Monday, November 9, 2015

Reclaiming the Exclamation Point!

I'll admit it. I was among the first to abandon exclamation points back when it was discovered by pretty much an entire generation of stunned college freshman that their presence in your writing implied immaturity, excitability, and a story that probably just wasn't any good.

Right around then was also when social media took a running leap and astounded everyone with a flawless Triple Pike into our pockets. From 2006 on, no matter who you friended or what you liked, you were guaranteed a frontal assault of pictures and updates that let you know everyone else was having a much, much better time. But this is all ancient history by now.

Hot on Facebook's trail, of course, were the dating apps. I can only speak from a gay man's experience, but let me tell you: few things irrationally turned me off more than a well-placed exclamation point - or two, or three - in some guy's message about how fun Dolores Park was that afternoon (and don't get me started on 'lol'). For whatever reason, an excess of excitement conveyed a level of childish eagerness that took me down a path of second-guessing a guy's self-proclaimed masculinity. Maybe it's just me being insane - and it probably is - but the more "!"'s I saw in those little orange text bubbles, the more I felt sure I wouldn't be into their brand of manliness.

Indeed, the guys who did compel me most were the ones who had mastered the art of DoucheText. For the uninitiated, DoucheText is accomplished by sending only the bare minimum of words required to convey a sentence - and you can straight-up forget about punctuation. The whole point is to make it seem as though they're spending as little time and energy conversing with you as possible. And, if you're anything like I used to be, that was a substantial turn-on.

An example of someone who would annoy me: "Dolores was great! Super sunny!! Tons of fun!"

An example of someone I'd want: "was good"

So AJ, you're asking, how is it all connected? What's your fucking point?!

Well, I'm not sure it's all connected other than that the exclamation point has gotten a bad rap by yours truly as of late. I'm taking a stand now, though, because too many people have caught on. It's one thing for me to go around popping the joy balloons other people let fly, but it's quite another when there aren't even any left to pop because no one's putting them up anymore in the first place.

The main culprits are Facebook and Instagram captions these days. You know what I'm talking about. Maybe you have a super privileged friend who never seems to work and is always photographing - and then POSTING - like banana splits at 11AM on a Tuesday and shit. Or maybe he's even shaking hands with some startup mogul in the secret back room of some awesome new bar or something. Either way, you know he's stoked on it, because why else would he post it and force us all to contemplate his excessive good fortune? THE REAL KICKER HERE, though, is that I guarantee the caption is some version of DoucheText.

An example: "Banana splits on Tuesdays. Good."

An example: "Steve Jobs and I with the Stanley Cup. Was cool."

An example: "Roof top view from our hotel in Athens. Not a bad way to enjoy a glass of wine."

YOU SMUG SHIT. GET EXCITED. What has happened to us as a people when we can't own the very reason we're sharing something? Bah!

And so yeah, that's basically why you're going to see a lot more of the old EP (maybe a snazzy acronym will make them cool again) when I take photos of sunsets and milkshakes from now on. Because I'm stoked, goddammit. And I want you to know it.

Join me next week as I wax venomous on another pressing topic: the #liveauthentic epidemic!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Short story

Go Roger, go!

Woah Roger, woah!

Slow Roger, slow!

No Roger! No!

Oh Roger, oh!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Vicki xx From the 12th Floor

Vicki xx and I met on the elevator this morning. One of us dropped a FOB. We weren't sure who had done it - frazzled as we were with our coffee cups, umbrellas, and respective hangovers - and in an overt display of courtesy we both fell to the ground, desperately searching for the little piece of plastic that permitted one of us access to our respective floor of work in this godforsaken building.

I ride the elevator approximately six times a day, five days a week. I've done so for the past eleven months. That's a lot of rides. And until today, I'd never crossed paths with Vicki xx.

To describe her would be like trying to describe something for which there are no words, like why someone should purchase a fleet of MFP printers, or that feeling you get when coffee hits your system and a trip to the bathroom grows pants-shittingly imminent. I suppose I'll leave you with the impression that she's the sort of woman who wouldn't look out of place anywhere, ever, with a pink feather boa draped around her neck.

We talked about many things on that first ride during the remaining four seconds that passed between my finding her FOB and her stepping off the elevator onto the 12th floor. Among several other coincidences, I learned we both share a fondness for cold meatball sandwiches.

We parted ways after burying a "besties" time capsule in the floor of the elevator and promising to try and run into each other again. Not a second has passed this morning that I haven't thought of Vicki xx, and the pink feather boa I'd imagine she could pull off wearing anywhere.

Until we meet again.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Perfect Banana

Every Monday I come to work with a bunch of bananas that serve as breakfast for the rest of the week. And every Wednesday, the remaining bananas are so brown and spotty I want nothing to do with them. I remember reading a year or so back that something was happening with banana genetics that virtually guaranteed their extinction within the next decade. Or something. Perhaps this post deserves more research.

Here we go, from Wiki: "While in no danger of outright extinction, the most common edible banana cultivar Cavendish (extremely popular in Europe and the Americas) could become unviable for large-scale cultivation in the next 10–20 years." 

I'm assuming this means that a genetically modified strain of banana will rise to prominence. Normally I'd say I'm anti such a development, but... if it means there's a possibility my bananas will remain firm and green the whole week long, I might have to rethink my entire genetic modification belief system. 


Also: I can't decide whether I'm on or off the blind date bandwagon. I suppose if I've met the guy on OK Cupid and know all his vital stats and the six things he can't live without, it's not a blind date any longer. But still. Are they fun? Are they exhausting? How is it any different than a job interview (and yes, both include the possibility of sex for me [kidding]). Regardless, I'm 0 for 2 this week. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

That Time Again

I've identified a pattern. Every October, I become critical of my life to the point that anything short of working as an Imagineer at Disneyland is unsatisfactory. My kickass apartment, my second-to-none DVD collection, my ragtag group of friends - none of it, no matter how great, seems an appropriate trade-off for working a 9 - 5 desk job on the 19th floor of a corporate-owned skyscraper in SF's Financial District.

I bike to work and try to feel different from the hundreds of cyclists, the thousands of drivers, and the tens of thousands of commuters in the buses and the underground who are all headed to the same cluster of buildings as me. I feel bad for the adventures they're sacrificing in order to make a paycheck and support a family. I think about how many days they've woken up and put on the same pair of dress socks underneath the same pair of slacks, and how many meaningless conversations they've shared in the indistinguishable lobbies that have served as empty reference points for the jobs they've skipped between and the promotions they've earned. I know it makes me sound like an asshole, but to view myself as anything other than different from is to admit defeat. And that's not something I do lightly. Ever.

Instead, I make a game out of it. "Look at me pressing the button for the elevator," I think. "This fancy lady next to me has no idea how amusing this all is. Me, an impostor, riding the elevator along with the rest of them as they think their thoughts and have their small talk. Hilarious!" And then I sit at my desk and continue: "Look at me, sitting at a desk in a fluorescent-lit office. With my big old desk phone. And my list of office numbers. And Bagel Monday. Thank God I'm in a Creative, at least. Man alive, it's going to be one hell of a story when I get out of here a few months from now. Imagine how absurd this whole situation will sound when I'm ten years older and kicking back telling it."

Look at me, up on my high horse.

The reality is - or, rather, must be, for the sanity of every one of my fellow humans whom I walk among every day of the work week - that we all must have started out thinking the way I do. And slowly, imperceptibly, the godawful mundanity of the situation must just start to beat the sense out of you.

And so I'm no different from everyone else. At all.

Unless, of course, I stick to my guns. And remember these thoughts a few months from now. And walk out of here before it becomes something I can't just wash my hands of. And never stop trying to be supremely badass. Even if it means less money. And no dress socks, ever. And a profound feeling of smugness as I continue to buy bottom-shelf vodka.

I'm 25. Nothing's final. And these are the thoughts I need to remember until I can look around and safely proclaim myself not a part of the Financial District crowd.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Death to Instagram

This past week my best buddy here in SF had a twinkie little visitor from New York stay free of charge in his studio with him. They'd never before met in person, having only exchanged messages through Grindr while my friend was in New York for a long weekend a month back.

The visitor lived on his iPhone for the entirety of his stay. Every time they came over to hang at my studio, he would plop onto the couch, whip a charger from out of nowhere, and sit cradling his phone as it juiced up, pausing in conversation every few seconds to respond to a text message or like a photo on Instagram. Even when we went to see Looper, he paid little attention to the film, his face instead illuminated by the phone he simply couldn't set down. If you're reading this, you likely know my thoughts on phones in movie theaters: they don't belong. Ever.

When we went to the park, he had to Instagram the park. When we pulled out our books to read, he had to Instagram his open book. Nothing was too trivial for this kid's Instagram: vanagons, bagels, walking up a hill, walking back down the hill, vegetables, parking meters, a fire hydrant. He quite literally saw the world through an Instagram filter, and unless something would make a decent photo, it wasn't worth his time.

Now, this kid wasn't just visiting SF: he's planning on moving here. And this was his trial week. And he spent *all* of it feverishly snapping photos, writing captions, and uploading them for his 409 followers to comment on. It's as if he can't justify living unless other people are validating his most trivial moments.

I'm reminded of this excerpt from my senior thesis:

The decade has come and gone, its major contribution to American society the reflective realm of social media. That’s right: being social is now a new media form. People blog. They maintain Facebook profiles with the goal of keeping their best foot – or their most attractive foot – in the spotlight. They tweet clever diatribes that allow devoted followers access to their every move. And, when something truly outrageous happens, its filmic counterpart pops up on Youtube in as little time as a minute. People are on display as much as they want to be, and they’re shaping their lives accordingly. The logical path of fiction for 2010, then, might now look like this:

Reality → Technology → Entertainment → Reality → Entertainment → Reality…

And so on and so forth, until the (increasingly) fine line dividing “reality” and “entertainment” becomes virtually imperceptible. 

Again, refer to Disneyland versus Reality Park. The key difference between the two – and which Eco, even if disparagingly, acknowledges – is that there’s still some visible distinction between Disneyland and its external society. Even if the industrial squalor of Los Angeles “knowingly” plays off the perfect plasticity of Main Street, U.S.A. in order for the latter to shine all the brighter, there’s still some amount of contrast present in the equation. Humans can distinguish external from internal, despite both realms working together to form the great irony of the twenty-first century. Reality Park, though, is reality, to the extent that Airplane would be absolutely no fun for anyone who wasn’t both completely aware and appreciative of its resounding falseness. And to live in a world where Disneyland has been abandoned in favor of Reality Park – where packaged entertainment is being usurped by today’s younger generation of tech-savvy, reflection-happy scenesters – is frightening. Because when people start looking to themselves for amusement, and those same people become aware of that self-imposed gaze, then they begin both acting for and responding to an audience; an audience that includes themselves. And it’s at this point, I believe, that something crucial to a meaningful existence is lost. 


As of this writing, the twink's latest uploaded Instagram photo features his disembodied arm handing a dog a chew toy. It has ten likes.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Oh the Joys

Life's been pretty great lately, which doesn't help explain why I want to quit all of it, move back to Portland, and open a bar with my best friend. When I bike to work in the morning, I don't dread the idea of sitting at my desk from 9:30 - 5 and concepting copy, but I don't exactly relish sitting here, either. This eggshell-white wall in front of me isn't getting any more interesting, and the appalling mid-90s carpet isn't getting any less carpet-y. Plus there are the less than savory coworkers, but they number few.

I love my free time. I still freak out about exploring SF's bars and restaurants, and my friends are spectacular. What it really is then, I think, is my already-strengthening grudge against the typical 9 - 5 work week, and having a boss who makes decisions for you, and knowing that every decision directly affecting your own free time is at the mercy of someone who likely just doesn't really care whether you feel you deserve a Friday at home. I see coworkers who have been at this job for 20, 30, even 40 years, writing the same briefs and wearing the same clothes and seemingly having accepted that this is the way it was meant to be for them. And that makes me sad.

The solution is obvious: move to Portland and open a bar. The obstacles are minimal: take a loan from my parents, work my ass off, enjoy success. This is the decision everyone has to make: run off in favor of something more personally rewarding, or settle for something that's pretty decent and then spend my entire working life convincing myself I made the right choice?

To be fair, I had these thoughts straight out of college. The reason they slipped away over the past two years is that real life happened, and suddenly affording an apartment and food made a part-time job at the Apple Store absolutely necessary. A lot of people simply don't have a choice in what happens to them because they aren't in a position to decide on anything other than surviving.

I suppose now is the time I should be grateful for my dad being a cheap bastard with big savings.

Check back this time next year and we'll see where these ramblings led me.