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Once you’ve optimized all your health metrics, outsourced all your chores to share economy work slaves, eliminated the need to even pick out your own clothes because an algorithm decides how to make you stylish, picked a date with your phone, and had a robot car drive you around, what’s next?

With so much of your life taken care of by a casino economy of tech and global indentured servants, what are you supposed to do? What purpose do you serve?

Do you think most people will use all this promised free time to do anything useful like reinvent Western Civilization or do you think they’ll argue about whether or not Carl is going to survive this season of The Walking Dead? For the record, I think he will.

We are quickly becoming a divided populace of a lazy aristocracy who can summon whatever bits of plastic they desire with a phone and an ever expanding horde of people who have been lied to about how the world works, but still seem to be able to summon plastic with their slightly less cool phones.

We celebrate the natural advantage of kids who are able to skip college to make billions off of us yelling at each other. We heap scorn on less bright kids who borrow against their future for worthless educations. Gen X people like me, who don’t fit in either of those buckets, tend towards self-paralyzing nihilism and cynicism because we aren’t that smart and there were still jobs that didn’t need degrees when we got out of high school.

I used to think Idiocracy was the most likely sci-fi story to come true. Lately I’m leaning towards Wall-E. Given the chance, I think more people than any of us  would be comfortable with would choose to float around on a chair that feeds you.

Some people try to counteract this shit by dedicating themselves to developing antique skill sets. This is why we get people who retire at 30 to hand build wood furniture and ruin vintage motorcycles by turning them into cafe racers. These barbershop haircut twats always say they’re looking for something “real” or something “authentic.”

This is the first word consumer version of Civil War reenactment.

It’s not like I have any better ideas. If I had enough disposable income for a hobby, I’d be totally dedicated to equipping for massive civil unrest. Guns, dirt bikes, Jiu-Jitsu, axe-throwing, hunting, and beard-growing would be areas of focus. I like to think of this as personal apocalypse preparation. Mrs. Lott isn’t terribly interested, but I have selected a cool chain mail bikini and assault rifle for her if things get crazy over the next couple of years.

The thing about all that shit is it’s actually fun. I think that’s a concept that could actually work: expect and prepare for the worst, but have fun doing it.

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I’m crazy about Christmas. I know everyone has a hard one for Halloween, but the birth of Baby Jesus is clearly the superior holiday. After all, it’s a pagan and a Christian holiday all rolled into one. I spent a few hours listening to Christmas music on my headphones like a damned elf. That’s how awesome Christmas is.

clerks

Joe Rogan had Kevin Smith on his show today. The conversation reminded me exactly why I’ve always loved that fat man in an overcoat. He’s a fan that made it. He got behind the rope and still seems amazed by it.

I have a strong memory of seeing Clerks for the first time. I was with an old girlfriend (and still good friend) and a couple of our D&D playing cronies. We went into the video store and grabbed it off the shelf. The weird old man checking us out leaned over and said, “snowball” before cackling himself into a brutal coughing fit.

I had no idea he almost died cough-laughing at a blowjob joke.

By this time in my life, I was a seasoned underground film fan. Clerks had a ton of buzz around it in certain circles. Word on the street was it was sort of about Star Wars. We pushed the tape in and watched it, howling laughing. It was immediately rewound and played again. I remember the goofy grins on everyone’s faces.

Someone had made a movie for us.

It was shitty and the acting was bad. But the words were electrifyingly funny. The whole thing looked as vulnerable as amateur pornography. You knew every single person in that movie must have been his friend.

Mallrats came out shortly after. It definitely wasn’t the greatest film of all time, but it had continuity and lovable characters. It felt like Star Wars for super dorks. It also had some real teenage comedy gross out gags. It felt so totally like something I could make.

I had been making videos with my friends for years and I decided that’s what I wanted to do with my life. I wish to god I had been born a little later or technology had been a little better at the time. I spent one semester in college trying to make movies with 16mm soundless, back and white film. I wanted to use my video camera, but the professor wouldn’t let me. So I made a three minute movie of a punk rock girl kicking a TV set in. I’ve only seen it once, but I still have the reel somewhere.

Film school in New Orleans was totally worthless so I dropped out. Years later at Berkeley I actually took quite a few film theory classes. The Rhetoric Department is  connected to the Film Department there, so I could’ve double majored, but this twat in my very first class talked me out of it. Worst advice ever.

A good rule in life is to never listen to anyone younger than you or who lives with their parents.

I’m glad to see Kevin Smith so active in the world of podcasts. When he started his, he made such a case for it being a thing to do that I desperately wanted to have one, too. It took a long time for it to happen, but mine is up and running, and as my co-host Marc would say, it’s really fucking good.

On this last episode with Joe Rogan, Smith opened with a tremendously good piece of advice: If you want to make something, don’t let anyone stop you.

He continued on with Rogan for a while, touching on creativity quite a few times. I love his idea that he is really making films for ultra small, niche audiences and himself. So his latest, to me nearly unwatchable, Yoga Hosers, is apparently made for tween girls. I am deeply suspicious that Kevin Smith may be one of those emotionally disturbed adult My Little Pony collectors.

Smith’s message of DIY and friendship through creating things is tremendous. If you’re young at heart and have a few close friends that are too dumb to stop you, you can make some real magick happen.

I wish I had gotten much more serious about my creative projects at a much earlier age. But late is better than never. You never know what kind of life you’re going to have. My shit could completely blow up in a year, randomly. I might land a sweet promotion and not have time for anything but stacking cash and buying Mrs. Lott fast cars. Things are real fun right now, so I’m uncharacteristically optimistic.

I think you should be too. It is an unbelievably savage world, but it favors hominids that take chances. That tree branch is right there for your monkey ass hand to snatch it.

westworld

Of all the TV I’ve binged this year (‘Member books? Yeah, I ‘member books.), Westworld was hands down the best. It had the most thoughtful score, interesting plot, and in Sir Anthony Hopkins, the best performance of the year.

The Western elements were serious Spaghetti, but had a hint of Deadwood’s muck. The sets and costume were done with care and the future/present/whatever time of the park employees was stark existential-futurism. The dark halls, glass mazes, and revealing nudity of the workshop floors felt very fresh. It is perhaps the freshest hell since Event Horizon.

And that’s giving nothing away. The show is solid. I touched on Hopkins’ performance above but there are many standouts. Ed Harris should have hung on to this look until Ridley Scott does Blood Meridian. He would’ve made an all time classic villain as The Judge.

Evan Rachel Wood was tragic sweet. What a good performance. And not hard to look at. I don’t know if she’s actually Southern, but I want to believe she is so I’m not going to look that up.

Thandie Newton as Maeve. Holy fuck. Sweet hot sexy female Spartacus of robot cowboys. I think of this character as a hero, really in the vein of Clint Eastwood’s William Munny from The Unforgiven. She wants to avenge her friends and get the fuck out of dodge. That right there is an American hero.

You could really just keep going through the IMDB list of this cast and say nice things.

The final bit of encomium I’ll lavish on this is for the score. The anachronistic old time music was aware of itself and deflected the cheesiness of its concept with an inarguably great arrangement. I love listening to it at work, pretending I’m reprogramming hot robots to murder my enemies (you know who you are). Just kidding. In my fantasy they’re just doing my job so I can go watch matinee movies in the theater.

I’m sort of glad it’s over, though. i have like a million books to read and at least a few years worth of horror films to catch up on.

I need to retire.

dog

The proper way to enter your 30s is like an action hero casually walking away from a massive explosion, like it doesn’t matter. That disastrous set of events that almost killed you is behind you. Now is the time to defeat your enemies and get ready for potentially lucrative sequels.

I’m deep into my 30s. They’re almost over. Fortunately, my whole life has building towards an awesome time in my 40s and 50s. Lots of people peak early, but I feel like I’m hitting my stride. I certainly wouldn’t have been mad at some earlier success, but you can’t work on the past, so you just have to accept it.

A good friend of mine is turning 30 this week. This post is going to mostly cover the strangeness of entering your third decade.

Historically, this was the end of the road for most humans. By this age you probably would’ve been stomped to death by a mammoth or eaten by an enemy band of neanderthals. Before modern dentistry and pediatricians, humans were pretty fucked as they aged. Thanks to Western civilization, we are able to live in relative prosperity as long as there’s a CVS nearby.

My own 30s started off pretty awesome, but went south within months, before slowly climbing upwards. I graduated and got married around when I turned 30. Those were phenomenal events. Unfortunately they happened in 2009, when the economy was in flames. I foolishly thought a college degree was going to change my life, but it didn’t. Thank god I saw through the scam of student loan slavery and found another way to get through school (the secret is be poor, work hard to get As, and fill out every single financial aid form ever made).

On to your questions.

What’s better about being in your 20s than 30s?

Experience, mostly. You will have seen enough things with your own eyes to make better decisions. You will know what is appropriate for you. You will have enough data to make informed decisions about who and what to keep in your life.

Your 20s are all about trying things. The stakes are higher than when you tried things in your teenage years. By 30, you should have a pretty good idea of what you’re looking to get done.

The real secret to happy 30s is editing. If you’re in a job you hate, leave it. If your partner is lame, cut them loose. Not living where you want to live? Then leave. You’re an adult, you get to decide what’s right for you. In olden days, this was stuff you’d figure out by 17, but we live in the adolescent post-modern age of adult toddlers.

Better late than never.

What’s worse about being in your 30s?

30 is a great age to get super serious about health & fitness because any biological advantage you had over your peers will slip away rapidly. 30 is when stuff starts falling apart, physically. But beware, it happens slower than you think until you’re about 35, then you have to work really hard to maintain what used to be your reality when you were being lazy. It’s a major bummer.

What do I need to start doing immediately? 

If you don’t already have biological kids and you want them, you better start trying. No matter what the “you can have it all” girl power industrial complex says, biology is a motherfucker and IVF is really expensive. If you want to pump out a unit without paying a fortune, get to it.

If you aren’t putting money away for retirement, you better get aggressive. 30 isn’t too late, but you’re missing out on years of compound interest. Learn about basic retirement accounts and get on that shit, otherwise you’re going to be a government dependent with a fixed income rapidly eaten away by inflation.

I have a week left of my 20s, what should I do? 

Mourn your youth, celebrate you’re impending death. Just kidding. But not really.

If things are going fine and you’re happy about your life’s trajectory, just go out with your close friends to a few places you like. Relax, have fun and trust that whatever was good about your 20s will probably stay that way for at least another 16 months.

This week can function as a magickal act where you set intentions for the future. If you wanted to get more into playing music, splurge on a new instrument. Buy fresh pens if you’re an artist. Get yourself something you can look at and remind yourself, “that’s what I’m supposed to be doing right now.”

Stay accountable to your dreams.

If you’re feeling trepidation about the future, get yourself some new clothes and an updated haircut. It’s the only thing I really did for myself at 30 and I think it actually helped. Just looking at a different version of yourself in the mirror is helpful sometimes.

How do I remember what it was like turning thirty? 

I don’t know, maybe you have some pictures? Or an exceptionally bad hangover to recall?

I’m super looking forward to turning 30.  Society frowns on this standpoint. Can you give me advice as to why it’s effing great to be turning 30? The things I’m being groomed into thinking I’m losing I either never had in the first place or are not valuable to me, such as “youth”.

Ultimately, there are no true universal experiences. When the dial rolled over to 30 for me,  I was convinced that I would suddenly have an easy marriage and a great career. The most helpful thing I learned at this time is no one is coming to help you. You have to make do with what you have and get to it.

In some ways, 30 is a time for realizing you do not have infinite possibilities. You have to make real decisions that will effect how happy you are when your body starts hurting and your midsection responds less to exercise.

But that doesn’t mean it’s over, it just means you have to pick something to pursue and use your three decades of experience in your meat form to make it happen.

Edit your life.

What is one sentence you remind yourself of in order to stay positive in your 30s? 

If I die, Mrs.Lott will have a harder time paying the mortgage.”

How do you handle weirdos? 

With kindness and merriment, while simultaneously increasing emotional distance from them.  Never give them your number or let them know where you live.

What are easy ways to tell if someone has integrity?

Do they tip at least 15%? Do they hold doors for people? Do they resist talking shit about people? Do they show up?

That last part is particularly worth talking about. I grew up as a shut in and have a hard time committing to social engagements. My couch, quietness, and a book are almost always more compelling than whatever someone has invited me too.

However, that is a bad way to live. I always regret flaking on people, and I always have fun when I go somewhere. It’s a major thing I need to work on.

When Christopher Hitchens died, one of his long time opponents wrote a very kind piece about him. What he wrote that stuck with me the most was something like: “no matter what you might want to say about Hitchens, he showed up. If you invited him to something, party or protest, he would make time to be there.”

I think that’s what made him such a good journalist. He didn’t sit behind his desk scouring the internet for clues to cobble together in to coherence. He was in the world, mixing it up. He was talking to people. He was experiencing life.

Hitchens is a good model for how to live. Not the smoking and such, of course. But he lived. Even when he was dying of cancer, he wrote and debated and loved and talked and drank and lived.

Be like that.

 

 

shiva-and-sati

The impulse to create is what I believe sets us apart from the cooler, lower primates. There’s some god-touched particle in the heart of every creator and lover of creation that reaches back to the first soul who beat the first drum under the stars. It will stretch all the way forward, to the last song on the lips of the last person.

I think we grieve so hard for our artists and musicians because we know there is magick in them and what they do proves there is reason to go on in the face of any cruel fate. We recognize that miracle of creation in ourselves. We can’t always see it, but we know it’s there.

I didn’t lose anyone in the Ghost Ship fire last night. I don’t even know how to feel or what to say. I do know this is a fucking rough year.

If there is anything sacred, it is the artist. Last night too many were lost. I hope more come into this world. An unstoppable tide of open minds and brave hearts. If you’re already here, I hope you keep making more of whatever it is you’re called to create. There’s more to do than you can imagine and less time to do it than ever before.

May you bring dream and hope to the world, no matter what side of the veil you’re on tonight.