Fuck Flying Cars

Last night I read an interview with Bon Jovi where he says- tongue planted firmly in cheek- that the plan he came up with for his band while working in a women's shoe store in his home state of New Jersey only took him as far as the millennium, at which point he would be thirty eight and driving a flying car. We still have this notion somewhere that the future didn't happen, that the (more outlandish) speculations of the first half of the 20th century didn't manifest in the second half. Even in the sixties the concept of human history reaching two thousand years by the Gregorian count seemed so far off that it was a blank canvas to project whatever astounding technocracy they could dream up onto.

It usually comes around to the Jetsons where you've got the wholesome nuclear family with the stay at home mom who lives a quiet life of self indulgence and the husband with a manufacturing job, something not much less blue collar than Fred Flinstone but without the need for any real physical exertion. Nothing there really panned out, and I'm not talking about the flying cars or the pill for dinner. Besides America not being that white anymore by any definition, the atom that is the nuclear family was split decades ago, Mom's been venturing outside the house for work, and America's manufacturing base fled East long ago. There's nothing really recognizable to 21st century goggles in the Jetsons, which shouldn't be all that surprising given that particular vision of the American family drove Willy Loman over a bridge in a fast moving car.

Meanwhile the darker, some would say more paranoid visions of the future started assembling themselves in front of our eyes. Why is that? Why is it that more of the things we feared from the future came true than the things we wanted? Well, the Jetsons was always just bullshit meant to make people feel comfortable in a status quo that never had any hope at sustainability under the social, political, and even environmental pressures that were already bombarding it. That fixation on the American Dream is the currency that politicians, corporations, and myriad other interests used to buy our present right out from under us in exchange for the promise of a future no one could reasonably expect. The biggest example of this is the steady unraveling of sanity in the real estate industry that allowed credit to balloon to the point that all it took to shred the world's most powerful economy and bring the entire world down with it was a run on a single company using an obscure and highly unethical stock trading technique.

Thanks to all that, the American Dream is dormant if not dead altogether and it's not really something that we should be standing around mourning either. It was artificial and chasing it as far and as hard as we have made us vulnerable, made us weak. It's been pretty easy since this whole mess started to stand there and point at people who took these insane sub-prime mortgages as being weak or stupid or deserving of their fate. It's fair enough to say that they made some short sighted decisions because they wanted the Jetsons life, but the problem is that life has been inculcated in us as being the final destination and the holy grail since our ability to hear was developed in the womb.

Some time between The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S Thompson defined the wider context for his prose to be the search for the American Dream, which turned out to be a very ill defined journey. I'm not entirely certain if that was Thompson's fault due to his aimless meandering style or because many of the basic assumptions of what America was and what it wanted were shattering under the weight of the social upheaval of the 1960s. The idea of wanting to pursue any kind of straight, ordinary existence after having seen how the other half were attempting to live- most importantly during his time in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco- became ridiculous and farsical to him even as he watched the ebb tide of the Summer of Love from a roadside bar in Nevada. What he did correctly observe as early as that horrible epiphany in Nevada that bisected his most famous outing, was that there had been no discernable sustainable alternative to the American Dream presented by any of the social pioneers of the age of aquarius.

When Nixon was elected President, Thompson and many others took that as the end of the Summer of Love or whatever it is you want to call that brief, heady trip into the unknown. Perhaps it was the final bleeding out of the killing stroke it received at Altamont, but whatever it meant for the past it was taken as a sign of things to come. With Nixon at the helm, things would get back to "normal," back on track to that Jetsons future that is frequently called Manifest Destiny. That's what the Republicans of the day would tell you that they stood for, this return to an idlylic tranditional world of family values. It wouldn't have been a disaster either if that's what the actual agenda was. Instead, Nixon was forging the ties with China that would let successive presidents- culminating in Clinton- get cracking on builing that trade deficit and ship our manufacturing base overseas. Apparently that and bombing countries like Cambodia into the stone age were integral parts of assuring us a Jetsons future.

The whole apple pie and flying cars was never really a projection of the future. It's what politicians and various corporate concerns use to put the customer at ease. When we talk about the lack of flying cars in the 21st century, it isn't an honest disappointment that cars still have wheels. It's the disappointment that no one drove us into a bright sparkly future where things make more sense, are easier, and familiar. It's the anger and bafflement of being born into The Matrix and suddenly being unplugged. We were told that it was going to be better, instead it's a broken Philip K Dick hole. But when the discource of how bad things are happens, it isn't happening miles under the Earth in a spit and bailing wire post apocalyptic commune. It's happening on Twitter. It's being tweeted about from an iPhone.

It seems a bit incongruous, that. Talking about how Rome is in flames from a device that with a few smart taps of your fingers on a smooth buttonless surface will then carry that signal across the goddamn globe. When Rome burned, they didn't have toilets that flushed. I'm not saying that the modern world isn't in trouble, I'm not going to disagree with Bruce Sterling's assertion that we're entering an age of what he calls Gothic High Tech. What I will say though is that the sooner we abandon the American Dream, the sooner we can actually start building a future we want to live in. When I'm feeling more focused I might try to lay out why exactly I feel like most of the trouble we're in now has to do with clinging to the American Dream despite the fact that it disappeared somewhere around the Second World War. If it was a book I'd call it Hunter's Wake.

X Files 1.2 "Deep Throat"

Not one hell of a lot to say about the second episode beyond the fact that I feel they jumped the gun by giving the viewer undeniable evidence that the government has UFOs and they'll do whatever they can to protect them. I would have liked to see the show play a bit more with the ambiguity of the situation instead of giving Mulder credibility right off the bat. Put it into the mix a couple episodes later and it would have been great, I think the second episode would have been better used for the first MOTW (monster of the week) episode so as not to lead the audience to the conclusion that the show is just a government conspiracy/UFO show.

Other than that it was a fun episode with a great pre-Buffy cameo by Seth Green, (which establishes a two degree separation between Twin Peaks and Buffy) and the very first official Scully-ditch.



Welcome to it.

These are my ramblings. Have a go if you think you're hard.