Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tommy Bahama-fication of Modern Thought

By David Kearns

What if all you ever wore, was Tommy Bahama? That particular brand, that particular style from the top of your head to the tip of your toes, Tommy Bahama, Tommy Bahama all the live-long day?
What if the only place you ever ate was Carrabba's? Breakfast, lunch and dinner, Carrabba's, Carrabba's, Carrabba's.
Doesn't make much sense, does it? It would be a rather bland existence after a while, wouldn't it? If this regime were imposed, or forced on you through some sort of monopoly, or legislation, you'd likely want to stay inside your house eating granola bars in the nude all day, wouldn't you?
I know I would.
And yet reading and writing - that is to say modern thought itself - has but one home today; the big-box superstore.
We have taken thought, and expression, two sides of that most sacred coin in a free society, and relegated it to a Tommy Bahama sort of existence. A commodified compfy zone, tamed, controlled, packaged like processed cod.
Just look at my boy in the photo: yeah, we're swinging now. That's us, put that in a picture to describe how we think: yeah baby.
Now it is a very subtle thing; this kind of oppression, this sort of big-brother intrigue aimed at the human mind, but it is there, alright. It's there! Right in your face.
Have you ever noticed how many surveillance cameras are inside the big box superstore? The number is actually greater than in the electronics store which is chock-full of high-priced electronics. Most books are $25 on average; about the price of a modern computer game. So why do they need soooo many cameras covering every single aisle, every single book purchase?
Why do the managers of these boxes have to call corporate when you want to take a photograph of your best friend buying a book inside the store. If you think this is BS, walk into one of these places take a camera out and try to take a photo; see what happens? It's damned spooky.
God forbid, men, that you use the book store as a way to meet women, right? It used to be fair game; an alternative to the bar scene, but not anymore. Big frown, from the staff. Big frown. They'll send plain-clothes store detective to follow you around if you even look like you're shopping for hotties. As always, women can do whatever they please.

Have you noticed there's a sort of dress code that goes with the book store too, isn't there? Hey wait, it's Tommy Bahama, baby, and Old Navy, with a dash of Tommy Hilfinger? Am I lying? If I am lying I am dying, son! You know I'm right.
Very subtle. Almost unspoken. Shhhhhhh, children.
But when you want a shirt, you don't have to go to Tommy Bahama or Old Navy every single time do you? No. If you like you can go somewhere else; to a tailor, for instance, if you have the bucks. If you want a steak you have all kinds of choices from Golden Corral to Nick and Tony's; it's not all Steak and Ale corporation, is it?
Yet with thought we do this to ourselves, or someone does it to us: the big square building. We walk in, the same old names. The same content.
They say "Dan Brown" and we are supposed to fall to our knees and worship. What the hell is that? In all honesty? I have been able to finish one Dan Brown novel, Deception Point. In my honest opinion it was utterly ridiculous, especially toward the end, as ammatuerish as anything I have ever written and had rejected - with prejudice. Don't get me wrong, I have had some of my stuff re-jec-ted. Oh they rejected the hell out of it till it bled like a broke-dick dog, for sure, so maybe this is all sour grapes too.
Yeah, maybe it was sour grapes when the writers of Holy Blood Holy Grail, sued Dan Brown for lifting their content and placing it in his block buster The DaVinci Code.
When those nutty Englishmen came out with Holy Blood Holy Grail back in 1980, I read every word, just as I read Von Danniken's Chariots of the Gods; just as I read Charles Berlitz's Bermuda Triangle. I loved that stuff, ate it up as a kid. What happened to all that?
Now they tell us, it's okay children, read it as a silly novel which will be piped straight to the screen starring Tom Hanks. Shhhhh, go to sleep. Don't think; don't really question. No serious speculation about anything.
Tommy goddamned Bahama, buddy.
And you can forget about certain types of works. More unwritten rules, no speculative non-fiction AND NO SPECULATIVE FICTION EITHER.
Okay, but no speculative FICTION?
Certain subjects will be released in the controlled environment APPROVED BY THE MINISTRY OF BOOKAGE, teens may read paranormal topics if they are properly Disneyfied.
The whisper sounds "twilight, twilight, twighlight..."
I actually don't even think these kids are reading the books; just watching the movie. (You know what my 14 year old daughter read this summer and loved it? Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment AND she understood it, AND she can argue themes and allegories pointwise, so you and your Twilight kid can go suck on that, bitches!)
My nephew calls these Twilight fiends, the "Twilight Nazi's"; they actually get in fights at this school of his in Gwinnett County, Georgia over the relative virtue, overall societal good, of this thing called Twilight. He, of course thinks the whole phenomenon is a ton of shit. His girlfriend, a member of the Twilight Nazi's of course, dumped him, as was a requirement of continued membership within the shock troops.
But what's movie? And what comes from reading? We read in my family. Speaking of my 14 year old, do you want to know what her favorite book of all time is? A Separate Peace by John Knowles! (SOIBs!! Hahah!) Oh, and when does the movie come out? Who's in that? Is it Ashton Kutcher? Or some knew guy, some spanking new dweeb who looks like death warmed over with pallid skin and heroin cheeks? You know she never has asked this question.
Clearly my kid is in a minority here but, that doesn't mean there aren't others out there yearning for a real read.
Do us both a favor, go up to the information desk at the Big Box and ask where they keep A Separate Peace and see what they say? Ask them if they have any Ken Keasey, or "where would I find Yeats? If you pronounce it correctly you certainly will delay the proceedings considerably.
Now, ask where they keep the Tommy Bahama cook-book and see what happens?

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