Flavin's Corner March 2003

Noological Imperfectionism

No one’s perfect.  I’ve heard throaty whispers that Gillian Anderson’s right eyebrow is several microns lower than her left and closeups usually require digital correction.  This would, unfortunately, be a disqualifying feature toward Ms. Anderson's status of perfection, if true.  She’s close, regardless.  Ideals will always be a knee-slappin’ good time and reality is the step-sister that one accepts when a certain level of sobriety is maintained.  Options are few.  I’ve reached toward the step-sister with idealism, but the greater choice is still before me – do I, per Floyd, die for perfection (the "walk on part in the war") or live with imperfection (the "lead role in a cage").  I look forward to looking further, though I'm up for war, now.  Reasoning a reason that our best must count for something, I’m disturbed by the lack of effort by many around me and, occasionally, with my own.

Our claim of sentiency automatically allows us the tag of the stupid species.  Some fish seem eager to swim into the nets, it’s not unusual for birds to fly into airplanes, cars, or buildings, and those critters that dash out in front of moving vehicles all seem to share some basic, genetic difficulty in getting things right.  We, as the stupid species, have so many difficulties it’s a wonder we managed self-awareness at all.  Maybe the universe really does have a perverse bent to it.  Stupidity seems to be our calling.

I hope that stupidity didn’t play a significant role in the loss of the crew of the space shuttle Columbia.  Sure, human error (read: stupidity) was the cause of the loss of the Mars Climate Orbiter in 1999.  Two different mathematical geek teams at work with years of affirmative action for the metric system and no one bothered to speak out.  Crash and burn.

Jesica Santillan, the Mexican girl who received a transplanted heart and lungs of the wrong blood type, was victimized by encountering a medical geek team who didn't think it was necessary to read the instructions and paperwork which came with the donated organs.  The second transplant operation was unexpected, seemed to give everyone a hint of hope, and then just as suddenly she experienced bleeding in her head which irrecoverably damaged her brain.  She started out with poor odds and stupidity made it worse.

I’m numb at the loss of clubbers in Chicago and Rhode Island.  One is my hometown and the other is a single CD play-length away.  Much stupidity caused sickening losses.  The deaths in Chicago stemmed from no actual threat other than crowding, as the punk gases sprayed would have dissipated in a couple of minutes and someone could have bought a round of eye-drops for the house.  Not so, in the case of the metal nostalgia attendees in Rhode Island.  They died beyond horribly.  Such death is indescribable and should remain so.  In Chicago it was panic from something that smelled bad and in Rhode Island it was the accompanying pain of being turned into charcoal.  Both were unnecessary.  They didn’t have to happen.

The nightclub owner in Chicago will surely pay for the stupidity of violating a court order and keeping his business open.  The stampede?  I’d like a few moments with the uniformed protection fetishists who sprayed the gases which caused the stampede.  It didn’t have to happen.

And, pardon my quanti/quali-fication, what happened in Rhode Island was so much worse, as it’s one thing for people to kill people and another for fire to burn people.  The hysteria of someone falsely and cruelly yelling “Fire!” in a theater and an actual chemical reaction which feeds on flesh is different in degrees physical and otherwise.

It’s unclear if the Rhode Island nightclub owners will be held liable for anything other than having bad luck, though it seems as if they've allowed limited (and probably unlicensed) pyro in the past.  The individuals which comprise and assist the entertainment contracted to perform that hellish evening, however, will likely be revealed as uber-stupid and punished.  I’m disappointed that the television, print and radio reporters covering the events continue to describe the entertainment contracted that evening as “Great White,” and usually add that the heavy metal band received a Grammy nomination in 1990.  Within hours of the inferno, The Smoking Gun, an online news archive, posted documents attesting that the entertainment was actually a reformed nostalgia version of Great White, which officially broke up New Year's Eve 2001.  Too many extra words, I guess, for the news media to use “Jack Russell’s Great White” or “a touring version of Great White.”  The entertainment hired to perform in Rhode Island demanded a table to sell t-shirts and CDs, but didn’t require even a single round of complimentary drinks for themselves.  They, that is “Jack Russell’s Great White,” had formed a few months ago to make some quick bucks on the metal nostalgia circuit and had used the same unauthorized pyrotechnics recently in similar clubs.  Uber-stupid.  As Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri so minimally stated the obvious during the first of many press conferences about the fire, “It didn’t have to happen.”

Heavy metal has always seemed like violent glam-rock to me.  Blue Öyster Cult mentioned Crowley and used an ersatz occult symbol on its album covers, Deep Purple faded away after coughing out the pop hit “Smoke On the Water” (though I continued for several years to compliment Ritchie Blackmore’s efforts, based upon the subsequent Rainbow covers by Ken Kelly, executing some damn fine Frazetta-era knock-offs), and Black Sabbath was never an option.  Never.  My ideal Iron-Man is the superpowered alter-ego of the gifted and cursed billionaire industrialist, Tony Stark, the Marvel Comics character introduced in Tales of Suspense #39, March 1962, which should be a film in a couple of years, and not anything like the waiting-room monotony of Ozzy and those of that crude mettle.  Now, Ozzy has landed a televison show, a mention from the president during dinner, does some whorish adwork, and hopefully sells enough t-shirts and CDs to support the lifestyle that he and his are accustomed to.  If metal is the coin of your realm, who am I to weigh against?  Black Sabbath released “Iron Man” in 1971 and I wouldn’t waste my personal goof-off time attempting to condense and describe the subsequent two decades of metal geekness from ur-Ozzy to Great White, let alone the following descent into chump-change, stupidity and senseless deaths.

I’ve been a fan of Ian Hunter since 1972 (i.e., the Year of the Bowie; his producing and writing of hit-songs on Lou Reed’s Transformer, Mott the Hopple’s All the Young Dudes, and his own Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars).  A busy and fine year for Dave and his associates.  After Mott broke up in 1975, Hunter released a solo album with Mick Ronson on guitar.  The first track, “Once Bitten, Twice Shy,” was a lot of fun and became an instant classic.  I’ve no idea who got the royalty fee in 1989 when the metal band Great White included a walk-through rendition of the Hunter/Ronson hit on their third album.  Apparently the remake sold well enough to garner a Grammy Award nomination in 1990.  I’m unsure if the Chicago radio station I listened to, WXRT, played the Great White remake.  It’s a given they played the original, as it retains its fun with age.  So, lame-ass poser metal wannabes notch some fame with a glam standard.  Great White?  Jack Russell's Great White? WTF?  My heart goes out to the friends and family of the metal geeks who lost their lives or were injured in the Rhode Island nightclub fire.

Perhaps it’ll come down to the word of the touring manager of Jack Russell’s Great White against the owners of the nightclub.  I'd suggest that every adult involved with the entertainment and familiar with the planned usage of pyrotechnics be held accountable.  It was fatally reckless.  If you make a buck you’re supposed to be professional and it wasn’t professional to allow fireworks to be set off in a small venue.  It was stupid, wrong, and it didn’t have to happen. 

All of this stupidity reminds me of Iraq and our plan to take out Saddam.  I grew up an Army-brat, spent some time with the National Guard, and I know better than to use the expression “military intelligence” unless I absolutely have to.  I support war with Iraq, I understand that mistakes are often unavoidable, but I question if the military geeks in charge are up to the formidable task before them (unlike Clooney, though, I actually believe our military is still capable of accomplishing certain exercises).  The situation with Turkey didn't inspire much confidence, however, and could probably have been settled sooner by offering hookers and putting a few more bucks on the table.

Math, medical, metal, and military geeks, as well as the millions and millions of mindful or mindless minions who resist their geekness, all make this playground planet interesting.  That we’re the stupid species and have allowed so-called reality television to become a global embarrassment seems apposite with a skeptically fine Cartesian whine.  We redefine ourselves daily through continued and new acts of stupidity on the playground.  Yeah, and following definitions is semantics with a questioning of the relevance of a term such as “stupidity” if it’s endemic in the species, i.e., a trait quite common and technically unremarkable.  Can stupidity be stupid enough to believe it’s aware of its own stupidities?  Ouch.  That hurt. 

again, with my cynical head out the window and slamming into that signpost up ahead,

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