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Posted by Gustav at 02:01AM, Sunday, December 01st, 2002

Thoughts on Aught Three

Indulge me for a bit of cliched speculation about what's coming in the new year, and what I'd like to see happen: I haven't been writing much, but there's a lot of nebulous stuff floating in my head that cries for the clarification that comes from writing it down.

Personally, I have some goals. I also have a fair number of neurotic worries about the less personal. Let's get to the stuff that's under my control first.



I'd like to do a lot more traveling. Things happened in the latter half of last year that let us do a lot more than we had since I'd first moved to the Northeast, and we actually got a good start in those few months -- Montreal, the NJ IKEA, Mexico, Florida -- but I'd like to go a lot more places. I'd like to go to Italy this year at some point; maybe Paris or Iceland this winter; I'd love to go to San Francisco this winter, too, and maybe Tucson, to catch up with people, and to introduce Rocky to the Desert; I'd also love to see Portland, Oregon and the whole Pacific Northwest thing. I need to catch up on the travel, but the biggest "where" thing I must do is move, finally leave this sense- and love-forsaken corner of the country for the Left Coast somewhere. Of course, figuring out where that "somewhere" is will be a feat. Not to mention getting a job and finding a place to live.



I'd like to find the time to do real music again -- playing it, which is important to my psychiatric health, and composing, which is important to my intellectual health. A lot of the issues standing in the way of composing seem like they should get better, with the availability (finally!) of composing tools for Mac OS X. One might ask why Apple and its developers have forsaken their most loyal and devoted customers in the move to this new operating system. But one shouldn't bother. It's been a long two years without Finale, or decent MIDI support, or Pro Tools, and I hope to see all that end. Of course, by now my trusty Roland keyboard is kind of crotchety.



I'd like to have a house of my own to live in. I'm tired of apartments, places that are only temporary, places where I can't point and say "that wall comes down this week." I want to feel stable, as though I have roots for once finally tied to a place.



I'd like to have a turntable that didn't make me neurotic -- "is that destroying the grooves as it plays?" I'd like to enjoy listening to vinyl again. This may be changing soon, if a Christmas present works out. A remote control for the stereo would be nice, too.



I'd like to get a good quality film scanner to archive some 35mm and 6x6 negatives on the computer. While I feel that digital still has a long way to go to catch up to the warmth and quantum-limited detail of analog, in both sound and image reproduction, it's obvious that I'm not going to have the space, resources, or time for a dark room for quite a while, let alone any place to hang prints, or the time to make them. Having a decent digital camera (Canon Digital Elph S200, if anyone's interested in the coolest damn pocket camera since the original Leica) has really changed the way I record my life in 2002; I'd love to have a marginally convenient equivalent for film.



I'd like to have more friends, whom I speak to more frequently. Not that I don't have any friends -- I've got a couple good ones, and recently heard from one I'd lost touch with. The problem is that I've never been able to make friends in New England, not in high school or college, and not now -- at least, not the kind that aren't flighty fickle flakes who lack any center to their beings -- and, living in this wasteland again, all my friends are thousands of miles away. Once again, the magic eight ball says the way to remedy this is to move.



I'd like to be healthier. This climate, and these people, are no good for my stress levels, or my happiness. These are things western medicine fails to address; while I may be closer to "good" (whatever arcane measurements one uses to come up with that) doctors, I'm tired of needing them a lot more out here.



I'd like to continue to find out how cool the whole laid back hippie lifestyle is. That was one of the most striking things about the time I spent in Tucson -- seeing leftist alternative culture still alive and well, and witnessing how fun it could be to be in a commune in the desert. New England doesn't make the idea of outdoor commune living seem terribly pleasing, but it's been interesting to meet the earthier and crunchier of Rocky's Dartmouth friends, and see that there really is such a thing as intellectual granola-ism these days. Hiking with people who love taking pictures, talking about art or movies, drinking wine, eating good food, or taking the odd skinny-dip, and don't feel the need to blast around in hideous SUVs, is very pleasing. Doing it somewhere with convenient access to vast national parks or, say, Baja California, or the Pacific ocean would be even better. (One of the things I hate about the northeast is how entire cities manage to turn their backs on the ocean. Why? It's the only redeeming characteristic up here; embrace it, don't make it cordoned off and difficult to access.) It's been revelatory to see what a world of fun and grooviness there is to be had out there, with good food, good music, and good friends.



Now that we're on the subject of Kharma, and how it feels to not only not be evil, but not be repressed and tightly wound... I'd like to see the United States not turn into a completely fascist state. It's well on its way right now. Not that Bush the Second is entirely to blame (or even mostly -- after all, it should be clear to anyone that he's a witless puppet; still, he has a mean, nasty mouth, and he's a remorseless murderer); I think we moved towards a precipice through the eighties and nineties, and Bush's appointment to the presidency, his puppeteers' subsequent arrangement of events that prompted a terrorist attack, and the American willingness to give up any and all rights and freedoms for the illusion of safety, at least when that was the message pounded in ceaselessly by the industry-controlled media, shoved us over the edge. We may still be in a place where we might stop, and say "No, wait! Look at these similarities between the administration's propaganda, between the Homeland Security Agency and Total Information Awareness and Carnivore and the DMCA, and all those Ministries in 1984, and tell me: was Orwell prophecizing a techno-communist state, or was he foreseeing the result of capitalism abused into a tool only for the ruling classes of industry, who strip away all the important bits of the constitution for their own gain and to distract any who might oppose them, while leaving the actual document intact?" and give control of Things, of issues and policy, back to the people, and their votes, where it belongs. I don't care to hope that this will happen, though. Most of us seem happily oblivious.



I think the middle and upper classes are generally too disinterested and too content to act. Those who aren't -- the angry, informed hippies, the few true liberals who understand that liberal is not a dirty word, the disenfranchised gays and trannies who can't claim that everything is all right, because, unlike other wealthy white people, they've experienced bigotry and threat of death first-hand, and didn't think they were invulnerable pre-9/11 -- all of these are too few, too small a voice right now to make any difference. We can argue, we can rail, but to the people who blindly quote "well, the 2000 election was a choice between two evils", there's no sense saying "no, you idiot, it was a choice between Evil, planet-munching primordial Big-Bad of the Big-Bads, spawner of vampires and soul-suckers buffyverse Evil, a choice between that Evil and a politician." The white guys whose brothers aren't in prison, who have food on the table and a Lincoln Navigator in the drive, and who laugh and Eminem lyrice, will never pull themselves away from their Starbucks obsession to care enough to so much as think deeply about the meaning of their vote.



What may effect a change are the rapidly, quietly (if you believe that the media represent the people) growing masses of poor, or non-white, or sick, who are being increasingly rolled over by the giant mindless machine of Power that is working itself into an unstoppable inhuman monster of institutionalized fascism. Health care costs more than it ever has, but it's the best health care in the history of the world, never mind that 99% of the population can't possibly afford it. So shut up about not being able to pay your bills. At least you don't have to wait for care, like you would with socialized medicine. Unless you've tried to book an urgent doctor's appointment for that vomiting bloody flu lately; or dealt with the underpaid clerks informing you of the draconian, possibly illegal policies of your first-rate health plan at a drug store; in which case you know that timely, personal care for the non-super-rich is a fucking myth in the US. Wake up. The insurance industry keeps moving towards a massive blow-up to which no one seems to be paying attention. When half of the population is sick from pollution and disease and chronic illness, or the mind-blowing fun of multiple simultaneous chronic illnesses, induced by the military industry's vile noxious green effluence, to which our ancestors were submitted without choice, there may be a bit of what you'd call a revolution. When enough people are angry enough at having all their families thrown in prison and their grandmothers trampled at the door as the SWAT teams bust through in another raid for some nebulously defined crime involving drugs, when the real crime is that they had the gall to do lower class drugs like meth or even pot, and possibly be simultaneously brown-skinned, instead of white and snorting thick lines while wearing Gucci loafers, while laughing at their fathers' talk of those lucky-duckie poor who don't pay for health care. The Powers that Be wage their wars on the poor to keep them occupied, but they don't seem to be paying attention to the possibly backlash, or maybe they just look at the evidence and say hey, they're not pushing back yet, except for a few unlocky sods we just make disappear, let's screw them some more. But there has to be a point at which the underclasses will not take it any more, we won't submit to having our life savings vanish because the companies we've worked for, run by crooks and liars, claim to have invested it all in Enron and oops! Who could have predicted it was all bogus? We may have our revolution. Not that it will be a glorious, idealized revolution at that point. More like a nation-wide prison riot, perhaps, spurred by hunger and anger and the countless beatings from the white cops, the straight ones, and the gay ones who beat the trannies harder than anyone else to make sure no one will ever suspect.



At any rate, I'd like to think that people will start to really think in 2003, and will have the nerve to call the Powers that We Let Be to responsibility and accountability -- say hey, the RIAA may have pushed the DMCA through congress, but did you ask us, us who congress represents, what we thought?; did you ask us before you gave a tyrant the power to wage war at his puppeteers' will?; did you really present us with facts before shooting down Hillary Clinton's universal health care proposal, or was that all corporate lies? And besides, don't listen to her, she's a woman who doesn't know her place, so she must be a lying conniver. But maybe people will start seeing through that, because we've seen enough to know that when big corporations that make big contributions to powerful political parties and congressmen speak, it's more likely than not that they lie; and we're sick of it.



Oh, and I'd like to have a convertible again by the end of the year. Okay?

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