The lucky as hell generation
I was out at dinner with Jodie the other night (by the way, rabbit tastes like chicken; if we all ate rabbits all the time, would we say that chickens taste like rabbit?) and realized that I know more young people who will never have to work again than any other previous generation my age. I know dozens from Amazon alone. That brief Internet bubble created this entire group of insanely wealthy 30 somethings who can do whatever they want for the rest of their lives with no fear of material deprivation.
When I interviewed with Amazon, I just wanted to go work there because I thought it was cool to sell books over the Internet. Jodie was one of my original interviewers, and because someone got stuck in a meeting I had to interview with her twice. Thank god she passed me! In fact, the only person left from my original interview loop at Amazon now is Jeff himself. How time flies.
Anyway, back to the topic of the young and wealthy. It seems like there are three common routes for folks in this group. One is that they're A-personalities who have to invest it all in one business venture after another, working themselves to death over and over in the pursuit of the next big thing. A second path is that they decide to use their freedom and wealth to try and change the world (see Ted Turner and his $1 billion dollar donation to the United Nations). Three is they do nothing except work out, travel around, and live in their big houses, fat and happy.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, no such difficult choices face me.
Kelly, Justin, and the gang
I cannot tell a lie. I went to the American Idol concert tonight with five other folks (who will remain anonymous as I must protect their identities). It was the last stop on their 30 city tour. You know what? It was a blast.
Of course, the average age of the people there was probably about 14, and the majority of them were female. That's the loudest concert I've been to in Seattle. Unbelievable. Little girls will shriek at anything, all of them cluthing their posters of Kelly, Justin, Tamyra, R.J., or holding up signs that read: "Seattle loves U Kelly! American Idol rules!"
The 10 of them came out in the same order they were eliminated in the contest. I only watched the last four episodes after I returned from France, so I didn't know most of them, but the crowd lost it everytime one of the singers introduced the next one. The crowd had the type of energy that only pre-pubescent little girls can provide, shrieking like it was the Beatles. The whole thing was unreal, and I couldn't help but smile at the spectacle of it all. Flames and fireworks and lights and smoke...here's Justin rising out of the stage, A.J. throwing his jacket off to reveal a wife-beater undershirt to the 10 decibel adulation of his fans from Tacoma, and Liv Tyler look-alike Ryan dancing out on stage in one revealing outfit after another. What a hoot.
What I took away from it all is that a show like American Idol is a deconstruction of the music business. If these 10 people who were waiting tables just a year ago can in one year's time be selling out every one of their 30 stops, what does that say about all the bands that come and go in the music business all the time? Mass entertainment can be manufactured with relative ease, famous pop stars brewed like the latest flavor of soda. Reality TV is the pure distillation of the great American dream, Warhol's 15 minutes of fame. The truth is, most of the contestants are hardly passable vocalists at all and will soon be as dropped off at the next station by the American cultural caboose (I had to laugh at the end when Ryan started sobbing and hugging everyone in sight. She had to be thinking, "Oh God, my 15 minutes are up! Damn it!" She'll get a boob job and be starring in some soft-core Cinemax movie in about 10 years). Still, they did some crowd-pleasing group numbers, especially their Motown ensemble, and I had to shake my head at the power of America's entertainment industry.
The only bummer of the night--Kelly didn't sing A Moment Like This. I think that's the only song I know the words to.
Hoax or real
This is a pretty fun test. That Michael Jackson image? One of the most horrifying things I've seen. The guy is losing his mind.
I spent nearly three hours in the dentist's chair this morning, getting fitted for my bite guard. It comes back from some factory on the East Coast, a piece of plastic that fits over your lower teeth. The dentist keeps having you bite down on a piece of film that leaves black marks where the bite guard contacts your top teeth, and then he spends time grinding portions of the guard down until you bite down on it and get even four-point contact so that you don't stress any particular tooth.
When they examined my bite in a hundred different ways, they noted that I put enormous stress on my front teeth when I grind them. It's likely why I've been feeling such extreme soreness in those teeth these past few weeks. Now I have to wear this at night. I'm wearing it now, and for some reason it causes one to salivate like a dog. The dentist's assistant told me not to be surprised if I wake up tomorrow with the bite guard on my pillow in a big pool of drool. Yum.
The sexual dynamics of the dentist's office have always intrigued me. My dentist is an older gentleman, and every single one of his 8 or 9 dental assistants is a young woman. My childhood dentist was also a male whose assistants were all female. I know there are female dentists out there--are there assistants all young men?
I'm drowning in a pool of e-mail and voicemail. I've stopped replying to all but the most urgent and important communications until further notice. Last week, in one week, I received over 2,000 e-mails at work last week. Assuming a 5 day work week, 12 hours a day, if I did nothing but reply to e-mail I'd need to respond to an e-mail once every 1 minute and 48 seconds in order to keep up.
I used to try to respond to every e-mail and voicemail within 24 hours. Then I realized it's a highly unproductive way to run your day. After being assaulted from all sides all day at the office, I get home and just retreat to my room for some privacy. I don't think I could be a celebrity--I'd go Sean Penn and punch out some reporter.
The most exciting player
The most exciting player to watch in all of sports right now is Michael Vick (apologies to Barry Bonds who comes in a close second). The ex-Hokie is a physical freak of nature--it's not often that the best athlete on the field is the QB, but in the new NFL it's a distinct advantage (see Donovan McNabb). Vick is the fastest player on the field, has the strongest arm, and has a sixth sense that makes him a terror for defenses to bring down. Do they still do that annual quarterback skills challenge? Vick would dominate.
On another sport, I've seen bits and piece of Yao Ming playing in the NBA. That guy's for real--he's no tall oaf like Shawn Bradley or Manute Bol. When he gains some weight and strength to go along with his shooting touch, he'll be a force. Go China!
Of course, the Sonics are doing well, as they always seem to do at the start of the season. I heard Sonics fans around the water cooler at work, talking playoff tickets already. It's laughable. During the regular season, the Sonics benefit from the new defensive rules that allow zone defenses. Instead of relying on a dominant big guy, they spread the floor and fire jump shots. They don't really have any guy who can play with his back to the basket. A team that's an even more extreme example is the Mavericks, with Nowitzki, Nash, and Finley chucking balls up from all over the place. Come playoff time, when defense become tighter and more physical and the officiating loosens, the big men like Duncan and O'Neal will go back to dominating and the Sonics and Mavs will be going home again. Nowitzki is so much fun to watch on offense, and a joke on defense.
Hope springs eternal
Being a Cubs fan, one develops natural pessimism about any and every development, but still, the offseason rumor mill is always such a tease. The mere possibility of signing a star player raises every fan's hopes. Rumors like this one leave me thinking that perhaps this is the year the Cubs become the Anaheim Angels of 2003: "According to the Montreal Gazette, the Cubs and Expos have discussed a Javier Vazquez and Jose Vidro for Carlos Zambrano, Bobby Hill and another player trade." Two All-Stars like Vazquez and Vidro for two unproven rookies? Yee-ha! Or rumors the Cubs will bring in Jeff Kent, or Ivan Rodriguez, or Tom Glavine, or Mike Remlinger. It all sounds highly unlikely, but who knows? The Angels finished 41 games out of first in 2001.