Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Open Letter to The Future: You've Got Your Whole Life to Lose, Let's Auto-win Some!

I have some ideas about the future. Welcome to a special edition of the Carousel of Progress.

So I get it, I read the news, we're apparently facing some kind of worldwide economic apocalypse. This all seems unreal to me, not 'cause I've been immune to its impact -- because trust me, my consistently near-empty pockets are particularly empty these days -- just 'cause the economy is a structure we set up, like ... as humans? Why'd we invent something so crummy, and why can't we take it back, like a broken toaster? "No thanks, we prefer the fire pit after all, works every time?" I'm down to hunt & gather.

I've been thinking about the future because:

a) I've been reading the answers to What's Your Dangerous Idea? ("The history of science is replete with discoveries that were considered socially, morally, or emotionally dangerous in their time ... What is your dangerous idea? An idea you think about (not necessarily one you originated) that is dangerous not because it is assumed to be false, but because it might be true?") the 2006 question posited by the Edge World Question Center to top scientists around the world.

b) Obama, the economy, the environment ... there's been a lot of talk lately about ... well ... what's gonna happen next.

c) I've been trying to think about the future in a real way lately now that I'm actively increasing rather than decreasing the probability that I'll be around for that much more of it. It's freaky, I don't even know if I love time travel anymore! I guess I only like backwards time travel. I just want to churn butter in my Little House on the Prairie, that's my true destiny in life.

I have some ideas about things I would like The Future to consider for our future.

Okay, dear the future here are some things I would like to see:

1. Factory: The Magazine: So OurChart's over, The L Word's almost over, so many magazines & newspapers are vanishing, and I feel many bloggers are losing steam or simply the time to do so much unpaid writing ... I feel now's the time for someone with a good voice -- hopeful but careful, snarky but tender, ridiculously mind-blowingly intelligent, quick, and clever, queer in sensibility, not gay but also not hetero-normative, not women-targeted but mostly women-staffed -- to emerge and start something really new and spectacular that actually takes prior internet-media lessons learned and applies all of them from the get-go. 'Cause here's what we've been left with: the surviving media is either sarcastic or old-school, the failing media ran the gamut but often was twitching for tradition, the mainstream sources remain as they've always been (dumb).

What about something that actually speaks our language? 'Cause we have one, and it's a little bit newer, but also kinda awesome, and valid. It's diverse and expresses itself in every format we can touch or see or find. We are infinite. I drove home listening to some of the songs we listened to those times when we were infinite.

2. I'd like for New York Sports Club to fix at least three of its machines at the 125th & Broadway location, e.g., the clanking ellipticals. The teevee audio & video is out of sync, the magazine rack's a mess, the seat of the ab machine always slides down, that girl in the yellow shorts needs to see an ED specialist and please for the love of G-d get someone at stall #3 in the ladies room STAT.

3. I'd like to finish writing this novel, or at least 50,000 words of it, by the end of the month of November.

4. It'd be neat to see a smooth transition from Obama's eighth year to Hillary's first, almost like something they'd just talked about the two of them, decided would be best, asked if that was okay with America, and calmly traded chairs.

5. The economic crisis should lead us to question our attachments to material goods and money. Capitalism isn't a religion, and advertising dictates desire dangerously.

We should begin thinking about embracing the DIY movement (thanks to a;ex for this article, @lifehacker: The "Greater Depression" can be a DIY Renissance). We should start making more stuff, and also stop judging one's employment potential by the amount charged to their credit card to buy the suit and the soft makeup for the interview. That's dumb. I really would be totally down with growing my own food, but I live in the city, although I'm getting a lemon tree soon so.

6. I think books can make it. I think people who write books might have to respond -- as writers always have over the centuries -- to an audience who's taste and attention span has changed. We can produce novels that appeal to new readers without sacrificing intelligence or word count.

I think people are capable of reading a shit-ton of words, now more than ever. Book people need to realize that since paper is the big difference between online writing and books/magazines/newspapers, we should think about how to really sell & market the paper.

Part of our problem? There's too many books to choose from, and due to the mental engagement & silence & time required to read a book, no-one can read every book they want to read in one lifetime and therefore we can't produce infinite books like we do with teevee channels. We're printing too many books. A lot of them suck.

Independent presses are being drowned out by big presses who don't even have the time to focus on quality over quantity, and the reading public is suffering. We have self-publishing for people who can't find a major publisher for their work, so it's not that a shafted writer is left up shit creek without a (albeit not too cool) paddle. If it's that good, your self-published work'll emerge from the muck.

I think literature will survive everything that people are saying against it, but that also means we can't forget about literacy. We need to seriously work on literacy if we want people to read our books!!

So -- we focus on quality, literacy, making the internet work for us and not against us, incorporating new media and targeting different audience styles to our advantage. The independent presses can play that game too, just by promoting the quality-based system on a smaller revenue model.

7. Pinkberry should bring back the coffee flavor, by popular demand (as you can see in the photo I will wait for ice cream). All grocery stores should carry Sausage & Cheese Breakfast LeanPockets, especially you, FreshDirect. It's not fair that I only know the calorie counts of corporate chain restaurants, you can't convince America that we can only rely on The Man to keep us healthy too and give us the numbers, make everyone do it. No no no. Also, I would like the world to be made of some combination of chocolate and peanut butter.

8. New books by: Lorrie Moore, Miranda July, Maggie Estep and Mary Gaitskill, New music from Uh Huh Her and no more re-runs of Intervention, just new episodes, thanks.

9. I think that Haviland Stillwell should be in "The Farm" which'll reveal itself to be secretly totally awesome. So far it looks kinda weird, like Bad Girls. But whatevs, last time we stole a British queer show concept (Queer as Folk) it turned out a lot better than our own.

10. I'd like a publisher or magazine to commission me to do a year-long project in which I approach, as a journalist, taking on the jobs of people who I think are bad at their jobs. Like I bitch about Duane Reade but if I worked there, would I be any better? Not like Nickel & Dimed, this'll be more about how we assess service and performance in others than about socioeconomic realities for women.

It would be a 12-month thing and each month I'd have to try to get a job and then work the job at:

1. Time Warner Customer Service
2. 125th & Lennox Starbucks
3. Duane Reade
4. The U.S Postal Service
5. New York Sports Club
6. the editor of an online magazine that will not be named
7. President of the United States George W. Bush
8. Head writer for The L Word
9. The Manicure Lady
10. the pantry chef at The Macaroni Grill I worked at for three years
11. a receptionist at the Ryan Center on 96th street
12. my 10th grade English teacher

And I'd open talking about my ire for said worker of said job and then find out like, well, wtf, could I do any better? You know? I wonder if it'd be harder to be Time Warner Customer Service than it would be to re-design OurChart (that's not the online magazine I refer to, but you know?).

11. Also I think Prop 8 should be overturned and gay marraige legalized nationwide.

Okay, thanks for listening to my ideas. Let's get going to the Invention Convention! Bring legos and fruit punch please, thanks!



Stephanie said...

I participated in the Invention Convention in 3rd grade, maybe? I made a Schoolmobile out of Omagles. Was I the only one obsessed with Omagles?

Then in Odyssey of the Mind we invented a device to let people missing a hand write. GENIUS.

I was lame in elementary school, I think.

DH said...

I think you've got the voice, that you could start something really new and spectacular and ridiculously mind-blowing. Get on it, tiger.

I love your idea about the 12-month work experiment, it's gold. If you couldn't out-do the staff at the 125/Lennox Starbucks then I'd have a lot of questions.

DJL said...

"I think people are capable of reading a shit-ton of words, now more than ever."

Never before have you written a more false statement.

I also wonder how you can be so poor yet afford a membership to a New York Sports Club. You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.

I'm also glad you wrote something for me to read before I go get my acupuncture, easily the least-favorite part of my week.

Al said...

3. I'd like to finish my nanowrimo novel but that is so not going to happen. Too.Busy.

6. I completely agree, I think books can make it too. There's something about reading something from a book that you hold in your hands rather than online that is appealing.

7. Chocolate + Peanut Butter = the answer for a lot of problems.

Bren said...

Re: the lemon tree. Get two. They have to cross-pollinate each other. Otherwise you’ll only have fruit for one year.

Also, Haviland Stillwell should be in “The Farm” if, and only if, you are involved in the writing. I don’t trust those crazy bitches.

Razia said...

I've been thinking a lot about money and materialism lately - about how money is just a piece of paper that derives it's value from the fact that everyone thinks they need it. When you look at money like that, it's no different to the last beer at a frat party.

Your statement about advertising goes in line with the Deep Ecology belief that advertising is the main culprit in the depletion of our natural resources and general deterioration of the environment. Seeing that advertising is the WD-40 of the capitalist machine the only way it's going to disappear is if capitalism dies all together or if we stop responding.

autumn m said...

Sometimes i think i could be good at other people's jobs too. Then i think, I would never want to do that. So then I just don’t care anymore. Cause I don’t have to do it.
And is that true about lemon trees and cross pollination? i'll be pissed

asher said...

i can offer up my design services for whatever world-changing idea you come up with, seeing as no one else wants them.

ps - i totes just got my sister to give me my perks of being a wallflower back because i remembered there was a really good paragraph/bit about 'and we all felt infinite' or something. and then you went and wrote it. true story.

word veri - glorth.
glory + girth = interesting

laura said...

"we're printing too many books. a lot of them suck."
yes yes and yes. i was at border's yesterday and they had four aisles of romance novels and only 2 aisles of 'literature.' ew. on a brighter note, all the science fiction and sports fiction books were in the children's section, which i thought was pretty awesome. because maybe buying a book on a shelf next to junie b jones shames people out of buying it.

also, i love diy.

Anonymous said...

i don't know how i feel about the future, but there's a quote from perks of being a wallflower, something like because things change and friends leave and life doesn't stop for anybody. which kind of sums up how i think i feel. for the record, i never LOVED time travel, but always always smile thinking about the intensity that you declared your love for it with. it is fun to say though, "i love time travel", even if it's not necessarily how you feel. i'd like to time travel to oregon trail time, get my water buffalo and forge the river. the future is scary, i'd just like some pinkberry and to watch some new intervention.. JOANNE!!

Allie said...

Riese, you are fabulous, as always. But, the real reason for this comment? Omagles! I can remember building a car out of them, as well as a house. Oh, to be able to build anything...

NEP said...

re #7 listen to the song ice cream by muscles. because ice cream really is gonna save the day.

Mercury said...

I like your ideas for the future. I'd like to add, you know, work a little harder on the 350 PPM thing, and put back in place the regulations that have been removed that allowed for the economic crisis, and universal free healthcare, and no more war, build helpful things instead of bombs with our tax dollars please, the end.

stef said...

i'm into the diy revolution.

i think you would be terrible at all of those jobs. maybe it's because i haven't known you long enough to see you in a customer service-y environment, but i picture you at the big duane reade on 42nd and 8th, and i picture a line that goes all the way to the back of the snack aisle and a bunch of tourists asking you dumb questions about times square and applebee's and where they can find the latest us weekly, and i picture you just giving them a withering stare because you're making like, minimum wage and all those jobs are miserable and not worth waking up in the morning for. "do you have a club card?"

that's what i tell myself anyway. if i had a job i'd hate it. i'd like you as a 10th grade english teacher though.. mine made us write poetry books, and one girl called kelly wrote one that was literally:

always refreshing
always a classic
it's a coca cola classic

and got an a somehow anyway.

also lozo i have questions about acupuncture. does it work?

asher said...

see, you write that, and already the world is a little bit better.


Lew said...

Time Warner responded to your complaint on my blog which completly blows my mind. Up to this point I thought the only people who read it was my friend sarah and her friend amy. I can't even get my close friends to read it.

What is going on here? Do you think Time Warner has a basement of servers that light up every time their name is mentioned? Like if I casually mentioned something mean about the president a right light starts blinking in the office of homeland security.

a;ex said...

LOL to Asher's link. thats amazing.
also, thanks for offering up your superb design skills... we may possibly of course take advantage of that.

I like that name, Riese. Factory (the magazine.)

In the DIY revolution, I will live in a tree house and harvest crops for a living.

riese said...

Stephanie: I was lame too, but have no idea what Omagles is. I wanted to go the invention convention but all I could ever come up with was an imitation of pee wee herman's breakfast-making machine.

DH: Thanks! I think so too. I have this theory that the apathy is infectious at that starbucks, and that consistently insane customers weaken employee morale, and maybe I'd become as bitter as they are.

DJL: Hm, I don't think that's the most false statement I've ever written. Didn't I say something about your penis once? HEY-O!

My gym membership is charged to my credit card, and I carry a 15,000 debt from month to month, paying minimum payments to avoid defaulting but not making any actual progress. Because of my fibro, a gym membership is basically essential to my health, so it's worth the credit to me to go there.

You know, like acupuncture!

Al: I know that's what I think too about being too busy but if not now when? We need to make chocolate peanut butter books.

Bren: Oh the likelihood I'd keep it alive for more than one year is slim to none as is. From what I've seen of The Farm, I'm concerned that my ability to write conceivable lines for characters like Chachi and Coco Martinez might not be much better than Ilene's?

razia: I always said "money is just a piece of paper you can exchange for things that are way more fun than a piece of paper." That's why I never understood savings accounts.

I wonder if the fact that we can filter out commercials from our media and stuff as technology changes will make it harder for advertising to impact like it once did. Probs not I guess, they'll just start product placement until it's so insidious we'd never notice it.

autumn m: I don't really know what cross-pollination means, but I think that a year is a decent life span for a lemon tree as is, we're good to go. I'm not sure if I'd be a good duane reade worker, but I'd put in my a-game for sure. Which is bad.

asher: Oh you are so gonna regret offering up your design services.

I read that book 'cause someone here recommended it. Now I can't find it even though I read it a month ago. It was so quick and lovely and I loved it.

laura: Conversely, I feel like people would respond to independent bookstores that actively only stocked good books -- I think people choose to shop online instead 'cause they don't have any way to discern at Border's or B&N what's good or not, and there's just too many to choose from.

Personally, I always felt a little weird about being a foot taller than everyone else checking out the Gossip Girl book section. But i forged on. line.

jersey: i love the part too. i wish i knew where my copy of this book went. i think that's how i feel too. even better than loving time travel is not being aware that you would be the same age you are now if you were to time travel to the oregon trail. they didn't even have intervention then, i feel like joanne would be a good hunter & forager.

allie: I can't believe I didn't know about omagles, I probs could've made movies with them, like I did with legos.

NEP: I will, I will. I do like the Sarah Mc song about ice cream, I am slightly ashamed to admit.

Mercury: Universal health care, agreed. I mean all of it, agreed. Also something must be done about that woman who's still talking crazy up there.

stef: Oh I'm terrible at customer service. But I wonder if I'd be better at a place where I actually think that there's a benefit to my efficiency -- like i was bad at selling clothes a the gap, but i was good at getting food to people quickly when I worked at the Olive Garden, because I believed that people deserved food quickly. And you know, I believe in club cards, Howevs I would kill everyone who came up there all disabled with their coupons and their newsletters and fought with me about whether or not the gum is 33 cents or 35 cents.

one of the scariest things i ever did see was this.

I want to be like the guy who made the Liberty Lit. I think i wrote a lot of poems about the boy I had a crush on and depression like blackness, darkness, etc.

asher: I make MAGIC happen! MAGIC!

Lew: As you know I am very surprised and honored by this honor from Time Warner, and it also makes me nervous. I wish the Duane Reade people were as on top of their shit as TW was and read all my complaints.

I really don't know what's going on, I mean unless they have a Time Warner google alert or something? But I feel like so many things would come up with that ... maybe he's a fan of yours.

a;ex:I feel like my prior Factory suggestion was vetoed? I know the DIY revolution for me is mainly centered around you building the treehouse. I hear there are many available desert islands out there.

carlytron said...

Stephanie, I too competed in the Invention Convention, I think I was in the 4th grade? I won for my elementary school, I invented light up sneakers (before LA Gear, bitches!). I went to the big convention and won nothing. Ha.

Riese, I'd like to submit my resume for consideration to become a consultant to the Factory. Special skills include critical thinking (as it pertains to vodka), inventing useless things, snarky running commentary, and complicating anything strategic. References available upon request.

autumn m said...

only a year for a lemon tree??? what high hopes. thats sad, cause it was already like 2 years old. and it already has fruit or something. at least thats what it said.
someimes i think that if the world had some huge war and life as we know it was gone and we all had to resort to doing stuff that would help use survive, that alot of people would die. alot of people cant grow food or, milk cows, or make stuff. so they're screwed. im glad that i taught myself meaningful skills. YAY for cow milking!!!
we went on a field trip when i was in like 5th grade, and they taught us all to do it. thats the kind of field trips kansans go on. that, and to the George Washington Carver museum. if you dont know who that is, you should look it up. he found like a bilion ways to use peanuts, like....peanut butter. just saying....

autumn m said...

i justed watched you have haviland on alexi's closet. wtf, really you guys are twacked out on something. riese you changed clothes more than anyone there.

AK said...

Just when I thought you lived in a parallel universe of teevee blogging and endless credit that keeps autowin inflated like a hot tech stock, you pop up with a brilliant one like this summation of the worldwide economic collapse. Yeah why did we humans invent something so crummy? I've been reading a shit-ton of words these past three years trying find out. Just got a hold of a book that explains it finally. (Called The Empire of Dept: The Rise of an Epic Financial Crisis. But no need to read it I'll just sum it up in next blog in a week or two.) Short answer is hubris. The notion that some of us is better than those natives at the fire pit so we get to tell everyone how to live and we'll do it by inventing money or rather debt ie: print the money, lend it out and collect interest that actually is money. That's the Federal Reserve for you. We use said fake money to fund the empire so we can enslave others to work and fill our coffers. Please put that in a novel so that all the shippers can get what kind of Titanic we're living on. For the quick audio-visual course on getting our just desserts see Chris Martenson's crash course on the end of money.

Actually, I hate to have to point this out, but the debt empire sounds like the business model of Autowin.

And as one of the DIY unwashed masses I am filled with pride to actually see that acronym here. I am right now enjoying the fruits of my labor by a fire blasted into existence with my newest invention, the old candles melted onto dried out tea bag firestarter made in my homemade solar oven.

Happy T day, Reise.


I walked right into that penis joke.

And Schwartzy, it actually works tremendously, but you really can't put a value on how shitty it is to have needles inserted into your person and have electricity flow through them. It sucks something awful.

Man, I think I just walked into another penis joke.

autumn m said...

happy thanksgiving!!! i totally thought of alex and her picasso conversation. ha ha.

a;ex said...

It wasn't a raging argument or anything. But my dad always has to tell the same fucking story about the 8 year old girl that paints gibberish and the art critic that called her work a "masterpiece" and that it should sell for millions.

I don't really know what his point his. But I hear this dumb ass story every goddamn holiday instead of maybe talking about who our favorite artist is (omg we would never have that conversation.)

Ummm so thats the update. I know, totally unrelated to the post, sorry Rie xoxo
but I had to give Autumn the low down.

The Brooklyn Boy said...

I'm skipping the comments to say simply that I agree -- the world should be made of some combination of peanut butter and chocolate. Mmmm. That ice cream is always available in my freezer because of its amazing delectabiliciousness.

riese said...

carlytron: We need to add this to your imaginary Dj Carlytron resume -- the inventing LA Gear thing. After the mobster's wife stuff, you know?

Can I refer you to the position if it's a position working for me? Evidence shows that I can. I need to win the lottery, and then we are all going to be VERY. Successful.

autumn: I don't know what twacked out means -- but I love it.

I totally know all about George Washington Carver. I think I learned how to milk cows, my grandparents in oHio have a farm. Or had a farm, I guess. But yeah I also took strange classes in middle school where they'd leave us in the woods or make us build our own shelters or survive on food stamp budgets or something, I think 'cause it was a gifted school they were afraid we were all going to be able to do algebra real good but not know how to open the window.

I feel like a year is a really long time. I've never even lived anywhere for much longer than that.

AK: Hi! Thanks for that info, I'll check out the crash course and your blog post on it too. My business model is totally the problem, I guess 'cause I've always thought money was dumb, and just paper, so I didn't get why I wasn't supposed to spend non-existant money that I'd been "leant" by some credit card that wouldn't matter when we all returned to living in trees. Obviously I have a lot of problems with my worldview that likely influence my personal economic policy, much like this country.

I think I'm actually changing my perspective on stuff like doing as much DIY and environmentally sensitive stuff as I can. I guess the thing is if i'm going to have to start paying attention to every dollar going to the exact best thing, that means I'll at least know that wastefulness won't be a result of my choice. I don't know if I make sense sometimes.

Realldj: Do they have people that do that to you in Hoboken?

autumn: Happy thanksgiving!

a;ex: I can't believe this random grating thing comes up every year. that would be like if at thanksgiving my family insisted upon talking about Patch Adams every year.

Brooklyn Boy: Yes it should. I have no ice cream in my freezer, my life is so sad!

The Brooklyn Boy said...

Pathmark, Park Slope - Edy's (Ass. Varieties): $2.99.

That's my favorite.

liz said...

Part of our problem? There's too many books to choose from, and due to the mental engagement & silence & time required to read a book, no-one can read every book they want to read in one lifetime and therefore we can't produce infinite books like we do with teevee channels. We're printing too many books. A lot of them suck.

Truer words have never been spoken. It's distressing to walk through a book store and see what's been printed. But I agree in your faith that the published word will survive.

DJLDJL said...

I'm not sure if you really want to know the answer to that question, but I'm sure they do. I get mine done in Union City, which is a 15-minute walk from Hoboken.

online content writing jobs said...

I personally think its absurd that the decisions made by the higher authority is made, and when it comes down to crunch time, nobody's crunching...
Its beautiful to see Obama saying all that he says, but is it really smart and logical to move by these actions now??
Maybe we should all sit down and think for the future of this country for once, we should end many things and come up with some sense to make this world a better place!!