I woke up in a strange place

By Marc Heiden, since 1997.
See also: a novel about a monkey.

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December 18, 1998

I am attempting to crawl from the audio primordial soup of overnight radio programming to a sunday 10pm timeslot. the new, untitled product will take the radioactive monsters out of london and across the world during two hours of improvisational radio theatre. the show is to be performed by myself and a collective of friends. an initial venture was given wildly enthusiastic reception, but final determination of the show's fate is two weeks away, leaving Gamera and the boys to skulk around liverpool waiting for word.

the MechaCradle (my car) broke down and required $150 worth of repairs to operate at full capacity. I find it bizarre that the original Cradle suffered over $5000 worth of damage in accidents yet ran just fine until the day it died, while the new one collapses at first hint of a blown sparkplug. what the hell? also, it cost $150 that I don't have. to quote Paul Czarnowski, "send money!"

this, the twelfth month, brings no snow as of this writing. instead it has delivered an uninspiring sort-of-warmness. clearly some supervillain has engineered a diabolical plot. when I have some free time I will do battle with him or her. in Finland they call me "He Who Battles Evil". did you know that? it's true.

my kitten orbital has grown up to be quite the ladies' man. his favorite spot is a nice perch in the most well-lit window where sorority girls who walk by see him and stop to gurgle and coo at him. this happens at least twice a day. I am fairly sure that he knows what he's doing - he seems quite pleased with himself to get the attention - and the entire arrangement is just so divinely absurd that I can't bring myself to do anything about it. somehow it makes sense to have sorority girls hovering outside my apartment gurgling and cooing. I no longer have to go looking for it; finally, the chocolate syrup of social alienation is being fed to me with a spoon. wonderful!

my job at the Krannert Art Museum is going quite well. in fact, I don't think I've ever been happier with a job. not only is there a bucketload of free food every saturday, but at last someone is paying me to do what I've been saying I should be paid for all along: essentially, I receive money to occupy a space and spend at least part of the time being somewhat aware of the world around me. fantastic.

some short, easily digestible rants:

the "political correctness" backlash
it is the cutting-edge of the brain-dead to rail against political correctness. when the term is used to refer to a situation, it says a great deal more about the person using it than it does about the situation. whenever racist or sexist acts are committed by someone who a) does not have a swastika tattooed on their forehead or b) is not wearing a KKK hood and the minority has the nerve to complain, it is called political correctness. the fact is that political correctness as an oppressive, censoring force simply does not exist and never has. magazines like Time run "humorous" columns identifying what the "PC" term for an "eskimo" is. how zany. blah, blah, blah. the reality is, however, that no one has ever been silenced by political correctness. uniquely in human history, we have a backlash against something that does not exist. (does it? name one instance where the consequence is something other than you being thought of as a jerk for insulting someone or for failing to have an articulate position on some controversial issue - e.g. "it's not politically correct to be pro/anti issue X, political correctness won't let me speak my mind", etc.)

as for the whole "I don't want to be referred to as..." aspect, you may not see why a group of people different from you don't want to be referred to by a certain term. that's fine. they don't expect you to share their feelings - you haven't had the experiences that formed those feelings - but you should at least respect them. how arrogant is it to presume that it's more of an inconvenience for you to have to use a different word than it is for them to shrug off something that has negative and/or painful connotations for them? you're not a badass. you're just a dick.

"I don't see how..." seems to be the mantra. who's asking you to see, though? the weakness of your imagination should not be imposed upon other people. which leads me to...

white suburbanites and affirmative action
what is it about them that makes them think they can extrapolate their experience to cover the entire world? yo, Ted, just because you didn't run into any opposition in the job world doesn't mean other people didn't. the way that they take their upbringing for granted - "well, if I can do it, so can anyone, and the $200,000+ parental income and private school education I got doesn't make me different from anyone else!" - is unbelievable. I find it extremely grating to read essays by whiteys who slam affirmative action as they write on top-of-the-line computers in cozy, heated rooms. they complain about racially-based admissions policies as if they are being discriminated against but the fact is that they have plenty of access to fine schools and no hard-working whiteboy has ever been kept out of college by affirmative action. (plenty of hard-working nonwhiteboys, on the other hand, have gotten into college because of it thanks to access to grants and scholarships that schools would not otherwise offer.)

I'll be interested the first time that I hear a homeless guy tell me that affirmative action kept him out of school and a job. until then, the angst of white kids who (without any factual basis) complain that "minorities should stop complaining and just work, they have all the same chances" sounds banal to me. let's hear one answer the fact that 95% of CEOs in the US are white males. is 95% of the population white and male? no? then what's keeping minorities out? either there is a preferential establishment in this country or minorities are dumb and incapable, and if you believe the latter, I'd love to see your research on it. have fun going public with your findings. otherwise, shut up already...

four thoughts about the millenium
firstly, to all the types who continue to insist that the millenium starts in 2001, not 2000: yes, you're technically right. but what everyone cares about - what all the excitement is about - is when the number chages from 19 to 20. you are correct but irrelevant so drop it already. millenium fever is a somewhat dim ritual, yes. so what? so is sex 'n booze.

secondly, buy stock in anti-depressants now. the decade of 2000-2010 is going to be very interesting as people try to cope with the fact that nothing will have really changed. no force from above will have intervened in the painfuly numbing routine of their lives. if nothing else, it will be a ripe time to be an artist.

thirdly, as the year looms on the horizon, I issue a desperate plea to everyone to not even mention the Prince song "1999". "we're gonna party like it's 1999...and it is 1999!" anyone who thinks that that is humorously ironic in any way is not a good person and will not be going to heaven. if we don't nip it in the bud now then we're going to be sick beyond belief of it come december '99. do future generations a favor and take decisive action now...

finally, I join with a handful of other people in calling for a death to irony. no more. it's done, it is false, it is not clever. throw this snarling, hideous beast away. as the arbiter of such things, I declare irony to be a spent force and the lowest form of humor. abandon the hollow aesthetes in their cafes, pretending they are above everything by making ironic comment upon it, and let us go into the new millenium free of that hateful burden and face things as they are. let's actually live in the world that we're headed towards. irony is an excuse for the incompetent and the inadequate to mask their inability to experience and to create. no more. do you hear me? no more.

happy xmas. irony is over.

I woke up in a strange place is the work of Marc Heiden, born in 1978, author of two books (Chicago, Hiroshima) and some plays, and an occasional photographer.

Often discussed:

Antarctica, Beelzetron, Books, Chicago, College, Communism, Food, Internet, Japan, Manute Bol, Monkeys and Apes, North Korea, Oregon Trail, Outer Space, Panda Porn, Politics, RabbiTech, Shakespeare, Sports, Texas.


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Written by Marc Heiden, 1997-2011.