Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.
(Anaïs Nin. D. H. Lawrence : An Unprofessional Study. 1932.)
This is a challenge breathtaking in scope. Wanting to change is so much easier than actually having the courage of the deed. I think it is a thing that happens by degrees, so that you look at yourself one day and realize you are totally different than the person you had been six months or a year or a decade ago. Where we elect the state of stasis and suffer that kind of death is where we mistake sameness for security, security for happiness, happiness for living. I wanted for very long to stay hidden, because I thought there was safety in that.
It is not just about a rut. It’s more like a trench, and the longer you stay in it, the more likely you’ll be hit by a Howitzer if you try darting topside. You have to climb with calculation, sometimes big leaps to get over a tough, deeply rooted, scrabbly stretch, sometimes taking ages of care to navigate your foot to a safe path. I have no idea what waits at the top. It might not be happiness. But how much better to see the whole field and enter the battle than to cower at the bottom of the trench?
To elect to “become” is to elect to risk. Risk is frightening because, whether it pays off in your estimation or disappoints you horribly, it guarantees one certain result: change.
Human beings can reach such desperate solitude that they may cross a boundary beyond which words cannot serve, and at such moments there is nothing left for them but to bark.
(Collages. 1964. p. 116.)
I am only alone if I am in the bath or driving. So the shower is where I generally get my barking out. I made an ocean in the pipes while I was pregnant, a terrible time for me because of the earth-destroying fights I would have with her father, and again when I left my husband, horrible silent sobs of shock and regret that would make me vomit. I have written before that I dislike crying or admitting to feeling feelings. But in the last few years, since this journal started, really, I’ve grown better at admitting to crying. I even sometimes let a few public tears go, if the occasion is momentuous enough that I forget myself, and I have oil on hand to keep my robot face from rusting.
All this context is by way of avoiding the content of this quote. I think I’ve sufficiently lambasted myself for one day (see below).
“Remember, remember.” It’s that day again. Tomorrow in my country is an election day. Since my country is very bossy, this will affect many other nations as well.
I have no idea which way the election will go. I gave up a decade ago on thinking I could understand people. I have no predictions for the outcome of this election, but I have my hopes. A motif in this film is the immutability of ideas: ideas are bulletproof, indestructible.
Are they, though?
I think they are entirely personal and held inside: no one and nothing is knowable. There is no way to trust that what someone says is what they’re really thinking, nor that anyone will do what they say they are going to. I know what I want to see happen in my country and in my life, but my doubts about those things are ebbing the spontaneity and passion from me, and I hate that, and it confuses me, and I don’t want it to be so. I once had a zeal for politics unmatched by almost anyone I know, and I still follow closely what goes on, but I feel like I’ve been burned over and over, like it’s scar tissue on scar tissue, and there are all these layers of dead hard flesh between the outside and my core.
I haven’t stopped caring. I haven’t stopped wanting to change the world and my own self, but I’ve stopped believing I can be touched or healed by what someone says, promises, proclaims to think or plans to do. I’m afraid that this is reflective of not just my political opinions and doings, but my approach to more interpersonal functions. And I don’t want that. I need to get back that optimism. It’s like I’m so sure of being broken that I throw myself off the shelf so at least it’s my own idea when I’m shattered on the floor. How is that consolation? I’m still in pieces. I don’t want to be bulletproof: I just don’t want to be glass.
This too. Man, if Pirate Bay goes down, my life is over. How fucking shallow am I? Such the molotov-lobbing anarchist, me. “I just want to download Walking Dead.” Waah, waah, waah — I don’t know how to love properly and I like illegally freeloading free loads of downloads. Spoiled and purposeless little shit.
Well, hell and goddamn, a month for the O.G. navel-gazer. It’s difficult not to admire a woman who lived with such spontaneity combined with introspection, a kind of fearless but reflective courage uncharacteristic of the time. Kind of a startling oversight that this Anaïs Nin November hasn’t happened yet. Perhaps she is too good of an example of the merciless self-audit, and I become shamed by my own inability to look unflinching in to the abyss the way she did. Or the sex talk. Does that make me uncomfortable? Not sure. If it does, like, okay, but why all the breasts and vaginas then, if the talky talk is a problem? Where are my lines?
So… Sorry? Spilled milk. And impetus for improvement.
A few days ago, I got the following comment to a post from alert reader R-K-A:
I am leaving this comment here, because I can’t find any other way to contact you.
[Nice stuff that came next in the comment is omitted because in addition to the virtues of beauty and wit, I am super modest, possibly the most extraordinarily modest person that you’ll ever find. When I die, they’ll probably give me a holiday for it. “In loving and eternally awed honor of E, the government presents Modesty Day: A day for being super modest.” I get teary thinking about it. Because of how great I am. Back to the mailbag.]
I was looking for information on Playmate Angela Dorian who was sentenced in September 2011 to nine years in prison for the attempted murder of her husband. Specifically, I was looking for her booking photo or photos from her sentencing, yet I can find nothing anywhere on the web.
And I was surprised as newsworthy as that was, that there was no mention of that here. It is as if Hef has exerted control over the entire interwebs to keep this story on the on the down low. Even The Smoking Gun didn’t have her recent photos. You seem to be able to unearth the most interesting stuff…anything on Angela??
Totally fair questions and observations, especially about how I write interesting things. Very astute.
Truth is, I got burned a while back by Miss November 1988 (she and I’ve agreed that I am not to mention her name any longer) when she found an entry alluding to past court troubles, and owing to the headache and anxiety of that experience I have avoided reporting on Playmate crimes — accused or convicted — as a result. While I do keep up with PB news, I don’t generally report it if it seems salacious or … how shall I put this? Lawsuit-threat-inducing.
As Charisma Highcloud in “The Indian Affairs Affair.” The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (1966).
Victoria Rathgeb/Victoria Vetri/Angela Dorian’s arrest was a strong blip on my radar when it happened in October of 2010, especially because we are both Italian-American and she’s done fun sci-fi and cult stuff, but I lost track of the story.
As Sanna in When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970).
I’m disappointed to hear now of such a hefty penal outcome for someone of her age and moderate notoriety (which can be a genuinely dangerous liability for a woman in jail), especially considering that, though she has a history of a bad temper, she’s never attempted murder before. Nine years seems excessive to me, but I do not have access to all the facts, and, like I said, I’m Italian-American: am I not taking this seriously enough? My first thought was, “Jeez, it’s not like he’s dead. He probably needed scaring. What’d he do?”
As Florence of Arabia, partner to King Tut, in “I’ll be a Mummy’s Uncle.” Batman (1967).
But, lord, that’s a terrible thing to do, shooting someone with intent to kill, even in the heat of the moment. However, in this case, nine years? She’s 66. She’ll be 75 when she gets out. That’s … I don’t know. Seems disproportionately tough to me.
As Isis in “Assignment: Earth.” Star Trek, TOS (1968).
Detailed intel on Mrs. Rathgeb’s arrest and trial has been sparse, maybe through lack of interest on the press’s part given that, though she seriously winged her husband Bruce — the bullet remains lodged in his chest and his use of his left hand is minimal … and it probably didn’t help that she tried to stuff a plastic baggie down his throat while he was down — she didn’t actually kill him.
As Sanna in When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970).
Or the lack of coverage is more likely due to editors’ determination that even stories about Playmates focus on modern celebutards — Hef’s recently former fiancee auctioning the ring, Lindsay Lohan completing her nude shoot before sentencing, etc. All the articles on Mrs. Rathgeb’s sentencing state pretty much the same bare facts, in limited terms, and seem to prefer to use her PMOY cover as the accompanying pic, which I agree is frustrating.
As Florence of Arabia, partner to King Tut, in “I’ll be a Mummy’s Uncle.” Batman (1967).
Luckily, I’m a good detective. First, here are pictures of her mostly-recovered husband Bruce’s injuries. Click to enlarge. (Raise your hand if you think he looks like a douche.)
And here are pictures from her trial. Click to enlarge. I’m uncertain whether this is her sentencing or her original trial, but looks like she’s a lefty. Who knew?
I’ve always had a soft spot for Victoria/Angela, given that she was not just a PMOY but also appeared on Batman, Star Trek, AND the B movies When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth and Invasion of the Bee Girls. Perhaps a lawyer will appeal her sentence, or perhaps the sentence is just. It’s difficult to say. That’s all I have for right now, having quickly dug for twenty minutes or so. I may return to this question in the future, but for now I need to close this post so I can learn more about “chunking” on the ukulele for a lesson plan on antonyms. Also, full disclosure: I have to go to the bathroom.
As Charisma Highcloud in “The Indian Affairs Affair.” The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (1966).
Before I dash away, a quick poll: would you like a Winter Wonderland post on Ms. Dorian, aka, Mrs. Rathgeb? She is a Miss September, technically, but it would be topical. However, it would not go in to details of her trial and sentencing. What do you say?
Finally, in other news, I also got a comment from “Anonymous” on a recent repost of William S. Burroughs’ “Thanksgiving Prayer,” which said simply
stupid post – 1 minute of my life i will never get back.
To you, Anonymous, I say in equally succinct reply, “Suck my modest dick.”
Wednesday: You have taken the land which is rightfully ours. Years from now, my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations. Your people will wear cardigans and drink highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the road sides; you will play golf, and enjoy hot hors d’oeuvres. My people will have pain and degradation. Your people will have stick shifts. The gods of my tribe have spoken. They have said, “Do not trust the Pilgrims … especially Sarah Miller.”
Amanda: Gary, she’s changing the words!
Wednesday: … And for all these reasons, I have decided to scalp you and burn your village to the ground.
edit 11/24/11: Several months ago I screencapped the hell out of a gorgeous, HD version of AFV with subtitles. Then my desktop hard drive crashed. I’ve been limping along on the strength of my laptop as I attempt to reconstruct the desktop with the help of others, but I hadn’t realized the breadth of my little tragedy until I went to put together my hotly anticipated Wednesday Thanksgiving post and brokenheartely remembered that batch of files hadn’t been transferred on to my external hard drive (which I frequently updated as a backup to both systems in the face of just such an eventuality as this). Sad. I’m sad about this.
“To John Dillinger and hope he is still alive.
Thanksgiving Day. November 28, 1986.”
Thanks for the wild turkey and
the passenger pigeons, destined
to be shat out through wholesome
Thanks for a continent to despoil
Thanks for Indians to provide a
modicum of challenge and
Thanks for vast herds of bison to
kill and skin leaving the
carcasses to rot.
Thanks for bounties on wolves
Thanks for the American dream,
To vulgarize and to falsify until
the bare lies shine through.
Thanks for the KKK.
For nigger-killin’ lawmen,
feelin’ their notches.
For decent church-goin’ women,
with their mean, pinched, bitter,
Thanks for “Kill a Queer for
Thanks for laboratory AIDS.
Thanks for Prohibition and the
war against drugs.
Thanks for a country where
nobody’s allowed to mind their
Thanks for a nation of finks.
Yes, thanks for all the
memories — all right let’s see
You always were a headache and
you always were a bore.
Thanks for the last and greatest
betrayal of the last and greatest
of human dreams.
I do not believe it is as hopeless as all that. This year, I am incredibly thankful to be alive at all, let alone to live where I do with the people I love. I understand Mr. Burroughs’ criticisms, I just think that we must keep caring and trying to win out against the sense of defeat and cynicism, and maybe then the dream can still be saved. I don’t believe people are inherently bad; I believe the opposite, and I won’t get discouraged and filled with bitterness toward all of humanity just because of the publicized exploits and outrages of the bad apples in our barrel. I believe that for each one of the headlines that sends people in to despair over the state of the world, there are a thousand unreported little kindnesses and gestures of love and connection.
And world peace. I know. I get cheesey. I’m just feeling very happy and free and alive.
Been buried in academic work, but I needed to throw out a quick, sad retread of Ms. Myers’ “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” post. Beautiful, adventurous Cynthia passed away yesterday of undisclosed causes, per Hef.
R.I.P., Ms. Myers (9/12/50-11/4/11).
Photographed by Pompeo Posar.
“Wholly Toledo!” is the name of the article that accompanies the pictorial for the lovely and talented Cynthia Myers, Playboy’s Miss December 1968. Her wildly popular centerfold shot her to stardom among the troops in Vietnam, and a pinup of her is featured in the film Hamburger Hill. She has been a teen model, a television personality, played a lesbian songstress in one of the most famous camp films out there, and become an unwitting space cowgirl in her 60 years on this planet. Buckle up, because here we go!
Cynthia wrote to Playboy a few years ago, informing us that she’d like to be considered as a centerfold beauty. Assistant Picture Editor Marilyn Grabowski answered with a reminder that our Playmates must be of legal age but that Cynthia should keep in touch. She did just that.
Well, kind of.
The shoot was in June of ’68, and Ms. Meyers was born in September of ’50, but Playboy waited until Cynthia was comfortably 18 to publish her pictorial. It had become common practice for the magazine after the scandal with Elizabeth Ann Roberts.
In fact, the most recently featured “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” playmate, the fantastic Susan Bernard, was also 17 at her photoshoot and saw her spread published after she turned 18.
Posing underage for Playboy is not the only common ground between Ms. Bernard and Ms. Myers. While Ms. Bernard was featured in Russ Meyers’ cult classic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, today’s special gal starred in his 1970 film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.
I promise to have a full-out Movie Moment for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls one of these days. For my friend’s recent 31st birthday, I sent him a picture of the cast of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls with him tagged as Dolly Read and me as Cynthia Myers. I explained that I originally had me as Dolly and him as Cynthia, but I switched it because it was his birthday.
You know Roger Ebert wrote it? I don’t think he ever gets to criticize a movie again.
Cynthia is pictured reading a five-year-old palmistry pamphlet about what the following year once held for her because she placed a large credulity in psychic phenomenon.
“I’ve known since I was 15 that I’d be a Playmate. It’s almost as if this had been fated to happen.” Cynthia’s penchant for precognition can be traced to her early teens.
“A junior high school friend of mine in Toledo,” she says, “was a nut on palmistry, astrology and even reading tea leaves and crystal balls. Like most people, I thought is was just a bunch of baloney. But when I began reading about prophets like Edgar Cayce, I began to realize that there are strange spiritual forces in the world undreamed of even in The Playboy Philosophy.”
Ms. Myers, I think you’d be surprised by what the Playboy philosophy can dream of.
In 1994, it was revealed that a picture from Ms. Myers’ centerfold pictorial was among several that crafty NASA jokesters have launched in to space over the years. Ms. Myers, together with Leslie Bianchini, Angela Dorian, and Reagan Wilson, was snuck in to the checklist for the Apollo 12 mission that was placed in astronauts’ suit cuff on their trip to the moon in November of 1969. Ms. Myers specifically took her space journey with astronaut Al Bean.
Don’t forget: Describe the protruberances.
Boobs : Geeks :: Horse : Carriage. I think it’s kind of funny and sweet.
And the gals didn’t just go up in the lunar landing module: they straight moon walked. The astronauts found their pictures while fulfilling their extravehicular (read: outside the module on the lunar surface) mission duties on the moon itself.
Pete Conrad got Miss September 1967, Angela Dorian, (“Seen any interesting hills and valleys?”) and Miss October 1967, Reagan Wilson (“Preferred tether partner”). Al Bean got Miss December 1968, Cynthia Myers (“Don’t forget — Describe the protuberances”), and Miss January 1969, Leslie Bianchini (“Survey — her activity”).
Conrad told us in 1994: “I had no idea they were with us. It wasn’t until we actually got out on the lunar surface and were well into our first moon walk that I found them.” Bean recalled: “It was about two and a half hours into the extravehicular activity. I flipped the page over and there she was. I hopped over to where Pete was and showed him mine, and he showed me his.”
A large, color version of the shot of Cynthia that was smuggled up to the moon in the Apollo 12.
Lest we forget, the lovely and talented DeDe Lind, Miss August 1967 and, like Cynthia, one of the most popular Playmates in the magazine’s history, also rode shotgun on the Apollo 12 mission. She was in the control console, her picture labelled, “Map of a heavenly body.”
I always feel compelled when talking about the Playmate pictures and NASA to bring up the fact that my sorority’s badge is on the moon. Neil Armstrong put it there for his wife. It’s my sorority’s badge and it is on the moon. The moon that is in space. Sorry, but I get pretty cocky and excited by that. Tell a friend.
This much more recent picture of Ms. Myers just might get her kicked out of the Red Hat Society.
Can our prescient Playmate predict anything about her future? “I’m going to be an actress,” she says simply. “Notice I didn’t say ‘I’d like to be,’ but ‘I’m going to be.’ I don’t know how good I’ll be as an actress, but I’ll be one.”
(“Wholly Toledo!” Playboy. December 1968.)
Judging from her track record as a prophetess — and from her already abundant attributes — we’d like to venture a prediction of our own: Playmatehood should be just the beginning for the remarkable Miss Myers.
Clear, unscalable, ahead
Rise the Mountains of Instead,
From whose cold, cascading streams
None may drink except in dreams.
(Auden, W.H. “VI.:Autumn Song.” Twelve Songs. March 1936.)
If ever there were a view on which to turn your back à la Gertrude Stein, a sweeping vista of the Mountains of Instead would be the one. No going back. Too late. Prams rolling on. Breathtaking strong tide of inevitability that takes all the water with it and leaves you and your petty fears and dreams dragging in the dust.
Time is stolen from us in such tiny ways — although I guess it is scarcely a theft when you never lock the door or look out the window to see if there is a shadow waiting for you to turn your back, as if all you possess are invincible by dint of being yours — and we use landmark occasions to mark the loss, but we only once in a while really look at what momentous and yet totally miniscule shit comprises what is destined to be our one and only, short history.
This Autumn was already weighing as heavily on me as last year. Now all I feel like I can handle doing is to take a hot bath and climb back beneath the covers (you see what I mean about aiding in our own robbery by time?). Thanks a lot, Auden. I guess what scares me most about it is does it always steal up on you? Does it just sneak up and you turn around and cry out, “Oh, not yet. It can’t be time yet. I’m not finished. I thought I would have more time.”
Is there any way to escape that, that moment of realization, that punch in the gut when the waste, all the time you wasted suddenly comes rushing up around you so you can’t even breathe? Your life is over and you’re not ready because you thought you could always keep backsliding, that there would be special accounting for prodigal, last minute, golden you, who always slid in under the wire, who always got a second chance if you smiled big enough when you asked. There is no talking or charming or dodging your way out of final reckoning, and no method by which I can imagine escaping the horror of that realization, and you finally turn around and see the Mountains of Instead. You made them that tall. What do you do about the regret which will follow. Is there a way to soften that blow?
I don’t think there is. I can make vows about viewing this poem as a cautionary tale, and shine you on about how I plan on avoiding such a fate by making every moment count, and on and on until the sun goes supernova, but a plucky attitude does not lower the Mountains of Instead even an inch. No changing the past. No erasing regrets. That is just some fucked up shit right there.
Pretty flimsy allusion to Catwoman, but … it’s my blog. I mean, I can chuckle sheepishly, but I’m not truly sorry. If you feel it is too tenuous and I’ve pushed the envelope too far, start your own blog with stronger and super-safe-for-work daily connections to Batman and watch me never visit it.
So, it’s still in the 80’s in my little pocket of the universe— that’s around 30 to you metric friendohs — and I say that calls for one last Girl of Summer. (Don’t call it an Indian Summer; call it Global Warming’s Brief and Only Benefit.)
The lovely and talented Heather Ryan was Playboy‘s Miss July 1967. She is an all-around smashing girl and I’m super-psyched to finally finish the write-up on her. Whatch’all know about unusal pets? Cause this strawberry blonde here’s ’bout to change the game.
Says Heather, I don’t think there’s anything unusual about owning an ocelot, but people always stare when we go walking together.”
(“Call of the Wild.” Playboy, July 1967.)
Not so sure it’s the ocelot they’re double-taking on.
[Heather] currently resides at her family’s Glendale home, on the brink of the canyon: “It’s pretty desolate out there, but we’re lucky that we have no close neighbors, because the ocelot often screams at night.”
No couch potatoes looking for a BJ and a Blockbuster night need apply:
“I am,” she says, “fascinated by adventure, and I suppose it pervades most of my tastes. I like actors like Paul Newman, Charlton Heston and Steve McQueen, because they usually portray men who are as untamed as my ocelot.”
Speed-loving Heather admits to driving her 1966 Mustang faster on occasion than the law prescribes.
Attagirl. Speaking of which, the most terrible Mustang experience befell me this week.
I was running a bit late on my way to work. I headed on to the freeway with a newish Mustang ahead of me. The guy crawled down the ramp and inched his way through the merge, then continued to torture me by poking around in the middle lane, keeping me from getting in to the leftmost, fastest lane.
I was totally shocked. You’re in a Mustang, man! You do not drive a Mustang in the middle lane! Somewhere in Germany, the Cappy just felt a pang in his heart and shook his head, and he didn’t know why: now you know, brother. A guy was driving a Mustang in the middle lane at about 60 mph. I know. It was a scandal.
Though she hasn’t had much exposure to the psychedelics-freedom-love movement currently the kick among West Coast youth, Heather recently witnessed a mass “love-in” at Elysian Park.
“I’d never seen such a crew — everybody walking about and presenting the most unlikely gifts, like fruits and flowers, to each other.”
But she was not much in to the hippie scene, particularly the men —
TURN-OFFS: Men with long hair, and the unnaturalness of women today.
(“Playmate Data Sheet.” Playboy. July 1967.)
Totally agree. I don’t like long hair on men … sorry long-haired friends, it’s just a personal preference. No long hair, no skinny jeans. Spread the word.
As for Ms. Ryan’s dislike of the “unnaturalness” of women, who can argue with that? Besides girdles and foam butts, there was already plastic surgery and ubiquitous hairpieces. Of course, the problem has only gotten worse. I can only imagine what Ms. Ryan thinks of some of today’s Playboy centerfolds.
Number one favorite shot with a bullet.
AMBITIONS: A legal secretary or model, or perhaps I’ll enter a biological institute and become a laboratory assistant and transcriber.
Ms. Ryan did not fulfill those ambitions …
…Because she totally exceeded them. Get it, girl! A wildlife biologist, Ms. Ryan is a published author and has lead all-female eco-tours. Taxidermy is her hobby. In the Playboy article, she mentions enjoying hunting quail and rabbit, so it’s kind of a natural progression.
Ms. Ryan also mentions, when asked what she thinks is a great read, Something Wicked This Way Comes. Bradbury’s little masterpiece is one of my top favoritest books of all time, too. I just re-read it last weekend, as I like to read it every year around Halloween. Synchronicity! One of these years when I’ve sufficiently expiated my sins of ignorance to Mr. Auden, I will have to have a “Something Wicked” October.
There are many books I read at special times of year, but Something Wicked is one which I never fail to get toe-curling excited about in my anticipation. The descriptions are gorgeous, the writing crackles and terrifies and moves you — I adore all Bradbury, but I put Something Wicked in the most special, highest place.
Click above to scope the original Playboy article scans; there are pictures included in the spread that are not in this post, so give those a spin!
Cover model Venita Wolfe was photographed by Mario Casilli, who shot the following month’s centerfold: the lovely and talented sweetheart DeDe Lind.
Schulz had a long association with ice sports, and both figure skating and ice hockey featured prominently in his cartoons. In Santa Rosa, he was the owner of the Redwood Empire Ice Arena, which opened in 1969 and featured a snack bar called “The Warm Puppy”.
Ice-skating is the only sport other than baseball at which I’ve ever instantly demonstrated amazing prowess on the first try. For this reason, I try to talk it up big to everyone I know, but, in a region of California that seldom ever sees temperatures dip below 25 degrees, fahrenheit, it’s an uphill battle.
Aw, geez, man. Here’s the thing: I don’t like the Avengers. I haven’t seen a single one of their setup movies. Not even the Iron Man flicks, and that’s in direct violation of a personal blood oath I made to Robert Downey, Jr. in the 1990s. (Chances Are, Heart and Souls, Only You? — totally irrestible.) I can’t help it: I just don’t care about the danged Avengers. On the plus side, I can finally see the viewpoint of all those good but non-dorky friends whose sphincters clench when I start in on Batman.
The deep pain that is felt at the death of every friendly soul arises from the feeling that there is in every individual something which is inexpressible, peculiar to him alone, and is, therefore, absolutely and irretrievably lost.
I’ve been mourning the loss of a very close childhood friend. She was very literally the first friend I ever had. Because we moved quite far apart, in the last several years, our contact has been social networking and phone calls on each other’s birthdays (my lucky number, 22, is owing to her birthday of February 22nd). I do have to give her a wry thumbs-up because it was very clever to die of breast cancer in October so that we’d all remember every year to donate and walk and light candles and the like, but I can’t say I have been much of a fan of the actual passing.
In any man who dies there dies with him
his first snow and kiss and fight….
Not people die but worlds die in them.
(Yevgeny Yevtushenko, People.)
My friend had time to say goodbye to her sons, her husband, her sister and her parents, and to all of the rest of us who loved her. But what I have been struggling with is the loss of that world inside her: a world whose first gasps I was lucky enough to share with her, a world whose confident, feet-found orbit was still only just beginning. I feel so bitter and helpless about it. I didn’t realize how badly I’d been repressing it until I went to her funeral at our old church several hours away (alone, which was a terrible mistake). I didn’t weep or make a spectacle, but I didn’t stop crying. It was like I couldn’t.
Afterward, a very nice, very short woman came up and began gently asking me about my friend, and I explained that we’d known each other since we were very, very young, and had even gone to school together off and on. Turns out the woman was one of my kindergarten teachers. The nice one. Still nice, after all these years. I’ll explain that another day.
The point is — horrible. Bitterness. Anger. Grief. But not so much anger that I wish to assuage it by some sort of strike back; that would not at all comfort me, because I’m not down to facts just yet. I’m not ready to slap on a pink-ribboned tank top and run any marathons to make things better for others, because I don’t give a shit about all that yet. That is for sure.
I feel like a lost and selfish monster, surrounded by all this breast cancer awareness promotional material and not even up to the point of resentment of the disease; ergo, mystified by the idea of embracing that activism to trump my grief. I don’t like to feel that way. And I like to do all kinds of charity malarkey. I really do. I’ve donated this month already in the name of another friend’s mother, who beat it two years ago.
But this new thing — I am just not ready to even think of my friend’s death in terms of what killed her. That seems objective to the point of frightening. But I should strive for it? Right? How do you get to there?
It’s important to get hands-on with arithmetic lessons.
So besides going back to school for some masochistic post-grad-work (I couldn’t stay away forever), I’ve also been teaching mathematics to below-level fourth and fifth graders. I really like it. But it’s kept me busy. These are students who dislike math and need new ways to connect with their material: I’m trying to use a lot of concrete examples.
Anyone had a disconnect with math in their youth and recall lessons which resonated more strongly than the ol’ drill and kill? I’ve got ideas of my own but, with these scamps, I can’t have enough.
Thing One: I don’t understand the uproarious, showy displays of grief such like, “Oh, the surprise of this unexpected thing, how stunning,” going around over Steve Jobs’ unfortunately succumbing to his illiness. Like, you knew he was dying, people, first of all. How is this shocking? Totally sad for his loved ones and his company, yes. Shocking, no. Good lord, no.
But what galls me most is what might piss you off really badly when I say it. I think this messianic technological heroism they’re touting is nearly imaginary. Visionary for sure but not exactly Edison on the invention side, here, dudes — he had a whole lot of help. The giant-ness of the attention is deserved, but the track is wrong for me. I’ll explain.
Besides being a notorious, egomaniacal hellbeast of an overseer, Jobs did not “invent” iPods and the like. He was just the admittedly sadly ailing, ever-thinning public face of those products. He was good at making geniuses work for him, and signing off on ultimate marketing decisions that were really the culmination of the work of thousands of other people, which he had a big hand in directing but not generating the content of.
He was a trench-educated, old school techie and a hell of a businessman — but he does not deserve all this solo credit he’s getting left and right for products made by the entire staff of the huge company he ran. Okay, so I’d like to see less credit for inventions in pieces on his passing, and more credit for innovations.
Thing Two: For me, his real magic power, good or bad, the truly remarkable about him for which his merit should be forever remembered is again not technical invention, but business innovation — when Steve Jobs returned to Apple, he did not just turn profits.
He ate the competition for breakfast and shit them back out as money.
He took Apple away from its image of a quirky, hip-cognescenti alternative to the big, straightforward Goliaths of PC corporations, and put the company on its present path, whereby its highly-publicized and ultra-high-conceptual-design products are virutally unupdatable, and this is accepted completely by consumers. Built-in obscelence has become not only expected but anticipated.
That is the kind of skilled marketing genius that makes IBM and HP look like retired guys with their belts up under their bitch tits taking a big ol’ handicap at the golf course.
People camping out in lines for the slightly newer version of a product they already own, knowing full-well that within a few years there will be another slightly newer version of that thing? And then arguing with me about why it was super-necessary and how I just don’t understand (I don’t, so they have me there)? That is Jobs’ legacy.
This path was so successful that every company now follows it in its production of handheld devices and, increasingly, notebook PCs. Since notebook PCs are likely to cause the phase-out of desktops, moving understandably and beneficially to cloud computing but cleverly plotting the ever-evolving releases of mobile devices with which to access the cloud, Jobs’ model is the plain old Future. Even the most diehard home-cobblers will eventually have to cave in order to meet the technical demands of what society will expect them to be able to do if they want to work and interact with others efficently. Get mad, but Jobs started it. Yes, he did.
Its users may still include ponytailed bluegrass fans and flannel-sporting skinny-jeaned twats with ironic facial hair, but Apple is categorically not the scruffy gang of misfit scamps, all earnest and adorable, trying to beat the rich kids across the lake so Old Man Withers can keep Camp Wannahumpme anymore. They are the rich kids across the lake.*
You might be thinking, Jeezy creezy, E. What’s wrong with making money? You’re right: nothing. Good for the guy making it. For me, the guy spending the money? I say, Dang, man. Fuck those dudes making money. They suck.
It’s a petulant, childish attitude, yeah: what do you expect from a woman who writes chiefly about comics and boobs? Do I strike you like I got a plan to make money? (I don’t.) Of course my criticism is in large part sour grapes masquerading as mild Marxism: all Marxism is. Except Engels’. He was in it for the pussy.
I am sorry for Steve Jobs’ family, very much, and, marginally, for his company. Grieve the man. Yes. The loss of any human life is genuinely sad, especially the loss of complicated, particularly brilliant stars like Steve Jobs.
But the rest? About what a major and important place of honor Apple holds in our culture, and what glorious tools of divine perfection Jobs delivered to our hands by the grace of God or whatever, like the Lady of the Lake giving Arthur frigging Excalibur?
Not so much for me. I flatly disagree with the openly money-seeking strategies of the mobile device business model he has wrought. I know Steve Jobs was famous for saying negative people upset him, but, if that’s so, then he and Carl Sagan will just have to sit in the turtleneck department in Heaven and shake their heads over my lack of getting it. (Carl will only be playing along to humor the new guy — he loves me.)
I admire the shit out of his business sense, even as I dislike it, and I feel bad for his family. But I do not hold him up high for putting a new iPhone in your hands every thirty minutes. Not sorry for saying it. Go jerk off in back of the Birkenstock outlet and boo-hoo about it. I’ll be out here, reflecting on the loss of a major figure in how world business works.
*Open contest for the name of the rich kids’ camp in the comments, if you’ve got one.
This entry originally appeared on June 22, 2010 at 1:44pm.
Late post, am I right? I’ve been invovled in some deep bookfoolery which I will explain below. The heading of each of the chapters in a book I read last night/today is followed by a quote, and one such quote was from this poem of Blake’s.
So — the lateness in the day. Yes. Sorry, but I am not even firing on four let alone six cyllinders today. See, I went against all my usual instincts and quickly finished my yearly series last night wayyy ahead of time and I refuse to let that happen with my other obligations, so when I dropped the last in the series to the floor, I dug in to my pile and instead of snatching up The Tommyknockers (absolutely not touching it until July 2nd or 3rd or I will not be where I need to be for the 4th and I cannot afford any more Bad Days), I started this book my cousin Mary loaned me called The Descent.
I was initially skeptical and, at points, flirting with grogginess from the overabundance of sleep-inducing substances I pour down my throat every night in an effort to quiet the seven-headed rock dragon of my insomnia which makes the Balrog look like a Pound Puppy, but it was amazing shit, full of caves and sci-fi creatures and anthropology and linguistics and religious themes and Hell and mountaineers and Jesuits and everything else that rings my bell, and before I knew it I was completely sucked in to the throat of it. I powered through the layers of tylenol pm, Miller, and a slug of Ny-Quil I’d taken earlier, ignoring my sandy eyelids because I Couldn’t Stop Reading, and, having finally shook off any need for sleep and finished the last sentence and closed the book thoughtfully at around nine this morning, I can confidently say I’m a believer.
I slid it under my bed and lay reflecting on what I’d read for a few minutes, because I felt like there had been some unresolved plot points, then I suddenly did this herky jerky twitch and thought, “How many standalone science fiction novels are that long? Plus … it was set in ’99, but the cover was new. No dog-eared pages. Mary would’ve loaned it to me years ago if she hadn’t just recently bought and read it. It’s a new book.” Reprint. Why?
Totally excited by this chain of thought, I flipped my ass in the air, dove under my bed and grabbed the book back out of my piles and checked the front. HELL YES: among the author’s other books listed by the publisher is one titled The Ascent, which I think it is fair to conjecture can only be a sequel, so now that I’ve finished all the housework and cooking I’d planned previously to do in the hours of the morning I’d spent reading, I’m going to cruise out to the used book store by my house and see about scaring that bitch up for tonight — and see if there are more. Keep you posted. Don’t worry about the insomnia thing: I’ll get all the sleep I need when I’m dead.