Monday, May 29, 2006

Country Lessons

Who ever said country songs have nothing important to say? Here's a goodie by Keith Urban: Days Go By


Oh and a yeah...

I'm changing lanes and talkin' on the phone
Drivin' way too fast.
And the interstate's jammed with gunners like me
Afraid of comin' in last.
But somewhere in the race we run,
We're coming undone...

And days go by...
I can feel 'em flyin'
Like a hand out the window in the wind.
The cars go by...
Yeah it's all we've been given,
So you better start livin' right now
'Cause days go by...
Oh and a woo-hoo...

Out on the roof just the other night
I watched the world flash by,
Headlights, taillights,
Running through a river of neon signs.
But somewhere in the rush I felt,
We're losing ourselves...

And days go by...
I can feel 'em flyin'
Like a hand out the window in the wind.
The cars go by...
Yeah it's all we've been given,
So you better start livin' right now,
And days go by...
Oh and a woo-hoo...
Yeah, the days go by...
Oh and a woo-hoo!

We think about tomorrow then it slips away.
Oh, yes, it does.
We talk about forever but we've only got today...

And the days go by...
I can feel 'em flyin'
Like a hand out the window as the cars go by...
Yeah it's all we've been given,
So you better start livin',
You better start livin',
Better start livin' right now!

'Cause days go by...
I can feel 'em flyin'
Like a hand out the window in the wind.
The cars go by...
Yeah it's all we've been given,
So you better start livin' right now...
'Cause days go by...
Oh and a woo-hoo...
Yeah, these days go by...
Oh and a woo-hooo!

So take 'em by the hand,
They're yours and mine.
Take 'em by the hand,
And live your life.
Take 'em by the hand,
Don't let 'em all fly by!

Come on, Come on now...
Come on now!
Oh and a woo-hooo!
Don't you know the days go by...

Obviously better in musical form (makes all the woo hoos and oh yeahs sound better), but still one of my favourite country tunes, primarily for the lyrics.

The Rebel Sell

I just finished another good book, The Rebel Sell: why the culture can't be jammed, by Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter. An intriguing counter point to and analysis of the proliferation of countercultural theories, including the 60's hippie movement and the current array of books such as No Logo and Culture Jam. I've read both No Logo and Culture Jam, and like most people, found them compelling and by the last pages was fairly well convinced of their words. The Rebel Sell, in breaking down the foundational ideas, psychology, economics, and theories underneath these countercultural theories, was difficult at first to read, only because it directly challenged so much of what I had previously gobbled up rather uncritically. Yet, for that very reason, I highly recommend this book to all of those who have been interested in countercultural theories that suggest that by not conforming to mass society that you can change society. For a taste of the book and the writing:
On consumerism and conformity:
"Whenever goods serve as a source of distinction, it means that at least part of their value stems from their exclusivity. Because not everyone has them, these goods identify the owners as members of a small club (those who are in the know) and distinguishes them from the masses (those who do not have a clue). Conformity and distinction thus go hand in hand - one conforms to the habits and standards of the exclusive club in order to distinguish oneself from the great unwashed. Critics of mass society, unfortunately, have focused on the wrong side of the equation. It is not the desire to conform that is driving the consumption process, but rather the quest for distinction. The value of a good comes from the sense of superiority associated with membership in the club, along with the recognition accorded by fellow members. Yet once the word gets out and more people begin to acquire the good, the distinction that it confers is slowly eroded. The quest for distinction is therefore collectively self-defeating - everyone strives to get what not everyone can have. Of course, the result of this competition is that consumers all wind up with roughly the same commodities at the end of the day. But this sort of conformity was never part of their intention. Consumers are like crabs stuck in a bucket, each one trying to escape but getting pulled back in by the others. It's not that the crabs want to stay in the bucket. It's just that as soon as any one crab makes any progress toward the rim, the others try to crawl over it, using its progress as a way of furthering their own escape. As a result, they all wind up back where they started."(pg.126)
"Countercultural rebellion - rejecting the norms of 'mainstream' society - came to serve as a source of considerable distinction. In a society that prizes individualism and despises conformity, being a 'rebel' becomes the new aspirational category. 'Dare to be different,' we are constantly told. In the 60's, becoming a beat or a hippie was a way of showing that you were not one of the squares or the suits. [...] It was a way of visibly demonstrating one's rejection of mainstream society, but it was also a tacit affirmation of one's own superiority. It was a way of telegraphing the message that 'I, unlike you, have not been fooled by the system. I am not a mindless cog.' The problem, of course, is that not everyone can be a rebel [...]. If everyone joins the counterculture, then the counterculture simply becomes the culture. Then the rebel has to invent a new counterculture, in order to establish distinction. [...] This is why rebels adopt and discard styles as quickly as fashionistas move through brands. In this way, countercultural rebellion has become one of the major forces driving competitive consumption." (pg 129)
And finally, after a discussion of the countercultural critique of mass education and health care and the way that countercultural rebels opt out of the mainstream systems (and thereby undermine public support for public services):
"Is it an accident that the United States, birthplace of the counterculture and epicenter of the alternative medicine movement, has the worse public health care system in the industrialized world? [...] The deeply ingrained suspicion of Western medicine divides and weakens the progressive left. If the school system is nothing but a factory for indoctrinating the young, then universal public education can hardly be a desirable policy objective. Similarly, if the hospital is simply a mechanism for the technological domination of the body, then who would want to see everyone locked into a universal public health care system? Again, countercultural thinking not only sows confusion, if positively impedes the ability of the left to institute desirable social reforms." (pg 285)

While I didn't fully agree with everything that Heath and Potter had to say, this book has definately got me rethinking and questioning a lot of things. Thank you Nicholas for giving me this book!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

It was the perfect way to spend a summer day. Top off the jeep for a lovely drive. At the end of a walk down the train tracks, a hot sunny beach full of like-minded people. And under the sun we bathed like lizards on a rock. Today our skin is rather on the red side, but it's so worth it.

Monday, May 08, 2006

time or change or something lilke that...i can't think of a title

Time boggles me. Many times recently i've been amazed at where i am. how did i get here? what i am doing? a year ago, i would have never guessed i would be where i am right now. so where will i be a year from now?
Saturday night i was walking home from a strange new job that came out of nowhere, ran me off my feet and left me walking through a rather dodgey neighbourhood at twelve thirty at night. No i have not entered the sex trade. I felt like i might as well have, at least i would have been paid better for working so hard.
That's not the story i wanted to tell.
As i was walking home, passing dubious alleys and cowering under a luckily found umbrella, i was thinking how i used to walk home tired and in the dark some years ago. It was only four years ago. It feels like forever ago. Concrete sidewalks have replaced muddy, root entangled paths. A crowded b-line careening down broadway, packed like a piece of meat for fourty minutes has replaced a twenty minute boatride, whether calm or rough, with only the loud and constant noise of the motor. A crusty back alley and a small patch of grass has replaced a mountain and ocean front view. It was already four years ago. It feels like yesterday.
The first eighteen years of my life where pretty constant. stable. familiar. The move seems to have started a whirlwind of change, like dominos maybe. And it only seems to be picking up the pace.
It's tiring sometimes. But it's not all bad. Definately some of the most wonderful things have come along in all this . I'm just saying that right now i'm tired.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Today sucks.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Utilitarian Updates:
School is finally over for the term and four months of summer lie ahead of me. It feels really good to let my brain relax. I still feel like I should be rushing about and maximizing every moment of my day, but I'm getting good at resisting that feeling.
I just finished a book that was really well written and really made me think and feel. Autobiography of a Tatoo. It is written by a former professor of mine and it was bizarre to read the intimate details of his life. I've started another book, one I've read before, The Things They Carried. It's a book you can read over and over again as it too is incredibly well-written. Ambiguities. Blurring the line between fact and fiction. I recommend it.
I'm not returning to the comforts of my old job. The feelings are complicated and deciding on any one or two adjectives feels like lying because their decisiveness and simplicity betray the reality. I still have to try. Excited. Scared. Angry. Sad. Nervous. Excited.
Change is a funny thing. Not Ha Ha funny, not usually anyway, not in the present anyways, sometimes. But change is funny in an interesting way, always. It's good when it's chosen and gradual. But then it isn't very exciting either. It's hard when it's unexpected and forced. But at least it's exciting and interesting. Change is interesting because I just realized how complicated it is when I tried to describe it and the different kinds and how I feel about them.