Saturday, April 5, 2014

Kurt Cobain

April 5, 1994. Pen, paper, a heroin kit, a shotgun and a box of shells. Automatic For The People by R.E.M. is playing. 

"To Boddah:

Speaking from the tongue of an experienced simpleton who obviously would rather be an emasculated, infantile complain-ee. This note should be pretty easy to understand.
All the warnings from the punk rock 101 courses over the years, since my first introduction to the, shall we say, ethics involved with independence and the embracement of your community had proven to be very true. I haven't felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music along with reading and writing for too many years now. I feel guilty beyond words about these things.

For example, when we're backstage and the lights go out and the manic roar of the crowds begin, it doesn't affect me the way in which it did for Freddie Mercury, who seemed to love, relish in the love and adoration from the crowd which is something I totally admire and envy. The fact is, I can't fool you, any one of you. It simply isn't fair to you or me. The worst crime I can think of would be to rip people off by faking it and pretending as if I'm having 100% fun.

Sometimes I feel as if I should have a punch-in time clock before I walk out on stage. I've tried everything within my power to appreciate it (and I do, God, believe me I do, but it's not enough). I appreciate the fact that I and we have affected and entertained a lot of people. It must be one of those narcissists who only appreciate things when they're gone. I'm too sensitive. I need to be slightly numb in order to regain the enthusiasms I once had as a child.

On our last 3 tours, I've had a much better appreciation for all the people I've known personally, and as fans of our music, but I still can't get over the frustration, the guilt and empathy I have for everyone. There's good in all of us and I think I simply love people too much, so much that it makes me feel too fucking sad. The sad little, sensitive, unappreciative, Pisces, Jesus man. Why don't you just enjoy it? I don't know!

I have a goddess of a wife who sweats ambition and empathy and a daughter who reminds me too much of what I used to be, full of love and joy, kissing every person she meets because everyone is good and will do her no harm. And that terrifies me to the point to where I can barely function. I can't stand the thought of Frances becoming the miserable, self-destructive, death rocker that I've become.

I have it good, very good, and I'm grateful, but since the age of seven, I've become hateful towards all humans in general. Only because it seems so easy for people to get along that have empathy. Only because I love and feel sorry for people too much, I guess.

Thank you all from the pit of my burning, nauseous stomach for your letters and concern during the past years. I'm too much of an erratic, moody baby! I don't have the passion anymore, and so remember, it's better to burn out than to fade away.

Peace, love, empathy,

Kurt Cobain

Frances and Courtney, I'll be at your altar.
Please keep going Courtney, for Frances.
For her life, which will be so much happier without me.

I love you, I love you!"

          I'd write a post about why Kurt commited suicide, but his suicide letter says it all quite well. Cobain was a Buddhist, and Boddah was his imaginary friend from childhood. He was an intellectual, and many believe he didn't kill himself, others believe that, given his non-violent nature, this was his most violent act and a gesture of great proportions. Whatever it was, though, burned his image into society's head. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Beatles: 50 Years Later

           As I was checking my mail, I noticed this interesting message from the content director of They are giving homage to The Beatles for their 50th anniversary of their performance in the Ed Sullivan Show. Of course, it's a pretty good reason to write about them, so here goes nothing. 

           I never had the pleasure of seeing them perform or anything (I'm 19), but growing up, I used to hang around with my uncles a lot and one of them would listen to their music all day. I was always intrigued by their style, which differed from album to album, and of course I got to choose my favorite songs such as Hey Jude, Penny Lane, Twist and Shout, and some others. 

           As a younger teenager, though, I never understood why they became so famous. After all, they were a worldwide sensation. Hell, I still don't get it. Their music is catchy, but not complex. Their voices are harmonious, but not difficult to imitate (if you have a trained voice). They were just a four-guy band that happened to become pretty famous. 

But then again, there was something about this band. 

           Just about anybody can listen to it and, if not fall in love with the music, enjoy it. This is something modern pop music tries to accomplish, but the Beatles came from a time before entertainment had such a wide reach. I mean, there was television, radio, and there were vinyl disks, but that was about it. Now you have apps that can even suggest music for you based on what you listen to. Besides, music has gained such a degree of similarity these days that you can predict most songs pretty easily. 

            However, this never happened with the Beatles. Most of their songs are different, and granted, some were similar but that's quite normal in a band. What they have that makes me admire them is the fact that, from one album to the next, their style was always changing, and not in a way that made people complain like they do nowadays. It was a natural transformation that came as the four members grew and matured physically and emotionally. This, I believe, is what makes them trascend through ever-changing trends and styles and is, probably just one small part, of why we consider The Beatles one of the best bands to have existed. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Contemporary Literature and Modern Manhood

          I've been working on comparing and contrasting these novels, Mist by Miguel de Unamuno and The Tunnel by Ernesto Sábato. We were also required to read an essay by Milan Kundera which talks about the history of novels, which details the way they've been changing from Don Quixiote to existentialism, and he argues that the problem with modern literature is that real problems such as war, famine, plagues, or just the need to chop some wood and build a fire. 

          What does this do? This gives us time. Both Mist and The Tunnel are about a man who falls in love with a woman. One's set in a sarcastic tone, one's set in a dark tone, but the same thing happens in both, which is that the man gets so involved and so obsessed with his woman that he begins to put her needs above his while the woman doesn't even give anything back. One of the men spends the book trying to kill himself and the other ends up killing the woman. 

         Kundera expresses the opinion, which holds pretty close to reality, that novels reflect the reality of society's situation at the time. Don Quixiote was about the dual nature of reality and a man's idealism. This was written when the Spanish Empire was thriving. You can choose any novel you want and you'll find something similar. The same goes for any manifesto, any essay, a damn piece of writing on the wall. 

Fucking writing on the wall.
         So, how does this reflect contemporary man's reality? We don't have to hunt, we don't fight each other, hell, it's hard to fight each other without breaking the law now, we don't have wars, at least in (most of) the Western World, we don't have tribes, we don't manage ourselves the same way that cavemen used to. And now we're supposed to be all politically correct because somebody will be offended, which is, pretty much just a whine. We have time. With time, and nothing to fix, nothing to keep our minds, we create our own problems, like the men in the novels who would do anything to please their women. 

             Another thing is the heavy influence that feminism has had on society. I respect what the movement stood for at first, but it has been transforming to such an extent that lead it to extremism, which is not good in any context. Although it's not just that. There's also the anti-bullying. It's all right, discrimination's something ugly and you're not going to just pester somebody because they're different, but you're not going to glorify things that will affect your health in the long run. There's fat acceptance, for example, which at first was meant to prevent people from discriminating on those who are overweight, obese, and all, but it's not an acceptable excuse to be fat, and for those who argue that being fat is healthy, a quick, superficial investigation should suffice to change your point of view. 

Modern man.
        But lo and behold, I'm treading too deep in just one point. There is a suppression of competition, and many see the ideal and instead of trying to reach it, they try to bring it down, like crabs in a bucket. The need to please others before pleasing yourself is only one of the many problems that men have created for themselves, as is apparent. Here we have a whole generation of males who have been told that they should be ashamed of being raw and crude with their way of being when, throughout thousands of years, it's worked out. Another example is that many men don't work out at all anymore. Intellectuals can claim that they work out their minds, but even the great Greek philosophers worked out and considered that everybody should be able to see the capacity of strength and power that their bodies have.

Here you see Plato and Aristotle with invisible basketballs.
            When you get yourself busy, you'll notice a change, which is that you'll get more things to do without even having to seek them out, and things that appeared pretty meaningful before will become trivial compared to what you're doing, because now you're actually getting busy with real shit. It's like what happens in American Beauty. Once the narrator actually gets busy, he develops this aura that causes awe in others. If you read contemporary literature, you'll find that many of the main characters are men with weak willpower who never put themselves before others. 

         Don't be the contemporary man. Be like the men of ancient lore, those who were willing to fight a fucking windmill for the thrill and bravery (Note, I do not condone fighting windmills, people will believe you're high on acid). Be like the Greek philosopher, the Rennaisance man. Be yourself, but always be better than what you were the day before.

Grow some facial hair if you can as well. That's cool.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Book Review: The Catcher in the Rye

        One of my uncles gave me what's probably J.D.'s magnum opus, and I really appreciate it. It has some themes that are really relevant to my age and whatnot, but the feeling this book gave me is interesting. Holden Caulfield is, basically, the book, and I gotta say, I don't really like Holden. 

          He's become this sort of cultural icon for being a teenage rebel and whatnot, and although he fails his classes in different schools, he actually seems to be quite smart, so, what gives? Well, he's quite the lousy bastard. He spends his time drifting about with the money that his mother sends him to live through college and goes out a lot, and that's cool and all, but he's nothing remarkable. 

        For example, the guy's terribly immature, a hypocrite, if you will. He spends all day watching other people and disliking those who he percieved to be phonies, but at the same time, he tends to lie about what he does, telling people he's studying at x school and whatever, making himself appear to be something he's not. He spends his time whining and doesn't really stand up for himself. He just alienates everybody.

          As for the story, well, it really isn't something impressive. It's just one fuck-up after another which lead Holden to not really any trouble nor anything good at all. He just exists in this world that couldn't care less whether he's doing something at all or not.

           I still don't understand the reason as to why this is a classic; although it eludes me, I find it intriguing, so I'll see if anybody could tell me. I didn't really get a message from the book, and although the way it is narrated is quite droll, that's all I could really say about the book. Anyways, I'll give a review in twelve years and we'll see if something changed.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Life Lessons: American Beauty

           So I just saw American Beauty with Kevin Spacey and quite frankly it's pretty awesome, and it held out as I'd heard; there are many ways to interpret the film. It's almost like what Hopscotch did but in a movie (Yes, I know there's a book, I'll read it at some point). Anyways, what can you learn from it?

Never conform, stand up for yourself

            Lester Burnham is a pretty ordinary guy living a pretty ordinary life. He's a doormat: his wife spends her time emasculating and belittling him and his daughter's following her example, so he's pretty miserable. Of course, he goes through a rite of passage, which begins after he smokes a drag with his new neighbor, and he finally gets his family and others to stop treating him like he's invisible.

Don't get stuck in a rut

Life can become a mundane prison if you let it.
            Another problem is that Lester had been working for the same advertising company for fourteen years. Of course he ends up telling his boss to fuck off and with a good-enough blackmail managed to get a year's worth of salary plus bonus. Although you shouldn't follow his example and just quit your job, it'd be best if you at least try something new every day, no matter how small, be it taking a new route for your commute or daily walk, reading a new book, etc.

Don't repress your sexuality (especially if you're married)

"Look at me, jerking off in the shower..."
             This is something that can ruin many a great relationship and marriage. Somehow both members will hold out and stop doing the old in-out, which tends to lead to misery in the relationship, because, after all, sex is pretty much expected. Thus, in the movie, Lester and his wife end up looking for love somewhere else and Carolyn actually ends up cheating on her husband. 

Don't obsess over work

              Work can make you miss out so much and it becomes a war of attrition against your body and mind. If you paid close attention to Carolyn, you could tell that she was so into her work that she became a psycho. She would constantly hit herself to call herself a weak bitch and she would even cry if she didn't sell a house in a particular day. 

Keep in touch with your youth

              There is something interesting that happens within the film, which is that Lester mentions to his neighbor how he had his whole life ahead of himself when he was working flipping burgers. And, of course, he ends up flipping burgers once he's financially independent in order to remind himself of how he felt during his youth.

In order to be successful, one must project an image of success at all times

              Although this is said by one of two cheating bastards in the movie, it does make sense. It's like a bum who wants to get a job. You're not getting anything good if you go to an interview smelling like shit and with ripped clothes. You have to invest in your own image so that others will actually want to collaborate with you.

You can find beauty in everything

               Ricky Fitts is a weird character. He spends his time with his camera, filming things. He once filmed a bum who froze to death because he felt it was beautiful. Same for a dead bird, for a plastic bag floating around in the wind. Same as Baudelaire probably loved a balding prostitute with horrid teeth. If you look for beauty, you'll find it almost anywhere (It's still strange to find a dead bird beautiful, though).


                Lester gets ripped and he gets the girl. Also, you'll feel better about yourself, eat better, and in general, be better. 

Homophobia can be an ugly thing

                One of the homophobics is a closet gay. Just sayin'. Anyways, prejudice in general sucks unless it's against something like an ideology that harms others, like Nazism or something. 

You have your whole life ahead of you

                 Although you can feel lost sometimes, remember that you've still got something to live for. You can last another year or another fifty, the point is, never stop living with a zest for life, because you never know when you'll bite the dust. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

How To: Carry Out Your New Year's Resolutions

             Ladies, gentlemen, it's that time of the year where you go to your family reunion, or hang out with your friends, and you see everybody screaming their resolutions to the world, because, of course, if you say it to everybody you might as well do it, huh? Well, here are some of the most common resolutions, according to Time Magazine, and here's how you actually do them. 

10: "I want to lose weight and get fit!"

           Sure you do, lady. Last year you went on five diets which somehow didn't work and you're ready to up the ante again and make a sacrifice for a couple of weeks. Maybe you'll even hit the gym and as a reward drink a light mocha, with whipped cream, of course. 

            Here's how you do it. Move your head sideways. Do this every time you're offered food. Of course, you can't refuse food all the time, you'll die. Just measure your portions and count your calories, at least in the beginning. Then, it becomes natural. Of course, try eating less portion of fattening foods and you should be good. Also, try exercising at least once every two days. It's better than nothing. 

9: "I want to quit smoking!"

             This might be one of the harder ones, and if food can become an addiction for some, this habit could be more difficult to quit. What many do is try to gradually lower their cigs by the day. This might work, but you must be careful not to binge smoke when you've made progress. If you're going to shock your way out of it, then make sure you go to a sauna or exercise a lot; that way, you'll sweat the nicotine quicker.

8: "I want to learn something new!"

Delve into the art of extreme violin.
            I still don't understand how people can fail this one in a whole year. It's really simple. Pick up a book about whatever it is you want to read. Sign in for lessons, be it some instrument, language, or maybe even a college course, online or physically. This is, fortunately, one of the easier resolutions to keep. 

7: "I want to eat healthier and diet!"

            If you're going out almost on the daily, than this one can be a tough habit to kick, but try going to the supermarket more often and cook your own meals. This one does work better if you take it gradually. It also helps if you spend some time surfing websites with healthy and delicious food recipes (Trust me, they exist and they aren't all greens).

6: "I want to get out of debt and save money!"

          Everybody kind of likes spending money. Hell, I'm guilty as charged. But there are simple ways to go about this one. Either you get a better job, a promotion (Discuss it with your boss, be assertive) or spend less, and pay your bills. Don't donate money, don't eat out (It's a lot cheaper to cook your own meals) try printing coupons or searching for promotions online, there's always something, and just make it all a habit.

5: "I'm going to spend more time with my family!"

           This one's really difficult if you're the man of the household and you're busting your ass with more than one job, or working overtime to be able to feed those hungry mouths. Kudos to you. If possible, try taking some errands home, and at least you can work while you spend time with your family. Granted, it's not the best choice, but it's better than nothing. If that's not the case, and you're fully capable of spending time go visit them, then just do it. Designate some time to visit them, after all, your friends should be able to give you a couple of hours.

4: "I want to travel to new places!"

           If you're struggling with number six, then I suggest you hold this one off until the next year. If not, then fret not, just make sure you get vacation time (If you have a family, make sure it coincides with everybody's vacation time) and travel somewhere you've never gone before. It could be a road trip, a cruise ship, a faraway country, a nearby country, hell, a neighboring state, the world's full of wonderful places and you'll be missing out if you're not keeping up with this resolution. 

3: "I want to be less stressed!"

              I'll give you this one, the world's full of stupid people. They stress me out a lot, but remember, most of them don't give a shit about you and neither should you give a rat's ass about them. If you've got a problem, and you can fix it, don't worry. If you can't fix it, don't worry. You control 100% of the shit that you can control so don't fret about everything else and just take a breather and remember that. Hakuna Matata or whatever works for you. 

2: "I want to volunteer!"

            This one can be simple. You could take a couple of hours every weekend and find out how your community needs help, whether it's a wandering orphan who could have his day made with a sandwich or a dog that can be taken to a rescue center. If you're looking for something more organized, ask around, chances are your friends are in some cause you could help in. Granted, this is simpler in high school or college, but it wouldn't hurt to ask your work buds either.

1: "I want to drink less!"

            Ah, alcohol, liquid ecstasy from the gods. If you can manage only!? a glass of wine or (good) beer a day then you're managing pretty well. There's always going to be an ocassional party and hell, almost everybody binges once or twice. If you're doing more than that, then yes, you've got a problem, but it can be fixed. This is going to piss off health junkies but try changing beers into sodas. For cocktails, you can gradually lower the alcoholic content and then change to lemonades or kool-aids. The idea is to get used to other beverages instead of alcohol. If the objective isn't to cut it out completely, this could do. If it is, then get help with the AA, bud. 

        In the end, getting your resolutions actually done amounts to gritting your teeth and actually doing something to change whatever you're doing. If you're feeling discomfort, then it's good, because it's a catalyst of change. Good luck with the next year, everybody, and I hope you'll actually work for your wishes. This time. For real.