Sunday, July 4, 2010


I am a white male who was born in America and has lived his whole life in America.

I don’t know what it is like to truly struggle, except through all the predicaments I put myself in. I don’t have much money right now, but my girlfriend gets paid on Wednesday and I on Thursday. We have food; we will be able to buy more.

I suppose we are lower class, but we are not poor. We are in debt, but I think that is part of what it is to be American. We have a lot of stuff. What little we make in comparison to some of our peers is a lot more than most people in the third world. I will joke that I will need to sell some of my stuff to make ends meet. I will not follow through with it. I’ll wait three days, and I’ll have money again.

I wonder how America would have turned out if it was still under British rule. I wonder if we would communicate better, if we would be more sedate, if we would talk quieter. America is full of boastful, loud talkers. It is American to stand on a soap box. It is American to either argue loudly or to passively hate people. We’re free to argue loudly. We are free to hate.

I am free to walk around a city after dark, with or without ID, although it’s not a very smart thing to do. Someone might mug me, or kill me. There will be police to follow through. They will be on my side. I take this for granted because I’ve been to no other place in the world. I want to go, but I can’t afford to. Elsewhere, people will want to get out of poverty, to have electricity, to have toilets. They will not be able to afford to. They’re not sure what it means to afford to.

I am not a Christian, and this is not a Christian nation. This is a nation full of Christians. People will try to argue with me that it is a religious nation, and I suppose they are right. We also have many Muslims and a smattering of other religions, the lack of having one being a minority. We are full of contradictions and oxymorons. But we are free to be different, and once more, we are free to argue loudly.

It is Independence Day. Am I supposed to be proud to be American? I’m not proud, though. I am happy I live here. It was very lucky. I had a good life handed to me. To unquestionably raise a flag or to wear red, white, and blue today is not a patriotic thing to do; it is a nationalist thing to do and many will do it. I will do whatever I want today, and I will appreciate it. I may sit inside all day, and it’s my right to do so. In America, I can participate, or not.

Image by Markus Krueger

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Matrix Trilogy in 300 Words

The Matrix

“Ugh, I hate my job.” *ring, ring*


“Hi, Neo. It’s Morpheus. I can see you at your work. Come find me and I will feed you drugs.”

Later that day... “See? The world is an illusion. Everyone lives underground and we’re all scared of robots that run the world and keep us in a video game.”


“Now you must learn a bunch of martial arts.”

“Hello, I’m Agent Smith. You met me earlier. Let's fight.”

*fight, fight*

“Whoa. I totally survived being killed.”

The Matrix Reloaded

Now Neo can fly and is totally banging Trinity. She’s a hot lady from the first movie where they flew a spaceship underground, for some reason.

“Whoa. I gotta find out if the old black lady from the first movie was totally full of shit. But probably I’m the chosen one.”

Neo fights a bunch of duplicate Agent Smiths, then flies again.

Then a bunch of crazy ghosts and some Asian guy with a lot of keys chase each other on the interstate.

“Hi, Neo. I'm an old white dude named the Architect. I made the Matrix.”

“Whoa. Fuck off, I'm the chosen one.”

The Matrix Revolutions

Everyone lives underground and has spaceships and robot warriors with guns.

“Whoa. We have to go fight the robots for real. First I gotta fight Agent Smith because now he’s not just a computer file, he’s a real asshole and killed the old black lady, who is now played by a different lady.”

*fight, fight, fight*

Oh no, Neo gets blinded by Agent Smith. Now he can’t see when his girlfriend Trinity gets stabbed and killed.

“Totally sucks that my girlfriend is dead. Time to face the robot leader.”

Presumably, Neo sacrifices himself for the good of humankind. It’s really unclear.

The End.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Snob, Part Two: "The Shallow End," Wherein the Things I Own End Up Owning Me

It was explained to me recently that my inherent snobbery is more a manifestation of my inadvertent classist attitude than it is a superiority complex. Or maybe those are the same thing, and I am just being wordy. It is not that I think I’m better because of the things I have. I just like to show off shiny toys when for so many years I had none.

That’s not to say that I never had nice things. I think I was spoiled as a child. Mom taught me to take care of my nice things, to put my toys away, to appreciate what I had.

My cousin had the cooler Star Wars figures and the goddamned Millenium Falcon, but I did have some kickass toys. I got both Optimus Prime and Megatron for Christmas. I had almost all the Battle Beasts. And I don’t remember if it was a birthday present or if I had help saving up for it, but I did get a Nintendo Entertainment System not too long after it was released.

For being in what was then the lower middle class, I think my parents tried to get me everything they could afford to. And I wasn’t aware of how hard it must have been. When other kids with the Nintendo were playing Metroid and Zelda, I only had the Super Mario games. When everyone in school was wearing the classic black and white Adidas, I had the black Nike shoes (I wish I had them now. They were awesome). When everyone was wearing the Girbaud jeans, I wore Levis 501s. I pouted the whole while thinking my parents were so out of touch. Man, did I want to be cool.

I can’t be positive, but I think that all that disappointment (ingratitude, really) is what set me up for my adult life where I needed — where I still need — to have the right things. The name brand things. I eat motherfucking Kraft macaroni and cheese. I don’t drink cola, I drink Coca-Cola. I didn’t want an MP3 player, I needed an iPod. I didn’t want a laptop until I was able to buy the best damn MacBook that Apple makes. I don’t think I’m better than the people with the Sam’s Choice pop and the Zune and the Dell. It is as though I need to assert that where I throw my money, where I spend my time, that in which I invest is at last good enough. I think that finally my stuff is better than theirs, that finally I am the cool kid with the toys I wanted. It is ridiculous, it is petty, and it makes me look like a snob.

So, what kills me is that at this point in my life, when I have the nice things and feel like I have ‘arrived’ or something, it seems to be in fashion to look as poor as possible. Hipsters, I am not necessarily talking about you anymore. Some of you are wearing the Edie Sedgwick getup and I guess it’s working. Maybe it’s time I should be calling out the crusties instead.

Fuck, really? Wearing just the grossest jeans and having the grungiest hair possible. I used to not wash my hair because I was running late for school. Now if I do wash my hair, it looks like I’m running late for cool. Hey dicks, do you have any idea how out of fashion it is to be homeless? There is a guy who wanders around the Crystal Court in the IDS Center, slowly eating Doritos, and he is miserable as hell. He looks just like you, and I wanna cry my eyes out every time I see him. I guess maybe you are trying to identify with him or whatever, to distance yourself from the bourgeoisie, but I bet given the option, he would love to be wearing some new clean clothes.

I’m not wearing expensive jeans and new shoes to make him feel bad about where he is in life; I’m wearing it to feel good in contrast to the places I have been in mine. I am not talking about high school. I didn’t realize how fortunate I was. My parents probably bought me Nike when it was more in the budget to buy the New Balance (and isn’t it fucking ironic that now those are in style). No, I’m talking about when I was wearing the same black, worn out jeans I had since my senior year, except I was 25 and shivering on my hand-me-down couch, coming down off of two days on meth.

It’s taken me a good, solid five years to get back from that place, where I was in rehab for my 26th birthday, in a halfway house for my 27th. It was a hell of a lot more comfortable than dead. And more comfortable still is sitting here, typing on my MacBook, the fastest, prettiest computer they make. Drinking a Coke that tastes 400 times better than any cola. There is a reason the slogan is “the real thing.” I don’t want to keep pointing out how good this stuff is. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want the same.

There are two big mistakes I make. The first is that people have different taste than mine. I don’t know why they do, but some people prefer using Windows over the Mac OS. And maybe they really like Pepsi.

The second mistake I make is a big mistake to make. It’s that maybe that person can’t afford the name brand shit; they can only afford the Sam’s Choice soda, the Crispy Hexagons and Panburger Partner (those are both real brands).

Shit. I didn’t realize that my comparing the Mac to your PC is about a $1400 difference. That’s where this guy looks like the big assholes he’s been trying to warn you about. That’s where that classism comes in, and I’m looking down on myself, thinking, “Wow. I really do think I’m better. Or at least I act like it.”

I am not in a different class than most of my friends. I am maybe more debt-free, but again, this took years. And after I cleaned up, I started looking at my life like the plot of Fight Club in reverse. Like, after hitting rock bottom, after losing almost everything, I was free to do anything, and it was to buy myself some nice shit. And now I’m sleeping in some 1000 thread count sheets because someone told me they were the best (honestly, I think they are too soft and I like the 450 better). And I’m wearing Emporio Armani and Calvin Klein underwear because my friend bought me some as a joke and I found out that they are more comfortable than Hanes.

Now my life is about the little improvements that make me feel better, and the people who say money can’t buy happiness can fucking eat me. Because money got me this laptop to bitch and moan to you, and it got me the BlackBerry so I can text the pretty girls. These are little shiny things to hold up to the light and admire, and I should really do the world a service and dance around my room in my underwear rather than telling you about them.

Once more, I have this blog to say what I want, and that is that I am proud of what I have earned. I bought this shit myself. And like Mom taught me, I appreciate the stuff I have. Often it comes across like bragging, but most of you cannot believe how far I’ve come, how much I really do love where I am and what I have.

There is a light at the end of this blog for those of you who are still thinking that I am a cold materialist.

Above all, the company I now keep and the people I value the most are far better than any company I had kept in the past. The sentiment is gay as hell, but I really do love them more than my MacBook and my new Asics and all that other stuff that is truly just some shiny shit.

But just barely.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Snob, Part One: "The Nerve," Wherein I Talk Some Serious Smack About Twenty-Somethings

Mocking ‘hipsters’ is fun and easy.

Hipsters are the new scene I can’t stand, replacing the Hot Topic kids. The new ‘goths’ are wearing Joy Division shirts, when most of them were born, typically, a good half decade after Ian Curtis had died. They might not know who New Order are. They may have never listened to an entire Joy Division album. I haven’t either, and that’s why I don’t wear Joy Division shirts. Or The Cure. I don’t really even like The Cure that much. I don’t make a good goth. I don’t even make a good Generation X alternative rocker, which I am, because I don’t own any Dinosaur Jr. But now the new goth kids are cute. They are like a species previously a nuisance but now endangered and sort of cherished because of it.

Those platform Frankenstein Mary Janes are precious. Why yes, I love the glam rock Marilyn Manson, too.

But hipsters... God.

How to spot a hipster: do an image search on Google for indie rockers, Band of Horses. The first image you see of the full band should show you the typical get-up: flannel, skinny tattered jeans, purchased that way or not. Preferably not, I would think. Unless, you know, it’s second hand. They will be sporting a beard that John Lennon couldn’t grow because he was shot in the back four times before it could get that long.

The hipster will be riding a bicycle they built themself, and they will be wearing a messenger bag. They will have old Converse All Stars and no socks. The female variety will be wearing eyeglasses that are way too big and were made last century. They will dress like Nico, and it will not be clear if they are a lesbian. They will smell of patchouli, but they will not have dirty hands because most of them are trust fund kids. The ones who have dirt under their nails work at a co-op. I sort of respect them because they do work. Not really, though, because they don’t turn a profit, and I’m a capitalist.

Your average hipster will not be a fan of Alan Greenspan or Adam Smith.

My general dislike of hipsters and their hipster ways doesn’t have so much to do with their socialism. I am a social liberal leaning fiscally toward Libertarianism because I have Ayn Rand’s interest in mind when it comes to my money. I'm therefore sort of a fiscal conservative. But that’s all right. I want them to be able to go to a hospital and afford to get fixed up when they get hit by a bus on their way to Critical Mass. Socialized medicine for the win, then.

My dislike has not as much to do with their taste in new music, either. I am an old crank who thinks all the last good music was written in the 1990’s (Angel Dust, The Downward Spiral, Grace, OK Computer, to name a few). Unless we are right then listening to your favorite band, to which you’d really like me to give a listen, I will probably not check them out on my own time. Within the last few years, though, I’ve been turned on to the aforementioned Band of Horses as well as Grizzly Bear, both notorious hipster favorites. For the record, even though I used Band of Horses as the example for what a hipster looks like, I do really like the band.

The problem with this is that as soon as hipster favorites become popular, it seems that the hipster has moved on. Whether it’s because the band has ‘sold out’ seems to be irrelevant. It is as though the hipster cannot listen to something that someone else likes (unless the other person is a hipster, too), or that by more people listening to it, it lessens the importance or overall worth of the artist. It is as though the most obscure band wins in this game, and we end up with Pitchfork giving most of the 500 Best Of list this last decade to bands of whom I’ve never heard, or to Animal Collective, who, I guess, is ‘supposed to’ be ‘good.’ This confuses me to no end as I don’t necessarily think popularity means the artist is “good,” but it would appear that the adverse proves true.

I think my discontent with hipsters boils down to a very basic xenophobia, a hatred for what I think of as youth wasting their time, or that they are going through a phase I don’t understand. I am just frustrated when I think of where I was at that age (18-24) thinking I knew what was best for the world. And here I am, this cranky 31 year old thinking that now I definitely know what is best for the world (/sarcasm). Yet I see in this hipster scene (not to be confused with ‘scenesters.’ Don’t get me started on scenesters), a passion and certainty that they are doing what is best for... uh... everyone? And maybe that’s another thing I hate, that general disregard for self in favor of reaching out for the other guy. Man, fuck the other guy.

Here’s where I’m a bad liberal — and I probably would have been a Republican if I had been this age in 1980 — but I am here to tell you that I am looking out for this guy (thumbs up, pointed at self) first and you second. And any of my close friends will tell you, I don’t really give a good goddamn about “community.” My tune will no doubt change when I am inevitably the victim of a mugging that will be thwarted by some of my coffee shop regulars. It’ll be then that I get my comeuppance.

Look, I don’t hate hipsters. If you and I talk about this shit in person, though, I will no doubt use that word. The conversation will go like this: you will say something about a twenty-something who goes to MCAD, and I will say, “I fucking hate hipsters.”

In fact, I can think of several hipsters who I really, really like. My co-worker Jeannie, for one. She's awesome. I don't even think of her as a hipster, but she could be mistaken as one. Anyway, she's too cool for school.

I don’t wish hipsters any particular harm, and as it’s been pointed out to me, I’m sure when I was that age, there was some 31 year old who hated whatever scene I was a part of. I’m ashamed to say it was raver turned speed-metal head.

What I want to get across is not that I think I’m better than them for being their antithesis, but that I am happy to be what they are not. And what this filthy capitalist plans to explore in the next blog posting is this: I am happy to have stuff, and I admit it. I will probably be bragging about it. And it’s not necessarily that I’m better than them (or you), but I am better than the previous version of me, and I don't want to feel guilty for it. It's materialistic, it's petty, and it might just be the thing for which some smug twenty-something is currently hating on me.


Monday, August 24, 2009

C'mere a minute.

If ever I have the delusion that I will one day be the next great writer, I had first better write something.

It's likely that I will end up being remembered more as, say, a Rosencrantz or a Guildenstern over a Hamlet. Still! I open my first blog post by vowing to create a character worthy of such a tragedy. To be honest to myself, though, it’s going to end up looking more like a Christopher Durang play than a Shakespeare.


Off to a bad start.

Here is the scoop. ‘CHANGWATCH’ has become a moniker for anytime I want to be at the apex of snarkiness, the pinnacle of putting people in their place (and other alliteration), and at the top of saying whatever bastard thing pops into my head. As They Might Be Giants sang, “I should be allowed to shoot my mouth off / I should have a call-in show.”

Once upon a time, like all bad cliches begin, I had this notion that I would have a website for my idea of the ‘Changwatch.’ An explanation of the origin of that phrase will follow soon. The subtitle was going to be ‘out for assholes,’ as in ‘Chang... watch out for assholes.’ Well, my big notion has become a big reality. That is, as real as one can get on the internet [insert big weighty rant on how it's so fake that we all live in cyber blah blah blah we only exist as numbers blah blah Matrix reference].

So, here it is, queers!

My very own blog!!

Assholes beware. I'm gonna be a-callin’ you out!

Oh, and you can expect better grammar in the future. This is familiarity. It’s a trick for luring suckers.