the ever expanding universe of american banality

This is a post for my beloved Troll, who thinks ive had my head spun around by my friendships with leftists, conspiracinistas and artists. Over on Fishy's blog, we got into a bit of a debate on restaurant franchises, Wal-Mart, europe, the war, and the american "way of life". And i think the Troll challenged me to a dogfight. as a rottweiler, i cannot refuse a challenge. So in this post i will present my point of view and argue that it is not only not "leftist" but far more conservative than the argument Troll makes.

Why O'Charleys and Walmart suck

You're right Troll, when you say that there is nothing wrong with an individual choosing to open an O'Charleys (from now on OC) or an individual to choose to patronize an OC. You're probably right too, in noting that a franchise restaurant has a better chance of surviving the Obama anti-small business economy. But i am making arguments on two principal fronts: aesthetics and culture, and local economy.

In the united states, you could be plopped down in any city and be confronted with slabs of road lined with one box restaurant after another: taco bell, McD, long john silvers, longhorn, chilis, OC and all the rest. the familiar sameness feeds into an american psyche of a never ending smorgasbord in the land of plenty where cheap food and goods are our national birthright. the blandness of the offerings and the predictability of them anesthetize the senses in the same way our collective 8 hours of television dulls the mind. I think of franchises (and Wal-Mart) as carpetbaggers, they come into a community and they take money out of the local economy and put very little back into it, while also destroying the unique character and flavor of the community. and it's ugly.

Even if a local businessman opens an OC, he is going to be somewhat constricted by the corporate mandate of menu. They are also going to benefit from big budget advertising in endless repetitive loops: "come put your big american ass in our booth and we'll give you 5000 calories of bread before you even order! yay!" These ads show how little regard the corporate pitchmen have for us. our function is to consume and then, when have have consumed too much, we can take Lipitor! and yes, in a free nation we have every right to choose this soulless path, but Troll, your argument was i wrong to be disgusted by it, and wrong to blame "the people" for their choices having something to do with independent businesses failing.

Meanwhile, as in Fishy's scenario, a local restaurant has more freedom to buy local produce, offer seasonal menus and in general offer something unique and stimulating. These one of a kind establishments are the ultimate in american freedom because every decision that is made by the proprietor is free of a monolithic corporate overlord. But they havent survived. I am questioning a culture that does not see why supporting local is in everyones best interest . there is nothing more conserative than preserving local economies. the less centralization there is, the more freedom and choice there is for individuals. for every job that an OC or walmart offers....the absence of these chains offers greater opportunities for not just jobs, but individual life and spirit sustaining businesses that will develop to meet the community demand. i can, and do, blame "the people" for the short sightedness of not patronizing local businesses.

during the seattle summit, one of the highlights was when Boxer took me and shamy and moi to "Top Pot" a famous doughnut shop. It was a destination, we walked for what seemed miles with wild anticipation of the goodies at the end of the trail. This would not have happened if we were going to say, a dunkin donuts. we can get that anywhere. this was an event because the destination was unique to seattle. OC is not a destination -its always going to be there and so is therefore, not special. That is my problem: the non-specialness of "its always going to be there" and how that attitude is a blight on the american way of life and thought. It breeds indifference and taking abundance for granted which we can not afford at this juncture in history.

The fact that i find europe delightful because of the way each region has its own character based on the environment and/or history does not equal i think america should be like europe politically. but i do think they have some things right: that cheap goods and expediency do not trump authenticity. how is it that in 200 and some change years this nation is a collection of strip malls and jiffy lubes and yes, OC's while european cities have retained their local character for far longer? shouldnt we care about the quality of our experiences at least as much as how cheaply and quickly it can be delivered? because while we are on our way to making a pile of money, or whatever it is that defines american life, we have to fill our time with LIFE. how do you want to live it?

On to Wal-Mart. yes Wal-Mart offers low prices and that is helpful especially in this economy. but in the long run there is serious damage done to the communtiy; and im not even going to cite the fact that they keep the hours of employees under 40 to avoid health benefits while at the same time partnerning with the Center for American Progress to support a law that would legally obligate employers to pay for their employees' health insurance - small businesses that do have full time employees. or that they have bribed their way into to communties where they are not wanted.

my argument is this: once you allow the big box of cheap goods to run every alternative out of business because they cannot compete with the prices, then that big box is now your primary provider of goods. and then you have corporate tyranny. what did you trade for your cheap plastic from china, america? you traded away choice for a kind of serfdom -only the king in this case is a corporation. all that money spent in wal-mart? it leaves the community and goes to sam waltons familys vault. which is fine for them, they built the business. but when local businesses receive money for goods in their shops it is not going to be shipped out of the community, it is going to be spent with other businesses in that same community. The most conservative way of life is to stay as local as possible in business and commerce.

to sum it all up:

Wal-Mart: a single entity that provides for all your needs. what does that remind you of? and how has the acceptance of that arrangement primed the american psyche for exactly the situation we find ourselves in on a far larger scale?

Labels: , ,


Mute Monday "80's"


join us! Mute Monday is a weekly multi-participant group project that visually addresses reader suggested themes. Click here to learn more, and be sure to visit the troll report to let everyone know you participated.



the History of K9: Part 2; K9 and the Ladies

at "the possibility of fire" blog, where the dogfight began, i met who was to be my greatest advocate and blog mentor; vanille. * please see vanille's comments on the history of K9 part one below. she is the last two* she was alternately harsh and tender to the dog, administering sharp raps to the hip (see above drawing) with a rolled paper now and then. In one of our early dogfights she wrote that if i wasnt so boneheaded, she would "do me". and i replied that i would "rather dry hump my plush ottoman". i think this really sealed our friendship as this line launched her royal title "Contessa Vanilla Bitch of the Ottoman Empire" and a million jokes between us that followed.

I was very fond of all the women i met at POF and many of them migrated to my newly minted blog, sparringk9. Our first big argument was over the anti-abortion rap i wrote "Are You For Eighty-Six?". It must have seemed odd this presumably male dog making the case for something that did not affect him directly. but over the months they came to accept the dog even though he seemed a right wing nut to them. I liked to fuss over the ladies with drawings and little "rapperys" in their comment boxes. here's how i imagined some of them:

Aunty Belle with a glass of iced tea, and a portrait of her husband, uncle A, the poark rind magnate

i did a few drawings for "bird"; as the teacher, and writing for her blog:

flap and swoosh warping on with the little birdies

boyed up late writing erotica

then there was this for the one we know as the bipolar faery "one part daffodil and one part cold fury. mix well. stand back." it was a difficult road for the faery and K9 and it still has fits and spurts, but somehow we have maintained a friendship through it all.

I came to realize that to talk to them in the way i wanted to, i really needed to be happy in a relationship and not appear to be out on the blogs horn-doggin' around. there would be the occasional double-entendre (which can be found in my archived posts comment boxes if you are bored out of your mind and want to read) and flirty talk, but for the most part K9 was sweet and supportive of the ladies while maintaining a gruff attitude towards some of the males.

So i created the cool analytical Freya to be the counterpoint to K9. She was the perfect girlfriend: the light to his dark the reserved to his hotheadedness. Freya was a Dutch white wolf, who wrote in a hybrid of broken english and dutch and wrote on existential matters with black and white photochoppys to illustrate them.

This is what Freya's art was: always black and white and always laced in melancholy. This piece was titled: "ik ben verse besnoeiing!" translation: I am Fresh Cut!

I think with Freya, i had a glimpse into what blogging could be artistically -as a living and interactive art piece. I think this story, Freya Lecht and Dark, is the best thing i have ever written. she was a lot of work; i was spending lots of time on alta vista translators and working to stay in character. Freya had blog loves of her own; they were Bogshond and Mister Q and Ben.

The first blogger i ever met in the real was mister Q. He was a favorite of ALL the women, not just Freya. and, he was a good friend to K9. So we picked a place and time to meet. I knew what he looked like, but he did not know what I looked like -unless he was looking for a rottweiler. I watched him come in the door and sit at the bar. He was looking hard at all the guys and i could tell he was wondering "which one is K9?" I had these business cards made up with K9's photo and my blog address on them, and i slid one across the bar to him. The look on his face was priceless. He was so not expecting me. So i know that he too thought i was a man, although he told me he thought i was going to turn out to be a "proud redneck biker type". He told me that it was a complete bushwhack and that it didnt happen to him very often.

After it was revealed that K9 was a female, i think it was Foamy who wrote what was to be a great compliment and astute observation. She said that it all made sense that K9 was a woman because of all the time "he" spent encouraging her to build a studio space for herself; the time he put in on poetry and drawings. she said it was unlikely a real man would invest that much effort when there was no chance of "return" grrrehahaha. do i have that right foam?

not entirely true though. /t is known for his artistic generosity. and he really IS a male. grrhahehaha

next on the History of K9: Part 3: the Poetry duel

Labels: , , , ,


the History of K9: Part 1

Over at the Troll Report today, BuzzKill asked:
"As an aside, I think it's a panic that you have K9 listed as "Angry Black Guy" on your side bar"

and Troll said:"There's an amusing story about K9's status as a black man that pre-dates her employment as a Troll Report correspondent."

and then Karl asked:
"Praytell what is the story regarding K9?"

K9 with his muse, the mayden he won in a poetry duel

well, what IS the story of K9? i've been asked before, touched on it very briefly at the seattle summit and have alluded to it from time to time. the scope and scale of it is epic, with an unlikely scrappy heroic rottweiler (grrrerhahahaha) who burst onto the scene January 2005 on a blog by WCH called "the possibility of fire" which sadly, no longer exists, or i would send you there to see how the dogfight began.

In the beginning, i was "gone native" and i had a little blog that nobody read about the forest and art. it was the precursor to Chickory. One night i made the decision to click on the tab at the top of blogger that says "next blog" and i arrived on a page with this tremendous rant about how horrible america was. It was after hurricane Katrina and it was a nest of liberals blaming racism for everything wrong that went down in the aftermath. (some things never change)

i came out swinging as "anonymous" and busted up the place pretty good; and the bloggers in there freaked out and demanded that i "show myself". actually, it was the women who came to this guys defense which intrigued me. so while in the heat of battle i had to develop an identity. and i couldnt go in as "gone native" because i sure didnt want these haters coming back to my sweet little nature blog.

i always liked rottweilers, (and had one briefly: another story for another time) and in particular loved the rottweiler in the movie "the omen", hence the tag line of "the rotty with the nanny killing stare", so i got on google images and found a rottweiler that had been in a dogfight and was at the pound. not a beautiful dog, but a scrappy dog, and i chose "him" for my avatar and went back. and i called myself the "sparring K9" because thats what i was. and i was despised. seriously. hated.

now. somewhere along the line, because of the fact i was a black dog, and that i said something to the effect of "people cross the street when they see me coming" an assumption was made that i was a. black and b. male. and i never did anything to correct them. in fact, i made an amazing discovery: that my point of view was received in a way the point of view of some random white chick never would have been.

i had a lot of fun with it. i started calling WCH, the one who wrote the "america sucks" post the "teacup poodle" and set a goal for this game. and the goal was to steal his women away.

Every time i made a comment, it would start with /bark bark bark and end with /grrrrrrrrrrrrrr. FInally my guest appearances resulted in an offer from WCH to write on his blog as a point/counterpoint kind of thing. I refused (you'll see why in the repost) and decided to build my own page. his "ladies" felt i should apologize for refusing to post with him! some of the players are still around and i invite them to add to this tale should they be so inclined, to correct my memory if need be, or to add whatever they want to this tale.

*in the interest of time, i have put the salient, and classic, K9 comments in bold type. just read that if youre in a hurry*

Who the Hell is Ad Hominem?
/bark bark bark

Looks like I got back just in time to prevent my sock puppet from writng checks I have no intention of cashing.

It was the emotional exhibitionism of WCH that fueled the angry first post. My response is not all that different from what Mr Q is saying in his used car salesman post about Bono. I call it compassion fashion. I found the tone of his writing to be condescending and narcissistic and those irritants were compounded by too many words. Same words over and over. You know why I lIke BogsBlog? He's economical. Get in, make your point, and get out.

These are legitimate points. I think fair play means I say what I want and fair play is also that you can disagree, clean my clock, ditto or ignore me altogether. Just because I didn't roll over and decorate my belly with the warm golden pillar does not mean I have not made an attempt to be a gentleman, acknowledge my rotten behavior and move on.

I said in his yard I was sorry, and I gave him props for being my Dr. Frankenstein, the creator of this creature in a manner of speaking. I say straight up, first post, this blog was created for WCH. And yesterday, through my sock puppet post, I have given him the ultimate praise. I think these things are BETTER than apologies.

This blog is called SPARRING K9 not "Channelling Alan Alda" so I refuse to go touchy feely on this. WCH ought to write me a thank you note for creating a situation where a bunch of alpha chicks wade in and start swinging in his defense! Talk about a bounty of good fortune!

You know, I was cool until I really starting thinking about his offer, you know his post called barkbarkbark? The offer was to do a blog together; a point counter-point bit. As I read on, that mad dog feeling came all over me again. Why? Because before I even knew what I was in, this guy had it titled, with my own barks no less, packaged and had laid out a list of rules for me to follow before you could say Jim Dandy. There is something of a liberal mind set to WCH's "containment" approach.
Bogs got it right. I won't be tethered to another's leash.

A conservative dog, like myself says no thanks I'll take my chances, and if it doesn't fly than that is MY failure. And if it does fly it is MY success. Maybe I don't want to talk about what WCH does. Maybe I have my own game plan. Maybe Im not a nice doggie.

And if the price I have to pay for not making ANOTHER apology is to be not read, then so be it. That is the free market system. If the market does not support my product then this blog will die as well it should. This is a capitalist canine mini manifesto. No further apologies will be made.


next up: K9 realizes he needs to create a "girlfriend" for himself, and fast.

Labels: , , ,


what does my card do? it liquifies into Round-Up™ you sanctimonious twit.



vampires and their twits

obama is a vampire
that sparkles in the woods
libs they are the chicks that say
"he's misunderstood!"
if you dont drive a prius
or screw a spiral light?
you don't get to fly with him
into the twilight night

only smart and special girls
come under his protection
he doesnt suck their blood
or poke them with erections
he saves these lucky girls from other
blood sucking creatures
he will never ever hurt them
(until the second feature)

"i'll drink the bad guys dry
and i'll give you the blood
you can count on me
your communistic stud
those peasants who oppose me
with their pitchforks and their torches?
i'll silence them for real
with my special homeland forces"

you try and tell those girls
he's the same guy as before
they will say "he's elegant.
your reason is a bore"
one thing to remember girls
your vampire? he's eternal
once he's fed on "haters"
he'll be hauntin' your nocturnals

Labels: , , , ,