The world needs ditch diggers, but it doesn’t need annoying fucks with clipboards outside every grocery store


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.

CM Rolling

One of my favorite Metafilter posts ever went up yesterday, documenting very recent shifts in the presentation and exploration of pro wrestling.

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.

If, for instance, we continue needing to remake the everloving shit out of John Carpenter classics, then I believe I could get behind Punk taking Rowdy Roddy Piper’s place in They Live. (Don’t get your hopes up; it looks like they’re going to try to dumb down a Carpenter flick, which is truly some squaring-the-cirle, peace in the Middle East-level science!)

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:

Posted in yap

Whatever gets you to the top of the hill


Waldo from "Hot for Teacher" video

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.

No one's really sure what became of Waldo after graduation.

Posted in yap

Book it, kids

Los Angeles Central Library atrium

Los Angeles Central Library atrium

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[1] 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.

Posted in yap

Gift of the Maggi

Because I have to perform physical labor today, it has turned hot in Los Angeles. Because nobody’s left in the house to give me the stinkeye, I’m battling the swelter with the michelada.

(Rhetoric break. “The michelada” being, of course, an odd sort of synecdoche: I make myself appear respectable by referring to, I guess, the platonic form of the michelada–which is conveniently singular. But that singular “the michelada” clearly (and now explicitly) stands in for the “5 or 8 or 10 micheladas I’m going to sink before the overeager sun goes away” that is the real object. Language was invented by drunks.)

The michelada has gone mainstream since the last time I extolled it, and it is in fact its NYT writeup I come before you to tweak.

The topic is Maggi seasoning. It gets its due in the greylady’s kind of breathless/authoritative way:

One of the great things the Mexicans know about that we don’t is Maggi Seasoning, an extract of wheat gluten that tastes like soy sauce that’s been wrung out of a grilled steak. They put it in almost everything, which is why almost everything they eat tastes great. Maggi is a key player in the better micheladas — just a few drops — and so procuring a bottle amps your game exponentially from mere soy sauce or Worcestershire.

I only want to mention that “— just a few drops —” in my experience has no warrant. A little of this stuff goes a long way, but a lot goes even farther. If you’re like me, you’re using a cheap, watery beer that can soak up all the flavor you can throw at it, and this Maggi does the trick. So don’t be shy just because the Times dude is making it sound like third-world alchemy that you just might imperialistically ruin if you get too enthusiastic. Worst case scenario is you need to add more beer.