Mr. Speaker and distinguished colleagues, I propose that in lieu of extending unemployment benefits yet again, we ban the fuck out of the canvassing, telemarketing, and SEO scamming ads that litter our job listings and rob this nation’s job seekers of the morale and desire to work again that they so desperately depend on to take them through these dark days. Thank you.
In brief, at the end of June a wrestler named CM Punk brought two things to an episode of RAW that many found surprising: rhetorical sophistication and the impression that he might actually be sincere in biting the hand that feeds him with comments about WWE’s practices, management, and fans. In other words, for a few minutes a WWE broadcast teetered between the experience of reality TV and the experience of reality.
Whether these phenomena are actually novel in WWE or not, CM Punk’s rant (the convincing delivery of which is truly bizarre when paired onscreen with John Cena’s unconvincing hurt-and-stunned act) caught the attention of the mainstream media. More to the Metafilter post’s point, the attention has perhaps been a threshold event for the respectability of writers who cover pro wrestling from an informed-fan point of view.
I can take or leave the smart wrestling bloggers in approximately the same way I can take or leave Television Without Pity coverage, but it’s nice to know that something as large, weird, recurrent, and American as WWE can be treated knowledgeably and not merely caught between the people who think fakery is its only salient quality and the people who don’t register its fakery as anything of particular interest.
As for CM Punk, he’s done a fine job of bringing himself to prominence with charisma; a strange, smart populism; and streets-ahead savvy–but he’s clearly nobody’s revolutionary. He could be, though, perhaps the first non-lunkhead wrestling crossover star, and that could be a very good thing.
The other undeniable thing about Punk is that he reps Chicago hard. Why, he was even supposed to be on Q101 yesterday before that third fate did her job on the station. His demonstrations of civic pride are never subtle, and they don’t seem to be quite as smart as his phony anti-corporate rants, but given their context, they almost make it a little less embarrassing to admit I might want to watch wrestling this weekend. Samples:
Far be it from me to imply that David Lee Roth is a nerd rocker of any sort. However, this chorus from Big Train is the only rock lyric I know of to refer to the train-and-platform thought experiment used to demonstrate the special theory of relativity. You won’t get that from Rush. You’d likely be hard-pressed to find it in the annals of college rock.
Time gets movin’
When you don’t know what you’re doin’
And you’re wondering if you ever will
Honey are you with me?
Or is the train doing sixty?
Maybe you’re standing still.
I really like this atrium, but the chandeliers bring back the eternal question: why do we juvenilize libraries in this culture? Most branch libraries I make it to are full of kids who–you’ll forgive me for saying this–I doubt very much need to be there. Even so, branch libraries tend to be built horizontally and laid out like romper rooms, so perhaps the kids belong there. But why does even the grand Central Library building need to be Sesame Streeted up with bright colors and primitivist animals?
Have we ceded reading to the young ones, along with the top-40 list? Maybe we wouldn’t have library funding crises if taxpayers (so many of whom are adults) felt ownership in their libraries, or at least believed they aren’t merely subsidizing tween daycare centers. Is it so vital to the culturing of rugrats’ love of books that every space associated with learning needs to stimulate them with candy colors and nightmare fauna?
And can there be a space for people who enjoy badass spaces on their own merits and would prefer them not to be cluttered with sops to the whimsicalists who continue their roachlike invasion of every public space?
1. “Grand” in an LA fashion, anyway. It’s built in a pre-postmodern mishmash of styles and decorated with more, and more exotic, mystical symbols than can be found on all the wallpaper in all the Freemasonry lodges in all the world. But it’s still very, very dapper.