Google Glass

These idiots are going to cause a lot of traffic accidents.

You have heard about ‘Google glass,’ right?  If you haven’t, it’s a tiny computer with a heads up display, camera and earpiece that you wear like a pair of glasses. It reads texts to you through the earpiece, can follow voice commands and can show you images via the heads up display. People are already at work on facial recognition aps and other functions that make this the smartphone that you wear rather than carry. It will photograph whatever you are looking at if you say, “OK, Google, take a picture.” Google is trying to make the computer as natural an extension of your body without putting it IN your body as current technology allows.

I’m surprised they didn’t call it ‘Google goggles’ or ‘Googgles’ or something like that.

Maybe I’m just a cranky old man, but I hate it already and think it’s fucking creepy to have a computer/smartphone/texting device that is always on my head and shows the world absolutely everything I see and is constantly whispering in my ear or showing me pictures so I never need to be alone ever again. I predict that the world will soon be divided between the ‘googlers’ who are constantly sharing absolutely everything they do and see and hear and the rest of us who don’t give a shit. Plus the googlers will wear their stupid devices while they drive or walk and probably swerve all over the place and run into the rest of us who aren’t simultaneously travelling AND surfing the fucking web or texting on our eyeballs at the same time.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin dialed the creep factor up to 11 when he said, “It’s really a device that wants to be outdoors, wants to be outside, wants to be with family and friends…”  Really? This device “wants” things? I want things like chicken… and when I get chicken, my dogs make it clear that they want chicken, too, and that seems perfectly natural to me… but I’m just not ready for a computer or smart phone or tablet or wearable computer goggles that wants things, too. There is entirely too much ‘wanting of things’ going on… and now that the purveyors of technology are claiming that things are starting to want things too, I’m about ready to say, “Enough, already” and go live in a cabin like Ted Kaczynski.

EDIT: Google Glass is also a device that does not want to be sold or shared. Not only has Google restricted early sales of the device to people who have made a compelling public pitch as to why they should be deemed worthy of owning the device, but, if you should be so lucky as to be ‘allowed’ to buy a pair of the cyber goggles, you are forbidden to sell, loan or give them to anyone else. Welcome to the brave new world where corporations are people and objects can tell their ‘owners’ the terms of ownership.

Music and Salesmanship

Anyone else remember those pictures of Boris Yeltsin doing ‘The Funky Chicken?’ I can’t decide whether I like Boris more or less after seeing them — sort of the same feeling I got when watching our former President, George W. Bush, funk out with African drummers on the Whitehouse lawn.

Michelle Bachmann recently got taken to task by musician Tom Petty because her crew used his song, “American Girl,’ at one of her rallies. I’m not that familiar with Petty’s “American Girl” pop anthem, but, if memory serves, it’s lyrics might be a bit at odds with Bachmann’s Bible Beater values (something about “making it last all night” makes me think Petty’s American Girl is a bit of a libertine). But I guess since the song has ‘American’ in it, her team feels this gives it relevance. Plus Petty is probably popular with a demographic that doesn’t find much traction in her bible-thumpin’ ways. Anything to appear hip, I guess. But this is apparently just one of a growing number of cases in which a pop star has said to a political candidate, “Hey, stop using my song!”

I remember being a bit taken aback when I heard “London Calling” by the Clash being used to sell Jaguar cars on TV. The context in which I first heard that song seemed greatly at odds with the idea of a luxury automobile. As I recall, the ad just had a few strident guitar riffs and Joe Strummer barking out, “London Calling” and leaving out all those depressing lyrics about the end of the world… perhaps the admen thought that maybe the American ex-punker who had given up on revolution and gotten a career and was now rolling in it would feel the siren song of the half remembered dreams of his former self and head on down to the dealership and buy a really expensive car without really stopping to think about it. Devo as pitchmen for Honda scooters seemed a much better fit.

The world is just getting so fucking weird. Guy DeBord had no idea how right he was.


One of the heroes of my misspent youth was Guy Debord (picture at right) who was born right before WW2 and killed himself in 1994. Debord was a French film maker, artist, philosopher, sometimes poet, dreamer and social agitator whom most people would describe as a ‘Marxist’ but from what I know of him, he was more playful and irreverent than most Marxists I have met (perhaps more of a Groucho Marxist than a Karl Marxist).

I first heard of him years ago when I happened to read an excerpt of Greil Marcus’ book, “Lipstick Traces” in a magazine, got hooked and had to run out and buy the book so I could read the rest. In Lipstick Traces, Marcus interweaves history, philosophy and art criticism, going through the Surrealists and Dadaists and post war European malaise to discover the roots of punk rock, because something in his mind made him realize the world could or might be different when he heard the Sex Pistols sing “Anarchy in the UK.” When he started digging, he discovered other revolutionaries, including religious heretics, artists, madmen, ranters and predictors of the apocalypse and I discovered much of this fascinating history through Marcus’ book, which I devoured. Marcus is a music critic who has written for magazines like Rolling Stone, and he can pull this off because he is much smarter than I could ever hope to be and endlessly curious — unafraid to draw parallels between Johnny Rotten and medieval heretics and thereby trace the current in the cultural river, trying to divine where it came from and where it might go, rather than just saying, “So and so’s new record is cool so why don’t you buy it…”

Through Marcus, I discovered Debord, whom I considered a kind of artistic and philosophical kindred spirit at the time. Debord grew up in post war France, with rampant Western consumerism battling inflexible Socialist ideaology from the East — and he found both to be empty charades at best, death in life at worst. The west offered the ‘freedom’ to have whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted it, but intruded in our lives with constant demands that we embrace it’s consumerist ideology. Debord found Soviet Europe similarly oppressive — both East and West offered a life of drudgery and although the bars of the social “prison” were more nicely gilded in France than in Soviet East Germany, Debord didn’t want to live in either of those places.

He wrote a book called, “Society of the Spectacle,” in which he claimed that in the west we lived in a culture of constantly created desires and projected images and messages that replaced our own dreams and imagination. I don’t know if he ever got the chance to read Pahulniak’s ‘Fight Club,‘ (I think it was published after Debord’s death), but Debord was Tyler Durden long before Pahulniak was even born. “Society of the Spectacle” was bound in sand paper — so when you put it in a shelf with other books, it would slowly destroy the other books whenever you pulled it out or put it back. Debord also made films in which he intentionally fucked with and frustrated the viewer. He wanted to shake people out of what he thought was a sleepwalker’s existence. He and his friends collaborated on projects and created an artists collective they called The Situationalist International (or S.I. for short). You can still read their stuff online. They would collaborate on poems, collages, ‘zines and activities. Debord proclaimed that the ultimate Situationist activity was just wandering the world. He said, “We drift.” Maybe that sums up what they did — the artistic freedom to do nothing. Modern day Lollards. I can relate to that.

Years have passed and I’m afraid I mellowed a bit. Unlike the Johnny Rotten of “Anarchy in the UK,’ I no longer “want to destroy the passer by…”

Right! NOW! ha ha ha ha ha

I am an anti-christ
I am an anarchist
Don’t know what I want but
I know how to get it
I wanna destroy the passer by cos I…

I wanna BE anarchy! (u.s.w.)

These days, I’d be reluctant to join a fight club because I’d be afraid of getting my teeth knocked out (funny how that specific fear scares me the most). Have I given up? Gotten lazy? Sold out? Or was it all just an affectation of youthful bravado on my part? I suspect all of the above.

Debord’s own story does not seem to have ended happily. Years of heavy drinking and drug use took their toll on his health. His critical stance became more and more exacting as the years passed and collaborators became enemies for having violated the groups increasingly stringent ideological standards. Once you were out of the S.I., the existing members were forbiodden to even mention your name. The society founded on creative collaboration eventually became an ideological cult with Debord at the center. I think eventually The S.I. consisted of just Debord alone. Sick, old and probably bored and lonely, he killed himself. Honestly, as much as I admire the man’s brilliant ideas, I suspect he followed them all the way to their natural conclusions…. and I don’t want to end up like that.