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Thursday, October 31, 2002

Halloween Fun Issue

As soon as you wake up today, before you shower or comb your hair, go to the grocery store and buy a couple bags of trick-or-treat candy. After the nice checker lady scans the bags of candy place a can of rat poison and a package of razor blades on the counter. Your move, nice checker lady.

Bring a basket of decorated hard-boiled eggs to work. When your coworkers scream at you that it’s Halloween and not Easter try to blame your confusion on the daylight savings time change. As you walk away pretending to reset your watch mumble half under your breath, "If you’ve seen one pagan holiday you’ve seen them all."

Scare yourself shitless by taking a drive to the suburbs with some of your city-dwelling, borderline-alcoholic friends. Gasp in horror as you drive through entire neighborhoods without a single solitary bar. God only knows how far you’d have to drive to get a decent Manhattan. When you get home go directly to the corner bar to calm your nerves with a Makers Mark Manhattan.

While you are out in the scary suburbs, go to the mall and heckle the security guy by asking him why he doesn’t have a toy gun to go with his cop costume.

Instead of sound effects of ghouls and goblins try using the soundtrack of a porn movie to create a Halloween atmosphere for your party. If you have properly stocked up on drugs and booze nobody should notice.

Monday, October 28, 2002

The Myth of Happiness

"I'm just not happy. I'm just not happy. I'm just not happy because my life didn't turn out the way I thought it would." Hey! Join the fucking club, ok!? I thought I was going to be the starting center fielder for the Boston Red Socks. Life sucks, get a fucking helmet, all right?! "I'm not happy. I'm not happy." Nobody's happy, ok!? Happiness comes in small doses folks. It's a cigarette, or a chocolate cookie, or a five second orgasm. That's it, ok! You cum, you eat the cookie, you smoke the butt, you go to sleep, you get up in the morning and go to fucking work, ok!?

-Dennis Leary


The idea that happiness is a state of being that can be sustained indefinitely is a program brought to you by Hollywood and Disney. The Hollywood/Disney version of life promises that if the individual dutifully consumes the specified products then life will be an everlasting amusement park ride. No thinking is required. Thinking is a messy affair that often leads to self-reflection and original thought. This is better left to the market research folks. Let them decide what is best for us and then they will communicate these ideas via TV commercials. Advertising has been the most effective means of disseminating ideas in the past 50 years.

The quote that most thoroughly defines this post-modern lifestyle is, “I just want to be entertained.” We spend a lot of time and a whole lot of money on entertainment in this culture—we have to spend our money on something, after all. Entertainment is just another way for us to alter our consciousness; something we try to do most of our waking day, in one way or another. There is nothing wrong with change your perception of the world around you...and why wouldn't you? Have you read a newspaper lately? Just about every society, from the Romans to the Incas to modern America, has found ways to alter consciousness. Some means to this end we find acceptable and legitimate while others remain less than acceptable and often illegal. Perhaps these vices do bring us happiness, but it is short lived.

I am of the opinion that happiness is a temporary state of being. For some it is more temporary than others but for each of us happiness comes and goes. To announce that your goal in life is to be happy seems as naïve and childish (to me) as wanting to grow up to be a princess. How do you plan on achieving happiness and maintaining it indefinitely? No cheating, Prozac doesn’t count.

I’m just guessing here but I think that for a lot of people happiness is the opposite, or the absence, of boredom. This is what I call the jet-ski-yourself-to-happiness theory. Adherents to this theory demand to be served up entertainment that has already been completely digested and requires no thought on their behalf. Thinking is a slow and boring process and is best avoided.

Then there is the shop-till-you-drop theory. This school of thought simply dictates that having the right combination of possessions will ensure a certain degree of happiness. If you collect all of the Barbie Funhouse accesories necessary for a perfect life then you will be happy. I think this theory explains in part our society’s fetish for celebrities. We see the people in People magazine as having perfect lives. They're good-looking and have every material offering. Even when the stars tumble our fascination with them is more sympathetic than schadenfreude.

What I find interesting is that the celebrity profiles that make up most of modern journalism are full of testimony that the stars find happiness to be every bit as elusive as everyone else beneath them (and we are all beneath celebrities). These are people who are way beyond a nice house in the suburbs and a Volvo in the garage in terms of material well-being. They have unimaginable wealth and yet they suffer from the same dilemmas that plague those of us who breathe a far less rarified air. Imagine that! Do you mean that wealth doesn't free you from the responsibility of being a human being?

If I were writing a self-help book this is the part where I would furnish a lot of answers. Sorry but I'll leave that task to the armies of charlatans out there in the field of self-help books. There will be no down-home homilies, no tough love, no 10 steps to personal happiness. It is my personal belief that happiness comes on a whim and a lot of the time there isn’t a thing that we can do about it. It's not that I don't want to be happy. I think happiness is great. I'm all for it. I just don't think that it is a factor in our lives we are able to manage to any significant degree. You just get up and go to work. Good luck!

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Wood, Leather, Grass, and Dirt

It’s a pastime—something you do—it’s entertainment—something you watch—and it’s a shared experience—something you talk about. And that’s marvelous but you can apply those three criteria to other things. What makes baseball so special is that it’s the best game that’s ever been devised.

--Robert Creamer

Right now the best game ever devised is having its championship. It's called the World Series. The games begin at five o’clock out here on the West Coast, something that recalls past eras when lots of baseball games were played during the day. I remember running home from school as a kid to watch the Series. The early games are not a nod to baseball’s past but a practical matter because both teams involved are from this West Coast. Starting the games while the sun is still shining out west is the only way to hit the TV prime time on the other coast.

Baseball is incredibly simple on one hand—you hit a ball and run around a diamond. On the other hand it is a game I have played and watched my entire life yet I still see things I’ve never witnessed before. No one who loves the game would ever say that it is slow or boring. Everything matters in baseball; even the pauses are calculated and loaded with strategy.

As I start to write about baseball I am overwhelmed by memories starting from earliest childhood. I grew up in a Catholic neighborhood so getting enough kids for a game was simply a matter of walking outside with your glove, ball, and bat. We would start early in the morning on summer days and we wouldn’t even stop for lunch. We’d play baseball and variations on the game like these:

500 One guy would hit balls to kids in the outfield. You would get 100 points for catching a pop fly and 25 for fielding a grounder. If you dropped a ball points were subtracted (and you got laughed at). The first one to 500 won and then got to bat.

PICKLE The classic game of a player being caught in a run-down between bases. If you have an extra kid as a back-up baseman proper procedure assures an automatic out, but with just two basemen it was more interesting. Invariably the base runner got bonked on the head with the ball.

BURN OUT Two kids stand about ten feet apart and throw the ball at each other as hard as they can. I probably learned something valuable about something from playing Burn Out. I got more than a few lumps on my head and many fat lips from this fun game.

CATCH If I had a nickel for every hour I have spent playing catch in my life I would own all of Major League Baseball. Catching and throwing things is a very American thing in sports. If you doubt this, try playing catch in a foreign country where they don’t play baseball. I guarantee that the locals will stare in astonishment at your skill. Have you ever watched those Palestinians kids throw rocks at the Israelis? What a bunch of weenie arms. Send over a little league team and the Israeli Army would surrender under a barrage of fastballs.

The Mariners didn't make the play-offs. My other favorite team is whoever is playing the Yankees. To say that I was happy to see the Yankees get beat in the post season is an enormous understatement. I don't think I have felt that good since Apollo 13 returned safely to earth. When people ask me who I like in the Series I just say that I want to see it go to seven games. I like to see the season dragged out for as long as possible. Maybe the seventh game can go into extra innings and last all through the winter. Theoretically it could happen. There is no time limit in baseball.

Monday, October 21, 2002

The Revised To-Do List

Men’s Journal is a fairly awful magazine for the most part. Don’t ask me what I’m doing on the tail end of a two year subscription. One thing that I used to be able to say in its defense was that at least it didn’t have pictures of celebrities on the cover—my litmus test for publications. This month’s issue has Harrison Ford on the front. A bad magazine just got worse.

The lead article in this issue is a list of 60 things that every man must do in his life. Some of the entries have been made by famous people with a brief reason for their choice. Dan Rather was given the honor of choosing the first thing: Fish in Alaska. I always thought that Dan Rather was a twit and I really didn’t need any further evidence that he is a fatuous, flatulent ninny. I’m quite sure there are plane-loads of rich men on their way to Alaska as I write this to see if they can inject some semblance of meaning into their lives and blood into their flaccid dorks by trying to catch fish. Good luck, guys!

About 50 of the things on the list you could scratch off with merely a few thousand dollars (or a credit card) and about two weeks of vacation time. Silly, amusement park shit like driving an Indy car, rafting the Grand Canyon, drinking an expensive wine, going to the Final Four (A fucking basketball tournament?), having a threesome (Jay McInerney’s selection. Thanks for your wisdom, Jay.), playing golf at the Old Course in Scotland (Play Golf? Over my dead body.) and many more fatuous entries.

There were a few things on the list that I thought were sensible and noble aspirations for any man or woman: Serve your country (Chuck Yeager—I knew there was a reason I liked him), learn a foreign language, learn a martial art, plant a tree (Ted fucking Nugent’s selection—you surprise me sometimes, Ted. You freaking freak.), get in amazing shape, or simply give something back to your community (NBA player Dikembe Mutombo).

For the most part the Men’s Journal article amounted to little more than a shopping list. Something you would expect from a publication that is more of a product catalogue than a source of ideas. If I were forced to come up with 60 things that all men must do I could say things like “Learn to play something by Bach on an instrument” or “Walk up the Champs-Elysees”--things without which I would find life incomplete--but they may mean nothing to you. Why should they?

I think it is up to everyone to come up with their own To Do list.

Here is my To Do List for life.

1) BECOME AN EDUCATED ADULT

This will mean a lot of different things to different people but by educated I don’t mean get training in a specific field and consider that an education. One of the major errors in our society is that we have made it acceptable to obtain this specialized job training to the exclusion of all other knowledge. Whether you are a doctor, a lawyer, a computer programmer, a chemist, or a stock broker this specialized training does not make you an educated person. I don’t care if you are the foremost heart surgeon in the world, if your idea of literature is Tom Clancy, you are not an educated adult.

Just what does make you an educated person is a little bit difficult to define but if you are a native speaker of English I would suggest a fairly healthy dose of Shakespeare. But this isn’t about specifics; I’m just pointing to the big picture with the operative word being big. People should constantly be challenging their intellect, constantly be learning new things. Being educated is its own reward.

If I had children Iwould tell them that school isn’t mandatory but getting an education is. Most of what I have learned in this life I picked up outside of the 12 years of grade school and four years of college I suffered. If you want to learn something, find the best teacher. Some of my best teachers have been books.

I don’t mean to blow smoke up your butt or resort to cheap flattery but if you are reading this you probably already are pretty well educated (only a compulsive reader would have made it this far into this essay). Now it’s time to go to the second thing on my list.

2) PASS YOUR WISDOM TO THE NEXT GENERATION

This is the basis of civilization. One generation stands on the shoulders of the accomplishments of the preceding generation. There are lots of ways to pass on what you know: teach, invent, build, write, compose, paint—you name it.

There. That’s it. I could put a lot of stuff on my list but these are two good truths for the construction of a decent life. Unlike most of the stuff on the Men's Journal list you can't write someone a check for these things. I’m not saying they are easy and they certainly don’t come cheaply; they take a lot of time. We all have something like 72 years on this planet so time isn’t such a hot commodity as some people say it is. There is even enough time to have a threesome or catch fish if that floats your boat. How about a threesome with Dan Rather and Jay McInerney? At least you know you’d be the smartest person in the room.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

One Man's Garbage

I came home a little tipsy one evening about a month ago and instead of deleting everything in my junk e-mail box, I decided to respond to each and every one of them. Like me, you probably thought this stuff was pure garbage. I’m glad I took the time to find out for sure. Since then, my life has changed drastically for the better.

I’m sure you’re all probably dying to know so I’ll start out with the penis enlargement e-mails. Mine is so big now that I had to build a little house for it outside. It’s nice because it can run around and play in my fenced-in back yard. On the down side it attacked the mailman yesterday. “Bad boy! Bad Boy!” Oh, but look how cute he is, you just got to love him.

The work-at-home scheme from the e-mails has also paid off handsomely. I’m not allowed to divulge the nature of my employment but I can tell you what I’m not doing. I’m not taking out small classified ads in newspapers like that guy, Bob, on TV claims is such an easy way to make a quick bundle. I came across one of his ads recently in the local paper: “I will suck your cock for $5, Bob.” Gee Bob, why didn’t I think of that?

I paid off my mortgage just like they promised in the torrents of e-mails I’ve been deleting for years. The funny thing is that I didn’t have a mortgage so I paid off the national debt of Argentina. I just received a thank you note from them the other day, “Muchas gracias, Leftbanker.” De nada, Argentina, but maybe you guys can show a bit of fiscal restraint in the future? I mean, do you really have to have all of the pay movie channels? It turns out that most of their national debt was the result of late fees at Blockbuster.

I think that’s probably enough for this gag.

If I may pose a serious question in this questionably humorous essay it would be this: Can spam e-mails possibly be an effective marketing strategy? I suppose it must be effective or they would stop doing it. Perhaps their strategy is simply to annoy the living shit out of people. If that is their strategy, it is working brilliantly.

We have a garbage can right next to the mail boxes in my building. I once asked the postman if I could just make the garbage can my mail box so all I’d have to do is fish the very few pieces of important mail out of the can instead of transferring all of the junk mail to the trash. He told me he’d get back to me on that one.

Saturday, October 12, 2002

Ubanization and Its Contents

I have written often and always fondly of my particular neighborhood. The lower Queen Anne/Belltown section of Seattle has practically exploded with growth during the few years I have lived here. Apartment buildings have sprouted from parking lots, bars and restaurants have usurped abandoned store fronts, and the area has sprung to life to such a degree that if you’ve been away the past couple years you’d hardly recognize the place.

As I ride my bike up Second Avenue on a late summer evening, the sidewalks are filled with pedestrians edging past the tables of restaurants filled to capacity and beyond. There are only a few blocks of this hectic bustle but give this place another twenty years and it will be a fantastic neighborhood.

I love it when I see someone breaking ground on a new high-rise in the neighborhood. An increase in population density only brings improvements to the area. More people mean more services in a smaller area. A branch of my bank finally opened a couple blocks away which saves me from having to go downtown or up a really steep hill (not much in the way of parking at either of those locations so taking the car is out of the question).

All of the growth is vertical, unlike suburban sprawl, where growth means more roads and more congestion. As more people choose to live downtown, I can only hope that this slows the leveling of the forests east of Seattle. Another suburb with an English name only means another hilltop has been razed and more roads need to be built to service these Brady Bunch ghettos. Try trading in the yard and the driveway for a life free of the day-to-day dependence on the automobile.

I believe the decision of where people choose to live will be one of the most important issues faced by the United States in this new century. It will be a struggle of a return to the life in cities against the half-century-old destructive trend of suburbanization--destructive environmentally and spiritually.

Writing about where you live is a great assignment for everyone who writes. Go here to read about life in Copenhagen, a city I plan to visit on my next trip to Europe. What? You thought Philadelphia was a shithole? It is for the most part but it has its charms.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Playing Cemetery

If you have ever done any babysitting you know how the game Cemetery goes: You tell the kids the object of the game is to pretend to be dead and the first one who moves loses. While the brats are making like corpses you check out what their parents have in the liquor cabinet.

The tenants of the buildings in my neighborhood play a similar game with our automobiles. We could call this game Abandoned Vehicle. The object of this game is to see how long you can go without driving. You leave your car in the same spot on the street and watch as it collects a thick layer of seagull shit and leaves. The windshield wipers become a paper weight for club flyers and take-out menus. The winner is the first car to get a towing notice pasted to the windshield.

There is a Mercedes parked in front of my car that really looks like hell. It heartens me to think that the owner could have such utter contempt for this expensive piece of German engineering. I wonder if the people sitting next to this guy at the bus stop would be impressed to learn that he chooses to take mass transit over an over-priced yuppie-mobile?

I have a question for the guy with the Saab: Do you really think you are playing fairly by taking the air out of your front tire? I just don’t see why Abandoned Vehicle can’t be a civilized game played without cheating. He got a towing notice and his tire miraculously filled up and the car crawled a few parking spots away. I got a towing notice a while back and I did it without any sort of dirty tricks. I did it the honest way by simply not driving for about six weeks.

You are probably asking why any of us even bother owning a car. For my purposes Seattle really isn’t a big enough city to completely abandon my vehicle. I take trips out of town fairly frequently during the summer months. Lots of people I know choose not to have a car and get along just fine. Not having to drive is an incredible luxury that few people in this country are able to enjoy.

P.S. OPERATION GLENN GOULD (see my post from 7 OCT 02) is going rather well and the offer still stands. I see my sending out CD's as the Berlin Airlift of classical music. Sony Classical is the evil Soviet empire and Leftbanker is the heroic and defiant American Air Force. I hope you all enjoy this CD as much as I have. Please leave a comment for me when you get your CD's.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

A Tribe Called Fashion

I Love a Man in a Uniform --Gang of Four

We all wear a costume or uniforms. There’s no way around it, unless you go around naked, and that’s the only way around it. What costume do you wear?

There are so many subcultures these days, all with their own strict dress codes. I walked by the Seattle concert arena the other night and all of the kids waiting in line to see Tool couldn’t have looked more alike than a platoon of new army recruits. I’m sure every single one of those kids thinks that their appearance makes them stand out from the crowd.

My favorite subculture is the Harley Davidson Guy. Have you ever noticed that the Harley dudes seem to prefer to pose next to their motorcycles than to actually ride them? With the current price tag of Harleys above $20,000 this subculture has long since passed from dirt-bag outlaw to 55 year old lawyers trying to impress chicks after their third divorce.

It’s easy to imagine the interior dialogue inside of their helmeted heads as they check off their list of fashion biker accessories: “Dew rag, trucker’s wallet with chain, leather chaps, official Harley Davidson leather jacket, Viagra pills, condom with a knot tied in the middle so the damn thing fits, rape whistle (I don’t like the looks of that 13 year old Hispanic kid who pumps my gas at the full service station). I’m dangerous and unpredictable, I’m Bill Roth, world’s toughest oral surgeon.”

Yet another subculture is the sandwich board tribe. These are the guys and gals who insist on doing a lot of free advertising for Gap, Old Navy, Polo, DKNY, Abercrombie & Fitch—you name it. It’s difficult these days to buy a piece of clothing that doesn’t have the label on the outside. Like I give a fuck where you shop? Why don’t you just have the washing instructions on the outside of your clothes, too?

If I had to label myself I’d say my camouflage fits in with the dipshit, semi-well-dressed, urban hipster look. I hate shopping and when I do make it inside a department store my actions are more like a smash-and-grab artist than a conscientious shopper. Get me in and get me out as quickly as possible. I just want to look like everyone else in my tribe.

Necrophilia and Other Thoughts

Not to go on and on about two dead white guys but I really have to emphasize how brilliant Glenn Gould’s piano playing is on the prelude to Johann Sebastian Bach’s second English Suite.

To call my own piano playing ham-fisted is an insult to ham-fisted pianists everywhere. I would probably sound better if I beat on the keys with a pair of turkey drumsticks. I do know enough about the piano to recognize true genius when I hear it. What kills me about Gould is his use of contrary staccato and legato with either hand (striking the keys sharply or holding the down the key a bit longer). I try to imitate his touch, especially his staccato walking base lines. Try being the key word in that last sentence.

Have you ever listened to a piece of music, or turned the last page of a novel of towering achievement, or been witness to something of such artistic perfection that you feel that you could happily die at that moment?

I had this feeling after listening to this particular prelude. I could have committed hari kari on the spot. The only thing that kept me from this messy self-vivisection is that I still have several episodes of the Sopranos to catch up on (I have to tell you that I am a bit concerned about the power play between Ralf and Tony and although Ralf beat a hooker to death he comes across as not an entirely bad guy).

So my life has been spared by the tenuous thread of an HBO series. It is great to be alive! I have so much to live for what with the new season of the Sopranos and I still haven’t purchased Glenn Gould’s recording of Bach’s French Suites.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

An Internet Offer You Can't Refuse

I was never one to become nostalgic for any kind of technology. I am old enough that I was around to accumulate a big butt-load of vinyl records. I’m sure there are geeks out there willing to pay lots of money for some of the crap I had in my collection: European 12” color singles of 80’s new wave stuff (many I pilfered from my brother one evening when he was drunk and feeling all Zen and Japanese minimalist), classical and jazz LP’s to die for, and run-of-the-mill crap that people probably collect these days.

I used to be a complete pack rat. I had a couple thousand albums at my peak and twice that amount of books. I remember how comforting it used to be to sit in my cluttered apartment and look through stacks of albums in neato plastic sleeves or gaze at my rather remarkable library. A cross-country move from Florida to Seattle cured me of my need for material things. As the moving date neared I began to give away my vinyl record collection as I countered with a hoarding of CD’s.

I remember how liberating it felt when I finally GAVE away my DJ quality turntable and the last of my vinyl to a casual acquaintance simply because he was willing to haul it away. I know lots of people who get all misty-eyed by just talking about how great vinyl records used to be. All that mattered to me was the music.

We are now in a new age when CD’s are all but obsolete. I have been recording my CD’s on my new laptop and will probably give away the hundreds and hundreds of little plastic boxes of CD’s that litter my place here in Seattle. I’m sure nobody out there will be nostalgic for CD’s when they are gone. What should matter is the music. The vehicle that delivers the music shouldn’t be of the slightest concern.

The last CD purchase I made I had postponed for quite some time because I’m the most frugal person outside of a Shoalin Monastery. I already owned a copy of J.S. Bach’s English Suites but I could never bring myself to break down and purchase the rather expensive ($32) Glenn Gould Edition by Sony Classical.

As familiar as I am with these pieces I was absolutely floored by Gould’s interpretation. I programmed my stereo to play the prelude to the Suite #2 in A minor (BWV 807) over and over and over and over and over and over. Then I will hit play on the remote and listen to it another six times. A work of staggering genius by Bach and even Bach would probably be floored by Glenn Gould’s recording.

OPERATION GLENN GOULD

Any one who reads LEFTBANKER who would care for a bootleg copy of Glenn Gould’s (1932-1982) English Suites by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) can receive one free of charge by e-mailing me your address to Leftbanker@hotmail.com. No gimmicks here. I just want to spread the word. Like the Gideon’s pass out Bibles I will burn this CD off until my computer melts. As I have said before, both of the interested parties are dead so screw the record companies. What a treat for the soul!

Friday, October 04, 2002

Two Part Inventions

or

COULD YOU PLEASE STOP WHISTLING?


The remarkable thing about the piano is the ability to play two separate melodies, one with each hand. J.S. Bach’s two part inventions are fantastic exercises. These are a set of fifteen short pieces, each in a different key, that explore the possibility of playing a different voice in each hand.

Bach wrote these pieces as exercises for his students--mainly his children and his second wife. Although they are exercises meant to prepare the beginning student for his more sophisticated works they each have a wonderful charm of their own. Perhaps to anyone other than a student of the piano these 1-2 minutes songs may sound mechanical. As I slowly make my way through this modest offering by Bach I am struck by their genius. I say modest because Bach probably spent about as much time composing each of the inventions as it takes me to program my VCR.

Each invention has a certain pattern to it and a very precise fingering must be applied to master these little musical tricks. Each invention has at least a couple of musical phrases that are absolute perfection. Learning the inventions has turned me into an annoyingly compulsive whistler. I can’t stop myself. Never before have I had music so thoroughly carved into my consciousness.

I suppose I have written this short essay as an answer to the question, “What the hell are you whistling?” I have been posed this question quite frequently during the past week. Blame it on Bach.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Pop Slang - English Dictionary

I understand enough about linguistics to realize that a language is a living thing that changes with time and with the times. The English of Shakespeare is full of contrasts to the way we speak it today but 400 years later we are able to read what he wrote without much difficulty. Over two millennia separate the Greek of Homer and the modern language. Greek has changed very little. The two great works of ancient Greek literature, The Iliad and The Odyssey, have cast a mold that still holds the language.

The example of Haiti is the other end of this discussion. After its independence from France in 1804 this former French speaking colony has had its language evolve mercilessly. Haitian Kreyol (Creole) borrows from French, Spanish, English, and a host of African dialects. The problem with Haiti is that because it is a poor nation with a staggering level of illiteracy Kreyol has evolved ruthlessly over the years. A language must have the anchor of the written word to keep it from drifting away from its roots. Haitian Kreyol is a mess of a language and the most under-studied language in this hemisphere. Kreyol of today is very. very different than the language spoken 25 years ago on this Caribbean island.

The slang of American popular culture is evolving faster than the patois of Haiti. Phrases thought to be hip last year are practically unintelligible to today’s hipsters. I thought I would give you a sampling of my attempt to translate the slang of today into Standard English.

WOOOOO! Translation: “I’m a bigot and I’m gay. I’m so confused.” The rebel yell. Few people realize that this is actually a homosexual mating call amongst southern fraternity types, most of whom played football. The rebel yell began as a way to strengthen moral in the troops as they charged the Union positions. Now it is a desperate cry for help.

Woo Hoo High-pitched flip-side mating call of sorority types. Translation: “Why won’t my fiancé have sex with me?” (See above male archetype)

Rap impresario and fashion mogul, Puff Daddy, in a recent New Yorker magazine article described the Louvre and Versailles Palace as “awe-inspiring shit.” Translation: Although I’m fairly well-educated (attended Howard University) I’m absolutely terrified to express myself in a more articulate manner because I may lose my tough-guy gangster image my marketing people have worked so hard to create.

By no means is the following list of vacant pop expressions complete:

Yo. It’s all good. No Worries. Have a good one. That is so... (fill in remainder of phrase. Example: That is so 1999). Like (He is, like, so not funny).

These expressions convey almost nothing in the way of meaning and are therefore difficult to translate. Much like the indiscriminate use of profanity these words lose any value as words and are mere linguistic landfill. There are cultures in the world where a burp or a fart have more meaning than all of these “hip” expressions put together. Continue using these phrases only if you wish to live your entire life as a marketing cliché.