Tuesday, May 17, 2016

And more stuff to rant about

DURING the December 2011 Occupy protests in Portland, someone projected the Batman "bat signal" over the crowds onto a building downtown. Then, one night, the signal was replaced by slogans such as "End the Federal Reserve!" and "The revolution will not be privatized!" Like the protests themselves, the messages didn't originate from any one central source. The only clue was that they came from anonymous protesters who were using a revolutionary new social network called Celly... Okay, it was “revolutionary,” that is—if we'd define the word, as Merriam-Webster puts it, “(adj.) constituting or bringing about a major or fundamental change.” Founded in April 2011 in Portland by Greg Passmore and Russell Okamoto, Celly builds mobile social networks of all sizes, both public and private, that can be accessed by any cell phone with SMS and via a web browser, e-mail and the company's iPhone and Android apps. 
But “revolutionary” in the mold of “(adj.) radically new or innovative; outside or beyond established procedure, principles etc” that was pursued by Che Guevara, Ho Chi Minh and Augusto César Sandino? No. Celly's “revolutionizing bat signal” was as temporal and fleeting as a viral video—an “insurrection” that “occupies” a moment in time of Internet sharing and email. Meantime, the kick-ass slogan, “The revolution will not be privatized!" has been swallowed by info highway's caldera of volcanic “war chants” (complete with obligatory drum circles) and then muted away by one-click reflex, slipped and slid away as naturally as it came out. The “bat” has long assumed a Che Che NY beret dancing to Gangnam, the “revolution of 2011” of our discontent has been upstaged by a funny cat video and North West tweets. I wouldn't be surprised if, one of these days, Celly's “bat signal” beams all over MGM Macau's humongous wall, screaming: “The revolution starts with a Dragon Dance at the Pâtisserie. Please occupy a seat...” Yup, we have redefined the word, “revolution.” It now addresses a certain market demographics. 

SOMETIMES I am confused—what's in a name. I've always been puzzled and fascinated with names. Long short super long maxi short names. Long time ago, band names were pretty long like Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Buffalo Springfield, Grand Funk Railroad etc etc. These days? No. I just glanced at last week's Top 40 Albums and I saw short names like J Cole, Wale, Joe, and Skillet. More hip hop acts also prefer to economize on names: Jay-Z, Jin, Eve, Big Boi, Hi-Tek, DMX, RZA, and all the Lil's: Lil B, Lil Durk, Lil Flip, Lil Jon, Lil Keke, Lil Kim, Lil Phat, Lil Twist, Lil Wayne, Lil Wyte, and my LA friend Lil Lol. Names of people (in different countries) are also either long like those from Iceland: Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir, Eilífr Goðrúnarson, Dagur Bergþóruson Eggertsson, and Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir. Meantime, Thais got long names, too: Chakrabongse Bhuvanath, Mongkol Na Songkhla, Plaek Pibulsongkram, and my college buddy, Nandanasukdhi Ratanapol. 
Yes, across the border, the Laotian are so thrifty with names: Vong, Dao, and Lao. An ex-UN Sec Gen was U Thant. They had a marathon runner named Tan Nan, and when I went to Laos, my guides were brothers U Mu and U Tu. Fascinating... I also don't understand why some parents name their kids really long names like my grade school pal, Ari. His full name is Aristotle Aristophanes Uy. I remember those pitiful afternoons when our teacher made him write his name over and over on the blackboard till he got it right. We'd walk together going home and I'd pacify my tearful friend with, “No problem, buddy... From now on, I'll call you Ari.”

I STILL couldn't grasp the rationale behind too much passion heaped on franchise vs local, giant food manufacturers vs organic/whole foods “indie” companies etc... Trader Joe's, for example, is very popular among health-food advocates, especially in California where it is headquartered. Among the store's most popular products are: Organic Hummus Dip, Charmingly Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, Milk Chocolate Covered Potato Chips, and sparkling wines. Trader Joe's is owned by the German family trust Markus-Stiftung, or essentially the Albrecht family, same owners of Aldi—which specialises in staple items, such as food, beverages, toilet paper, sanitary articles, and other inexpensive household items—which are “not really healthy.” 
Those include Fusia Sweet & Sour Honey Chicken, Warm Water Lobster Tails, Cattlemen's Ranch Black Angus Patties, Parkview Premium Beef Franks, Clancy's Honey Nutor Bold Party Mix, and Kraft Mayonnaise. I go to Aldi and I also go to Trader Joe's (when I was living in LA). It doesn't matter... It's all economics to me, plus my very gut-level standard of choosing my foods or food ingredients. I don't buy the bullshit that a packaged “organic” product is a lot better than whatever is sold at Ingles or Walmart's shelves. Why? Both products are mass-produced and flown to an average of 5 countries before these meat or veggies etc land on our dinner table. My logic? Both products are sold by the same company... It's not poison. It's just the same product, different marketing hook. If I'd like to be really safe about my food, I'd raise and grow them all... But obviously, I don't own a farm or even a tiny piece of land. So to lessen my funk about, damn—will Dwight Howard be able to win a title for the Rockets—I just chill and enjoy my chow. Or yes, I should worry more if the box that I shipped to my kids—containing “cheap” Dollar Tree wares and secondhand books—will arrive there on time, before I send another one for Christmas...

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