TMCG: $101

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S6EP1-5SEP2011-Auctioneer George

 

I guess I just don’t understand auctions. I’ve managed to stay alive on this useless-*ss mudball for forty years without truly recognizing what this most capitalist of activities truly entails. And I’ve been to a lot of auctions. I’m from South Alabama, an admission that I realize is like coming out as Cletus Spuckler, and rest assured I’m about as proud of my heritage as Roy Moore is of his browser history, but it is the truth. Everyone with crippling depression and chihuahua-tier anxiety has to have an origin story, so there you are.

But I have attended auctions. I have listened to JD Swearingen sell third-hand tractors, and I’ve seen old men pull on their earlobes when some cow or other piques their interest. I even got a participation trophy from a dating auction once.

And I have read my Horkheimer. There is money to be made—lots of money—from the various insecurities of both the very rich and very poor. It is simple. If one wishes to acquire a rich man’s money, convince him that other rich people have better stuff, and then put him into a situation in which he can make eye contact with his enemies and defeat them by spending one more dollar than they do on some ridiculous play-pretty. If one wishes to acquire a poor man’s money, convince him that spending enough of it will eventually make him rich. Auctions destroy hope by providing metric *ssloads of it.  My own ancestors are perhaps most famous for the most capitalistic and insidious of all auctions, taking piles of Grandaddy’s money from semi-literate fops in exchange for the production potential of subjugated human beings. Entire city blocks in my homeland were once dedicated to the proposition that the most enviable position in society was reserved for the guy who could buy the whitest-looking concubine.

Gee that’s fun to think about. Maybe instead of ruminating on the deep evil of this useless-*ss mudball I should instead wax eloquent about a cartoon monkey. If only I could separate the two.

But I can’t, because in this latest episode Curious George learns all about auctions. The local elementary school library was holding an auction of things the librarian had apparently found in an attic so that more books could be purchased. Curious George’s little Mexican friend Marco wouldn’t shut up about what a good cause this was. Imagine how many books they will buy, he said over and over. Just imagine.

On a table full of potential MacGuffins, George finds a pair of red mittens with elephants on them.

Roll Tide

George wants the mittens. Has to have them. Were the happenings in Curious George’s universe in any way logical or consistent, the Man in the Yellow Hat (MYH) would have bought them then and there. MYH could have bought the whole damn auction, like the time Rory’s father ruined the Star’s Hollow knitting bee. MYH has more than one house. He once bought George a robot that was aware of its own existence. MYH has no doubt paid for literally millions of dollars in damage caused by his Mayan Apocalypse of a pet. But not this time; this time he wants to teach George about auctions and the value of a dollar because why the hell not.

In they go, and MYH gets one of those little yellow paddles with numbers on them. As proof of concept, he spends ten dollars on what they SAID was a bright yellow traffic cone, and MYH SAID it would make a great mute for his tuba.

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Okay, first off, I ain’t never seen an all-yellow traffic cone in my whole life, nor would a guy who owns his own tuba—even a sh*tty one costs more than my car—buy some piece of plastic bullcrap for a mute. It kind of looked like his hat, though, so maybe that was it.

So then MYH leaves to go pay for the damn traffic cone, leaving George and Marco in possession of an auction paddle and sitting in the same row as Mr. Glass, stereotypical plutocrat. I’ve seen this guy before—one time George destroyed one of his skyscrapers and he was happy about it. He looks like a Dick Tracy villain hate-f*cked Rich Uncle Pennybags and somehow produced a child with fewer redeeming qualities than either of them. Which means he might be the best, most likable character in the show.

Mr. Glass wants the mittens. Curious George wants the mittens. Curious George has a dollar he earned by washing a giant pig twice. Mr. Glass was born on third base.

In the real world we know how this story ends. Mr. Glass buys the mittens for $1.01 and then lets George watch him light one of his cigars with the burning mittens. Then he forces Marco into making ten pairs of similar mittens a day by threatening to deport his parents. George, in a blind rage, attacks Mr. Glass and eats part of his face before being killed by the police. The resulting lawsuit makes MYH utterly destitute, and his subsequent methamphetamine addiction ensures that he lives just long enough to see his beloved yellow apartment building blasted into dust by the Glass Construction Company with the Doorman and Hundley still trapped inside.

lifeisbeautiful

But this is not the real world; this is the world in which a cartoon monkey gets whatever the f*ck he wants and never suffers any repercussions. Mr. Glass says he has “auction elbow,” no doubt exacerbated by decades of buying tenements to gentrify, and thus he cannot match the frantic paddle-waving of Curious George. And so it comes to pass that Curious George wins the mittens with a bid price of one hundred dollars. Mr. Glass doesn’t even care—he just f*cks off to Pisghetti’s to eat dinner.

There is a lesson in here somewhere. Sometimes buying can cause more misery than not buying. The poor need to learn their place. Marco knows what’s up—he says “That’s a lot of money, George” with the wisdom and certainty of a boy whose parents probably floated over here on a beer cooler. No problem, thinks George, we’ll just go see MYH. Surely this is the smallest amount of money George has made MYH pay in the history of their relationship.

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But not this time. This time, MYH is exasperated and says one hundred dollars is a lot of money. He even demonstrates this fact by counting out one hundred pieces of popcorn in a perfect square on a table. Amazingly, George understands. He imagines having to wash one hundred pigs in order to pay for some busted-*ss mittens. Marco is optimistic, infuriatingly so. I want to snap his little pollyannaish neck. “You could just explain that you made a mistake,” he says, “Ms. Nguyen is nice; she will understand.” Then he gets that dreamy look on his face like the Elevator-Epsilon in Brave New World.

Snaphisneck

“But…what about the books?” says Marco suddenly, “how can we buy books?”

Snaphisg*ddamneck

“Oh, I know!” says the Mexican kid with an unsnapped neck,”Let’s auction the mittens again, and Mr. Glass can buy them for $101!”

SnaphisneckandeathisfaceGeorge

I want to kill MYH too, because he could have ended this whole stupid charade at the beginning just by opening his checkbook. Money solves every problem George has ever had. But WHY spend the MONEY when you can get onstage and embarrass yourself for a half-hour trying to beg people at an elementary school auction to spend $101 on some elephant mittens?

I could see the faces in the audience. They saw right through MYH’s bullshit. Here was a guy trying to pawn off some stupid mittens ON THEM when everybody KNEW the guy could have bought them himself at any point and still have enough money left over to buy two used space shuttles. So they just stare at him and wait for 5:00, at which point the auction would end and MYH would be stuck with the mittens. To make the whole situation even more cringy, MYH brings Marco’s grandmother onstage and declares her the creator of the mittens.

Of course she is. The analogy runs deep.

Marco’s grandmother tells everyone she made them out of yarn like Feynman telling gradeschoolers what protons are.

So where is Mr. Glass? I done said he was at Pisghetti’s. Marco gets on his bike and goes to fetch him. Gotta get him before 5:00 or George will have to wash a bunch of pigs.

Capitalistpigs

Mr. Glass is eating pisghetti at Pisghetti’s. Marco runs up yelling and scares the hell out of him. Mr. Glass’s yelp of shock when he sees how close a brown kid has gotten to his pisghetti has echoed down through the ages. Patricians of Rome made such noises when commoners dared to brush against their togas. Francisco Franco made such a noise when he was told Barcelona was being resupplied by sea. Czar Nicholas II made such a noise when the first Bolshevik soldier through the palace doors did not have the cup of tea he had specifically requested. But when Marco explains the situation, Mr. Glass agrees to go back. But the clock says 4:59. How could Mr.Glass get from Pisghetti’s back to the elementary school in time to prove the day-saving power of disposable income?

If you answered “by magically producing a bicycle helmet and riding tandem on Marco’s bicycle at the kind of breakneck speed Lance Armstrong could not have produced even after injecting ten years’ worth of saved-up red blood cells” you win the prize. Pick your favorite useless crap from the auction table.

Mr. Glass wins in the end. $101 buys a pair of hecho a mano mittens con elefantes. Inexplicably, George is butthurt about this, but Marco’s grandmother says not to worry, because she’ll make George a new pair of mittens with giraffes on them.

Good Lord. There is no point to anything.

 

 

-Professor Zac Showers

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Between The Bars Part 3: The Deaf Teaching the Deaf

“Who is that guy we dropped off?” Elliot asked as Kareem tossed him his basketball and they walked back to the car. “I told you man, he lived out in the deaf neighborhood, just a dude I met at the expo a while back, why you so interested?” “No reason, just looks familiar.” Elliot said getting in the car. “He got a pretty good looking younger sister, little small for my taste, she paints or something, you’d probably like her, Picasso, she’s a satisfied customer of Kings Candy!” Kareem smirked, “Which reminds me I gotta drop some product off at her work on the way to drop you off, cool?”. “Aight” Elliot agreed, halfway paying attention. He was thinking about his mother. It had been a while since Elliot had painted. He went to the art school after he graduated for a semester, but didn’t agree with a lot of the professors there, and eventually dropped out and went to working with his father’s contracting company. Elliot Smith was fond of art, painting specifically because his late mother, Rebecca, was a very talented artist who taught at the Institution for the Deaf and was unable to hear. She was known to incorporate sign language in her art and it contributed to the deaf art community in a big way. Elliot cringed thinking about his mother, he missed her so much. She drank herself to death and left him, his father, and brother with her painful memory in the paintings on their walls. Elliot protested his father when he even mentioned removing them, and even paid to get one back that his father donated to the school. He couldn’t fathom accepting the removal of a single magnum opus of hers, even if they evoked woeful impressions. Elliot’s father, Ronald Smith, was a hard-working successful black man who owns a contracting company that restores historic downtown buildings. He started with general contracting when he was younger, with his father, but changed the focus to restoration after he met and married Rebecca, inspired by her artistic passion. The two were terribly in love, like you see in the movies. Eventually, and abruptly, Rebecca became consumed by the thought that she was straying away from art, specifically creating things herself. She thought that she couldn’t possibly teach students in a pure way if she didn’t consistently  produce works that she genuinely admired. She began drinking and neglecting her family, constantly chasing a transient feeling that diminished with every tilt of the glass. Ronald couldn’t bear to see his wife this way and tried to save her but, like the rain brings a river, she succumbed to her inevitable doom driving too fast on a road too narrow with the bottle in her hand. After her death, the elusive feeling of accomplishment that escorted her home revealed its contagious nature to Ronald as he lost his drive and motivation for work. Without his muse he no longer had a reason to be happy. Put off by the thought of his son mirroring Rebecca, Elliot’s decision to drop out of art school was, in a way, complementary to Ronald’s involvement, or lack-there-of, with Smith Restoration Contracting. Richard Smith, Elliot’s brother, took over as the boss man and Elliot reluctantly assumed a labor position with their family’s company. Richard and Elliot got along in a manner that rivals being at sea. Their interactions were both directionless and unsettling. Because of that, they didn’t work together often, and Elliot focused on preparing part of the “Deaf District” for beginning construction. The labor crew that he worked with was peppered with an assortment of lazy relapsing drug addicts, hardworking blue-collar types, and a token butch woman they ironically nick-named, “Ron”. Her name was Delilah. Elliot wasn’t very invested in working for his brother with his father’s company and was very vocal about it with his friends. “Man, I don’t wanna go to work tomorrow, Richard is inspecting” Elliot sighed as they pulled into the alley behind Bronsons. Kareem honked the horn, the back door of the bar opened and Joy walked toward his car. The alley was dark, and Elliot squinted trying to see her better. “Chill out bro you gonna scare away my money” Kareem said as he rolled down the window. “Hey, thanks for coming, I think your brother is busy or something” Joy said to Kareem as she slid him a wad of cash through the window. She didn’t actually try to contact Keenan, he scared her and much preferred dealing with Kareem because she trusted him and so did JP. “It’s all good, I got you. JP at the house and wudn’t no one there, you can chill for the rest of your shift” Kareem teased as he passed Joy the pills, “Where are my manners, this my homie E, he a mix breed”. Joy didn’t even notice Elliot sitting in the passenger seat and was immediately embarrassed, “Oh. Hi E… Joy. Okay well thanks ‘reem, bye” She scurried away and went back in to work. “That was weird” Elliot laughed as they pulled out of the alley and headed to his house. “Yeah, she is different for sure, but hey, she pays!” Kareem said counting the money she gave him. “She doesn’t look like an addict to me, pretty normal looking.” Elliot assessed. “Don’t go hittin on my clients bro!” Kareem joked, “Trust me, anyone who gets they shit delivered to they work is a little in need”.  “Ughh don’t remind me about work man, I’m over it” Elliot sighed again as they pulled into his driveway. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again bro, you could always come join the King brothers as we take over the 19, the competition is gettin’ confident.” Kareem said. “Naw man, I aint tryna get mixed up in that, no offense, besides I don’t think your brother likes me anyways” said Elliot as he gathered his things and got out of the car. “Keenan don’t like anyone man, but he a blunt blowin’ pistol totin’ mad man and we eatin’, ya feel? Better than a nerdy ass brother named DICK!” Kareem joked as Elliot shut the door and flipped him off, walking to the door and entering his house. As he walked up the stairs to go to bed he got a text and looked at his phone. It was from Kareem: [But for real homie, you owe me one, big time, and I gotta collect eventually] Elliot sighed as he kicked off his shoes, cut out the light, and jumped into his bed. He laid there looking at an obscured painting hanging on the wall of his room that he found after work one day. Wishing he didn’t owe anyone anything, wishing he didn’t have to work when he awoke, and wondering… wondering about the awkward girl with the pill addiction…

likeariver

Podcasting?

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I’m considering starting a podcast! I have no experience with podcasts other than listening to them constantly. This is just a hobby thing, i do not look to monetize the podcast, obviously, my following wouldn’t support it. There is something intriguing about talking to people in a setting where they know their recorded, yet want to express themselves in a way that brings them interest. Of the many podcasts i listen to i would have to say that my favorite is Joe Rogans podcast. He is interesting enough to spark interest and has a wide array of guests on that never disappoint. I sometimes listen to podcasts of his with people on them that i don’t particularly care for just to see if they redeem themselves because i know that even if they don’t, i will still be entertained by Joe himself. Aside from the 10 minutes of ads he does i have no complaints. I realize that to make money doing them you must do ads, and they work, I have purchased a few things from Onnit, a fitness company, and i’m pleased with their products thus far.

 

I am not famous, and have less than 5,000 followers across all of my social media platforms so i doubt any podcast i did would produce income or be heard by many, but its an enticing thought. I think the idea of speaking with the potential of at least one person listening is appealing to most people, especially since you aren’t doing it in front of them live. It feeds an ego that i think most people have. Not in a negative light, like most people associate ego with, but just simply being heard, or expressing your thoughts and ideas. Regardless of how introverted or shy a person is, i think most people genuinely want to be listened to. I personally have been known to thrive as the center of attention and i have no problem with it, i actually enjoy it.

 

I don’t know the logistics of it, and certainly have no idea where to start, but i think i may give it a shot. As far as guests, obviously i don’t have a giant fancy list of interesting guests that are well known everywhere but i will start with family and friends. Topics will be arbitrary and relevant for the most part, and length will be dependent on availability and time. if this is something that just ends up fading away i wont be surprised. Just keeping up with this blog and putting out content and condensing my book to put out is time consuming enough, but hopefully i can succeed with both and gain a bigger following. That’s the goal to this right? Gain a huge following and blow up? become relevant? Its part of it for sure, but my main goal is to just enjoy it and entertain/inform whomever i can.

 

If you read this and have any ideas, tips, or opinions let me know! my inbox is always open!

 

-Zac