses at length about the popular catch phrases in London, circa the 1840's or so. One of them was, "What a shocking bad hat!" I'm not sure if one was supposed to be looking at a hatted person whilst saying this, or if it was okay to just randomly blurt it out, any old time. Yeah, silly, but y'know, it makes about as much sense as white kids now dressing up their everyday speech with hip-hop-isms, randomly throwing in something like 'crunk' or 'steez' just to beef up their cultural style points ( and along the way sounding like they have briefly been occupied by demons, or are receiving transmissions from another planet). Matter of fact, almost every time I have the shit taste to notice someone doing it out loud, they have no idea that they're pirating hip-hop-ese, usually if it has whiskers on it. (Por ejemplo: I was dining one evening at this local get-me-drunk place, and the cocktail server was one of the flirtiest people in Creation, and I knew that, being one of her regular custies. After she left, the lady I was sitting with said, "She's so sweatsuit."
"She's so sweatsuit?" I said. I was fascinated. I thought that I was on the ground floor of a brand new thing: we describe overly forth-coming ladies of the larger sort as 'sweatsuit'! Genius! How often do you get to see someone making up their very own slang, and not just repeating their fave bumper sticker?
"No, I said, 'She so sweats you'." The lady continued.
Ah. So the weird tall one who looks basically albino busts out hip-hop-isms from the '80's. I pointed out that it was so weird to hear that coming out of her, and she of course had no idea that originally that was the province of others. But-mind you-she was younger than me, and everything black eventually becomes white, culturally speaking.
I had a girlfriend once with whom I was discussing the faux-pas of indaequately grinding up one's rosemary sprigs before adding them to a dish. "To me, that's a texture violation," she said, and I liked her even more for having the gift of a turn of phrase. She also introduced the word 'insinuendo' to our language.
Thing is, I could talk about this shit all night. I had another girlfriend who was fond of cautioning me, "Don't incite riot," when letting me know that I was about to make an ass of myself. She also introduced the phrase, "Don't borrow trouble" to my life. She thought it was hers; its provenance is actually far, far older. It means, of course, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it,' or more aptly, don't start shit where there isn't an issue. I could go on and on about the amount of people borrowing trouble from me, of late. Not gonna. Wouldn't be prudent.
I think too, of all the cultural signifiers that get lost in the basic swirl of a news cycle. We mourned the death of one Ronald Wilson Reagan for about a week, and not once did anyone say that, over being merely a person, he neatly summed up the fact that Americans enjoy being lied to. We were supposed to celebrate his life, when I couldn't help but think of how all his lies (okay, the lies of his administration) set us down the awful, geno- and sui-cidal course we are now on. It was nice to see the old fuck go, finally. Say hi to Hitler and Pol Pot for me, buddy.
Workshop: go through this piece and find all of the catch-words, phrases and cultural memes inbedded in this piece. As of this writing, I am sick as a dog; racked by aches and pains, as baby bachelor knows. I feel contagious, though never stupid. Life here in the neighborhood is odd, and trying to sleep in the middle of the day vouchsafed me many fine little sound-bites from the street below my window. Gawd bless th' Central Eastside Industrial District.



Blogger Alder Park said...

Crusades is what done brung us round da bend richie. Fashion plates tango through all da rages so pick your poison bubba.

7:02 PM  
Blogger baby bulldog said...

IT'S BABY BULLDOG NOT BABY BACHELOR. but i'm not actually yelling. sorry.
i'm just going to say that after a day of shit and a shitty day, the only highlights were a bran muffin and your column. I can't wait to hear you discuss something that i can't actually name on this messageboard, so i guess i'll just have to keep waiting.

6:29 PM  
Blogger Alder Park said...

i found you here while doing my job, which is wandering and seeing.

11:03 PM  
Blogger Alder Park said...

you are the yellowed haired boy in short pants and alterboy collars. more dollars than common sense grown into a lonely man with too many introductions to recall. you wander too richie rich.

11:12 PM  

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