Finally, Some Good News: A Brutal Destruction of the Modern Age by Delicious Tacos

It’s the ending, really. I did not see that ending coming. I should have: it’s on theme. This wasn’t going to be an upbeat ending. That’s not what DT does. Still, though. It was a bit like a mallet to the face. I cannot recommend this book to anyone who has a sunny, cheerful worldview. You will not like it. Also anyone who enjoys daytime television or has a long career of corporate success. You will feel seen.

One does not write a book like this, in which nuclear devestation snaps civilization in two, and celebrates the freedom of it, without having some very real things to say about the post-human tsunami currently riding over us. In the end, Los Angeles suffers nuclear attack not because terrorists want to hurt us (such is always the case), but because our world is too compromised, too absorbed in nonsense, to defend itself. We have branded ourselves to death. Those that pushed us to this precipice: who have rendered every thought, creation, or need into “branded content”, cannot be allowed to have a place in the restoration, such as it is. Civilization must be less civilized if it is to have the animus to survive.

This novel goes forward in a Bukowskian mode, dry and unromantic, finding poetry in the cruelty of life. It is also told in a somewhat non-linear fashion, although things settle down for the third act. Much of its beginning reads very like the slice-of-life tales/lamentations that inhabit The Savage Spear of the Unicorn (which is also worth reading, as its humor is blacker than the bottom of a sewer):

He was eligible for a 401(k). He read up. You can retire comfortably at 65 if you start saving at 23, said Forbes.com. Even with a relatively low yield of 6%. Every 401(k) he’d had earned 1%, lost 2.5% in fees. As for saving at 23: median household pre-tax income is $51,989 per year. Who saves on 40 grand net with a kid. It costs twice that for a school where gas huffing sasquatches don’t commit Rwandan machete genocide. Nobody has money. Nobody gets returns. We’ll all work till we’re dead. Eating shit, having to smile about it.

If I was married– if my wife could work part time. Cover rent. That’d be something. But there aren’t wives now.

Delicious Tacos “Finally Some Good News, Chapter 2

And at first I thought it was going to continue in that vein, more of the “corporate wage slave experiences tfw no gf* in Los Angeles”. A literary Office Space, updated for the new century. But then the bombs drop, and everything stupid and false is wiped away. It’s not a lamentation, it’s a consummation, devoutly to be wished, on the order of Tom Waits’ “Make it Rain.” Society can only get so absurd before it becomes dysgenic, whereupon the Gods of the Copybook Headings get mightily insistent.

The great question I have when reading Taco’s work is why he picked so glaringly obvious a Pseudonym. On the one hand, the ridiculousness of it is a joke itself, an obvious late-night idea thrown off the wall of the mind that somehow stuck. A more believable, more standard nom de plume wouldn’t frame the oevre in the same way. On the other hand, shoving your nose in the realitythat a significant writer, whose work sells well on Amazon, has to hide his identity in order to keep the wolf from the door speaks loud volumes about the world we live in, and who benefits from it.

That ending though. It’s almost too rough to be funny.

*The Feels When no GirlFriend

Balzac Was Funny

More Properly, he was Droll, i.e. curious or unusual in a way that provokes dry amusement. I think ol ‘Honore invented the style of feigned ironic detachment in order to draw a laugh.

In the years that followed, he delivered up countless towns in Asia and in Africa to sack, fell upon the miscreants without warning, ripped up Saracens, Greeks, Englishmen and sundry other nationals, heedless of whether they were allies or whence they came. Among his sterling merits was a lack of curiosity: he never questioned his victims until after he had slain them.

Honore de Balzac, ” The Venial Sin”

Dryer than a Baptist wake, that is. And possessed of that circuitous truth-telling, with slyness to make the medicine go down.

He it was who, when in rare form one day, avvered that four things in life are excellent and opportune: to void hot, to drink cold, to rise hard, and to swallow soft. Certain persons have vituperated against him for consorting with filthy sluts. This is utter nonsense: his sweethearts, one of whom was legitimatized, all came from great houses and all presided over sizy establishments.

Honore de Balzac, “The Merry Jests of King Louis the Eleventh”

The question becomes, what purpose has this besides drollery? Given the years of his life, (1799-1850), one must expect the rustle of the full and gaudy robes of 18th-century prejudice, a post-Revolutionary figure sending up the pre-Revolutionary establishment. One picks up Voltairean echoes here. But where Voltaire smirks, Balzac merely chuckles, giving hypocrites the grace of humor. Having seen in his youth the idealism of Revolution drowned in terror and war, he went above damning the Middle Ages for a lack of saintliness.

He has been called a “realist”, which I take to mean his characters act as humans do. But Realism always betrays a narrowness; one sees what one sees, and nothing more. The jump from “I observe men acting like this,” to “men are this,” passes the smell test but not a rigorous logical assessment; generalizations by nature do not account for individuation. I think his characters contain complexities, like Shakespeare’s, which reminds us of the dizzying and contrary impulses contained within our own souls. Perhaps that is less “realism” than “humanism”, minus the pseudo-ideological, actually-rhetorical weight of that term.

Anyhow, a charming fellow. Enjoy him with some cognac.

First Order After Action Review for Operations on Jakku – The Angry Staff Officer

I know I’ve been doing a lot of Star Wars content lately, but that seems to be where my head’s at.

Anyway, this is pretty funny. First Order After Action Review for Operations on Jakku.

Okay, so, operations on Jakku: what was supposed to happ – dammit, GD796, if you can’t keep your hand out of your crotch piece for five seconds, I will cut it off. As I said, what was supposed to happen?

RL29: Um…sergeant, we were supposed to land on Jakku and find some dude with a map.

SG51Okay, yeah, in frikkin’ Bantha-speak, I guess that’s what was supposed to happen.

AK22: Sergeant! At 0045 we received orders for 1st Platoon, 2nd Company, 4th Battalion, 225th Legion to conduct an air assault onto Jakku in order to interdict a high value target for interrogation by Kylo Ren.

SG51: No one likes a show-off, AK22. But yeah, that’s exactly what was supposed to happen. What did happen? Anyone?

Read the Whole Thing.

The “Dear Burrito Guy” Essay, and Why Irony Does not Translate

Over on Medium, a fellow referring to himself as “Lucky Shirt” (twitter handle, I’m assuming), just penned (it just sounds better than “typed”) an amusing rant about his poorly made burrito.

View at Medium.com

It’s funny in that over-the-top-rage way that the Internet loves to love; most of the joke is in how ridiculous it is to summon this much dudgeon over a burrito, while acknowledging that we all get hacked off from time to time at lousy customer service. The rest of the joke is in how wittily he does all that.

But the part that interests me is the appendix, added later:

Angry about the tone of this post?

It was a joke. The tone of it is most of that joke. I would never actually get this angry about anything. I hope nobody would. And it makes me sad that I even have to explain this.

Ah, but you do, good sir. You do.

Because working yourself into a towering rage over something unimportant: people do that. People take to the internet to issue jeremiads over how poorly mixed their smoothies were. It is an assumption to think otherwise.

And the worst of all assumptions is that everyone shares yours.

Irony – and indeed, all humor – is based on shared assumptions of what is rational and what is absurd. None of them are global. All of them are contextual. This is why we say “you had to be there.” This is why gags that tickled your parents’ collective ribs seem utterly tired and lame to you. And it is why the Beastie Boys spent the rest of their career denying that they were anything like the guys in “Fight for Your Right to Party”, to no avail.

This doesn’t mean that people who don’t “get it” are stupid, mind. It just means they aren’t in on the gag. Either because they haven’t been introduced to it, or they are confused by the assumptions inherent therein. So, the more over-the-top your irony, the more obvious it is to you that no one could take this seriously, the more it needs a disclaimer warning against exactly that.

Because IRONY DOES NOT TRANSLATE TO MASS MEDIA. Irony is a wink. Mass media is a bullhorn.

So Which President, Living or Dead, Would You Like to Drink With?

Face in the Blue has a most excellent question of great historical and political import: In a Mass Knife Fight to the Death Between Every American President, Who Would Win and Why? Which brought to my mind the bit of campaign fluff about whether Barak Obama is the kind of guy the average American would enjoy drinking with, especially compared to Mitt Romney, who as a Mormon, does not drink. So I thought I’d do a brief peruse of our 44 heads of state and figure which ones would be the most fun to sit down with at a table in a bar and knock back a few. These are my utterly unfair guesses: Read more

Lileks on Drugs

May be even funnier than normal Lileks, be such a thing concievable. You get the dryness with a hint of frenzy.

Went downstairs and turned on the TV and was amused to see I’d left off watching “They Live,” which is The Matrix except with a wrestler.

Heh. But that’s on OTC pain pills. Wait for Mr. Vicodin to come to town:

Vicodin #2 seems to have had the desired effect. Unfortunately, it has effed me up to the point where typing and typing as fast as possible seems the only way to maintain grasp on reality. If you can imagine feeling like you’d just eaten a pound of opium, then topped it off with a brick of raw meth, well, there you go: simultaneously distant and soothed and REALLY REALLY HERE, RIGHT HERE, VERY MUCH HERE.

And then of course, he starts hearing things:

Well, last night I heard a whining sound, culminating in a tortured shriek. I’d hear it, then silence, then a few minutes later, same thing. What. the hell? Finally went up the block to investigate, whereupon I heard the sound behind me, and realized:

IT’S COMING FROM MY HOUSE.

I have very little experience with drugs, save for having discovered the folly of mixing muscle relaxant with beer, and for a few lovely minutes spent hanging out with Valium right before I got my eyes fixed. Valium is awesome: you’re fully aware and can have a perfectly lucid conversation without the effort to “maintain,” but everything issmoooooooothed out . . . Then again, I was singing “Mother’s Little Helper,” to myself and giggling before they led me down the hall to to the Lasik room, so I could be rhapsodizing.