"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Falling Behind

I'm falling behind. I think maybe this is a common feeling in the age of popular social media, the sense that your friends and followers are having weightier and more meaningful experiences than you are. Maybe it's my own strain of garden variety FOMO. Or maybe it's that I haven't written a blog post in close of five months. Or both. Some combination of unexpressed thoughts — I have no mouth yet I must scream — and humility at seeing what everyone else is up to these days. People I know and love are getting married, laying in firewood, having family reunions, running for congress, wearing outrageously classy outfits, playing in symphonies, and more.

It's trite to list up all these things, but part of my sense of frisson is that a "like" button doesn't do nearly enough to express how happy I am at these events. It's not FOMO in the sense of keeping up with the Joneses, but in the sense that I really wish I could time-hop between all these difference scenes and contribute something, or at least applaud. It makes me feel sad and weirdly guilty for having my own little private (lovely awesome) weekend getaway, and not being able to share in all this other goodness that's going on.

But again, this is hardly a unique sensation. Actually, feels a lot like this blog post I wrote five years ago about how I felt I was losing my edge, but just a little more mature. Well-aged you might say:

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Dr. King, Alcatraz, and Civil Disobedience

At the remove of decades, and felt through the thick rubbery buffer of my white male privilege, what I admire most about Dr. King is the soaring power of his oratory.

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Arts, Sciences and Sufficiently Advanced Technology

Reading a bit of trashy sci fi over the past weekend — good "hardboiled cyberpunk" about the encoding of consciousness into data and transferring between physical bodies as a way of managing interstellar exploration — while traveling in Mexico got me thinking about the old "sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" argument. I think I came up with some good riffs, and even some navel-gazing about me and my weird mercurial career, so here goes.

It's easy to dismiss outlandish ideas about interstellar travel as flights of fancy, and indeed there are good physics reasons to be skeptical we'll make it beyond the Solar System in any real way in the next few generations. But that also kind of misses the point. The original quote by Arthur C Clark is meant to position us as "people of the past", encountering some awesome technologogy of the future, possibly alien. How can we not react with awe? But what about all that we've learned to take for granted already? There's another threshold which we pass over when fantastically complecated and difficult processes become six or seven-sigma reliable and ubiquitous, things like Big Macs or indoor plumbing. You go from magic to assumed fact of life.

Take for instance the MP3 player going poolside on a carribean beach resort, playing Elvis. Here you have a device manufactured from raw materials that might come from three continents (rare earths, etc), forged into components in a number facilities about 8,000 to 10,000 miles away, assembled and delivered via an international shipping and retail process that is literally hundreds of thousands of people's jobs to operate.

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"Black Swan" / I'm Losing My Edge

The perhaps inevitable counter-note to the previous upstroke post: another week finds me contemplating my history in the arts and more generally on "the edge" of what people do, feeling — as I put it in a blissfully forced condensation on Twitter — "out of shape and uncool."

And so naturally references to LCD soundsystem and the latest Oscar winner from Aronofsky.

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Hey New Yorkers, get your shit together and go see my hombre Andrew Dinwiddie and his resurrection of Jimmy Swaggart. GET MAD AT SIN!:

In meticulously recreating one of Mr. Swaggart’s early 1970s culture-war sermons (from a vinyl record) in “Get Mad at Sin!” Andrew Dinwiddie reintroduces us to a gifted orator, compelling performer and thunderous moralizer in his prime. It’s a surprisingly generous act of resuscitation.

Strutting back and forth on a pink carpet, kicking up his legs and swooning at his own rhetoric, Mr. Dinwiddie as Mr. Swaggart breaks into a sweat but never loses his cool. He tosses in theatrical pauses and even some slang to attack the evils of homosexuality, premarital sex and acid rock. Mr. Dinwiddie’s powerful voice contains the echo of the great Baptist preachers as well as a breathy rumble that approaches the erotic.

But this is no Reverend Billy-like satire featuring winks at the hipster crowd or political cheap shots. The director, Jeff Larson, lets this fascinating historical document, which diagnoses a culture lurching toward oblivion, speak for itself, absent biography, context or comment. It’s an interesting strategy and emphasizes the stemwinder as a work of theater.

I'll spare you the lengthy cultural diatribe, but I'm fucking pissed that I'll miss this by a week. It's exciting to see my erstwhile creative peers begin coming into their own, and I really like the sound of this work. First of all because Andrew could conjour humidity on stage like nobody's business, and I have no doubt this performance is something of a tour-de-force; but moreover because of how it's constructed.

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I (heart) Robots

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Making Art

So, the annual talent show came again, and I reached into my bag of tricks and pulled out another performance piece. It was well-received. Matt Barry (local skate video superstar and all around quality kid) said I won the contest, but it wasn't a contest, and anyway I think his talent of shotgunning five beers gives me a serious run for my money.

Getting up and doing the thing felt good though. The piece had a bit of my own meta bullshit in it; doubt anyone really picked up on the "head-fake towards sex-piece" inside joke in the opening, but that's ok. It's really just a meditation on fear of success vis-a-vis the Black President, internet dating, becoming a boss, and popular self-help quotations, wrapped with a couple choice musical cuts. A good pep-talk.

Full text is here: It's our turn

The upshot is it makes me think I can do this more often, and gives me some internal steam to push ahead on the video idea. While hot gossip and unicorns help keep things rolling along, the most popular posts of mine over time (top of the pops) are the noodly think-pieces. If I can stand to look at my face enough to convert these into video form, it might actually get some people jazzed. That'd be fun.

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Holiday Cheer

Christmas party went off good. Gift exchange. Talent show. Funtime. My performance/pep-talk went over well; I'll post the text for the archive in a bit.

Number one quote of the night: "Motherfuckers try to front, but the Greatful Dead were hard as fuck."

In the meantime, here's something sure to make you smile:

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What I Want To Be When I Grow Up: Koenig the Content Producer

I need to get creative again. I love blogging, but the truth is my sister CrowDawg is a lock to be the great American novelist in the family. And anyway my real bookish ambitions were always more non-fiction-esque (blueprints for the revolution), which lends itself to other formats perhaps more. So I think I know what I want to do.

I want to compete with Joe Felice.

I don't mean to literally try to beat him at anything -- much better to have a little co-opetition -- but rather to play in that space of DIY talking-head media. He's done a fucking inspiring job with his video productions, and I want to get on the bandwagon.

Granted, this is something I've made noise about a number of times before, so believe it when you see it, but I've been feeling for a while that I need some kind of change of pace, a more structured creative outlet as I said, and for some reason w/Obama getting in, feeling like I want that to mean something, reading this Krugman blog post and seeing the awesome graphic in the post below that Nica made, it all started clicking.

Here's what I would do:

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Retro Stuff

The partisan jab; way ahead of it's time.

And holy shit, looking for a good url to link my mom's name to, I found this old gem:

Whether it's a pitcher of beer, smoking a bowl or compulsively shopping, many people have felt the effects of unbreakable habits. One New York University theater group travels the country provoking discussions about addictive behaviors.

Quick Fix, a reality-based theater group, will hold performances at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday in the EMU Ballroom. Free tickets for students are available at the EMU Ticket Office.

During the 1999-00 school year, Quick Fix began as a project at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts, said Josh Koenig, an actor with the group. He said the year-long project started when a theater class at the New York University conducted more than 100 interviews with students, faculty, lawyers, advertising executives, tobacco executives and people on the street. Then, they put those interviews into a performance piece.

Man, you gotta click through to see our old B&W publicity photo though. That was some excellent stuff. I paid my rent from acting with that!

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