Mid-Year Rant n’ Review

The All-Star Game is upon us; it’s so hot that mowing the lawn means losing three pounds; froyo is almost better than sex. My TV is saying the northeast is having 100-degree temps today, and everyone should stay inside. Manhattan has to be dreadful, with all those air conditioners pumping heat out of the buildings and into the streets. Thermodynamics. They just are.

Time, therefore, for my first-ever Mid-Year Rant n’ Review. This, because it’s getting harder and harder to remember a whole year. It’s going too fast!

There’s too much competition in December for review pieces anyway.

Here’s where we are: the weather is crazy; the Gulf of Mexico is FUBAR; social networking is becoming necessary and therefore tiresome; and people are still wearing bad clothes.

First, #Snowpocalypse. Or #TheSituation2010. Pick your hashtag. It was the kind of snow that wouldn’t have merited much mention in Chicago, but in Nashville, it was a big deal. 8 inches! People stayed home and talked about living on hardened cheese and breadcrumbs, and lamented they were out of bourbon. We went outside and took snapshots, and posted to Twitpic a lot. It was funny, watching the race to establish the “official” Twitter hashtag, and even funnier watching TV news outlets getting leads and content from social networks, because they can’t afford reporters anymore. Channel 4 talking heads were quoting stuff I’d seen on my iPhone 30 minutes earlier.

Spring came early, and it was glorious. The ornamental cherry-trees went apeshit. They looked like those Photoshop-enhanced trickshots you see in vacation ads. Flowers opened like time-lapse nature footage, and folks started training like hell for the Music City Marathon.

Then, Nashville became flooded. It was bad. There was a video on YouTube of a building floating down the freeway. Thousands lost everything. It rained something like a half-year’s worth in 2 days. Nashvillians discovered that their community spirit is world-class and became justifiably proud of it. There was a little bit too much chest thumping for my taste, but most of it was from people who were really making a difference: folks bragged about sandbagging and drywall ripping and loading up truckloads of waterlogged crap. They were cool. A lasting image in my mind is of a bunch of 20-somethings on a pickup rolling down my street, jumping off and handing out cases of Deer Park, laughing. The Ryman was untouched, but the Opryland Hotel was trashed. This re-affirmed my faith that God likes Hank, Sr. better than insurance company conventions.

And while He loves us, He perhaps loves irony more: a bunch of us thought #NashvilleFlood2010 was glossed over by the media. There had just been a car bombing attempt in Times Square by some wannabe zealot who didn’t know what the hell he was doing. He tried to use gasoline, propane and fireworks to make a big explosion. It made some smoke and spluttered like a Rush Limbaugh wet fart instead. The same time, a British petroleum company didn’t know what the hell it was doing with petrochemicals either, and one of the many oil rigs in the Gulf Of Mexico named Deepwater Horizon did blow up, spectacularly. Then they discovered they couldn’t cap the leaking oil, about a mile underwater, where only fishies and machines – not humans – can even reach. If we were all in a Pixar film, the fishies would be getting together and saving the day. Sadly, they are swimming away fast, or dying.

As I write, the biggest manmade environmental fuckup in history is ruining the Gulf of Mexico. And BP discovered that the second word in “PR” is “relations”. Relationships are not controllable in the 21st century. It has tried to cover its ass as the oil covers birds and beaches, and BP looks, to put it lightly, clueless and disingenuous. Their PR people lied a lot, too. No one knows how it’s going to end. Anderson Cooper and James Carville are down there wringing their hands, but the attention of folks outside the Gulf coast is flagging, because it has gone on and on to the point it’s wallpaper. It’s not affecting any really wealthy white people yet, and we can all still drive to Target.

I think it’s going to get a lot worse, yet.

. . .

Social networking continues to be the biggest thing since the printing press, and twice as revolutionary. SXSW came and went, and seemed to confirm the predictions that 2010 would be “the year of location.” The Tennessean took a picture of me checking in on Foursquare at Panera Bread. The lady who interviewed me for the piece admitted she didn’t own a Blackberry or iPhone, but was charged with writing it anyway. She did a great job. (I’m biased, though. It was a nice photo.)

I liked her a lot more than the “social media experts” who have all appeared from nowhere, as numerous as fixie-riding hipsters in East Nashville. You can’t swing a kitteh or walk past the beer keg at the CentreSource mixer without tripping over some fresh-faced, so-called social media “maven”. Me, I think you aren’t an expert unless people are actually paying you for it and it has a budget, as opposed to being someone who posts links to cats-on-a-treadmill videos.

Facebook continues to be bigger than anything except Google, which, strangely enough, hasn’t cracked social in a meaningful way. Yet. Buzz was dead in 5 minutes. No one cares. Everyone and his grandmother is too busy being outraged every time Facebook tries to do something to make money. They complain that our privacy has been violated. Of course, there’s no such thing as privacy on any social network. What’s really going on is that we suspect Zuckerberg and other young devil-may-care types are getting rich by using information we posted on the internet. Aaron Sorkin is working on a movie about this. It should be fun.

. . .

On to style. There’s great news. There are signs that folks are actually getting less frumpy, looking less like they dressed from the dirty clothes pile, and that they care about their looks. I am seeing combed hair.

There are even a few brave souls who are getting it: simple, clean and crisp is the new hotness.

Then, there are the rest of you. Let’s review.

  • Ink is over, unless you get some. Then it’s forever. Please don’t. There is a fact about tattoos no one under 35 will say out loud: you will eventually regret those. Trust me.
  • Fixie bikes suck, unless you are a real cyclist in training. Get a gearshift, stupid; it’s hilly.
  • Oversized aviator sunglasses are really, really awful. There was fun in overstated eyewear for a while, but now we all look silly, like we’re wearing clown shoes.
  • Gladiator shoes and sandals that wrap around the ankle scream “photo of your Mom when she looked really, really dumb”. Look down. Yep, that’s you. But your Mom didn’t have Flikr abums. You do.
  • Gaudy neckwear isn’t for everyone. It probably isn’t for you. Get a solitaire. Even a Tiffany charm on a chain is better than that junkyard over your boobs, unless you are the kind of lady who really can pull off a vintage dress and a fascinator in your hair.
  • Designer jeans are super, super-silly. And $300 jeans from a “vintage denim boutique”? Really?
  • Eye makeup. Some of you are still overdoing it. Clean up. Also, the thing that makes your cheekbones stand out while the rest of your face looks emaciated? It is not pretty.
  • Men: plaid shirts with faux-pearl snaps are ugly. The rest of you who are straight are probably clueless, so stick to a t-shirt and jeans, or khaki shorts. No madras.

. . .

Lastly, at midpoint 2010, I have these opinions, which will make me look grumpy and unhip. Don’t care: Glee should not do covers of AC/DC songs, Lady Gaga is poo, and knowing how to write complete sentences is the new sexy.

It’s almost time for the new season of Mad Men. You are free to go.

5 Comments

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Leave a Reply

  1. I like the cats on a treadmill video…and my tattoo…and eye makeup. I guess that explains a few things. At least I don’t wear boob bobbles or madras. Brilliant. I’m now expecting a quarterly rant.

  2. Thank you, Kidd. It’s only 9am, and you’ve already made my day. Love the rant – looking forward to the next one.

    p.s. I wish all of the self-proclaimed social media mavens, experts, gurus, rockstars, ninjas, etc. would go away. There are 15,740 social media experts on Twitter (http://bit.ly/bHL6Wm) – that’s enough.

  3. You are completely right about fixie bikes, tattoos, social media “mavens” and ironic Facebook outrage. I hope you will let me know if I’m in the class of people who can’t pull off a statement necklace. I recently raided my mother-in-law’s jewelery chest, just in time for Mad Men. Cheers.

  4. Please don’t stop ranting in complete sentences. Some of us truly appreciate it. and, pardon me, but I believe I am responsible for more than one item in that rant. I am honored.

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