Bristle While You Work

I’ve spent pretty much all my working life, those times when I’ve actually had a job anyway, working in places where music is played constantly throughout the workday, and I know how emotional people get about what they like to listen to when they work. I knpw places where fistfights have broken out over what kind of music is played, and one place where they had to come to an agreement where they listen to one kind of music on certain days and another on a dfferent day. Personally I like a little peace and quiet when I work, music is a distraction for me when it’s music I like, and an annoyance when it’s music I don’t like. I despise any top 40 radio station of any genre, because they tend to play the same music over and over again, and that’s irritating to me when it’s music I like. I still remember calling up the DJ at a “classic rock” radio station in Atlanta and telling her “I happen to know for a fact that the Beatles sang more than six songs”. I gave up listening to radio by choice around 1975, tired of loud commercials and idiotic DJ’s talking over the music.

I do like listening to music, obviously: at last count I had over 24,000 songs, more than 100 GB of assorted music in my music directory, running the gamut from punk rock to 40’s ballads, showtunes, music from movies and TV, anime soundtracks, comedy and other “novelty” songs, alternative, you name it, there’s a song or two in every genre that I’ll admit to liking. And when I listen to my music, I really tend to get into it: I don’t read or write or do anything else. Looks kinda silly really, though Cathy didn’t think so. But I don’t listen all the time. Like I said, I prefer a little peace and quiet. That’s not even an age thing, I’ve been like that as far back as I remember.

Now lately I have been forced to work at a lot of low-wage, low-skill jobs that are populated mostly by black people, which is fine, because I get along with black people pretty well: most of them, at least the ones I work with, are like me, in the lower middle class and we have a lot in common, and I’m pretty comfortable around them, more comfortable than I would be around, say, hipsters. But the one thing that really annoys me about working with black people is that they never want to listen to anything but hip hop, they want to listen to it loud, and they take offense when anyone suggests they change it or make them lower the volume of it or if people have the nerve to tell them what a piece of shit most hip hop music is, which of course it is. That’s not an issue of debate with me, it’s just horrible, horrible music that is pretty much the lowest common denominator, and the fact that it’s been the dominant form of music for the last almost thirty years means nothing to me.

And you know it would be OK if they listen to rap music as part of a variety of music, like I said, even I like one or two songs in every genre. Even if it was a race thing and they wanted to listen to nothing but music by black performers, that would be great, because you know, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry, Gladys Knight, Nat King Cole, Diana Ross, Billy Preston, Dionne Warwick, Michael Jackson, I mean seriously, that’s some of the best music ever made. But they don’t do that. It’s the same thing over and over, day in and day out, hour after hour of mind-numbing, brain cell killing garbage. And most of it is the absolute worst kind: motherfucker this and nigger that and bitch and ho and “look at the money I got”, I mean how do people do that to themselves?

If there’s a genre of music I like more than any other, it would be what we now call “classic rock”. The Beatles first and foremost of course, but even within that genre the music is very diverse: from Pink Floyd and ELO to The Sex Pistols and Nirvana, lighter stuff like Paul Simon, great voices like Linda Ronstadt and Freddie Mercury, there’s a ton of variety even within the classic rock genre.

But if I were to go in to work with seven hours (a normal shift) of self-picked programming of all the kinds of music I like, within fifteen minutes my co-workers, who don’t seem to understand why I make such a big deal over it, would be looking for an excuse to leave, or screaming bloody murder to turn it off. Yet meanwhile I am expected to “be considerate” and just accept the fact that this is what we’re playing so fuck you. And that’s what really pisses me off. There’s no point in trying to force them to change it, or even turn the volume down, that’s what they want to hear and nothing else. I’ve told them to their faces that they ought to be ashamed of themselves for listening to it, I think it deadens their minds and it speaks volumes about their character, or lack thereof, that they demand that everyone else just go along with it. It’s the kind of thing that, if I didn’t so desperately need the work, I would leave what is an otherwise very good job rather than be subjected to what amounts to me as pure torture. Don’t tell me to “tune it out”, that’s hard to do when the music is so loud you almost have to yell to be heard over it.

Anyway, that’s my rant.

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On Editors And Censorship

“Creative people listen to [editors] because [they] make that a condition of employment. [Editors] are worse than useless when it comes to creativity. [They] are intrusive.”
Dave Sim

I think Mr. Sim is equating editors with censors here, and in that vein I disagree. Even the best writers can get caught up in their own work and not see how it appears to others. A good editor, who has the respect of the writer, can actually improve on a work with subtle changes. And all due respect to Mr. Sim, whose work I admire, someone could have told him to tone down the rants or at least publish them separately, as I feel his personal issues became far too much of the Cerebus story.

Even censorship can be a positive thing: after all, the Smothers Brothers thrived on pushing the edge, it was CBS that went overboard by canceling them. Two of Seinfeld‘s classic episodes became that way because they had to find creative ways to get around censorship: how funny would The Contest have been if they were free to just say “masturbation”? Or Not that there’s anything wrong with that?

I agree with Mr. Moore (from the article) that working for a big corporation like Marvel or DC can really stunt the creative process, and he has every right to disassociate himself with them (and kudos to him for continuing to work even when the situation changed, as he pointed out, he had a responsibility to others who were working), and of course Sim, to paraphrase one of his own characters, did more than just pick a side and start swinging, he started his own side.

I made a point in an earlier post that I don’t submit any of my work for critique: I’m confident enough in my own writing style and skill that I don’t feel the need for that kind of validation, if a company wants to perform my play, that’s recognition enough for me.  And I can also edit my own work, and a harsh editor I can be: I’ve had to remove some very good lines because they don’t fit into the greater work that I’m doing, and I will rewrite whole scenes if I don’t like the tone, even if they’re important to the story.

But if someone makes a very constructive comment, I listen, and sometimes I wish I had someone working with me who could show me a new angle or way of thinking.  I still have the final say, as I think all artists should, but I won’t discount any constructive comment out of hand.

Scams

Setting:

FOX restaurant, somewhere in a red state

Mr FOXwatcher
Morning

FOXbot
Morning

Mr FOXwatcher
What have you got, then?

FOXbot
Well, there’s Muslim and Benghazi; Muslim Kenya and Benghazi; Muslim and scams; Muslim, Benghazi and scams; Muslim, Benghazi, Kenya and scams; scams, Benghazi, Kenya and scams; scams, Muslim, scams, scams, Benghazi and scams; scams, scams, scams, Muslim and scams; scams, scams, scams, scams, scams, scams, socialism, scams, scams, scams and scams; or a series of discussions featuring four conservatives to every liberal moderated by someone who hasn’t had a clue about anything that’s ever happened since 1987 and scams.

Mrs FOXwatcher
Have you got anything without scams in it?

FOXbot
Well, there’s scams Muslim Kenya and scams, that’s not got much scams in it.

Mrs FOXwatcher
I don’t want any scams!

Mr FOXwatcher
Why can’t she have Muslim, Benghazi, scams and Kenya?

Mrs FOXwatcher
That’s got scams in it!

Mr FOXwatcher
Not as much as scams, Muslim, Kenya and scams.

Mrs FOXwatcher
Look, could I have Muslim, Benghazi, scams and Kenya without the scams?

FOXbot
Uuuuuuggggh!

Mrs FOXwatcher
What d’you mean, uuugggh? I don’t like scams!

Vikings
(singing) Scams, scams, scams, scams, scams … scams, scams, scams, scams … lovely scams, wonderful scams …

FOXbot
Shut up. Shut up! Shut up! You can’t have Muslim, Benghazi, scams and Kenya without the scams.

Mrs FOXwatcher
Why not?

FOXbot
No, it wouldn’t be Muslim, Benghazi, scams and Kenya, would it?

Mrs FOXwatcher
I don’t like scams!

Mr FOXwatcher
Don’t make a fuss, dear. I’ll have your scams. I love ’em. I’m having scams, scams, scams, scams, scams socialism, scams, scams and scams.

FOXbot
Socialism is off.

Mr FOXwatcher
Well can I have scams instead?

FOXbot
You mean scams, scams, scams, scams, scams, scams, scams, scams, scams, scams?

Mr FOXwatcher
Yes.

FOXbot
Arrggh!

And so on and so on and so on…

RIP Bartcop

Terry Coppage, known to many of us as “Bartcop“, was one of the original bloggers, doing it before the term was even coined. He was a boisterous, unapologetic supporter of liberal causes and an opponent of everything the right wing has done to us over the years. Sadly, since the professional left has no conception of the idea that you need to support people like Bart, he did most of his work while struggling to keep his rent and bills paid, but it never lessened his enthusiasm for what he did, nor ruined his love of life, particularly drinking Chinaco and playing poker.

The original title of his blog was “Rush Limbaugh Lying Nazi Whore”, so in that vein let me present this, this song was obviously done many years ago (you can tell by the references), but it was very cleverly put together, as that’s really Rush’s voice, carefully edited. The music video was done much later.

An excerpt from Bartcop from way back in 1996 is perhaps the best example of how he dealt with issues of the day:

I have a satellite dish. I caught some audio of Dole after the show. The caterer brought some food in. “Bob Dole wants a diet Coke,” he said. “Bob Dole wants a Hot Dog!”

Someone, maybe a kid serving the food, asked Dole if he wanted mustard on his Hot Dog.

Bob Dole said: “Well, I feel that’s it’s my view that mustard is certainly one of the options we’re looking at. We’re looking at a number of options, actually. There’s lot of condiments… ketchup, for instance. Some like it, some don’t….

That’s not up to the federal government to decide. Those decisions are best made locally …the states. Some people talk about relish, relish… is…

Cheese! Lot of cheese lovers in America….. Perhaps we’ll go with mustard, but we haven’t made a final determination on that, haven’t decided… It might come down to a situation where we have some ketchup and some mustard…we’ll know soon…”

Mrs. Dole interrupted and said:

“Bob Dole has always supported mustard on Hot Dogs. Bob Dole has been, and continues to be pro-mustard. Mustard has a friend in Bob Dole.”

Rest In Peace, Terry, you are already missed.

Here are some other links remembering Bart

Raw Story

Democratic Underground

Crooks & Liars

Smirking Chimp