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.
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.