Saturday, January 1, 2011

Where's My Flying Cadillac ?

As the year 2010 drew to a close, it made me think about all bad science fiction movies that had portrayed this number as having a sort of mystical significance. Over the years, many prognosticators have pictured what the year 2010 would be like. They could not have been more wrong.

According to these self-appointed seers, charlatans and mavens of science and technology, the world would be an entirely different place. Artists' conceptions pictured such things as self-driving cars on automated highways, intelligent talking dogs, thought activated computers, universal currency and possibly the elimination of the need to work.

Little seems to have changed. Cars still run on gas, but are much uglier. I tried talking to the neighbor's dog, but that son of a bitch wouldn't talk back.My compuer is still dumb as a rock and there is still is no shortage of mind-numbing, low paying jobs out there.

As for computers, this very minute millions of people around the planet are engaged in heated, one-sided debates with a frozen screen, others are reaching levels of anger nearing apoplexy vainly banging on keyboards and others are possibly throwing their computers out the window. This seemingly irrational behavior is the direct result of using Windows 7 with all its idiosyncrasies and complete lack of user friendly interface.  Bill Gates gets richer while millions of hapless PC users collectively waste thousands of hours.

One unintended consequence of the prevalence of computers, was the creation of an entirely new under-class :the computer nerds. These people, who would be social misfits under any other circumstance, are seen as gurus, because they are the only ones who actually know how these neurotic devices actually work. They are still social misfits, but the Luddites among us still need their skills.

Others are into gaming. They sit for hours upon hours battling animated demons and bestowing titles upon themselves like " Grand exalted warlock" or "  Master of beasts" or "Slayer of accountants." Ironically, these pale basement dwellers of the flaccid bottom would lose an average barfight, that is, if they ever left their subterranean suburban enclaves to go to an actual bar.

The biggest contribution, however, is the lowest common denominator. Porn, porn and more porn dominate the cyber-landscape. It has also given a voice those who should have remained unheard. Every conspiracy theorist, whack-job survivalist, holy-roller whacko, tin foil hat wearing UFO believers and any other strange sub-group can spout off nonsense to their heart's content in all its illiterate glory.

What I find the most disconcerting is how conservative this society has remained. The dogmatic adherence to tenets that should have disappeared long ago shows no signs of waning. The pressure to conform is overwhelming at times.  Dress code rules still abound, and while even in the Rockabilly world it is still cool to dress up sometimes, I find myself at a loss to explain the necessity of neckties in this day and age.

If you happen to find yourself in Court ( as greasers often are, even for the slightest of transgressions) you are keenly advised to wear a tie. This arbitrary piece of cloth around your neck is supposed to signify "respect for the court". I ain't no anarchist, but if I somehow got embroiled in the system and am forced to pay a large fine for some petty indiscretion ( say, installing a 49cc engine on a bicycle), well, hell no, I ain't got no respect, and a ridiculous piece of cloth tied in convoluted knots around my neck ain't gonna change that. If you happen to be greasy, you are best advised to forgo the grease and the pomp, as it is perceived to be too rebellious in the eyes of the judge.

I think that that is the nexus of the problem right there. Nature may abhor a vacuum, but society abhors a rebel. Society does tolerate the white-bread, middle class view of rebelliousness and non-conformity. Earnest hippies chaining themselves to trees, rhetoric spouting celebrities attaching themselves to some trendy cause, animal rights activists parading around some half-blind retarded dog or pot endorsing folk heroes are acceptable. These are safe, palatable forms of rebellion.

Greasy, leather-clad Rockabillies are a whole other thing. These anachronistic iconoclasts make the conservative world uneasy. The overt rejection of conformity is obvious and menacing. Their very demeanor tacitly states that they refuse to accept the constraining views of what is and is not acceptable.

I think that is what is part of the allure of Rockabilly. It hearkens to a simpler time, where societal delineations were more obvious. The cars and music were cooler, of course, but it was a way of saying that they didn't accept the post-war values that were prevalent at the time. So, you may ask, what has changed? Seemingly, not much. The true rebels are still eyed with suspicion, causing greasy tremors in the manufactured stability of the common world.

As we make our way into a new decade, I will remain satisfied with the knowledge that the status quo will always prevail and that myself and my ilk will always be there to throw a monkey wrench ( figuratively and literally) into that conservative leviathan that is our day-to-day society. Hopefully, though, by 2020 I should have that flying Cadillac.

Happy New Year to all and don't let the squares get you.

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