September 27, 2021

"Z-Gen Degen" (parody of Wheatus, "Teenage Dirtbag")

It took me awhile to think of how to adapt the early 2000s power-pop / pop-punk classic "Teenage Dirtbag" by Wheatus to today's youth culture. Original lyrics here.

At first the setting was IRL, like an alt-dude crushing on a normie girl who toils in his favorite thrift store. But Zoomers are so online that the whole "girl next door" from the pretty, popular crowd would have to be more of a social media star in the normie genres of lifestyle / fitness / vlogging, and the guy would belong to an online sub-culture.

Despite their mostly online existence, they still feel the same kind of pining and crushing that earlier generations of teenagers did. They just express it in a more online kind of way. But as far as I know, there isn't an anthem with the same punch as earlier power-pop classics, set in the online world. So here it is. I'm pretty sure most of them know the tune, as it has found decent revival success on TikTok.

There's no single inspiration for the girl here, more of a composite of various social media types. The Zoomer guy singing is not me, but what I'd imagine my teenage self to be like if youth culture of the late '90s had been entirely online, as it is now.

Pronunciation guide: "limited" as "LIM-i-DID" to match the stress pattern of the original. "Followers" is contracted to "FALL-wers". "AVE-ree-EL" has just 3 syllables, combining popular Zoomer names "Avery" and ones ending in "-elle" or "-ella", plus a hat tip to Avril (also, a match made between a ballet girl and an alt-dude).

* * *

Her name's Averielle
I watch her stream for hours
Click on that bell
My feed's not complete without her
Ballet TikToks
And day in my life vlogs
But she doesn't know my @
And she'll never pause her chat
To shout me out

'Cause I'm just a Z-Gen degen, baby
Yeah I'm just a Z-Gen degen, baby
Jam out to "Black Parade" on Rock Band with me

Her mods are too quick
Enforcing their petty rules
I just said "she thicc"
My fanart is rarely lewd
Account insta-blocked
And privileges locked
But they don't know I'm her stan
And they won't remove the ban
Upon me

'Cause I'm just a Z-Gen degen, baby
Yeah I'm just a Z-Gen degen, baby
Jam out to "Black Parade" on Rock Band with me

Let's go, degen
Oh, be my limited edition
Let's go, degen
Oh, be my limited edition

I'm still not paroled
Just watching her million followers'
Special unfold
When she shares my portrait of her
I double-take
"Guys, feast on that cake!!!"
How did she know my @?
And why is she pausing her chat
To shout me out?

There's karaoke for "Black Parade" a bit later
Sing a duet with me, don't be fraidy
I'm just a Z-Gen degen baby, like you

Let's go, degen
Oh, be my limited edition
Let's go, degen
Oh, be my limited edition

September 25, 2021

Gabby Petito: Missing "Missing White Woman Syndrome" Syndrome, in woke era

Partisan polarization from the left half of society over the past 10 years, particularly from the media, entertainment, and academia sectors, has made it impossible for there to be unifying figures in popular awareness.

In the benign category, there have been no more It Girls after Jennifer Lawrence's heyday of the early 2010s. As wokeness accelerated after that point, the culture-making sectors went on an Ayn Randian "strike of the creative class" by refusing to produce another such non-partisan, non-politicized girl for all types of people to admire. There will never be another such unifying positive figure for the rest of our crumbling empire's history.

As a corollary, I doubt the cultural sectors will produce another Manic Pixie Dream Girl for the current restless warm-up phase of the 15-year excitement cycle, even though we are due for one, akin to the late 2000s. But that was before the polarization really set in. Imagine them trying to produce another All-American earthly guardian angel in the mold of Julia Roberts or Anne Hathaway...

Then there is the morbid side of popular figures, such as those who go missing, get kidnapped, or even murdered. Feeling for their plight can unify the audience, who may react as though they were all neighbors of a closely knit community, and are grieving for someone near and dear to them. It's a media creation, of course, but it does serve the same purpose of cultural unification behind a focal figure.

The recent disappearance and murder of Gabby Petito, a popular YouTuber who had been documenting her travels around national parks with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie (the suspected murderer), shows how fragmented the nation has become since the last period of quasi-unity, during the 2000s.

Back then, it seemed like every few months there was a high-profile case of a girl or woman who had gone missing, with foul play suspected, causing a broad spectrum of Americans to bond over their concern for those particular individuals — and by extension, all the ones you don't hear about in the media. Elizabeth Smart, Natalee Holloway, Laci Peterson, Madeleine McCann, the daughter of Casey Anthony, and so on and so forth.

But as polarization took off during the 2010s, this form of media coverage — and the social psychological phenomenon of unified bonding over their plight — became derided by the culture-makers as "Missing White Woman Syndrome". Suddenly the media had to stop covering such incidents, and the mass of Americans were supposed to stop caring about them and bonding over them. The point was to prevent unification, and accelerate atomization.

It was the proto-woke bloggers who planted the seeds of callous atomization during the 2000s, contemporaneous with the media coverage and social bonding. E.g., Jezebel began their sustained whining about these topics from the mid-2000s onward. But even a slightly more mainstream blog like Slate or Salon only began demanding atomization on this matter in the 2010s. Ditto for more mainstream outlets like the NYT, who put out one item in 2005, but who discussed it primarily during the 2010s.

Seriously, name any such high-profile case from the entire past decade. I tried to, and they all came from the late 2000s. Entries in a list on some specialist webpage do not count, only examples famous enough to have left an imprint on popular awareness.

Gabby Petito will fit this pattern as well — no national unification over discussing the case, its angles, its relevance for the future, or anything like that. Most coverage will be at the meta level, i.e. why you should feel ashamed for trying to talk to others about the case, and the media ought to drop it ASAP. And if you absolutely must take part in a conversation about it, make sure that it's confined to a partisan-approved sub-culture, not across a broad spectrum of the population.

I used to write extensively about the aspects of a rising-crime vs. falling-crime society, from 2009 to 2012, and there was rarely a partisan angle to it — from my side or the readers. There were plenty of liberals and progs who were into that material, especially since I was non-partisan and went to great lengths to debunk the dumbass conservative ideas about what causes crime rates to rise or fall as they did during the last wave.

I stopped making it my focus because I had exhausted most of my ideas, not because I felt pressured to not cover a suddenly verboten topic. But if I had kept at it, I would have surely lost a fair amount of liberal interest, since in the 2010s the only discourse about crime is why crimes against white victims don't matter, and only police brutality against black people matters.

You can't even talk about Jeffrey Dahmer anymore, even though many of that serial killer's victims were black, because he was not a cop and therefore his story DOES NOT COMPUTE in the era of abolishing the police. Also, he was gay, and you can't mention that gays are highly over-represented among serial killers. Homosexuals being "just like us" was one of the most heavily promoted propaganda campaigns of the decade of wokeness.

What did the libtards in the culture industry do, for their part? Their initial complaints were framed as though they were going to start covering non-white victims even more, whether in the interest of journalistic accuracy, or trying to get a majority-white country to bond over concern for non-white victims. But they never bothered trying with that — it was just a blatant rationalization for dismissing coverage of the white victims.

So not only were there no unifying white missing persons victims during the 2010s — the culture-makers refused to cover and promote a single non-white missing persons figure instead. The goal was to prevent unification regardless of who the focal figure was, and to accelerate atomization.

CNN et al. are currently whining about the lack of coverage of non-white victims, even though they control the narrative machine and could start covering black missing girls any time they wanted. Their Ayn Randian strike of refusing to provide nationally unifying coverage has only intensified and solidified over the past decade. They will only cover black victims if it can split the nation apart, as with calls to defund the police in the wake of over-blown footage of police brutality. Even then, they refuse to cover white victims of police brutality, which would serve to unify the nation against excessive force by cops.

How can we tell this relates to partisan polarization, and not merely to a call to end coverage of crime entirely? Well, in case you were asleep during the late 2010s, there was non-stop coverage of crimes and harassment, real or alleged, against white female victims — the Me Too panic.

Why did the media, entertainment, and academia sectors not dismiss Me Too as "Molested White Woman Syndrome"? The round-the-clock coverage, the social bonding among the audience, all of it perfectly mirroring the Missing White Woman Syndrome of the 2000s. Because the victims of the 2000s were All-American or conservative-coded (from Utah, Mississippi, North Dakota; devoted wife / mother; coverage by Deep Southerner Nancy Grace), regardless of whether they were personally conservative, moderate, or liberal. Whereas the victims paraded by Me Too were liberal-coded (from the bicoastal bubble, working in media, entertainment, academia).

Thus, the creatives' Ayn Randian strike was a form of war against their rivals. Eliminate conservative-coded women from being objects of concern and unification, promote only liberal women as such focal figures. As with Ayn Rand, this was not rugged individualism, but a coordinated collectivism anchored within a certain sector of society (the aspiring elites of the culture-making industry). Collective power for Team Us, atomization for the rest of you scum.

Unlike the victims of the 2000s, however, the liberal victims of the 2010s were not very sympathetic. First, they were mostly stories of submitting to the casting couch process, and only a few having been actually raped. And secondly, liberals in the 2010s made it clear they were opposed to being All-American and wanted to blow up the nation. So the movement only unified the liberal half of society, contrary to the national unity produced by the vaguely conservative victims of the 2000s.

The typical Mormon girl of the Bush years did not run around screaming for the blue states to be literally nuked, for the breadbasket states to cut off the blue coastal states from the nation's food supply, or any of the rest of the nakedly eliminationist rhetoric (and occasional action) coming from the libtards during the 2010s and today.

Unify the nation's culture with This One Weird Trick...

To wrap things up, where does Gabby Petito fall within this partisan polarization? Lazy observers may see her Italian surname, and her Long Island, NY home, and conclude that she hails from a progressive Democrat stronghold. But in fact, she's from Suffolk County — the one furthest away from New York City, and which voted for Trump in both 2016 and 2020, despite voting Democrat fairly reliably before then.

And my pioneering article on the ethnic composition of the anti-woke left makes it clear that Italian-Americans are very much not flaming libtards. Wokeness is about incorporating newly conquered tribes into the imperial elite, and Ellis Islanders are old news in that regard. Only the Ashkenazi Jews managed to climb up into the elite ranks alongside the WASPs. All the others have been left to fend for themselves, as newer immigrant groups have become the elites' target for expanding their sphere of influence by giving them a seat at the elite table.

By now, I think even the lazy morons in the media have intuited that Italian-Americans are more like Staten Island and the Jersey Shore, regardless of where else they may live. So they likely understand that Gabby Petito is Deplorable-coded, probably has a Trump-supporter uncle, bla bla bla, and therefore all the more reason to memory-hole her story, lest the nation unify around an unclean soul.

September 22, 2021

Australia vs. US: cohesion produces authoritarianism above and mass action below

By far the most authoritarian COVID clampdown is taking place in Australia, whereas in the US almost no such extreme measures are taking place. Not because the American elites would not like to see them happen — but wishing won't make it so. They require national unity at the elite stratum in order to thoroughly lock down the commoners using martial law, and coerce so many of their citizens into getting experimental meds for what is only a bad cold.

Unfortunately for the US elites — but fortunately for its citizens — their cohesion has never been weaker, their politics have never been more polarized along partisan lines, and the society they're nominally in charge of has never been so fragmented. A weak and weakening state cannot enforce its dictates on anyone who isn't already on board with them (libtards, in the case of the COVID hysteria).

This is a drastic reversal from even 20 years ago, when the 9/11 spectacle gave the fairly united elites all the rationale to carry out the PATRIOT Act, launch the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, inaugurate a whole new federal agency (TSA), and with that a slew of broadly unpopular policies (taking off your shoes, etc. at the airport). None of them have gone away domestically — only their defeat by foreigners in Iraq and Afghanistan have ended those aspects of the post-9/11 era.

A strong state leaves a strong, enduring legacy. Just like how Social Security and Medicare, from the highly united and non-partisan New Deal era, are still in place decades later, despite recurring attempts to privatize them.

I covered this topic in earlier posts here and here about the weakness of the US state to implement the COVID dystopia that our elites are dreaming of. In reality, any citizen — whether me, or anyone else — can openly defy all of these policies and face minimal pushback. Walk into a building without a mask on, withhold your labor until the vaxx mandates go away, or whatever else.

It is not organized, and it is not a collective effort. It's simply millions of isolated individuals all doing the same non-compliance and getting away with it because the state and even the private-sector elites are too weak and fragmented to enforce the dystopia.

The elites know this because in the national mandate for federal employees and contractors to get vaxxed, they explicitly exempted the one group that would have defied the mandate — the working-class and minority-heavy Post Office system. All other federal teat-suckers are professional-class libtards who are already fully vaxxed and will eagerly beg for further boosters. When faced with the slightest potential pushback, the federal government refused to issue a threat, because they knew their bluff would get called, and they would have lost face and proven their own weakness.

Ditto for the mandate covering private employers with over 100 employees — that will exempt the most resistant employers, and the most resistant employees, who own or work in a small business (e.g., a restaurant, a landscaping crew, a boat dealership). The Biden admin knew not to pick a fight with the most Republican slice of the economy, lest their bluff get called and prove their impotence.

In contrast to anarchy in the USA — at both the top and bottom levels — the situation in Australia shows far greater unity of purpose and action, also at the top and bottom levels. Their elites are less polarized, less antagonistic toward each other, and are not overseeing a societal disintegration that has no end in sight. So their politicians are fully united in issuing decrees, and their policemen are more united in imposing martial law, neither of which will happen in the crumbling US.

That is as true for their common people, who are pouring into the streets to beat back the elite lockdowns, regardless of whether they tend to vote for the right or left, whether they're white or not, male or female, or any other tribal divisions.

Crucially the working class is taking action, and not those who are poorly-paid professionals like schoolteachers and nurses, who wield little leverage at the societal level, but truckers and construction workers who can literally prevent food from showing up on supermarket shelves. This action is all coordinated and delivered with a collective wallop, whether or not their union gives its official approval. You don't necessarily need a union to coordinate your efforts, if you already have enough cohesion amongst yourselves.

So while it looks more disturbing to see their elites united behind such a pointless and punitive set of policies, there is by the same token all the more hope that everyone else can band together and exert enough collective strength on critical pressure points of the system, to force the elites into backing down from their draconian measures.

Australia is not so different from America during the '90s, when the politicians of both parties were fairly united in de-industrializing the economy, and commoners of both the left and right were united in opposing NAFTA, the WTO, and the like.

But the US is at the core of the American Empire, and has gone on to imperial over-reach the worst, which erodes internal cohesion (from external failures, and domestic bankrupting of the treasury). Australia is still a part of the Anglosphere and a member of Five Eyes, but they are on the periphery, so they don't experience American trends as intensely or as early. Thus their society has not disintegrated as much as ours has over the past 20 years, they retain far more of their cohesion, and that makes both their elites and commoners more collective in their actions.

These distinctions must be kept in mind when trying to make sense of what's going on in different countries. Just because martial law is going on in Australia does not mean it will materialize here — no way, in fact. Equally, American commoners will never unite to protest in the streets or bring supply chains to a standstill like the Australian working class has been doing.

Incidentally, why did Scandinavia escape the COVID craziness first and most successfully? Not only are they cohesive and united, but they're not a core member of the Anglosphere, NATO, the EU, etc. They are not opposed to the American sphere of influence, but they're not vassal states either.

If it's purely culture-war stuff like gay pride parades, they can adopt those at little cost to their material standard-of-living. But taking in zillions of refugees? That crosses the line of pure culture war, and impacts their economy and polity, so they are pulling back from their open-borders stance of 5-10 years ago (most notably in Denmark since the 2019 realignment of the Social Democrats party). Mask mandates, vaxx mandates, scapegoating half of their society for a pandemic, etc., also crosses the line of pure culture war, and would have brought their society to a standstill. So they have abandoned the COVID hysteria and are moving on with life.

"Scandinavia just can't keep getting away with this!" Ah, but they can, since they have never been part of an empire, and retain a normal level of trust and cohesion. Not the super-cohesive levels to enable them to take over the world and become global culture-makers — but also not subject to the hangover effect when that super-cohesion has run out of juice, and everyone starts to turn against each other.

September 18, 2021

Nicki Minaj anti-mandate tribute (to "Starships")

COVID clampdown critic queen, Nicki Minaj, has been on a tear lately. As tribute to a pop culture mega-star who actually deserves praise for being "stunning and brave," I've adapted the lyrics to her party anthem "Starships" (2012). Just the first half of the song, since I'm in a rush to get it out while still topical.

I've always been a huge fan of this song, having danced to it every weekend in the clubs back when it came out. I didn't know it was by her until recently, as happens with many club bangers that I didn't look up outside of the club.

That must be why the critics were only half-pleased with the album it's from, as it emphasizes dance songs and not just rapping. Music critics are verbal cerebral nerds who are tone-deaf and have two left feet, so they ignore melody and rhythm and focus only on lyrics -- which rapping entirely consists of, to their relief. Anything that reminds them of how intimately connected music and dance are with each other, just makes them stew in resentment. Also, dance music is so carefree and uplifting, and that frustrates the minds of the neurotics and depressives who make up the critic cartel.

They can never join in the reindeer games with the cool crowd, and have to sulk in the corner table of the cafeteria just like they did back in high school. Sad!

Pronunciation guide: a little poetic license in shifting the stress to the second syllable in "mandates" (man-DATES).

* * *

Got freedom of speech, preach, so fuck the mandates
Blame game, we ain't gonna play
Don't blink, on the brink, and hold onto your rights
Bad bitches, don't be Big Pharma-compliant

Drones groan while huddled in their homes
I'm a grown ass hoe, so leave my bod alone
Booster two, three? Not even the tip
COVID's a cold, and I don't give two shits

We're more informed, informed
Than the bluecheck ants
We know the score, score
About their pointless plans
So get in form, form
To fight the Man
We'll settle scores, scores
If they tie our hands

Our lips were meant to smile
Masks off, and free your mind
Vax laws must be defied
Step up and hold the line

Our lips were meant to smile
Masks off, and free your mind
Step up and hold the line
Vax laws?

Defiant as a mothafucka
Defiant as a mothafucka
Defiant as a mothafucka

September 17, 2021

Today's dance report

I started off with a bit of pogo-ing to Dookie by Green Day, but it was not enough to give me that electric ape energy that I truly craved at the time. So I changed the disc in the player to ESPN's Slam Jams. Oh hell yea. "One Step Beyond," "Dancing With Myself," and "Private Idaho" all got me bouncing and jumping around like a jungle shaman possessed by the gorilla god.

As my skin became saturated with simian sweat, I got down to just my underwear, raw ape style. Much greater freedom of movement, as well. Now that the tropical rainforest season is over, I need to find new ways to burn off water weight, other than long walks outside.

Followed it all with a quick, cool shower at night, something I normally do not find the need to do. I no longer smell like a dang paperback book cover.

And oh how sweet that truly is, my friends. All for now.

(With props to the coffee reports from the OG groyper)

September 15, 2021

Manic Pixie Dream Girl spotting in the wild (since a dying culture can no longer produce fictional examples)

Shifting gears from the wild-child cohort of 2005-'09 (restless phase), and the sad-girl cohort of 2000-'04 (vulnerable phase), yesterday I was compelled to reflect once again on the free-spirit cohort of 1995-'99 (manic phase), who I covered off-and-on last year during the series on Manic Pixie Dream Girls (who are born during a manic phase, such as the late '90s).

I'd been checking in on pop culture for fictional examples, but cultural production more or less ground to a halt in 2020 and will never resume, as we sink further into national and imperial decline and outright disintegration. So there are very few memorable examples of any kind of character type these days.

The closest I managed to find was girl-gamer Pokimane from Twitch, who I highlighted in a post on Manic Pixie Stream Girls, since so much of current pop culture is being directed toward the live-streaming format (and relying heavily on video games), rather than movies, TV, and the like. I did tune in to her streams during the height of the Among Us craze last year, and thought she met most of the criteria personality-wise, except that she doesn't play a role in relation to some guy who needs coaxing out of his shell, for whom she acts as an earthly nursing guardian angel.

Even when streamers interact with their chat, respond to Q&A, or have guests on their channel, there is no medium-term follow-up where a relationship of any kind develops. At best, they might play group games with a recurring cast of characters, but as in the rest of the entertainment industry these days, 99% of the guys are gay (whether closeted or out). And neither the guys nor girls are professional actors, so their bearding fauxmances are not convincing or entertaining at all.

With no fictional narrative arc, and no organic social relations between straight guys and girls, there is no way for any kind of guy-girl roles to emerge (other than fag-hag and gay bff, if he's out). The entertainers are static, atomized personas or personalities, not characters playing certain roles in relation to others, and changing due to those interactions. At most, their persona gets a re-branding, which is not caused by their relations with others.

Perhaps the newer VTuber format -- where girls stream behind a CGI anime avatar -- will allow for greater fictional narrative arcs and relationships among the characters, but I haven't watched any of that. None of the characters are male, though, so their MPDG role would have to be a bi-curious one, and I don't think they're up for that. (They may be the "I find hot girls hot, too" type of bi-girl, but not one who would get into a relationship with another girl.)

* * *

Update: I set this post aside for a day in order to dip my toe into the VTuber waters, and of the very popular ones, the one with the most MPDG personality is Gawr Gura (the most popular of the entire format, like the Pokimane of VTubers). She's not a sad-girl, not an in-your-face off-the-wall chaos agent, but friendly, caring, and girlishly scatterbrained.

Although she does not interact with a sad sack male character specifically, she pushes her audience (many of whom must be guys who are stuck in a rut) to pick themselves up after failing, have confidence, and do the best they can. A little vulgar humor, to remind them that she's an earthly guardian angel, not a pure pristine one, but nowhere near the pandering-to-coomers level of other popular personas.

Her voice actress was born in the late '90s, confirming my hunch. Also supporting my physical profile of the MPDG type, she's a corporeal rather than cerebral person (good at rhythm games and singing, bad at arithmetic), and a butt girl (her flat chest being a running in-joke).

However, as with real-life streamers, her persona goes through its existence disconnected from others, rather than play a particular role within a social ecosystem of characters. She may belong to a talent roster of VTubers (signed with Hololive English) who occasionally interact with each other, but not often, and not in a narrative fashion. They mainly stream alone and have their own distinct chat / fandom who they interact with.

They wouldn't even have to write the role within a fictional narrative. They could simply throw a bunch of strangers into the same interactive space for awhile, a la MTV's the Real World, and let the relationships develop. One of those roles to emerge just might be a MPDG. But as societal trust plummets off a cliff, people seem unwilling to enter into that kind of environment. When you don't trust anyone else, keep to yourself.

It occurs to me that the "social ecosystem" genre of reality TV -- the Real World, the Surreal Life, Survivor, etc. -- was another victim of the post-2008 destruction of the economy for good, and with it, any trust in institutions, collectives, or collaborative endeavors with strangers. It belonged to the '90s and 2000s, waned during the 2010s, and does not exist anymore. During reality TV's final decade, it shifted entirely to a "desperate aspiring elite" genre for the permanent economic depression -- Shark Tank, American Idol, Chopped, Bar Rescue, etc.

Even the contest-driven reality shows of the 2000s -- the Apprentice, Project Runway, Top Chef, etc. -- focused just as much on the characters and their interactions outside of the contest itself. And the characters were recurring, so that relationships and roles could emerge over the season -- not a whole new bunch with every episode. The 2010s genre was more like a standard game show, a yuppie reboot of The Gong Show, where you didn't feel anything when the contestants were eliminated because you had not invested more than a half-hour in them by the time they were sent home.

* * *

If there are no more major examples forthcoming from the culture industry, you can still spot examples out in the wild, even if it's only a vignette rather than a full narrative.

The other day at the thrift store there was an alt-girl who I assumed was, like the others, a sad-girl of college age. Rich wavy pink hair of bi- bob length, strapless mini-dress in black with a large purple floral pattern (very '90s revival -- only needed some oversized teal brushstrokes), and combat boots (probably Docs). A couple small tattoos on her olive skin. Only off-putting element was the surgical mask. From afar, nothing out of the ordinary for the "I'm outside the ordinary" set.

And yet she did not have the standard alt-girl shape, or the scene girls before them, who were all skinny and large-breasted. She was voluptuous and hourglass-shaped, more of a butt girl. Curious.

Then I heard her talking on her phone, which she was carrying on for the better part of a half-hour. Hardly anyone uses their phone for talking anymore, and it's just a nerdy handheld computer for online opium on-the-go. The rare times that someone is talking, it's a quick business-like exchange -- "Hey babe, do we need more paper towels yet? I'm in the grocery store now..." Conversing out loud with your friends about whatever-at-all is not part of online, and not part of the daily public sphere.

She definitely did not have a sad-girl voice, but warm, bubbly, reassuring, engaging / probing, and youthful without being an affected "i'm baby" pitch. She was following me around most of the time, and few others were there, so it was easy to hear, aside from her speaking a bit louder than normal just to make sure I heard her.

She was mainly playing therapist to her girl friend, while occasionally sharing her own situation in return. More of an informal, back-and-forth, give-and-take, mutual therapy (though she was more naturally made for that role, and her friend was going through a bit more of a rut). It reminded me of how my teenage girl peers used to chat on the phone at length back in the late '90s, or from '80s movies and TV. She felt like a visitor from another planet.

At one point I overheard something about, "Well you know how many kids I'm responsible for..." So she must be a primary school teacher, babysitter, daycare worker, or some other substitute mother. Nursing and maternal, not only toward her peers and friends, but children as well.

When she got to the checkout line, a suburban normie mom in front of her turned around and inquired about her hair dye, because her own daughter had tried dying it pink but it washed right out. The alt-girl naturally adopted a caring, helpful tone and suggested the brand she'd used (Iroiro), as though she were tending to her own child's needs. So empathetic. Not like the annoying and tiresome brand of whip-smart, "I'm the cool / gay aunt" types who would've made a big status-striving display of it.

She was Tumblr's most wholesome ambassador to the normies -- not a Trojan Horse, a la trad-clad Democrat Party functionaries, but someone who looked like she'd just stepped through the screen of an alt TikTok addicted teen.

While she was following me around, she was not nervous like the sad-girls usually are, or eager and homing in like a missile as the wild-child types do. She was just carefree, moving closer, seeing if I ran away, and when I didn't, just settling in close by. Sometimes almost within my personal space, when I was browsing the DVDs and CDs, while she was browsing the books right behind me in a narrow aisle. Not a nervous wreck, not a vampy man-eater. Just being at home with physical closeness, touchy-feely, lovey-dovey.

And she didn't scurry away from my cologne either, like nervous or non-corporeal people might have while standing nearly back-to-back for 5-10 minutes. That day it was 5 sprays of Hugo Boss, Number One, which has a prominent semi-pissy honey note that could unsettle the wimpy. I didn't smell anything on her, but she could be into unusual perfumes herself. At the least, she was totally cool with earthy, funky scents that you don't smell on people anymore.

But what about the most crucial aspect of her background, to check if she could be a certified MPDG -- when was she born? Well, fortunately she steered her conversation toward her age. First she asked her friend how old her boyfriend was, and then said that her own boyfriend was a year or so older than she was, and that he was about 24 or 25. In other words, letting me know she's 23 or 24 -- which places her birth smack dab in the middle of a manic phase (late '90s). Bullseye! I just knew it.

Does letting me know she has a boyfriend disqualify her from the wholesome, charming role of the MPDG? Hardly -- Julia Roberts plays a literal streetwalker in Pretty Woman, and SanDeE* from L.A. Story not only lets the sad-sack male protag know that she's already seeing someone, but shows him the apartment that they both live in, and even points him out when he's hanging out inside the same restaurant as them during their dinner date!

It's not that the MPDG is looking to cuckold her existing boyfriend, or turn them all into some gross polycule, or even neg the protagonist through jealousy into fighting all the harder for her love. She's just a free spirit, wending her way from one of life's many adventures to the next, and making company with whatever interesting characters she happens to meet along the way. If she has two lovers at once, it's purely coincidental, and she will wind up with whoever she winds up with by the end of the narrative (typically, not with the protag).

You can tell when a girl's keeping you at arm's length with the "I have a bf" claim. It's usually curt, with a fake apologetic tone, eager to get you away ASAP. She was just casually mentioning him while getting closer and lingering longer near me. More of a head's-up courtesy so I knew what I'd be getting myself into, if I accepted her invitation.

But not being a sad-sack in need of an earthly guardian angel to lift me up out of my rut, I didn't send her any overt signals in return. Did what I was going to do there already, just not withdrawing when she got close. It felt more like hanging out with one of the cool alternative girls from high school, only as young adults starting to figure out grown-up life together, comparing notes. I never had that experience, since I hardly ever saw my high school peers after graduating.

So, while you may not be able to enjoy examples of the MPDG from a moribund pop culture industry anymore, you can still cross literal paths with them IRL. This is the time -- the restless phase of the excitement cycle -- and there are millions of free-spirited girls born in the late '90s out there somewhere. The only problem is that Zoomers are so online that they might not venture outside the home often, so you'll have to focus on places where they're bound to visit when they do go out, like thrift stores, coffee shops, used media stores, and other browsing and hanging-out places.

September 13, 2021

New gen of wild-child types, born during 2005-'09 restless phase of excitement cycle

I'd been expecting this development, but held off until I got some real-world confirmation. The restless warm-up phase of the 15-year excitement cycle sees everyone coming out of their vulnerable-phase cocoons, now that the refractory state has worn off, and it's time to start interacting with other people again.

But some cohorts will show this cocoon-leaving behavior more extremely than others. Namely, those who imprinted on just such a phase in the cycle when they were born, during the last restless phase. During the 2020-'24 restless phase, these people were born during the 2005-'09 restless phase. They are now undergoing their second birth — adolescence, at age 15 — during this phase, so they will imprint all the more solidly on the zeitgeist of a restless phase.

One of the defining features of this phase is linked to leaving the cocoon — the urge to cross the line, push the envelope, overstep boundaries, and disregard taboos. "Just get out of the cocoon already and run free! Don't let others confine you to your tiny little personal niche, get out there and mix it up within other people's personal space!" This is the animating force of the wild-child cohort that is born, and turns 15, during a restless phase.

Perhaps the main domain where this leaving of the cocoon takes place is dating and mating. Can't do any of that when you're both in a touch-me-not refractory state cocoon during the vulnerable phase. But the restless phase is like spring when the social environment comes back to life, and begins the mating season.

What kind of rules are the wild-child cohort going to bend, and even transgress? Not so much the types of physical acts considered normal vs. edgy, since that's way too far down the line, assuming they've already found someone to latch onto. Rather, it's the category of person they're allowed to pursue in the first place. Some taboos are still inviolable, even when adolescents become transgressive, so incest for example is still out of the question.

Really the only strongly felt taboo about who you can and cannot date, hook up with, marry, or have kids with, relates to an age gap. And related to that, to a power differential — student / teacher, worker / manager, and so on. Both liberals and conservatives admonish age gap relationships, both popular mass culture and IRL word-of-mouth from adults, both friends and rivals.

And yet, it won't be the end of the world if you pursue someone forbidden by this taboo, as opposed to a serious one like incest. So if they do feel the urge to transgress, this is the natural outlet — edgy and risky, but innocuous compared to other thrill-seeking relationships.

* * *

I have never been so full-frontally assaulted by horny teenagers as I was during the 2005-'09 restless phase, mainly while working as a tutor, by my students. (No, I did not fuck my students.)

Even back then, I noticed a stark difference among them, which has only gotten more vivid in retrospect with 15 more years of experience. The ones born in the second half of the '80s — who imprinted on a vulnerable phase — were more bashful, and in making their feelings known, were more like feeling safe to finally open up to someone. They were the sad-girl type, and were relieved to finally be in a social climate where they could leave their cocoon and attach themselves to a crush.

And then there were those born in the first half of the '90s — they just did not GAF about norms, discretion, decorum, or any of that stuff. They were always up-front and provocative, enjoying not just the pursuit but the provocation itself. "How far can I cross the border before getting admonished?" And even then, they would just try to cross further in the future. "So I got caught once — doesn't mean I should just stop trying to overstep that pointless line."

The first line for them to cross was in speech — talking bluntly about sexual matters, right to my face. A little further than that, they'd do some slightly provocative act while also calling attention to it in speech. Slowly strutting in long strides in front of me while wearing booty shorts, to catch my attention, then smiling and saying "Hiiiii Agnostiiiiiic......" Or turning around, sticking their butt out, and smacking each cheek in sequence while they called out the two-word phrase written on one of my tattoos.

They were ruthless!

If they got really attached, they would actually drop their provocations, and sincerely and tenderly ask me point-blank how old I am. And when I said "25" (when she was 15), she responded with, "Oh... well... I think age is just a number, y'know? Like, if two people really love each other, it shouldn't matter how old they are..." I just nodded along noncommittally, like "Maybe, maybe not, but let's move on to something else." Not endorsing in order to start a relationship, but also not shooting her down in humiliation. Just trying to move past it, and reacting as though she were raising a purely hypothetical question for me to ponder in the abstract, so I didn't have to check either of the "yes" or "no" boxes on a slip of paper that asked if I liked her.

Then later in danceclubs, just forget about it. They were way more wild, bold, and provocative, not just as teenagers but well into their early 20s. Far more direct and uninhibited, like goosing me when I wasn't looking, or surrounding me inside their entire group of friends. That simply did not happen earlier on, with the late '80s births. Those were early '90s girls all the way.

Just standing in line at the club, I overheard them speaking so frankly about sex. Once I chimed in to ask their female opinion - who do you think fakes orgasms more, guys or girls? Without hesitation or a hint of irony — "GUYS," they unanimously declared. I never knew whether they were just joking with me while playing it straight-faced, but in light of all those articles about how Millennial guys can't get it up IRL due to their porn addictions and/or substance use beforehand, maybe those girls were telling the truth, but meant guys faked it in order to end their awkward attempt at non-erect sex.

If, like me, you don't belong to either of those cohorts (whether you're younger or older than them), you may still have an easy frame of reference if you listen to the Red Scare podcast. Dasha is a canonical early '90s wild child, whereas late '80s-born Anna describes herself as a stick-in-the-mud. In the years I've been listening, Dasha certainly comes off as the more boundary-crossing one. Both have said they've been with older guys as teenagers, but I'll bet Dasha got more of a rule-bending rush from the act of provocation itself in pursuing an older guy.

* * *

So where do things stand today? I haven't experienced that kind of direct, blatant talking about sex since the late 2000s and somewhat into the early 2010s. Am I simply losing my appeal as a target? Nope. It was merely due to the restless phase having passed, until the early 2020s.

Then last Friday, while walking toward the entrance of a suburban supermarket, a trio of teens swooped in from another direction and headed right toward me, the only other person around. All cute, all 5'9 or 5'10, all wearing the current fashion of high-waisted loose shorts and a crop top. And all around 15-16 (no college students in that area, only adults and pre-college kids).

The prettiest and tannest one had moved to the end of their pack closest to me, and right before passing, raised her voice to say — supposedly to her friends — "I'm not wearing a bra," and something like, "So as long as it doesn't get cold..." to make me think about what her nipples would look like pressing through her micro-crop top if the temperature were not late summery.

We went through different entrances, but crossed paths again soon inside, and the other two had suppressed grins on their faces, while the sex-talker smiled and passed by with a grin of her own. They were not bashful at all. On the contrary, they reminded me exactly of those early '90s girls striding boldly around, provoking whoever struck their fancy, feeling the thrill, and trying to stay high on their rush afterwards by giggling about it together — their shared mini-transgressive secret.

It reminded me of last summer while I was driving around the 'burbs, with Miley Cyrus' Breakout CD playing. Two early high school girls were riding bikes up ahead of me, and when they looked back to confirm it was a random hot guy playing cool music, they slowed their pace, and one of them stood straight up and started doing a little pogo dance on the pedals, bouncing her bubble at the driver behind her. Provocative, deliberate, trying to scandalize an older forbidden guy, while wearing booty shorts to boot.

Or also that summer, the high school girls soccer team that kicked the ball toward me, and let it slowly roll out of bounds, so that I had to kick it back to them. Not the most scandalous way to force an older guy to engage with them, but still part of the overall pattern. And something that just began in 2020 with the restless phase.

And the weekend before last, there was a younger girl than them, probably 14, who was following me in the thrift store. She didn't say anything overtly sexual, but the way she kept hovering close was more provocative than the usual girls who just find an orbit around a random hot guy in public.

It was the shoes section, and she initially spied me through the racks from the other side, where the girls' shoes are. Then with zero subtlety, spins around the end, and begins pretending to intensely survey the options among mens shoes in a size 13 (to make it even more implausible, she was 5'4), while gradually looking over and inching closer, as though to explore the other shoes — mens shoes. It must've been a solid minute or two of pretending.

Although she didn't say anything provocative or assume a provocative position, I felt an intensity unlike from the usual girl who's casually passing by to get a look of validation or flash a quick smile. This wasn't just to get validation, it felt like she was about ready to grab onto or climb over me, to start something physical rather than just get a look. From the intensity of her look and stride, it was more like she was closing in on me, like targeting another player in a game of tag, not bashfully tip-toe-ing around like the other shoppers.

Finally, on the way driving home Friday night, I passed by a group of four teen girls (also high schoolers, since this was too far away from a college campus), who were hanging out on a public bench, after dark, with no adult supervision. There was a Wendy's nearby where they'd gotten something to snack on, and a streetlight overhead to let everybody passing by see them.

I couldn't overhear what they were talking about, and they were not doing anything overtly provocative. It just struck me that I haven't seen teens out at night by themselves like this, just messing around and laughing with each other, in a very long time. Especially after dark, no parents, and in a very public place, rather than on someone's front porch or something. They were still a sign of the current restless phase, so I egged them on by letting out a catcall as I drove by. Something from Ministry's With Sympathy CD was blasting out the windows, which should've resonated with their mini-party mindset.

These examples, especially the girl trying to get a rise out of me by blurting out about not wearing a bra, are only the beginning. The ones born in 2005 are just turning 16, so this mood and behavior will only intensify in the coming years.

Crucially, they stand in stark contrast to the sad-girl types who were born in the first half of the 2000s, like Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo. And current college students. And most of the sad girls on Tik Tok. Or even the relatively more upbeat ones, for that matter — Charli D'Amelio and Addison Rae are not provocative, thrill-seeking, and rule-bending like their immediate successors are going to be.

September 8, 2021

Bijan Men: the psychotropic cologne for dominating others while keeping calm

I thought this might have been an idiosyncratic reaction that only I have, and only to this one cologne. But after listening to the Perfume Nationalist episode on Bijan Men, I'm inclined to think it's general, though perhaps I have an extreme version of the reaction.

I wouldn't describe any other cologne as psychotropic, but this one just instantly alters my mood, cognition, and behavior, and it remains changed for the rest of the day. It feels somewhat like a hijacking, but also like an unlocking or disinhibition of what's already there. So that may be why the reaction is not universal -- you may need a certain degree of these traits to already be present, and it will jack them up to 11.

To describe it in more detail, I lose any degree of nervousness, uncertainty, indecisiveness, etc. Not that I'm those things normally, just that they are totally gone. I can focus like a laser, stay locked on a target, and pursue it until the goal is accomplished. And although I feel invincible, it's not a manic shade of invincible -- more like unflappable, cool and collected, able to withstand whatever deluge is directed my way without blinking.

I am normally bullheaded, but on Bijan I'm nearly sociopathic. If somebody else gets in my way, they're just some subhuman barrier to be pushed aside. Not to be toyed with or tortured in a sadistic way -- just like robotically, mechanically moving them aside to make way, not registering any of their feelings, needs, etc.

I remember when I first got it back in the summer of 2013, one of the other regulars at Starbucks and I used to shoot the bull for hours on end, sometimes debating, sometimes chewing the fat, though always on good friendly terms. But one time I had loaded up on Bijan before leaving the house, and I was just shutting him down one sentence after the other, like playing 4-D whack-a-mole. Even though I could see that he was taken aback and puzzled by my change in tone away from our usual camaraderie, I couldn't really help myself.

And again, not sadistic, not deriving joy or pleasure from it, just bam bam bam bam, unflinchingly and remorselessly, as though he weren't a person or my longstanding conversation partner.

It also steers your behavior almost exclusively toward dominating your same-sex rivals, and ignoring the courting of opposite-sex potential mates. Doesn't keep you from getting hard or anything, it just shifts you 100% into fighter, not lover, mode. And I normally enjoy flirting, checking girls out, letting them follow me around, etc. This aspect does feel like a hijacking by something external to me, intrinsic to the cologne itself.

I'll never forget, also during that summer of 2013, walking over to Starbucks loaded up with it. There was a 100+ degree heat wave, so I was going around with my shirt entirely unbuttoned (and though wiry, I was shredded). Coming my way on the sidewalk are a high-school guy and girl, he being your standard Millennial (or Zoomer?) NPC, and she being the typical super-horny teenager of the early 2010s, pre-wokeness and pre-#MeToo. She could not have looked more ripe, and glistening on top of it all due to the heat wave.

As they approach, she starts raising her voice to complain about him "to his face" (actually she's checking me out), ending with "Sometimes [Zoomer name], you're just such a... such a CHILD," as she passes random hot early 30s guy (looking early 20s). Letting me know you're not into children, are you? You want an older hot guy, do you? Under any other circumstance, it would've felt like the hottest taboo-bending signal in the world -- but I just strutted right by the both of them without giving her more than some brief eye contact (smoldering like the clove-y drydown of the cologne).

Not sadistic, not misogynistic, not disgusted or frustrated or anything like that toward girls. More like they're just not important to interact with, other than a brief once-over with my eyes. It's not dismissive of them, more like, "Sorry baby, I'll catch up with you later, have to go crush some rivals first."

I would never wear this in a danceclub where I'm looking to get grinded on and felt up by as many babes as possible. I simply wouldn't enjoy it in that moment. It's for situations where you have to be confrontational and win no matter what, while keeping totally calm.

I had sprayed it on earlier this spring, before the mask mandate was lifted, but while I had decided to pull the mask down once inside. I was wearing it the one day that some soyboy Redditor type kept following me around, pestering me about pulling it back up. I said they don't do anything, it's on, gimme a break. "Well then I'm going to have to ask you to leave the store". You're not going to do that, I bluntly told him. And he said nothing and did nothing afterward.

Perfect cologne for calling the bluff of these wannabe fucking hall monitors and substitute teachers who are in way over their head with a crowd that does not recognize their authority.

I don't know how else to drive home what it feels like, other than it's the Terminator cologne. It turns me into someone who can't be bargained or reasoned with, who doesn't feel pity or remorse or fear, and who will not stop until I complete my mission.

I could be driving 100 miles an hour around a tight curve on a mountain road with no rails, while blasting "Riding on the Wind" until the speakers burst -- as long as I had loaded up on Bijan, I would execute the maneuver flawlessly, and without batting an eyelash. Call it the Drive cologne, if you want to feel more like the hero than the villain.

And yes, in case you couldn't already tell, I got hopped up on five sprays of this psycho-stuff earlier this afternoon, and I'm still in that altered state after midnight, when I'm writing this post.

It's not any particular ingredient, it's the holistic synergistic gestalt of them all. There is literally nothing else like this, and it's insanely cheap. Back in 2013, I picked it up in TJ Maxx, Ross, or Marshalls, but they haven't carried anything awesome in years. There's barely anything at all, in fact, in the fragrance section. Just blind-buy it online, and if possible get an older bottle from the early 2010s. They say the newer ones are not as intense, but I haven't tried them (still have the same bottle from nearly 10 years ago).

Just be wise about what situations you wear it in! But especially if your job requires you to dominate others and stay steely cool while doing so, this is an absolute must-own. You might want to keep your distance somewhat, though, otherwise your rivals might get a whiff or two and become turbo-charged themselves!

September 7, 2021

To combat the Dark Age, own and read fix-it books rather than YouTube tutorials or WikiHow articles

On the topic of the disintegration of our collective knowledge during the new Dark Age, consider how often people just let their material stuff rot into disrepair. The less that stuff gets repaired, the less demand there is for the knowledge and skills to do the repairing, and therefore the lower in supply that knowledge and those skills will become. At a certain point, it's a niche thing or forgotten altogether.

And yes, if it becomes a niche thing, it is a sign of a Dark Age, compared to when it was commonplace. If literacy goes from 99% to 10%, that is a Dark Age, despite the knowledge and skills "still existing" and "not having disappeared". Only the most rationalizing Panglossian would point to the remaining 10% as refuting the claim of there being a Dark Age.

For those who do want to keep the knowledge and skills alive, though, there's a meta-problem — not just preserving them in your own mind, and if possible transmitting them to others person-to-person, but preserving them in an archive or library, to be consulted by those who you cannot interact with face-to-face.

For now, the main solution seems to be YouTube videos — making one yourself, consulting one yourself, or sharing one with another person / audience. But if there's anything that Dark Age people should appreciate, it's how fragile it is to migrate collective knowledge to an online repository.

What if YouTube de facto stops existing, like MySpace or Flickr, and inactive content and accounts get deleted? What if the site is retired altogether? What if your topic, which formerly was considered mundane, becomes politicized and banned? Don't think that couldn't happen to content that could be construed as "prepping" or "nationalist" or "MAGA". Oh, so this guy wants to preserve his well-made American tech? Sounds like an apocalyptic prepper waiting to show down against the US Army, plus being xenophobic against Vietnamese-made tech, and wanting to restore or RETVRN to a bygone Golden Age of material culture. Probably voted for Trump. Better delete the whole fucking channel, just to be safe.

Online information is the most fragilized type in existence, because there are so few redundancies. "Just save it on multiple servers" or whatever, is not going to matter, since a few mega-sites are the portals to almost all content, for the vast majority of internet users. Again, if something "still exists" but is driven to the absolute margins, it is a Dark Age.

Physical media, on the other hand, are redundant. Books, for example, are so widely distributed that it would be impossible to ban or delete or destroy even half of the copies of a commonplace title. And for repairing, DIY, etc., there are tons of copies of highly useful books, some of which are decades old but are still in top shape because they were made before the Dark Age (high-quality paper, ink, hardcover material, and binding).

I've found the Reader's Digest books to be informative, helpful, and widely available (at thrift stores, used bookstores, anywhere really, and for cheap). They're called either the Do-It-Yourself Manual (general home maintenance), or Fix-It-Yourself Manual (more about devices and appliances of all types). They were published throughout the decades in several updates, which helps if your house, tech, etc., is from the Midcentury or before, as well as if it's from the '80s or '90s. There are clear diagrams, concise prose, and intuitive steps through the process. And all put together by pros. You just do not get that with WikiHow articles, YouTube videos, or Q&A posts on specialized forums.

More importantly, you don't have to sift through dozens of sources as you do online — these books are authoritative and comprehensive, for their intended audience and purpose. When too many sources exist, you've got a whole 'nother project on your hands — coming up with an algorithm, however crude, to choose which ones to trust more than the others. Page views? Rank in a Google search? Likes on a video? Too much work before you've even consulted the content itself.

This is also why it's easier to buy a handful of cookbooks to tell you how to make any meal you want, rather than doing a Google search for every single meal and having to algorithmically sort through the dozens of results for each meal. Another plus for physical media — no fucking ads, no trackers, no retarded comments section, and no bloated personal stories that do not inform but only exist to slap personal website branding onto a fundamentally impersonal recipe. The photography is more professional as well.

Part of our status-striving era of over-produced aspiring elites is that everyone now regards themselves as a potential technocrat or expert on anything they choose to apply their midwit brain to, with earth-shaking consequences depending on their decisions. As though you could successfully open and operate your own restaurant, or as though you're going to be the chef for royalty, or as though anyone other than you yourself is going to be eating the vast majority of the meals that you prepare.

That's why they freak out about cookbooks, with their sole recipe for a given meal, and why they're gripped by a futile drive to consult as many second, third, and fourth opinions to get a diverse range of options. Get as many bids as you can when contracting out work, right? In the end, most of those culinary or home repair options are minor variations on the same solution, and wading through all of them only serves to slow down and even paralyze the process of getting the right outcome.

Your everyday meals, and your around-the-home repairs and maintenance, are not on the scale of importance as multi-million-dollar contracts, and "consulting all the experts" is a classic tragic case of over-optimizing, just to inflate your own undeserved sense of status. Just open the Reader's Digest book and follow the process like a normal common person.

Aside from the over-optimizing mistake of consulting dozens of sources when one will do, online info also leans heavily toward the lifestyle and persona striver value, rather than the sheer utilitarian value of getting the job done right and simply. This may be due more to the time period in which it was made — the 2010s and after — rather than the medium, but still, you can't consult online content from the 1970s.

What does this entail? Presenting options that skew toward the extreme, in-your-face, and "do you even lift, brah?" This is because online people have little to show organically in their real lives for masculinity, productivity, etc., so they need their consumption habits to make up for it. "Don't drink caffeine like a pussy — drink this type, and it'll put hair on your chest and get you chicks" (spoiler: no it won't, dork).

A brief example: occasionally the drain in my bathtub slows down and backs the water up into the tub during a shower. At first I put a little Drano down, and that was that. But it's not good long-term because those chemicals eat away at the pipes. So when it happened again this summer, I decided to try something else. Almost all of the online info, from articles to videos, was about using a drain snake, the most serious and involved way to fix the problem. OK, I did happen to pick up a made-in-USA drain snake at a thrift store awhile back, so maybe it was finally time to put it to use.

Then, out of habit, I conferred with the Reader's Digest manuals (and a Time Life DIY manual) — and they all said try plunging it first. And goddamn if it didn't work just that easily! Much lower tech — only a standard plunger that everyone has seen in cartoons from decades ago, a wet rag to stuff into the overflow plate, and water from the faucet. I knew it would get boring and distracting to keep track of the time while doing it, so I put on a CD and stopped after one song. But once it was over, BOOM, like magic it cleared whatever soap-and-hair clog was there, and sucked the water right down the drain like new again.

If you're a woman, you may need to get one of the men in your life with the upper body strength and stamina to keep at it forcefully for a solid 3-5 minutes. Other than elbow grease, nothing more high-tech than a plunger and rag was required.

The persona-striver solution of Tim the Toolman Taylor's not-so-manly target audience — MOARRR POWERRR — would have taken longer, potentially damaged the pipes (the end of the snake can scrape and scratch them), and required more complicated steps to navigate the thing around corners.

In general, you should only use technology to supplement what you cannot do with your own body and mind. Oddly enough, then, the extreme in-yer-face-bitch solutions wind up making you weaker, because the tech does so much of the work, and not you yourself. One of the fastest ways I ever got ripped was a few years ago, clearing and restoring a neglected trail with only hand tools, my body, and the environment. That also produces a more natural look, since you're not isolating one muscle with one machine at a time. You're using them holistically for the activities they were intended for by human evolution.

To conclude, I think online is counter-productive for a related reason — if you get sucked into persona-striving, then social media is going to get you addicted and stuck on that treadmill. Hobbyist forums were one thing, but social media is designed for joyless grinding and maxing stats in a competition against other strivers, with metrics for all to see. When you're reading a book and getting a job done without posting it to social media, you're a normal real human being.

I don't buy the idea that social media posting is going to motivate others to take up the struggle against the Dark Age. It'll primarily appeal to the super-strivers, and most of them will burn out or get bored of that domain of striving after a few months or years, move on to some other arena of striving, and will not have preserved the knowledge and skills medium to long-term.

I think general advice and sources are the best to provide, maybe with a personal anecdote here or there. More broad in its appeal, less intense emotional investment, therefore more sustainable, and more of a bulwark against cultural disintegration.

September 6, 2021

Last hit song with a sense of place: "Waking Up in Vegas" by Katy Perry

What ever happened to songs that were about a specific place? I decided to look through the Billboard Hot 100 year-end charts, and they've been rare for decades.

Although I'm still working on the full picture going back to 1960 (maybe '55), I thought it worth noting briefly when it officially ended -- in 2009. That year saw "Party in the USA," "Empire State of Mind," and "Waking Up in Vegas" released as singles.

As far as capturing a distinctive atmosphere, the Katy Perry song wins over the others. The Jay-Z song relies more on dropping a bunch of names, which are distinctive of New York, but do not really capture an atmosphere (which is just "moving to the big city to chase your dreams," and describes all sorts of cities). Vegas is more all-American anyway.

By the 2010s, songs with place names were rare, and the ones that do exist are using them as throwaway references, or a name-dropped background for some relationship. They don't really flesh out the place, evoke its atmosphere, etc. For example, "Budapest," "Havana," "Paris," and so on. Also, they rely more on non-American place names.

The only partial exception is "Malibu," since it does describe what the beach is like -- but it could really be any beach, and the lyrics are more about her relationship than the place they're visiting on one occasion.

Chalk it up to the rootlessness of the yuppie status-striving era that began around 1980, but people just don't resonate with specific places anymore. And the last time there was any such energy left at all was the 2000s. During the 2010s, "America" as a unified concept of who we are rapidly evaporated, and does not exist at all in the 2020s.

Hard to believe that as "recently" as 2009 -- which seems like 1000 years ago -- you could make a hit song about an all-American tourist destination like Vegas. Imperial disintegration means these songs are never coming back into style, but we can still enjoy the ones that were made back in the good ol' days.

September 4, 2021

"The Lady of Red (Bull)" (Aimee Terese tribute, Chris de Burgh parody)

In addition to the Sade parody, I was working on another adult contempo tribute to the muse, Aimee Terese, when as fate would have it, her friend made the following meme that fit it perfectly:

Yep, I'm sticking my neck out and doing a mature monogamous love ballad -- you might want to send any children in the room, out of the room, or they'll be groaning about grown-folks music. I think it makes for a nice contrast with the childlike nature of the memes.

And in any case, the tone of the original is not so staid and settled-down -- on this occasion, he's wonderstruck by his wife for the first time all over again like an adolescent. That was a big theme among Boomers back then, to head off the more worrisome Boomer trend, i.e. divorcing and trading in for a new model.

Fortunately for us, the muse and the messenger are inseparable. You can't trade in one muse for another, you're possessed by the one.

Aimee, you might want to wait until Saturday night your time to get into this one. I don't know how it'll hit outside of the evening / date night hours. Might feel like it's being laid on a bit thick, in the afternoon. When the weekend nights get lonely during lockdown, I'll always be there to share an imaginary slow-dance with you...

Pronunciation notes: stress on 2nd syllable for both "Aspie" (chorus) and "Online" (verse 2)

When does the word "Bull" come in, BTW? Well, "Red" is on the 1st beat, and normally drawn out for 3 beats. I'm putting "Bull" on the 4th beat of that line, and lasting only 1 beat (a little flourish, not a whole 'nother major word). It would be in a less prominent voice, like a sighing background vocal. Original lyrics here.

* * *

I've never seen you going so viral as a prophesier
I've never seen you type such fire
I've never seen so many frens follow an account in a trance
They're looking for a virtual glance
And how your voice enchants
I have never seen that thread you're sharing
Or your hot takes and your stare get amplified
I'm too offline

Lady of Red (Bull)
Is bantzing with me
Screen to screen
There's no moddies here
Apu and Aspie
It's who we wanna be
But I hardly know
This avi in my replies
I'll never forget
The way you shook this site

I've never seen you tweeting so tireless as a prophesier
I've never seen you type such fire
You were deranging
I've never seen so many people want you for their digital bride
And when you said you'd like a child
It broke the 'net all day
Online has become so real
So real that I now feel a caressing touch
When you scroll my site

Lady of Red (Bull)
Is bantzing with me
Screen to screen
There's no moddies here
Apu and Aspie
It's who we wanna be
But I hardly know
This avi in my replies
I'll never forget
The way you shook this site