Here's To The Losers

At some point I gave up and just used the word “blog” – a word I had avoided using because I think it's an ugly, crude sounding word (I realize it's a shortened version of “web-log” – which also sounds kind of ugly, as well as dated at this point – and do people even know that, anymore?) I preferred to use “online journal” – which is too long, and probably just confuses people. So I eventually conceded to blog, just kind of giving up, but now I'm aware of the disdain people have for the idea of a “blog” anymore – it's a thing whose time is over. I hear people talking about blogs like they're hopelessly outdated jokes, and referring to “bloggers” with disgust. To say that someone is “blogging” is like saying (I'm unable to come up with a suitable metaphor here) they're doing something that's pathetic, no one cares about, is behind the times, uncool, and possibly irresponsible.

But I never did like the word, or self-apply it, so I don't really care if it dies. I'm using the word “memo” here (which is short for memorandum, which is a written note or communication – but a word that is appropriate in the fields of business, law, and politics – so essentially I'm using it wrong, here). (I could possibly endeavor to coin my own word: “memorandom” or “memorandumb”– but that would just confuse people more.) When my friends and I opened a punk record store (Garbage Inc.) in 1981, we began typing a daily, ongoing journal on the store typewriter (anyone there could choose to go sit and type, there was always a piece of paper – usually the back of a flyer – in the machine). We called this the “Garbage Memo” – and I'm not sure, but I think that name came from Keith Busch, as he started it with “Memo:” – and then went into an alcohol fueled, profanity-ridden account of the day. So it's with a bit of nostalgia and fondness for past times and lost friends – as well as a similar disdain for correct usage – that I use the term “Memo” here.

“Podcast” is another word I avoided using for a long time (for one thing, it always bugs me to use brand names, like iPod, or Walkman) (for another, it makes me think of “pod-people” – though, I think the battle against pod-people is a losing, or lost one – we may as well just give up at this point). Some have said that “blogging is out, podcasting is in” – which seems to be the case – but I don't find them mutually exclusive any more than reading an article is the same thing as listening to a radio show – and also this seems incredibly shortsighted, as you can already see the trend of podcasting marching to the cliff of now (it's probably already over the edge, and I'm just behind in mentioning it). I don't know what's next (and it's probably already here and I just don't know about it) – maybe virtual reality dinner parties. Anyway, I avoided podcasts for a long time, but then tried a few, and soon came to be dedicated to many. I used to really look forward to the Fresh Air or Charlie Rose segments with artists (musicians, writers, filmmakers, etc.) which seemed too few and far between. But now, one can easily satisfy several hours a day (if you have a really long commute) on just that kind of subject matter – and you can find even more long form, intelligent, (seemingly) unedited discussions of history, politics, philosophy, and on and on. I guess it really is kind of a golden age for smart, articulate people who like to drink a lot of coffee and talk a lot, and for those of us who want to fill hours of listening without spending a dime, except for a device on which to listen.

For me, listening to people talking leads to reading (further about subjects they are talking about), and reading (current interests, obsessions) leads to more reading, and also more listening to more podcasts. One thing doesn't replace another. Hopefully the virtual reality dinner party won't replace the flesh and blood dinner party (though I can't remember the last time I was invited to a dinner party). For me, writing a blog/journal/diary/memo is something I've always done, and never considered it would replace writing fiction, for me, because I've always loved fiction (reading and writing). You hear people say that fiction is out (it's over, through) and maybe for some people, they have no interest in reading fiction anymore, and that's okay, because it's a personal preference. It does kind of alarm me when I hear that, though – not for careers of fiction writers, or the fiction publishing industry, but for the people who say they no longer read fiction. Part of me feels like they have been led astray, and could, with some guidance, and love, find their way back to an activity which, for me, is more important than any other. For me, I can't imagine a life without reading fiction. (But then, there was a time when I couldn't imagine a life without drinking beer... and I haven't had a beer, now, since 1992.)

The golden age for anything is brief and usually gone before you even have a chance to appreciate it. There is probably someone saying (tweeting, podcasting, broadcasting, micro-casting) right now (or last week/last year) that virtual reality dinner parties are dead. The theatre has been dead for centuries (though depending on what passionate person you talk to, there is nothing more exciting than theatre, right now) – but people find narratives somewhere (because, of course, without narrative, we don't exist). I feel like we live in a highly verbal time (maybe it's just that the coffee has gotten stronger, but maybe it's designer pharmaceuticals) – people are smarter than ever, and they're letting you know it. People are dumber than ever, too. No one reads anymore. But more people are writing more words than ever in history! Here's 1000 more words no one is going to read. Here's to the losers! I was just thinking something – about quiet, silent people – about how “Shutting Up” is a lost art-form – and whatever happened to people just being quiet? Of course, it's not an art-form, and there are plenty of people who do choose to keep their thoughts to themselves. The quiet people have always been here and always will be – they're here right now, holding all of this up – but we don't notice them because they know how to shut the hell up.