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Homo Sapiens Dumbputz….

November 12, 2012

I suppose it was inevitable ….

As life unfolded before me, I found myself being the target of a considerable amount of information conveyed with varying levels of urgency. The fundamentals, of course, included hints to prevent (or at least postpone) me from breaking my neck, guidelines for keeping me from providing motivation to someone else for breaking my neck for me, and the usual shtick about how to get into Heaven instead of That Other Place.

The rest of the emphasis was more directed towards commercial and social interests, sort of like it is today, but with some significant differences. For example, when I was a kid, the advertisements in print, on the radio, and then on that new TV thing, usually involved some lady in an apron holding up a box of laundry soap, or a cowboy sucking on the ONLY cigarette one should consider in order to guarantee being on the “A List” instead of wasting away in the basement of life choking down the equivalent of yard waste. If you could inhale the guts of a Camel or a Lucky Strike without throwing up, getting a nose bleed, or passing out, you were right up there with John Wayne and every other hairy chested hero, even if you were only twelve and your testicles hadn’t descended yet.

Thus, by the time I fell into the adult phase of my life cycle I was pretty well indoctrinated regarding the best laundry soaps, tobacco products, booze, breakfast cereals, and the cars most capable of peeling the rear tires off right down to the rims before hitting second gear. We had also been “educated” about which of the dozen or so flavors of nineteen cents per gallon gasoline was the next best thing to Jesus Christ in liquid form when it came to performing miracles. I had become immune to the sharp edges of Lucky Strikes by my mid-teens, but settled on Winston as my chosen path to COPD, except when doing scratch and spit stuff with “the guys” under which circumstances King of the Mountain stature depended being able to smoke what most nearly approached the equivalent of dog shit rolled up in yesterday’s newspaper without flinching.

*****

Half a C-note later, the couple of generations following in my footsteps, or more likely trying desperately to avoid doing so, have met a significantly different gauntlet to run between the highchair days and the dénouement of high school. Unbelievable, it is; and astronomically expensive in more currencies than just money.

Speaking of money, we didn’t really have any, comparatively speaking. That’s not a whine. It’s just the way it was, but despite any sense of deprivation we might have laid claim to from time to time, we did fine. Oh, there were the few privileged kids from the preferable side of the tracks who always had the latest styles and either drove Daddy’s convertible or got their own for a birthday present. Most of us, however, lived a more terrestrial existence and managed very well. If I needed money, I mowed a lawn, raked leaves, or shoveled snow for a few dollars. Interpret the word “few” literally. Nevertheless, it usually was enough. When I got my first part time job, at fourteen, the pay was a dollar an hour. Occasionally, there were adolescent incidents of petty crime, but that’s another story for another time.

I wonder, as I suppose every generation has in its seniority, about what fates will befall those just now discovering that they have some wild oats, and that it might be interesting to sow a few.

Life is notably more complex now, of course, for a number of reasons, including changes in the social, economic, technological, and environmental milieu. Two or more cars per household constitute the norm now, rather than being an exception reserved for the privileged strata. Heck, two or more bathrooms are now the norm as well, for that matter. We generally have more, at a glance making even a comfortable life in the fifties or sixties appear Spartan by comparison. I’m not saying they were the “good old days”, by any means. We had “junk” then, too. We just have a hell of a lot more of it now. Poverty then meant not having shoes; today it means not having designer shoes. We compensate for non-designer shoes today by owning a dozen pair of Chinese Cheapos from WallyWorld. When the laces get dirty, you throw the shoes away and buy a new pair. Tomorrow’s billionaires are the people buying up overstuffed landfills today. Someday, technology will enable them to make a lot of money from all of that crap.

*****

Television is a major precipitant to eye-rolling, yawns, and multilingual profanity around our house. I suspect TV isn’t long for this world, since multiple forms of communication and entertainment seem to be morphing towards a single source computer-based format, but between now and then the venue merits commentary. In spite of being a relative newbie in the grand scheme of things, television must be in its death throes anyway because it has become so ludicrous. “Humor” is now exemplified by hour-long time slots stuffed with videos of people tripping on obstacles, running into trees or random posts, falling down stairs, and other such fare, most likely staged or sneaked without the victim’s knowledge, with an occasional clip that was obtained through the genuine serendipity of just being in the right place at the right time, with camera in hand, when someone else just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Its the logical outgrowth of what I caricatured as the America’s Funniest Disembowelment fascination but a few years ago. We don’t just chuckle at the occasional mishap, though. We hunt humiliation and near death experiences down, facilitate them, sometimes outright cause them, and then kick back with a bag of chips and guffaw at the misfortunes and injuries of others. Some of it is pretty low rent, in my opinion, and practically elevates early Jerry Springer stuff to Top Shelf status. If you had a rival Olympic skater’s knees whacked to give your self an edge, or if you know George Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words by heart, you, too, can have a prime-time Laugh-a-Long.

The latest fad, already beginning to wrinkle as the next inane concept approaches the horizon, has been the farcically titled “REALITY” show. The only thing “real” about that fare is the fact that they “really” have a camera on site to record idiots doing the idiotic.

About every ten minutes, even in the case of the most unembellished of documentaries, the viewer is subjected to 8 or more “commercials”, the majority of them yakking up twenty first century over-the-counter versions of the Snake-Oil of yore, or some pharmaceutical product for one of an endless list of real or imagined maladies. The latter instruct one to educate one’s physician about the spotlighted drug, and to insist upon being given a prescription for it, even after having listened to a long string of potential misfortunes that would make Hannibal Lechter faint.

I find these commercials both hilarious and annoying. First of all, anyone who actually needs all of that shit is probably dead anyway, so their loved ones should just bury the remains and save a bundle of money that might otherwise be squandered on pointless therapies. The latest model of the human species has been in production, and has developed, for anywhere from 6,000 to 600,000 years, depending upon one’s brain size and source of information, and best of all, 99% of either figure has been accomplished without ANY of the junk being hawked as critical to the continuance of life. People must buy it though, because they keep on selling it. Go figure.

On that note, let’s clarify something. I go to my doctor so he can tell me what’s wrong, and what I can do about it, not the other way around. He spent at least twelve more years in college than I did, and I presume his grades were far better than mine, especially in the sciences. He gets paid $120 to let me sit in a room with year old women’s magazines until 9:15 for an 8:45 appointment. When he arrives, I fart, say “ah”, and he leaves. Usually, I feel better. If I have to self-diagnose and teach him biochemistry and pharmacology, he’s going to have to pay ME $120. Make that $150.

Among the most ridiculous of the ads are those for Viagra and Cialis. You know, the endless skits showing potential NFL first draft candidates giving the sneaky-peeky to their personal Playboy Centerfold units before they go sit in twinsie bath tubs out in a field. Gimme a break. Men twice their age can still carry a towel to the shower, no hands. Was there a nuclear accident we never heard about? Is the younger generation doomed to flaccid extinction?

I don’t make light of what is a very real medical issue for some people. I just don’t think the problem, or its alleged miracle cure, require equal time with soft drinks, breakfast cereals, and GM vehicles. I mean, I’m all for equity and fairness and all of that stuff, but after nearly fifty years of learning progressively more and more about the needs of female nether regions, the thought of a half century tit for tat (or visa versa) riposté regarding the male junkyard is a bit scary.

So, the general population is addicted to the “idiot box” and its kin, and in spite of some of our remarkable achievements such as putting a man on the moon, inventing artificial body parts, and countless real-life manifestations of stuff even Captain Kirk thought were just fun things to dream about, we seem to be slipping into a state of cow-eyed stupidity while our descendants’ DNA mutates toward eventually providing some sort of biological USB outlets.

 

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