Saturday, May 06, 2006

Death and recipes: goon island

Don't tell anyone.
I'm sneaking off to Goon Island to eat capitalists.

On Goon Island. They eat the dead...(and capitalists). In fact, eating anything that becomes a problem or turns out to be a Bad Idea is pretty much the daily routine. In the last episode from the Island, Goon discusses the strange and alarming burial customs of other societies and concludes...

"But a Goon couldn't consign the body of someone they knew, lived with, and possibly loved to such treatment. Especially when, with a properly banked pit of coals and a decent molasses rub, they could honor them by making the tender and juicy main course at a well-attended island cookout under the stars....

We all look forward to our last bar-b-que. I know Arnie did. That's why Goons don't travel much. If something happened and we croaked while abroad and couldn't make it back to Goon Island before going rancid...well, we like an aged cut of meat as much as anyone, there are limits. We're not French, after all."

I think Pogo would approve.

Pondering entropy

Pension company

“All our representatives are busy. Your call is important to us. Your call may be monitored for quality control. Please remain on the line to retain your holding priority.”

Five minutes. Thankfully it is not a musical interlude.

“If you would like to leave a voice mail, press 1.”

Repeat sequence several times a day, for two days. Be away from your phone when the call comes in. Repeat sequence.

Get the number for an in-town representative. “This is John Doe. I’m sorry I’ve missed your call, but if you leave a number I’ll get back to you.”

Transit Company

Morning at the busy shelter. A big man in an olive green jacket gestures to the shattered wall of glass on the south side of the shelter.

“I called them to ask why this wasn’t fixed. Do you know what they said?”
“No. What?”
“They said they weren’t fixing it because of the neighborhood. They said they were tearing about four of them down because of the vandalism.”

The Bank

“I want to make an appointment to discuss setting up a business account.”
"Your name?"
"Linda Jones"
“Our account manager is out today. What’s your number, Nancy? May I call you Nancy?”
“No. You may call me Linda.” And I give my number and she promises to call back in ten minutes.

Two hours later, “I want to make an appointment to discuss setting up a business account.”
"Your name?"

Daily News

I open the morning paper and by the time I’ve skimmed section one – world news, the new budget that kills daycare, the Kyoto Accord, and leaves the poor standing in the cold - and I've covered various and sundry daily horrors – I feel like a tire with the air rushing out.

Strap in because…

I know that the systems are breaking down. As Weedy says, we’re getting less and less inclined to even try to get information or service because we know that the hateful phone menu is waiting at the other end of the call. We’re waiting for the blow-off, the excuses, or the impossibility of actually talking to a human being who knows anything. We know that a trip to the emergency room means up to a 12 hour wait, unless we are about to expire on the premises and a member of the too-small, too-busy staff finds time to notice. Mere profuse bleeding or double vision is not urgent. The cable company promises to send someone to fix the cable line, but no, they can’t tell you what day, or what time. Let’s not talk about passports.

I know the systems, the basic paradigms of our society are dead and just haven’t fallen down. I needn’t even list the unsustainable basics. We’re all familiar with the issues. I have a sense of it sometimes like a growing weight, like one of those dreams where you are running for all you’re worth but you’re not moving. Only it’s not just me. It’s all of us…running and running, getting nowhere.

I have to remind myself of the other thing I know – which is that it’s necessary for the systems to break. We are a stubborn lot, human beings. We aren’t going to believe that what we’re used to doesn’t work until it’s stopped working on the grandest of scales.

And while the breakdown proceeds, I like to think about the idea that a better world and paradigms more respectful of nature and man and those we think of as “other” are already emerging from the increasing chaos. I have to think about this, actually. It’s what slows me down to look around. It’s what takes the weight off and gives me the determination to keep moving – no matter how much resistance there is…

Years ago, Marshall McLuhan said:

“If the work of the city is the remaking or translating of man into a more suitable form than his nomadic ancestors achieved, then might not our current translation of our entire lives into the spiritual form of information seem to make of the entire globe, and of the human family, a single consciousness?”

-Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, MIT Press, 1994

Now there’s a paradigm that weighs lightly. Let's hope on that.