Monday, June 25, 2007

Boomers Beware

As a member of Generation X, or Generation W, or whatever useless designation the good people of the popular media have dubbed the current group of twenty-to-thirty-somethings in America, I have a great deal to be worried about. First, my generation, and the generation after mine, will inherit the debt, social trauma, and political whiplash from the half dozen or so wars we are fighting in order to advance our own agendas. We will be charged with repairing a painfully abusive medical system, a quickly deteriorating environment, and last but not least, we will be asked to write the check for the impending Social Security collapse when the generation of Baby Boomers retires.

While steps are being taken to find solutions to most of these problems, no one seems to concerned with the last issue. Some might say that this is because those with political clout, those who decide how money is spent and more importantly who gets said money, are in fact Baby Boomers. Or about to retire. Or both. So any cries for justice or change in our Social Security system so that the next two or three generations don't have to foot the bill for the Boomers and get left without a dime when it comes their time to retire are quitely shuffled off into that good night. So where is this all leading? To a book, of course. Christopher Buckley, author of "Thank you For Smoking" has taken aim at the Social Security system in "Boomsday".

The gist of the book is, of course, that the Social Security system is doomed to collapse, and an enterprising Gen Xer with a bit too much time and Red Bull on her hands, has begun to fight back. She is, like any young person living in the beginning of the 21st century, a rabid blogger, and has developed a solid following for her blog directed at stopping "Boomsday", the day when all of the Baby Boomers retire and bankrupt the system. Her Jonathan Swift-like solution leaves most people appalled, but shows that sometimes it takes drastic measures to get people to take notice. And amazingly enough, it almost works. Sometimes fiction doesn't seem that far off.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Near Death

So when one passes through a near death experience, something that not only terrifies you but all of the people around you, an unusual clarity settles over you that shows you exactly what is important. Or, rather, it seems to re-focus your priorities for a time. I learned recently that I don't need the hot, fast action of a big city to keep me happy; and I certainly need to focus more on finding a career that matters to me and makes me happy, not just one that pays the bills. What is truly important are the people around you, the people who love you and who will do anything within their power to keep you safe and happy. I learned recently the hard way not to take these people for granted. To these people, for all of their care and love, I say thank you, and I am sorry for what you all went through. You are all the best friends a guy could ever ask for. And to my one love, who did not deserve to deal with any of this, I send my deepest apologies and thank her again for her bottomless understanding and love.

The topic of being near Death leads us very nicely into the world of Dexter, or Darkly Dreaming Dexter, to be exact. Dexter is a forensic scientist who analyzes blood spatter at crime scenes for the Miami Police Department. He is also a serial killer. But wait, he is a good serial killer. Yes. That's right. Dexter, for all of his dark, demented, dangerous deeds, only kills bad people, people who deserve what comes to them. And in his first adventure, he finds someone as dark and dangerous as he is, but someone who doesn't see the world as cleanly as Dexter. But he sure has Dexter's panache for dismembering human bodies efficiently and with very little mess.
Dexter is charming, funny, witty, and ultimately, inhuman. But you cannot help but to love him, because of what is really is. He is a vigilante. He is the new dark knight, dressed in a floral-pattern bowling shirt. And he will only come after you if you have done something to deserve it.

Friday, June 8, 2007

The world of Bandini

So Arturo Bandini has left home to make his mark on the literary world and live life as an artist in the city of angels. The morally conflicted young man finds a way to change his surroundings and leave the women he believe are so viciously oppressing him. Bandini, whos delusions of grandeur drive him to fits of rage against girly magazines, a population of crabs, and even a swarm of flies believes he is destined for greatness, someone who's storied life will be read about for ages. He feels, however that he is held back by the world around him, his mother, his sister, his uncle and even his various jobs are just there to get in the way of his own future greatness.

Unfortunately, Bandini's limitations are his own; his blatant apathy, his vast delusions of gradeur, and his inability to confront the realities of his life are clearly what inhibit him from doing what he imagines he was born to do. Poor, poor little Arturo Gabriel Bandini, student of the words of Nitzche, Schopenhauer, & Spengler, just cannot catch a break. He is convinced, however, that his destiny resides in Los Angeles, where he will write the next great American novel and become fabulously rich and famous; desired by women and sought after by all. For all of his faults, Arturo Bandini is certainly a dreamer.

Monday, June 4, 2007

The Road to Los Angeles

So we've moved on from the harrowing account of a young mans fight for survival in Southern Sudan to the harrowing tale of Arturo Bandini, a young Italian-American trying to make his own footprint on the world in "The Road to Los Angeles" by John Fante. Arturo is an overly well read and undermotivated kid who just can't seem to take anything serious for any amount of time. Each of his shortlived jobs, needed to support his mother and sister, are broken up between fits of imagination, excursions into his own fantasy world where he obsesses about people worshiping him, loving him, and being terrified by him. He fantasizes about women, then immediately feels guilty, almost dirty about his expansive fantasies in which he rules over a woman who passionately needs and desires him. He then makes a big production of shredding the pages he is fantasizing over, telling himself that the women will be what destroys him, and that he must destroy all of the women.

Arturo Bandini is ambitious, in a sense, yet completely unmotivated. Each day, each hour, he thinks of something new to occupy his imagination, some new grand scheme that will pull him out of the stagnant world he lives in, away from his nagging mother and sister, and into greatness. He is convinced that he will be a great author and philosopher in the vein of Nitzche or Schopenhauer, and that his devoutely religious and pragmatic family are just holding him back. He is sure he is destined for immortality, except he is completely unable to hold a job together or put together a worthwhile sentence. He is untalented, unmotivated but insanely imaginative and determined to fit into no one's mold but his own. In a sense, Arturo Bandini is the Holden Caufield of the west coast, an immigrant-american rebel, eternal loser and constantly convinced of his own superiority over the "little people".