November 2008 - The Long Walk To The End Of The Road

A Walk On Part In The War

In the name of mediocrity so that everyone can get a shot at mediocore or simply utterly banal fame, I am starting to fear that we may have traded in our ability to create heroes and legends.

We have traded equal opportunity mediocrity for the rarest of greats.

Every day, as I watch people drift farther and farther from those around them and more and more into themselves I cannot escape the notion that perhaps this is where we peaked. Perhaps this is where our long walk to the end really begins. We’ve been on it for a while now, but I think we’re over the top and it’s all downhill from here, figuratively and literally.

I grew up believing in the idea that a select few were truly great. Oh sure, we’re all unique and precious little snowflakes…

Compliments to Despair.com for the visual aid

But not every person has the potential to truly rise above their obstacles as well as themselves, especially considering that the latter is almost always infinitely harder than the former.

I realized in the shower that we will never have another Vonnegut. We will never have another mother Teresa, not another Gandhi, not another Churchill, not another JFK, not another Trudeau, not another Einstein, not another Fidel Castro, Not Another Martin Luther King Jr, not another unknown rebel standing in front of tanks and refusing to let them leave, there won’t be another Johnny cash or John Lennon, not another Rosa Parks, not another Louis Riel, the list could go on endlessly.

Well not endlessly. As I said, we’re running dangerously low on these folks and those like them.

Instead we have a seemingly endless line of insecure twits who will do literally anything if only to have their name on TV. The only reality that most reality shows offer is a very real glimpse into the ego’s of these malleable pawns who are so completely blinded by the offer of fame that they hold themselves up to public scrutiny in the hopes that they might end of on a magazine cover. Here today and gone tomorrow.

Music is no better these days, if anything it’s worse. My favourite philosopher once described the type of performer that has saturated the airwaves and tv shows as “demons set loose to lower the standards”. I’m inclined to agree. Music has largely turned its back on meaning and depth in exchange for tawdry clumsy and obvious lowest common denominator appeal.

More and more, people seem to think that simply by spending enough money on gear or buying the right clothes or using the right clichés in their speech that they will make it to the “big time”.

And without fail, the flash and disappear.

I can’t help but wonder if some of these media whores are aware that they’re lucky if they get five minutes of fame, of if some actually believe that they might “beat the odds” despite the inescapable fact that their only talents (and I use that word loosely) are tied to whatever medium originally cast them into the so called spotlight.

The spotlight is getting dimmer every day. More diffuse.

Soon enough we’ll have managed to spread the spotlight so thin we won’t be able to see much of anything.

It’s soulless, sanitized and dumbed down as much as humanly possible, and thanks to the information age we’re deeper in it than ever before.

And the irony that I’m typing this little rant on my laptop with the intentions of posting it on the Internet is in no way lost on me. I just try to tell myself that at the very least I mean what I’m saying. Doesn’t make it what I have to say worthwhile, but I’m also not interested on appearing on a TV show near you anytime soon.

Everybody Gather Round

I was born in a frozen town. On the day I was born, it was only –5 below, which considering it’s usual temperature for that locale was quite warm. Shortly after that I moved to an even more frozen town, but that one had sand dunes.

You only really saw the sand dunes in the summer. The remaining other 11 months of the year they were generally covered in snow.

Plus you had to drive pretty far to get to them, all off-roady and such.

I’ve been working on a memoir for some time now.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not due to any delusions of grandeur.

Far from it.

I am something of a fan of history. World history, the history of countries, political history, if it has anything to do with the past I’m probably more interested than your average bear.

Heck I have an entire cabinet upstairs dedicated solely to the odds and ends of antiquity that have come to cross my path.

That being said, the type of history that I have found myself most interested in is more of a direct history.

Several members of my family who are now dead and gone had the foresight to make a few notes of their lives before they shuffled off this mortal coil. Some are only stories, some are more biographical, but all of them are fascinating to me.

It’s good to know where you came from, there’s a lot to be learned and life can be made somewhat more bearable when you know that someone a hundred years before you whose DNA you share had very similar problems.

So on the reasonably sound assumption that I might have descendants one day and that they might find some of the more dramatic aspects of my life somewhat entertaining or heaven forbid insightful, I’ve taken it upon myself to ensure that I leave a record of me for my children, and my children’s children, ad infinitum.

Anyways, in the course of this writing I realized that there were several years that I was somewhat hazy on, if not completely clueless on.

And those were some of the more interesting years, I have foggy memories of that.

Don’t believe me?

Here’s the short version. The last 12 years give or take a few slippery events…

Been a youth leader at a church (paid no less), a dishwasher at a certain restaurant chain (I got chemical burns that were so severe my skin literally fell off), a clerk in a strip mall video store. (VHS with only a couple of beta tapes this was back in the day), I ran week long day camps in various out of the back of a van with a metal guitar player who got me to join his band after hearing me singing between towns, I worked for a certain cinnamon roll seller (who went by a very different name back then) and organized some of the most intricate and widely conspiratorial practical jokes that I have ever done, I worked for a small cellular dealer. I started small and stayed that way. The company started small and only got bigger. While working for them I went to school for a year and a half before finding out that there’s no such thing as colour blind police officers.

Bought my first car, a Toyota Cressida that I crashed more times that I can count.

I was fired from the cell company on Christmas Eve. Not sure why still, I have my theories but I can’t say for sure. I went from there to being a pastry chef at Perkins, and I started my first band.

We were all about 19 and terrible. I have tapes to prove this.

From there I worked outside sales for yet another cellular company, I was a gas station attendant (not the first or the last time), waiter, breakfast cook and at three different pawn shops I worked in a warehouse, got a concussion, worked in a camping supply store, got a concussion, worked as a bus boy, worked as a bouncer, got a couple of concussions, worked at one of the larger music stores in the city, got another concussion and told the owner of the company to go screw himself, didn’t get fired from that one. Started a few more bands, got more concussions, drove a Honda civic that set itself on fire until the RCMP’s made me get it destroyed.

There were a few head injuries in 1998. These were in no small part a large part part of the reason why 1999 was such an interesting year.

I went to DeVry before realizing that I would rather swallow the business end of a sawed off before I spent the rest of my life writing code that would be outdated in six months, I lived in a garage then a car then an apartment with a gas leak (I still smoked then, it was one of my closer calls), I worked at another gas station, I lived in the basement of a delusional old alcoholic, I worked at a funeral home transporting the dead from all across the province, broke a fence at said funeral home, heard a corpse kick in the crematorium while the afterburner was on, I worked at a hotel as a busboy, waiter, banquet server, bartender and whatever else was needed.

I started working at another restaurant, I went to Mount royal college for broadcasting (passed and completed that one), still played in a band, released my first CD and sold out of the first run of 1000, lived in two of the apartment buildings that I always wanted to since I was a kid (one after the other, crushingly disappointed in both), caught pneumonia on Christmas eve, didn’t go to the doctor for three months, coughed up blood, moved to Edmonton trail, moved to Kensington, had a complete break down, moved into a fancy house in arbor lake, loved the big tub, became a terrible human being, moved out of the fancy house into another garage, started to not be a terrible human being (still working on that), moved back into Kensington, worked for another video store and ran two of their locations, drove a Volvo station wagon that spent more time in repair than out.

Still played in a band.

Moved into a high-rise apartment building and passed the time throwing Ziploc Baggies of water onto drug dealers from 34 floors up. Moved in with the woman who is now my wife, left the video store, ran a million dollar location for a cellular company under the worst boss in my life, left there to work for still another cellular company, met some of the worst human beings in almost all of history and now I install closet organizers while going to school to become a paramedic.

And I’m married now. Happily so.

That’s just the Coles Notes version, the whole thing runs much longer.

My god that’s a mess.

Nothing Changes Except The Red Lights

People have been asking me what I think about the recent election held by our neighbors down south.

Well.

Here’s what I see.

The historical significance of an African American being elected president is not lost on me. I get that it’s a big deal.

That being said, I’m getting tired about hearing about “the black president”. Maybe it’s me, but I’ve been of the mind for as long as I can remember that skin colour really shouldn’t have anything to do with who should be elected into any office. The bottom line is that in a perfect world the job should always go to the best-qualified person with the most relevant experience.

I think that would be a good thing.

It is also, though, clearly not the reality in any way shape or form. Almost all of the excitement and discussion surrounding Obama have been based around the fact that he is black. There has been little to no discussion surrounding his actual policies or beliefs and in the last two months of asking only one person has been able to tell me the name of his vice president elect.

That scares me.

The other thing that scares me is the sudden explosion of “hope” that not only the states have seen, but that many parts of the world has seen. I’ve long held that hope is one of the worst things that can happen to anybody, and with the astronomical expectations that are now being placed on Obama by his country and the world, he is doomed to disappoint.

In some countries that’s ok. They’ll deal.

In others… disappointment, well that’s not going to be handled quite so well I think.

The other thing that scares me is the international cult of personality that’s surrounding him. Those never end well either.

So I guess in summation, I’m thrilled that the states have elected a black president, I just would have liked it if they could have found out more about the man they elected rather than the colour of him.

And in fairness, McCains concession speech floored me. That was classic McCain and it was really good to see him back. Wish he had been around the last two years though.

This is, I suspect, going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

On a happier and more whimsical note, I now harbour a dark secret hope that the african americans of the entertainment world may now feel comfortable pushing for decent roles on sitcoms. I mean, I have several friends who are african american and wildly entertaining, and I've never believed that skin colour has anything to do with the amount of funny that a person can muster, but good god enough with the steve urkel tyler perry cliches. There's a black man soon to be in the oval office, can we please get some black sitcoms with dignity?

I'm going to get in trouble for that.

I'm sure of it.

Rogers “Friends”

Rogers “Friends”

On a side note, I have the deepest of wishes that the entire Rogers wireless wannabe cast of friends find their way onto a bus that goes diving of a cliff.

That’s all I want for Christmas. The end of those wankers.

Just leave the windshield wiper under the tree for me and I’ll be happy.

you know where to find me.

Nate@natepike.com