Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Saturday, June 07, 2003

 

Intro to: Beating back the brand (& avoiding the rubber room)

For months I've fought to get the number of marketing messages I receive down to a manageable number. I tried just to get to a countable number... I tried to get it down to an understandable number... It was too big. I tried to understand it... I tried to write about it.... Bob Persig recomends when you're staring at a brick wall's worth of writers block. “Start with a single brick. And write”.

In my case I focused, really focused, on each message in my kitchen I'd been blocking out. And...

I ranted for hours into a Radio Shack tape recorder on a TDK-PRO PROFESSIONAL SMX-90 tape. The tape came from the bottom of the pile of five hundred+ other tapes I've thrown into a box I call “pandora's box” - I have no idea what was on the tape, originally. I don't label the tapes; if one's got dust on it, it's ready for re-use. I've gone through four typists in three years. They all hated the first draft of my writing process as much as I do. They'd all rather be out on the street than subject themselves to it. I've had to type up this rant myself.

If voice recognition ever gets good enough, and I stop tossing most of the tapes into Pandora's box, my output would rival rageboy's, and I might get locked up in a rubber room for my own good and to keep society safe.

Ahh, a rubber room. Pure, white... a place where I could focus and hold a coherent thought train together... ha. That's a fantasy. My armpits would get chafed by the True-EZ-comfort straightjacket, and the walls stamped

RubbermaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaid
RubbermaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaid
RubbermaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaid
RubbermaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaid
RubbermaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaid
RubbermaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaidRubberMaid

Graffitti would cover the single blank spot in eyesight. The television would be on continously, people would come to check if I were asleep every 15 minutes and wake me up, and there'd be people screaming randomly - there'd be totally unhip interns that had never heard of Ken Kesey, and there wouldn't be any pianos to play. - and then there's all that paperwork involved in checking in, and then, especially, all the paperwork involved, in checking out.

No. no. No. Not this time. I'll try to last this out this phase of my malaise here, safe at home, still plugged into the Net.

I knew that unplugging myself from the matrix was going to be difficult but this... this is hard. 5000+ words hard.

I'm going to post the first part of "Beating the brand" early on Sunday.

Here's a preview to the second part, which I won't have done for another week or two - this section's called:


The ADverb Apocalypse


I see persistent indications that this cocked tin hat that america lies boiling in wasn't always brimming with brands.

My Mitsubishi projection TV was made in 1983. The video's kind of blurry - people keep telling me to get rid of it, to get something modern, to upgrade to HDTV. No way. This TV's made of wood; it's constructed to look like furniture. There's not a single logo in eyespace. I can sit and see Just. The. Screen. when I want to see a movie. Try that with a modern television. I can't stand watching broadcast smellovision through the globots in the lower right hand corner anymore - I get my home viewing kicks from Netflix.
I went to see the matrix reloaded. I go there 20 minutes late, so I could miss the commercials.

You exit the theater and go to a bar: Charlie O's. You order whiskey with rocks. You start composing a paragraph about it, about how it ties in with what you've been trying to write about. Your brain blocks out the bar noise. Your vision shrinks to a single line on the sheet of paper. You raise your pen... and the waitress comes back. She asks: “Do you want” “mumble... or mumble”

You say yes, to the first one. She repeats “mumble?”...

Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones doesn't say "Oh, I'll have a Stoli seabreeze" ... James Bond never orders a Seagrams martini, no... the waitress doesn't come back to them and ask them to make a choice... repeatedly...

Always asking the question of “which brand” detracts from all our stories. It fills up space that we could actually use to think.

The 50s and 60s added "You want fries with that?" to every market conversation.

The 90s and 00s are about “Consumer choice”. Consumer choice. Not “Choice”. Consumer Choice. You have a choice between A or B. If you want C, you gotta remember to say no to A or B. 99.99% of us can't remember C when presented with “A or B”.

What kind of whisky do you want when you stalk into a bar after a couple days psychotically spent in your house trying to write around a blind spot, alienating your shrink, driving through television all the way home, and then spent two hours in the theater watching a movie that sorta... almost... kinda... touched on it?

"I'd like the goddamn whisky, please. Any. Goddamn. Whiskey. Please. With Ice."

She runs off looking scared, and insulted. She's just an agent doing her job, interrupting me to make a choice – about something that isn't important, so I can't think straight. Hmm... she's got a red dress, and a nice ass... wait... what was I thinking about? Oh yea.

People try to talk about how the matrix is about throwing off media control - like I couldn't help but notice the brand placements in there - like the battle between the Cadillacs or... Ducati motorcycles. And as much as I'd like to ride Trinity herself - she's a hacker and she has atomic orgasms, early - Ducati's bikes are too expensive, go too fast, and use up gas. I ride a human powered bike with pedals and an electric engine, instead. There's a choice C for ya.

No, no, no, I want the goddamn whiskey. I don't want red or blue pills. I don't want what's behind door number 1, door number 2 or door number 3. I don't want to talk about the ideas inherent in the matrix, talking is just another form of inaction.

I want out. I want to spin in space to the sounds of Strauss.

I want the outside world to shut up and let me think, to let me be me, just me, for a few minutes.

The voice of HAL 9000 comes on. “I'm sorry mike, you can't do that.”

You rage, You have another drink, you bum cigarettes, you take over their beat up stand up upright piano and play the hell out of it, pounding keys until the ivory breaks off and blood runs from you nails, you try to explain what the heck you are talking about to a potted plant and slam back a couple more drinks to try to blot it all out.


from: Beating back the Brand, part 2
 
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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


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