Calling All Sinners

You want to know what my dream is? It’s not that I do something so cool I can make a living showing up at convention centers and selling autographs. That would be quite nice, but it’s not the grand prize. It isn’t vast wealth, either, but I wouldn’t turn it down. If you’re talking about a real life Konami Code (up up down down left right left right B A start), money is it. You cannot convince me a billionaire still understands how actual humans live. They don’t buy first class plane tickets. They own the airline.

No, I want to to achieve something so spectacular you’ll forgive me for anything.

This is a touchy one. I got stuck in the goo today by naming a name, because those come with a lot of baggage. If I get too specific, I’ll be forced to roll the die and make saving throw against intersectionality. No, I’ll let you decide on the sinner’s identity. Take your pick of your favorite celebrity or politician. Who is your guilty pleasure? Which musician did something reprehensible yet you cannot stop bopping to their groove? Who did you campaign for even though they did that thing you don’t agree with, because it’s complicated, right?

Here is the human algebra I always mention. Achievement is the secular Hail Mary. Success is absolution. We’re all weighed by each other. Are we worth it? What have we done?

It’s simple, really, to assume people will have some quirks or flaws. We all deal with imperfect people every day and we strain ourselves trying to see their admirable attributes. The silver lining scales up, though, like tax breaks for massive corporations compared to your measly relief, and the pain, excruciating for you, scales down to a pinprick for them. I’d love to blame capitalism or society, but whatever the cause, the tiny bit of mercy you’d personally receive if you robbed a bank is multiplied a million fold if you hold the global economy in your hands and you’re charged with robbing the American people.

If you’re a great artist who invented a genre, a captain of industry who developed a product that changed the course of human civilization, or a producer who made one of the greatest films of all time, maybe there’s more mercy for you when you’ve been accused of heinous crimes. You might not always be able to directly murder someone and remain free for long, but indirectly? Place a few levels of organization between you and the target, and you’re solid. Anything less than that also seems to be fair game. Repeated sex crimes, violence, embezzlement, you name it. These are the perks of being somebody.

Strange karma is at play here. Everyday folk who may not have much to their name often get by on charisma. Fame is a multiplier. Wealth, even more so. We’re obviously fine with this because it’s made clear every single time we’ve cause to discuss it. “Everyone did that back then,” we say, or, “You have to ask yourself why you’d say that.”

Better yet, we’ll say, “You have to separate the art from the artist,” or, “They understand how politics really work.”

Something about this makes religion sound nice. How refreshing it would be if you all answered to God, but then there’s another problem. I’ve seen video of a retired warrior who stood in front of his congregation and told them how he ate the hearts of children, which imbued him with their life essence. This was acceptable, though, because he’d asked God for forgiveness. We cannot do with an absentee landlord, either. Perhaps a Great and Powerful Oz of our making, a robot of apocalyptic proportions, would suffice, but if it were well designed it would put us out of our misery shortly.

There are complications of who one is or what one looks like, and NeoLiberals still struggle with this race to the bottom of equality for the famous, as if it translates to equality for the rest of civilization. “If two people are multi-millionaires separated by a scant few million, why should one make more than the other?” they ask. “If one man beats his wife and has a career, and the other beats his wife and also has a career, why do you mention one more than the other?” they inquire. Surely utopia will spring forth across the land when we’ve achieved equality for celebrities!

There is a notion that notable, rich, and/or famous people elevate everyone who identifies with them, but how is this demonstrated to be so? Have police officers shot less civilians? Have less people been brutally beaten to death because of the way they’re dressed? The system, as it does, will grab issues we hold dear and make them seem instrumental in its plans only to simultaneously demonstrate their ridiculousness and futility when couched in NeoLiberal thought.

How many actors and politicians does it take to stop a pipeline? How many t-shirt sales does it require to stop fascism? If these are quantifiable things, why not pursue those finite numbers? We have transportation capable of moving Hollywood to North Dakota. We have wonderful t-shirtmongers who can and will provide the cloth if science says, “This number will make freedom and justice blossom from the cold earth.”

There are no people of fame or power exempt from my ire. It is not reduced, it is multiplied. As long as we persist in this way of life, I’ll always question authority, always, but it doesn’t always come with a big oak desk flanked by flags. Authority can also be the person who wrote your favorite series of books. It can be a beloved cartoonist. It can come from the diocese down the street or the man yelling on the radio. Because someone speaks the name of someone you’ve likely never met and it means something to you, they hold influence. Such appointment can only be met by the checks and balances of public opinion, and sadly those often lean towards deification instead of scrutiny.

I am sad that I felt forced to write this in defense of a what began as a stupid joke. The person in question was not important to me, and it was a throwaway comment meant to get laughs. This is my non-apology because I am not sorry I said it. I am only sorry I didn’t have room to post this first.

It is tiresome to spend hours and a thousand words explaining a 140 character tweet, and I probably won’t do it again. If I deem it prudent and I have room, I may list the relevant celebrity crackers who’ve done worse (sorry, David Bowie). Otherwise, consider me shitty and erase me from your life, if you must.

By the way, the money shot:

I’m so sorry I said “paradoxical time-travel cultural appropriation couldn’t have happened to a better guy.” The 59 peecam victims say hello

Marty McFly didn’t invent Rock ‘n’ Roll. He learned it from Huey Lewis and the News, who learned it from Chuck Berry. It’s a paradox when Marvin calls Chuck. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Luckily, in this case, we know it’s Chuck because we lived it, and it’s a work of fiction.

Insensitive or not, if you’re worried about your legacy, maybe don’t commit crimes against dozens of women. The music is still good, but I’m going to stand by my initial statement: Michael J. Fox sang it better.

If some repetitive three chord tunes are enough for you to erase the experiences of all those folks and berate me for saying so, I don’t know what to tell you. I hope that Chuck Berry prize is worth it. It’ll be coming in the mail any day now, I assure you.

How to Fail at Business Without Really Trying

It’s not uncommon to round a corner at the bookstore and end up face to face with a customer. It happened again not even ten minutes ago, near the puzzle fixture. “Excuse me,” I said. She encroached on my bubble.

“I’m Batman,” she said in a growl before she marched off.

I don’t particularly enjoy being close to strangers. I’m forever scarred by an extended photo shoot with Eve Myles, because she kept talking to me four inches from my face. The subject matter, while ribald, wasn’t the reason for my stunned expression in the photo that hangs on my living room wall. It was more the fact that I never thought I’d have Gwen from Torchwood (or what’s-her-face from Victoria) repeatedly barking her nasty thoughts directly into my mouth.

The horror.

I’ve felt like dirt all morning, but it’s not worth spending time on. Every time I come up with a way to articulate it, I’m struck by the realization that I can’t make you feel this and even if I could, I wouldn’t want to. I’d basically have to drive to your house and shoot your dog.

That’s not a threat. Believe me, I’ve seen what happens to pet harmers in this country, and I’d rather not spend the next thirty years in prison. I’m constantly amazed at how Americans deify dogs and cats, though. Seriously, folks, I’ve had pets I liked and pets I barely tolerated, but it’s weird how people’s mercy toward other humans comes to an abrupt halt when cuteness is involved.

Even the biggest prison reformers, who preach rehabilitation and education, would be calling for the public execution of a guy who kicked a stray dog. People can’t even handle villains doing it in movies. Sure, Patrick Bateman just rapes and murders a few prostitutes in American Psycho, but god forbid he harm an animal.

We’ve elevated our canine and feline friends above children, even, because we’re obviously okay with the murder of kids in every war zone since forever. I’m sure you can think of at least one armed conflict where you’re like, “Well, yeah, but they started it.”

I’m going to start a charity with the express purpose of parachuting baskets of kittens into Syria. All kidding aside, though, I get why it’s such a red flag. When dude hollows out Sparky and wears him as a hat, you think he might be capable of doing that to you. As a society, we don’t really give the military murder of civilians a second thought (unless there’s a guy in office we don’t like) because we’re all well-drilled on “legitimate” use of force, but maybe we should. Maybe we should have asked when the Navy Seals were going to machine gun our daughters. Maybe we should have asked when Obama was going to drone bomb our house.

Me, I’m for rehabilitation. Give the man some time off for windsurfing and he’ll be back to lobbying for mediocre NeoLiberal half-measures in no time. Watersports Prison might even cure puppy stompers, but we’re going to have to brainstorm a better title, y’all.

Now that I’ve dug this hole, I might as well roll around in it. I’m doing the thing I said I wasn’t going to do up there, but that’s okay. It’s easier to get forgiveness than permission. “May I infect you with my malaise?” sounds stranger than saying, “Sorry for being an emo edgelord.”

The best option I’ve found, though, is, “Thanks for listening.”

Believe me, the sociopathic talk is all hypothetical. If I were really that way, I wouldn’t be working retail. I’d be giving YouTube speeches about how I became a billionaire by taking risks and giving no fucks and how you too can be successful if you just buy my book and follow these 13 precepts and attend my $750 seminar. 

I still have Facebook friends who share that shit, and while they might feel inspired after they watch it while clutching their dogeared copy of 48 Laws of Power, they should take note that their beloved business gurus almost never fail to mention their dad’s business, at least in passing.

I hope you have dad’s business, budding entrepreneurs. Sometimes even that isn’t enough. I’m living proof.

Don’t weep for me. I shed my tears for the nonexistent American Left, which let the downtrodden think the only way to get by is by figuratively and/or literally playing the lottery.

If you ever see me go silent for a bit and emerge with a business book to sell, or better yet, a self-transformation manual full of my hard won answers to life’s nagging questions, assume I’ve cracked and gone over to the dark side. Like the work of good ol’ L. Ron Hubbard, the illusion will be effective even after I’ve revealed my intentions for $29.99, hardcover only.

The Legend of Sleeping Bougie

Lately I’ve spent most my time online trying to wake up Sleeping Bougie. There’s something enticing about those stirring bodies, so close to being awoken, so on the edge of glory that I’m all too tempted to give them a shove. Thing is, they’re usually so carabinered and clawed into the capitalist cliff face that they can’t be dislodged. The almost-thereness of their political stance is an illusion.

It’s technically true, which is the best kind of truth. North Koreans will always win the Oppression Olympics, and the gold medal is every person of color in America who has to worry about getting murdered by the cops on the way home from school is erased because *statistically* it isn’t that common! You’re right, moderates. *Most* American kids DON’T have to worry about anything like this!

One would be better off tangling with a swing-vote Trump supporter because at least they admit something is wrong (they’re just not sure what it is), and while they’re on the wrong side of the mountain, they’re usually not so tethered down. I could drag a fascist halfway to socialism with wordplay while a milquetoast moderate would have already wrapped cement-dipped chains around their body and permanently affixed themselves to the granite.

In this, our time of terror, there’s nothing more sweet to a NeoLiberal leader than a bunch of “progressives” (read those scare quotes with the most derision you can muster) who are actively leaking diarrhea into their shoes. That’s why they place a statue at the end of Wall Street (why oh why am I forced to repeat this) and most folks reply, “Awww, girls rule!” when the intended message was, “Lean in, motherfuckers, girls can be filthy stinkin’ rich too.” When an inadvertent revolutionary humps its face in a coked-out stupor, the scare-quote progressives all rally to the cause of bootstrappy fiscal equality. No defiled pile of horse shit is exempt from knee-jerk liberal defense as long as it at least seems to align with their pet causes.

Likewise, I keep seeing people ugly cry over this young, beautiful, English-speaking (this is not coincidence – try it with bad dental care, a monobrow, and a translator) North Korean defector and her harrowing tale of escape. It’s okay to be moved by this. Pathos works, and I’d never ask you to stop feeling. Thing is, after you wipe your tears away on the hem of your “I Stand With Standing Rock” t-shirt, maybe you should take a second and consider the source.

One Young World, the host of this viral speech, is owned by this guy. He’s an advertising executive, and since you probably won’t click that link, here’s a tidbit:

From 2007–2010, Jones led the Euro RSCG team advising David Cameron and the UK Conservative Party.

Hahaha, okay.

Here’s a choice quote from the man himself:

“I passionately believe that what our industry actually excels at is using our creativity to change people’s behavior. Given the state of the world, I believe that we in the creative industries not only have an opportunity but an obligation to use that talent and our creativity to change people’s behavior around some of the bigger issues facing the world.”

Donald Draper, eat your heart out. 

If you’re a moderate, that statement probably gave you the warm fuzzies. If you’re an ad exec with delusions of grandeur, those aforementioned fuzzies gave you a cockstand (or increasingly, thanks to well-placed statues, they made your Mylas musty). 

Let me head something off at the pass, here. There are moderate views I can grok, but they’re all born of nihilism. If your reply is something like, “Things never change,” (Weems, 2016), I’d say, “Not with that attitude,” but you’re probably correct. Certain segments of British society have this notion down pat, and it creates different fiction. There’s a reason why The Office had a short, stagnant run there and its export to the good ol’ US of A resulted in a decade of character development. We have to admit it’s getting better all the time. Thing is, happy endings are only half the story, so if your moral is, “we’re fucked,” you’re reading the writing on the wall. 

Likewise, if you express socialist thought but admit the Democrats have bullied and marginalized progressives for so long no viable alternative exists (Reynolds, 2017) other than, in my case, laughing maniacally while they plow the brittle steel of their Olympic-class liner into the iceberg of capitalist capitulation (it’s okay, they’ll make it into the lifeboats), then I’ll consider you a reasonable lass or fellow.

However, if your reaction to current events is to not only unquestioningly attend this dinner theater but graciously accept the shit sandwich they unceremoniously slap on your plate and salivate at the thought of shoving it into your quivering piehole, all I have to say is, “bon appetit.” 

If you want to snack down on some ass elote, be my guest. I only want you to stop defending it. Capitalism is a gargantuan rabid bear. Unhinged, it stalks the countryside, and some of us would like to put it out of its misery before it’s too late. There are others who recognize its potential, and they’ve convinced you to mosey on over and try to harness it to their plow. The people of America willingly throw themselves into its foaming mouth if it means they have even the slightest chance of yoking it. Do the handful who think they’ve succeeded realize what they’ve just tied themselves to?

Difficulties abound, I understand why you might want to fly under the radar. I don’t blame you for not hoisting the flag of revolution. It would be very Jim Jones of me to even suggest it.

Just don’t grin with your teeth full of the corn some hedge fund manager doesn’t remember eating and say, “Thank you sir, may I have another.” I don’t even care if you’re too afraid not to choke it down. I’ll likely have what you’re having. Just don’t gag it down and tell me it was filet mignon.

One Day Sale

I’m not censoring this at all, because that was his name, and if you go to that URL you’re going to get what you deserve, which is most likely not cheap Ray Bans.

This is what I should have posted yesterday while I was too busy feeling sorry for myself.

A guy I know, or used to know, because he is dead, got his Facebook hacked by that Ray Ban spammer you may or may not be familiar with. It’s not the first time I’ve seen it happen, so when I got tagged in an advertisement, I prepared to delete it and move on until I noticed the name attached.

This tiny slap in the face said something to me about life, or death, but I wasn’t immediately sure what it was. It took two hours for me to pin it down emotionally, but I think I categorized it well enough for my heuristic-loving mind to accept.

It’s the digital version of when you see a news story about a big city moving a cemetery, and then you’re hit by the dawning realization that even your final resting place is worthless, because at some point it’s either going to be lost in a forest, moved somewhere else, or have a building slapped on top of it. Compared to all that, I think I’d rather be cremated and buried nowhere. Maybe I could be unceremoniously flushed down the toilet, where I belong, if it isn’t too much trouble. If you’re up to the deed, make sure you do it in one of those high-flush jobs or you’re going end up plunging.

So then I see Ray Ban Spammer figuratively kicking over headstones and I’m reminded of the time I walked into a patch of woods in Kentucky and dug through underbrush and vines to look at grave markers. “This is where you really end up,” I thought, and that’s if you’re lucky.

I’m not worried about advertising for hackers because it’s not going to work. I am a bit worried that the rash of real life cemetery vandalism may be viral blowback based on our outcry. Technology has a way of stoking these things, and when they, you know, the fascists, the Trumpenproletariat, see that it hurts people, they say, “Oh boy, this really fires the lefties up!” and go to town desecrating graves. For once, however, I’m not going to victim blame you for complaining. It is not trivial to say, “This goes against everything we should stand for as a civilization,” and expect people not to stab at your exposed Achilles tendon, especially when it’s something previously so universally agreed upon as taboo.

Maybe it’s a point of privilege, though, that we build monuments in the first place. Most of the things that ever lived have no resting place except the stone below or your gas tank. Most of the people who ever breathed are now nowhere to be found. As long as there’s someone left to argue for you, you might have a chiseled rock standing somewhere, but even that’s not guaranteed. When your society falls into ruin, maybe you’ll be a lucky one of historical significance. Perhaps an archaeologist will find you interesting, if there are still scientists around after this.

It’s a new frontier of desecration now that our lives are frozen online. Even after we stop ticking, the servers click away, and someone on the other side of the planet needs to make a living too, I guess. They may have mouths to feed, or at least their own. We have memories, until there’s nothing left to remember.

$24.99 one day sale!!!

That sale has been going on for a while now.

Fugue

Okay okay.

I went off a little half-cocked yesterday.

I got freaked out about life and I gave up on something I love. In the hours since, I’ve wondered what I’ll do with all this free time, and I’ve come up with nothing.

Here’s the deal.

Maybe I do need to come up with ways to get paid writing, but it doesn’t mean I have to stop engaging in this bullshit navel gazing. I can do both.

It’s also pretty counterproductive to cut my nose off to spite my face by going cold turkey here. Maybe I need to come up with stupid fucking tshirt ideas to make myself feel better. I dunno. Bottom line is though, I’m a flighty craphead and I’m back.

The live video I did tonight was nice. Maybe when I’m feeling closed in and alone, I’ll start logging on. It brings out something I enjoy, and DEM HORMONES. There are so many delicious attention holes I haven’t exploited here.

I also dare say I’m the most honest person when it comes to this. I need you, dear reader/watcher. YOU COMPLETE ME.

Anyway, my coworkers are about to rise up in revolt. I’ll see you Monday for sure.

Love,

Bobby

Hiatus

I know tax season is a boon for a lot of you guys. I’m one of the lucky folks who actually pays income tax, so when the trip to the CPA today ended in me coming home and weeping with my head in my hands, I had an epiphany.

I really have to stop wasting my time doing this. If I am going to write, I’m going to write for something. It’s no longer sufficient that I just get paid in the brain.

I’m going to take a break from this and strive toward something productive. I have stories to tell, and the last year has been my writer’s version of burning your first 1000 oil paintings (because they’re shit, obviously). I’ve done that and learned quite a bit. Now it’s time to shine.

I’ll probably end up writing Internet porn, and that’s fine, but I’d rather sell things I’ve had brewing in me since forever. I know I can do this. This blog was a test of sorts for me. When I saw Billy West speak last year I knew I had to do something creative and here it is. Now it’s time for Phase Two. I owe it to myself and my family to try.

So here lies The Bob Talbot dot com. I may pop in from time to time to update you when something significant occurs, but this will no longer be my almost-daily shitpost buffet. We’ve got bigger fish to fry.

I thank all twelve of you constant readers, and Mom. I love you Mom.

Here’s to the next step.

-Bob

The Rise and Fall of Bobbunism

There is a spectre haunting Arkansas – The spectre of Bobbunism!

You guys are going to have to bear with me. I’ve been reading 19th century political literature of the socialist persuasion every night while I wait for the girls to get out of the tub, and it has only cemented my realization that beardy Europeans have had this shit figured out since forever. You may or may not have had this epiphany twenty years ago in community college, so if I start acting all Philosophy 101 on you here, give me a couple of weeks to get it out of my system.

One time I caught Buddhism for a fortnight. It was like one of those lingering colds that hang around so long you get used it, as if hacking every few minutes is just the way it is now. Eventually you’ll wake up one fine morning, take a deep breath, and realize you’re well. That’s how Buddhism left my body. I still bear some of the scars, like when I mentally chanted Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo through an entire root canal, but I’m mostly clear.

Bobbunism feels more terminal. I’m probably going to carry this one until I kick the bucket. I may not always have the strength to keep it up in the face of adversity, but it will certainly boil under the surface when its not raging in a full-on outbreak. I’m pretty sure I just mixed penis and herpes metaphors, but is it really mixed?

I admit “Bobbunism” doesn’t look quite right as a word. It sounds fine, but the double “b” makes the “bun” stick out too much and I’m afraid it will lead to mispronunciations. “Bobunism” is probably more accurate to the way it sounds, but I’m afraid people won’t catch the long “u” sound. “Bob-unism” doesn’t work either, though, because the hyphen chops it up and people will place too much emphasis on the “-unism.” Here lies Bobbunism, dead in the water right where it was launched because it just ain’t right.

I’ll probably stick with Space Communism. Branding this thing seems weird and against the concept. I was tempted, briefly, to write a kids’ version of the Communist Manifesto, but they’re better off reading Rainbow Fish. I’d also be struck with quite a dilemma on the off chance I were successful in this endeavor. Would I redistribute the wealth?

“Oh, it’s not that much money,” I’d say, “especially not compared to all these filthy billionaires. Hell, if you look at it from a scientific standpoint, I have barely any money at all! Look at this chart. Here’s Putin up here with $60 billion and here I am waaaaay down here with $2 million, so tiny I might as well keep it. I mean, until everyone else lays down their property, I might as well keep mine. I won’t do the world any good living in a box, no siree! Simon & Schuster just contracted me to do a version of Capital!”

I’m going to stick to navel gazing, dreaming about Star Trek, and insulting people who actually do things. I mean, all these protests for women or the workers are doing a lot of good for working women who can’t afford to take a day off. Sure, you stopped your Range Rover at Starbucks on the way to the meeting and tipped the single-mother barista a dollar, but you aren’t quite seizing the means of production, either.

I’m not an emotionless drone. I get why that statue of a little girl facing down a bull on Wall Street moves you. Thing is, it was placed there by an exorbitantly wealthy woman who wanted to make a point to her rich friends. “Women can be Wolves of Wall Street too!”

We have to do better than this, guys.

I can’t talk much, though. I got some new contact lenses yesterday and all I can think about is how weird I look without glasses and how I’ll clean these things after the fall of civilization. I’m pretty sure there won’t be saline solution for sale in Bartertown, but there might be a purveyor of spectacles. I’m also convinced I’m hideous now, probably because I haven’t seen my face without frames on them for fifteen years. No one else seems to mind or even notice so far, but the situation did prompt me to ask Gina how she didn’t flee in terror the first time I unveiled this monstrous visage.

Beauty, meet the Beast.

I’ll be rolling face-full-of-nose from now on. There’s no equipment to break up the monotony here, folks. It’s gonna be all eyes and ears and unwanted body hair from here on out, or at least until the bombs drop.

I should have faith that the post-apocalyptic ophthalmologists will not only be socialist but well equipped. I imagine Dr. Johnny Eyecare will roam the wastes handing out contact solution and dispensing weed for your glaucoma. Some time later, they’ll erect a statue of him in the rubble at the end of Wall Street. He’ll be performing an eye exam on the little girl with one hand and flipping a bird over his shoulder with the other, towards the place where the bull once stood.

The citizens of Wall Town will tell the tale of how Dr. Eyecare melted down the bull to make frames for the people of New Manhattan. His monument will gesture toward that empty spot, inviting anyone who wishes to step into its place to get fucked.

For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow

This morning I contemplated writing “Shit My Coworkers Say.” I don’t tend to have a good internal barometer for the consequences of my actions in this regard, so I usually imagine whether or not my post would freak Mom out, and then I make a decision. It also isn’t lost on me that Obamacare is soon to be replaced by Trumpcare. The Affordable Care Act will be swiftly transmogrified into the American Health Care Act, and the lives of my family could hang in the balance if I find myself unemployed.

Sure, the Gubmint will keep a couple of the features people yelled loudest about at those embarrassing (for the Congresspeople) town hall meetings, like the requirement that companies provide coverage for preexisting conditions (at a steep price if your insurance has lapsed). If it sounded like a provision’s removal would kill someone’s entire family and there was a chance survivors might then be compelled to set shit on fire, the authors of the bill kept that part of the old act, or at least some semblance of it. 

If our lawmakers (and their business buddies) logged the human algebra into their TI-83 of Tyranny and a provision’s removal only incurred at least the standard American pre-Obama level of wrath and despair, up to and including the number of deaths it would take to initiate complete chaos and anarchy divided by the amount of money their reelection campaigns stand to make, they dropped it like the TPP. What was a half-measure to begin with will become no measure at all, and I’d rather not be thrust into uncertainty against my will, like Spicer after Big Daddy has a Tweetfit.

Plus, the more I thought about it, the more banal that Shit seemed. There are businesses in town (the local newspaper, for example) where dropping the N-bomb is pretty acceptable behavior, so I’m not going to act like I’m the squished social justice sandwich at the bottom of a basket of deplorables. Here, it’s usually more of the mundane, everyday racism like, “A large black man just walked out of the music department with a DVD!” (he was on the inventory crew and was planning to purchase it), or, “There was a black gentleman with a backpack in here forever. I just had a feeling, you know? He could have had anything in there!”

One of my favorite recent quotes from an unprompted rant about water protectors was, “It’s not their land. They should take their teepees and go home.” Most of the time, though, it’s just regular old racial profiling with some ableism thrown in. “I’m so retarded! That’s just retarded! This is retarded!” Nothing to see here, folks. 

Last weekend I received my ten year pin after just over eleven years of employment. I wasn’t bothered by the lateness, but it did irk me a bit that some of my similarly-awarded coworkers were lauded as heroes of the people while my speech read like a flagged Wikipedia stub. “Out of 79 original hires, 71 no longer work here, but Bob does. He was quickly promoted and promoted again, and he’s still here. Give him a hand, the guy who still works here after ten, I mean eleven years, Bob Talbot.”

Censored because I don’t want to deal with the potential bullshit.

Believe me, I am not so goddamned aloof that I don’t understand why my presentation got phoned in. For a couple of years, I waged open war against the very corporation that feeds my family. I’ve capitulated, mostly (I will neither confirm nor deny guerilla tactics) because I’ve realized how little my supervisors actually control, and I regognize how unlikely they are to change, especially after they’ve spent decades clawing their way into enviable, cushy positions as cogs in the dreaded machine. Granted, I’m still not sure why it takes 35 hours a week to schedule 20 people with high tech software when I used to schedule 50 with some green screen, no mouse, 1980s MS-DOS nightmare of a program in less than eight hours a week, but I digress.

I’ve surrendered with very little to show for my effort, which was a barely-Pyrrhic victory that’s already been erased by changes in the state minimum wage. Perhaps I’ll add a small line on my CV (right below “Started Fred Armisen’s Wikipedia page” and “First Post on the Johnny Cash is Dead thread on Fark dot com”) that says, “Singlehandedly (advocated for my coworkers and) negotiated a .25-.50 raise for workers in three stores until the government forced the company to raise wages again.” Goddamn, that doesn’t flow at all.

I’ll likely receive some stern warnings from a friend or two (and Mom) after this, and they’ll be completely warranted. I’m aware of how precarious my situation is, but people have written worse under more duress. I’m no hero, I’m just the guy who doesn’t know how to quietly give less fucks. 

Economy willing, I plan to be here until the store lease is up in 2020. That is, unless I’m struck down in my prime by chronic foot-in-mouth disease. I’ll receive my 15th anniversary pin, and perhaps the book gods will grant us a reprieve and renewal.

Either way, when that fuzzy black box gets unceremoniously tossed at me, I hope it’s accompanied by a short statement that highlights my accomplishments, something like, “Bob, since you’ve taken over the store scheduling with no promotion or increase in pay, you’ve excelled at somehow keying in our seven remaining employees while simultaneously running the cash register, information desk, music/DVD department, and preparing coffee. You are an indispensable part of our business and the true hero of workers everywhere. Thank you for your service, Bob Talbot. Here’s some clearance stickers. Time to liquidate this bitch.”

EAT IT

I can write about jizz on a Sunday and get fifty readers, but if I post wholesome Dad Stories on a weekday, I get nine.

It’s Saturday and I’m at work. This isn’t going to be the one that gets me over the top, so fuck it. I’m tired and I don’t get off until eight. I’m going to eat this big plate of fried food Gina delivered and read a book.

I don’t get paid for this, except in the brain (sometimes not even that), so forgive me if I sound a little sore when the dopamine doesn’t deliver.

This is already too long for a “fuck you.” I find it best to have an adversarial relationship with my readers. Stephen King once said, “Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and fuck the prom queen.”

He also said, “Amateurs wait for inspiration. Real writers snort a bunch of coke and write for 18 hours while their family cowers in the next room.”

Here’s what I’ve learned from studying my metrics. You guys love politics unless it’s too long, meta, serious, or weird. You hate shop talk. You despise my family unless someone died or almost died, and you probably won’t click on an article unless there’s at least one photo attached.

You hate clicking anything whatsoever if you don’t have to, even though you share posts by David Avocado Wolfe, and archives? What archives? If you don’t see it the day it was posted, it never happened.

With all that in mind, my new approach should be political stories about death and cum. This is why journalists say, “If it bleeds, it leads.” This is the plot of Nightcrawler. Look in the mirror, folks. Jake wasn’t the bad guy. It’s you.

I just ate twenty gigantic fried shrimp, brought to me by slavery and capitalism, and I don’t care. You don’t either, really, so don’t pretend. I’m taking tomorrow off, and next week is going to be 100% straight-up hot ropy¹ loads, milky yolks blasting all over the page. It’s gonna be a fucking oyster farm up in here, all snail trails and cloudy chestnut sauce.

Goddammit. Now I only have twenty minutes left to read this book about how we’re all meat robots. Forget it. Leave me here in my greasy-phoned shrimp shame. Fifteen minutes. Fuck.

Pretend there’s a photo of my lunch here. The work wifi is fucking atrocious.

¹ I had “ropy” misspelled for over 24 hours, WHO GIVES A SHIT.

Decade

Lately I do my best to avoid archival Facebook posts. There’s too much history there best left buried, but today I’m glad I peeked into the crypt. Down at the bottom of the ossuary, so deep below the bleached bones of long dead relationships I almost missed it, was a small messsage apparently unseen at the time of its posting. My pal Christopher wrote, “What up yo?” ten years ago today. I’d just finished my almost daily work lunch of ten Ritz crackers and two tablespoons of Jif (the wrong way to pronounce gif) peanut butter when I noticed it and replied, “Not much.”

I yelled to Christopher, who was seated behind me in his office, and explained the situation. He pledged to reply in ten years. I’d place my bet on the collapse of civilization before then, and I’d almost prefer it to twenty years of Facebook. Still, I’d miss his reply, and that’s something to look forward to.

Where the magic happens.

Ten years ago, George W. Bush was in office and I’d been working here for about a year. Michael Jackson, David Bowie, and Prince were alive. So was my father. I was on my first marriage and would be for three more years. I usually don’t talk about that, because it’s ancient history, but how many lifetimes ago was it? Three? Four?

Ten years ago I wouldn’t be a dad for five more years. Ten years ago I thought it was still okay to call things gay, and I definitely wasn’t referring to actual sexuality or the 1890s. I hadn’t been to Alaska, Mexico, France, or the UK. I’d never been to civil court, which was fun, and I’m not talking about divorce (although that was a wild ride as well).

Did you know you can sue someone over some land they never owned, represent yourself in court, and be allowed to cross examine the defendant with nonsense questions for way too long before the judge stops you? You’ll definitely lose, but if you really want to ruin someone’s fucking day/week/month and you have the time, go for it.

Christopher just read aloud the financial report from last quarter. The company cited Adele’s disappointing sales and coloring books (we always miss the tail end of a fad, see also: Sudoku) for our most disappointing holiday season since 2005. Civilization may survive, and Facebook along with it, but Amalgamated Books & Coffee, Inc.? Doubtful. I blame Adele for a helluva lot of things, but our downfall isn’t one of them. The billion dollar e-reader debacle was full-blown cancer. We’re in remission now, but we may not last ’til the current administration has time to cause an economic flu epidemic.

I’m severely tempted to outline the thousand cuts that’ve bled us dry, but it wouldn’t make much sense in this format. Some of the issues are simple enough, but others are such a Catch-22 style clusterfuck that even I barely understand them. Such things are best left for a corporate post-mortem book, which you’ll have to get on Amazon along with all the board games and shitty romance titles we don’t carry.

I hope I’m here in ten years, but my headache and heart rate say, “Mmmmm, it’s a possibility!” in Mel Blanc’s 1940s Bugs Bunny voice, you know, back when he was still shooting dogs in the mouth. Nothing’s ever quite as funny as it was.

If fate grants us, and me, a reprieve, I hope I’m at least tapping this out from the office (or an office) instead of writing it on my lunchbreak and proofreading it while I take a piss. It’ll be much more sanitary, and I won’t have to keep flushing every time someone walks in. It’s easier than saying, “Don’t mind me. I’m not masturbating, I’m working on my blog.”

“Dude,” they’d reply. “You should have said you were masturbating.”