I decided a long time ago that I’m going to do this blog every day, even during a slow news cycle, or a bad hangover, or even when I don’t have anything particularly interesting to say. I have to. I have a book Wayne and I have to sell if we want to get out of our day jobs. By that I mean both of us, but with the passing of every rotten day, I’m mostly worried about me. Wayne spends his days surrounded by music and movies, working at a revered media mecca, edifying the world by steering discerning viewers to the intellectual vigor of a Martin Scorcese Criterion disc over a bonus DVD twin-pack of Patrick Swayze in Point Break and Road House. And even those who do go with Swayze are going to come away, thanks to Wayne’s learned persuasion, with a surprising appreciation for the man from Dirty Dancing even if they don’t understand Wayne’s comparisons to Touch of Evil and Fitzcarraldo. No, Wayne will be just fine.
The stakes are higher for me because I am the one who has made a far greater mess of my own life. When I used to fancy myself a writer back in the day, nothing less than my own imprint would suffice, which would keep me busy between outings directing my own scripts. Mainstream media was beneath me, unless I could reinvent it in my own grand and incomparable design. I wouldn’t waste my talents with a national newspaper or a magazine that people read on airplanes.
Many years later, as a 41-year-old man coming out of a failed marriage and working a temporary job at the purchasing hotline for a national chain of day care centers, where all day long I answer the phone with the sunniest of dispositions only to have shrill women berate me over the fact that they can’t buy high chairs for their centers and are expected to feed their infants in nine-inch low chairs (and a childless man of my age shouldn’t even know what a “boppee” is, much less have to sell them over the phone daily), where I leave every day with their voices ringing in my brain like harpie tinnitus and go home to a neighborhood filled with men and women restarting their lives after lengthy prison stints, I’m a bit less discriminating in the writing jobs that I might deign to loan my name to.
I would write pamphlets that people read on airplanes if it would mean that I wouldn’t have to tell women at bars and parties about how many evacuation cribs I had to arrange return shipping for that day, and then have to explain to them what an “evacuation crib” is.
With that impetus, this blog is an attempt to strike while the iron is hot. We’ve quite literally written the book on the American Vice Presidency (at least the latest book), and in just a few months, we’re going to be the new It Girls of the Vice Presidential cognoscenti. I don’t even know if there is a Vice Presidential cognoscenti, but if there is, we’re going to be their new sages, the toast of their town.
This is a way up for Wayne, but it’s a way out of the life I’ve unfortunately made for myself. And that’s why I’m here at my computer every night, when I’d rather be drinking beer from unclean mugs and laying down dollar bills watching nude women dancing to the same Def Leppard songs I listened to in high school and feeding goldfish to a tank of live piranhas (which I’ll allow myself to do for an hour or two tomorrow night before I come home to critique the latest machinations of the DNC’s Rules and Credentials Committee and wonder aloud why Wolf Blitzer’s delegate count is so suspiciously different from Chuck Todd’s).
So why do I feel myself getting dumber every day that I do this? When I sit here with the media spigot on, pouring MSNBC, CNN, Bloomberg, and even FOX News out into my living room every night, it gets harder and harder every night to put the sentences together to get this blog posted on time; to get it up before the stroke of midnight so I can put another notch in my belt and boast about having yet to miss a day, I should be smarter every day that I get that done.
But I’m not, and I think I’ve finally figured out why. It’s not the self-imposed pressure, it’s not the struggle to find news on a day where there is none; it’s not resisting the temptation to give into my worst urges and go with material I don’t feel good about every night, to sell my soul as Anderson Cooper does every day of the week (and he’s got a team of writers). Nope, none of that.
It’s the fucking commercials. The same goddamned commercials I listen to over and over and over and over again while I’m trying to find a vein, while I’m trying to harness the energy of this, the most exhilarating Presidential campaign of most of our lives, I have the inane din of the worst of American advertising beating me about the skull repeatedly, sucking the brains out of my head like a straw jammed into an orange.
Yes, the irony is that this daily effort to edify me intellectually, to make me a more engaging and appealing person, to sculpt my metaphorical pecs and carve out a set of rock-hard rhetorical abs and make myself a lean, mean, elocuting machine…is actually making me dumber. In spades.
I don’t begrudge advertising firms, and I don’t begrudge the networks who need their advertisers to keep the lights on and to keep Anderson Cooper gainfully employed, no matter what you feel about the merits of that.
But honest to Christ, do I really need to hear about how to erect (no pun intended) a 36-hour-window in which to achieve an erection? And why in God’s name does it have to be deployed in twin bathtubs dropped in a meadow plenty far from nowhere? I don’t understand a 36-hour erection window, and I’m their target demographic. If I’m that unenamored of my wife, I’ll close my eyes and think of Salma Hayek, and we’ll be off to the races, even if I’m married to Ann Coulter. I don’t understand the smiling man talking about his erectile dysfunction and how he can good-naturedly handle the disruption of an exploding kitchen water pipe when he’s getting ready to sneak into Sally’s alley.
The more disturbing thing is…why am I thinking about this? And I think about it all the time, because I hear about it all the time.
Am I losing it finally? Is this election cycle getting the best of me? I thought it was just me, until I had a conversation with Wayne the other night. We talked about it for a good 30 minutes. “Hey, there’s that fucking ‘miracle’ commercial again.” He was, of course, referring to the CVS commercial. The anguished faux Judy Collins talking about a pharmacy being just another ordinary miracle today. I’ve been to CVS. It’s a miracle they get away with the prices they charge. What’s the other ordinary miracle–that they don’t misfill your Prozac prescription with Thalidomide?
This way lies madness, and it’s the only way currently at my disposal. With Pennsylvania four weeks away and the conventions not until the last weeks of summer, I’m just running out of ways to dissect how the superdelegates are going to swing, or how Michigan and Florida are going to be resolved.
Anyway, I’m losing my nut. We’ll continue this tomorrow.