Sunday, July 23, 2006

Potpourri 6

People Who Jaywalk In Front of Me and Don't Hustle

Let me be really specific on this one. I jaywalk - you jaywalk - we all do it. It's fine. All I ask is that if you're going to step into my driving path that you show me just a token amount of hustle. I grew up in New York, where jaywalking is an art form. There, you don't have conscientious drivers who are going to slow down for you - you have cabs. Cabs that can't be bargained, bluffed, or reasoned with. The cabs owned the streets. And if you jaywalked, you'd better know what you were doing. You had to approach the curb, turn your head left, let your eyes adjust focus to the movement of traffic, tip your whole body forward at just the right moment, and then dash across Lexington Avenue. And that's how you did it, and thus was order maintained. You deferred to the traffic. No cab was going to lose its stride on your account.

Here in Vegas the jaywalking culture is all fucked up. First of all, the streets are wider and the traffic is faster. Second of all, everyone - drivers and pedestrians alike - are all just a little drunk. Not a good recipe for orderly jaywalking. Here, the pedestrian attitude seems to be "I'm just going to walk me across this street, and we'll see if anyone has the balls to hit me." And so every day when I'm on the road there'll be at least one individual - tank topped and unwashed - who makes a point of strolling casually into my trajectory. I stare at him with fresh surprise every time - does this guy want to get hit? Is he going to see me and then realize he has to hustle?

But the hustle never happens, and I have to break stride. What we need here are some New York City cabs to put the fear back into the pedestrian heart. We need to set a few examples and restore the culture of hustling.

DVD Hoarding

I admit that I'm no stranger to the desire to "collect". To amass. To stockpile and hoard. But DVDs? Why? Do you know people (and I know several) who have been infected with this urge to own every single DVD in existence? People with DVD collections in the upper hundreds, or even thousands?

And no, they aren't movie buffs, that's the weird thing. Most of their collection sits on the shelf, still in the plastic shrinkwrap. They own movies that they have no interest in ever watching. These DVD hoarders make no internal distinction between cinema classics and complete garbage. And it makes sense that they don't: it's not about movies, it's about movie ownership.

I believe this whole DVD hoarding phenomenon is only two or three steps removed from the whole cat hoarding disease. Like clockwork, about once a month, you'll see a news story about some neighbors who called the cops because of an ammonia smell coming from a downstairs apartment, and the fire department breaks down the door and finds this scene. I think that if DVDs could poop, reproduce and go blind from malnourishment then it would basically be the same thing.

I had a friend at my old job who spent every available dime he had on DVDs. Tuesday, as any collector knows, is DVD day, and he'd be off to Fry's every Tuesday after work to pick up, I don't know, the latest Ashley Judd thriller, An Officer and a Gentleman and the remastered Tron. His TV room was lined, wall to wall, in DVDs stacked 2 deep. He carried around handwritten notes on his latest purchases and his upcoming want-list. His two toddler girls would sit on the floor and eat dry cheerios for lunch while dad watched American Pie or Final Destination.

The thing about hoarding DVDs as opposed to baseball cards or pez dispensers, besides the excessive cost, is that these people are in denial of a few basic facts. One is that nobody is impressed with their collection. Two is that it has no logical endpoint - the availability of new product will forever outpace your ability to acquire it. And three is that DVDs are well on their way to obsolescence. They will soon be fully worthless. Everyone always wondered what new media format would replace the CD. And the question has been answered without everyone fully realizing it. The CD is being replaced by the mp3. The DVD too is about to be replaced. But not by Blu-Ray or anything like that. That's a red herring. No one is going to rebuild a movie collection from scratch just for Blu-Ray. What will eventually replace DVDs will be electronic files. You'll carry an enormous movie collection around on a keychain, just like your music.

The whole idea of a movie collection lining your den wall is about to die. The DVD hoarders need to refocus their compulsion on something more benign. I recommend state quarters.

Bill Gates, An Ugly Man

Maybe this is just mean - in fact it certainly is mean, but it's too bad that Bill Gates, the world's wealthiest citizen and greatest philanthropist, has to be so physically off-putting. He's just a seriously unattractive man.

He's not exactly fat, not exactly pasty or pudgy - there's just something... off about him. His hair always seems to look like some kind of compromise. Like if someone challenged you to craft the best look you could using only aquanet and your own hands. His glasses do not inspire. His smile, while obviously genuine, makes me wants to take an instinctive step backwards. And his face... it's hard to describe. Is it normal to look at a face and think "Wow, you can hardly tell he was in that fire."

Not that I'm any blue ribbon hog myself, but hey, he's the richest man in the world. He should be able to take a little criticism.


coffeygirlb said...

Very funny. I think the thing that bothers me about Bill Gates "look" is his uber-feminine hands, they're so smooth and atrophyed looking. Weird.

Rowsdower said...

Mr. Gates, if you're listening, I will take it all back for $5000. Hello? Bill? I don't think he's going for it coffeygirl.

coffeygirlb said...

Nah, he eats sarcastic bithces like us for breakfast!