Monthly Archives: March 2008

Whatever Happened to Lindsay?

You should be warned that this is in no way funny. For some reason, I haven’t been in the mood this week. Sorry.

So the trailer for the 20th season of The Real World was released recently. Yes, the 20th. And as much as the creator wants to contend that it’s very much the same show that it was when it started in 1992, things have obviously changed in the house that seven strangers share. The show began as a compelling mixture of seven young strangers who shared and grew with each other while they battled over such complex issues as race, sexism, abortion, homosexuality, and alcoholism. Slowly, the show started to morph into the alcohol fueled and sex crazed trainwreck that it is today. I think the last legitimate season was Seattle, and when it hit Hawaii and New Orleans, the booze had started to flow and the manipulation of other house mates had really started to set in.

I remember when I was a kid and I started watching the show. I came in late to the show – most likely around Miami – because my mom was a little bit of a TV Nazi in our earlier days. Eventually I caught up on most of the back seasons because it was hard to avoid them. I loved how people who I looked up to, at the time because of their age, were on TV and living a pretty posh lifestyle of hanging out and learning about each other. I was convinced that I would be best friends with Lindsay from the Seattle season, or would fit right in with the cast of the Boston house. I think it’s fascinating that the first season had seven people and six of them already lived in New York. The newer seasons have such an ingrained awareness of the cast’s “diversity” that six New Yorkers living in a house with a 19 year old virgin from Alabama is mind-blowing. Fast forward to about 7.30 on this video.

Ever since the tenth season Back to New York, and creating an entire new level of low with Las Vegas, the show has thrown together blandly hot douchebags to fuck and drink their way through five months in a mansion. The intrigue is gone, the learning is gone, the compelling growth is nowhere to be seen. We used to see Julie and Kevin battle over racism and real issues between blacks and whites, or Jon learn about abortion, or even Pedro teaching America about AIDS. Now we have six housemates judge Paula for her body image issues or the girls in Sydney turning against Parisa because of her differences.

Once I started college, I was pretty regularly asked to try out for The Real World, and that continues to this day.  People put the link to casting calls on my Facebook wall or shoot me a text message once they see a commercial. I’m not really sure what it is that people think would make me a compelling house guest. Maybe it’s because I’m funny, maybe it’s because I’m blunt, maybe it’s because I’m an asshole, but I am regularly reminded by tons of people I only have another year or two of eligibility and I should send in a tape. But the fact of the matter is, the show that created reality TV has become practically irrelevant as it continues to caricature itself. As the quality continues to slide and the issues are all but forgotten as the house guests are manipulated by producers for more drama, the essence of the original show has been destroyed. There have been numerous stories of producers instigating fights by making pointed comments or creating drama during their weekly interviews. The house is always fully stocked with alcohol. What’s real about seven college aged kids living in a house that costs millions?

At this point, the show that brought significant issues and topics into the living room of millions of people has become a joke. Some people say Cops created reality TV, some people say Survivor. Cops was one of the first, and Survivor was one of the most successful, but The Real World fully established a genre that was profitable, entertaining, and enriching. And it’s a shame that it no longer can claim that last adjective.

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“The truth is not kind, and you’ve said neither am I.”

I’d love to make this a post that turns a quality song lyric into a discourse on how much of a dick I am.  But there’s actually a totally different intent with this title –  lately I’ve been jonesing for some quality 90’s nostalgia. Yes, I haven’t turned 24 yet and yes, I was 11 when Clueless came out, but it doesn’t mean that I was oblivious when I was in elementary or middle school or that I don’t appreciate the best decade to ever exist. For some reason, people tend to blow me off in DC because they think of me as young. In fact, I know a shit ton of things about how awesome the 90’s were.

Jagged Little Pill was the first album I ever bought. My mom was hesitant about it because she was convinced that the title was a reference to birth control. I was eleven when the album was released in the summer of 1995. It sold an unbelievable amount of copies, around 28 to 30 million, depending on who you ask, and was in the top ten for over year.

Reality Bites is one of my favorites movies of all time. Since Lisa Loeb lived across the hall from Ethan Hawke, they became quick friends and Ethan handed some of her music over to Ben Stiller, the director of the movie. Once they decided to use “Stay,” it quickly shot to #1 on Billboard and Lisa became the first person ever to get a number one single without ever signing a record deal.

But I’m not gonna write a post where I just list things I know about the 90’s. Odds are, as someone who was lining up for lunch in the sixth grade when the OJ verdict went down, I still know a shit ton more about the 90’s than most people who went through their 30’s in the same time span. Despite my obnoxious and arrogant posturing, all I really wanted to talk about was the fact that I desperately want to watch Scream. Or Can’t Hardly Wait. Or She’s All That. Unfortunately, I’d probably have to settle for The Craft since I don’t own the other movies….yet.

I want full 90’s nostalgia time, a Saved By the Bell marathon, a repeat viewing of Single White Female, an embrace of Winona Ryder in every way/shape/form, making fun of 90210 and following up with watching Daria or Real World: Boston. I fully admit that I grew up in the Real World generation, can name every single person who was ever on the show (all 19 seasons), and desperately wanted to be on Road Rules as a kid. I remember Flora breaking the window in Miami when she tried to watch Mike and Melissa’s threesome, I remember David dragging Tammy through the house in LA, I remember Montana getting fired in Boston for letting the kids taste wine, I remember when that piece of shit Stephen slapped Irene in Seattle.

So as I sit here and rock out to The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Tracy Chapman, Duncan Sheik, and Hootie and the Blowfish, I remember a more innocent time. A decade when Oasis became the best band in the world, when Bill Clinton and Tony Blair injected real hope back into politics, when that new fangled concept of the Internet started to take hold, when Lilith Fair started to redefine feminism.

I miss that time. I miss that decade. Is it too much to ask to just live that decade over again?

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Sometimes Kids Are Funny

This is definitely one of those times.

I had heard rumblings about the Swift Kids and never really got around to watching them. Somehow, today on Huff Po, I stumbled across them and decided I needed to see what was going on. It was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made in recent history. First off, we have the Pantsuits commercial. “Did you buy your pantsuit at Wal-Mart?” The only way any of this could get any better is if the kids were writing the spots themselves. They don’t really stop being funny, like the one about Hillary stealing toiletries from the White House. I’m talking this stuff might actually make you pee yourself.  John Edwards is a little weak, but it gets better as it builds up the commercial.  Plus they tel the truth at the end. Then they go after Barack. This is legitimately one of the best things I have ever seen in my life. Not because it’s against Obama, but because it involves children making fun of cocaine. Seriously, I never realized how funny it is for kids to talk like they actually know anything about coke.

I guess some things just never really get old.

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My Liver Will Never Forgive Me

Note – I apologize for the delay in responding to the glory that is Free Booze Day, but I had to go to Philly for three days for a rather intense visitation event for accepted students at Penn’s grad school.

I’d like to write my response to the epic day that was Shamrock Fest 2K8 as reactions to several photos that were taken that show the progression of the day. And by several, I mean three. Some might even call them the Holy Trinity…of Douches.

This was around 2 in the afternoon. Packed, sweaty, and reeking of booze – you know you’re on the Orange Line when it feels more like a cattle car. I never thought the Metro could get much worse than it has been the past two years. Now I see it as Satan truly intended – full of assholes from Northern Virginia who are wasted and drinking Coors, singing about ten seconds each of your bar standards like “Sweet Caroline” or “Livin’ on a Prayer.” Then they’d forget the words or someone would switch to the wrong verse, and they would all cackle and snort at the mistake. Then someone else would start screaming the words to “Take Me Home Tonight.” Darling, really.

BJ and I decided to fuck with this guy because of his sign. Calling him out on his inherent homosexuality from approaching a candle kiosk and stealing/”paying for” their sign went over really well. Any real threats of homosexual behavior go over about as well as Kate Moss at a Weight Watchers’ meeting when you’re in a parking lot full of thousands of belligerent twenty somethings and a few metric tons of free beer. Surprisingly enough, the overt homosexual behavior that followed hours later did not really result in any repercussions.

We found it hysterical that these two felt the need to continue making out even after they had fallen to the ground. Their friends didn’t find it as funny. After taking time to throw cups at them, once they realized that we had taken pictures, they actually started throwing punches. A scuffle broke out but Arjewtino and Shiftless Badger stepped in to save them from getting their asses kicked.

I wish I had more pictures (and I do), but until I can figure out how to not put my gorgeous face in them through some sort of editing technique, they aren’t going public. However, I can recount how amazing the day was. The half hour spent on the train was mind-numbing, and the half hour looking for Arjewtino was equally as satisfying. But once the troops were reunited and the mythic “no-line beer van” was finally located, the tailgating binge to end all tailgating binges could commence. We double-fisted for hours on end and only stopped to get more beer. A few poor life decisions were made, such as playing Spin the Cup on a uneven and inclined asphalt surface or the episode of crotch grabbing that lasted far too long.

Needless to say, fun was had by all. And I heard they even had some music.

Can’t wait to come back for next year’s.

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Drink Me, I’m Scottish – Shamrock Fest 2K8

“It’s like a legal Drunk in Public.” Basically, this is the mentality that friends of mine adopt when it comes to tailgating. You hang out in public, almost always outside, be it a field or a parking lot, and you drink….a lot. There are barbecues, people bring sandwiches, there are a ton of people around to meet and with whom you can bond. But the biggest draw for a lot of the people who go are the freely flowing kegs. It unleashes our inner frat boy, which resides closer to the surface for some of us, and we get a little crazy. As someone who has tailgated homecomings, basketball games, horse races, Spanish Class, and pretty much anything you can muster, I’ve become a bit of a pro. But this reason is not, surprisingly, why I’m so excited about Shamrock Fest tomorrow. It obviously comes into play, but it’s not the main reason I can’t wait to head to RFK with thousands of other people.

The real reason is that I’m a huge music snob. Always have been, always will be.  I’ve kind of always been that guy that people go to for good music, and I can’t help but think of my clueless parents for starters. My mom and dad were visiting me in college once, an excessively rare occurrence, and my mom was trying to remember a band that she had wanted to buy the other day. I started to prod to see if it was okay for her to submit herself to an entire album of the music and asked her what band she thought she might like. “I can’t remember…I think it’s Nickel something? Nickelback?” After the laughter subsided, I made sure that she was certain of the name. “What kind of music do they play? Canadian shit rock?” My mom vehemently disagreed – “No, it’s more like bluegrass and country. I like it!” Once I had informed her that she was thinking of Nickel Creek and they were, in fact, a decently talented act, we had a veritable crisis averted. To be sure, if anyone in my family bought a Nickelback album, I wouldn’t be involved in any future holidays or family events.

What it comes down to is, I haven’t heard any good new music in awhile, so I’m aching to get out and hear some great live music and fall in love with new bands. I’ve been listening to Carbon Leaf for four or five years now, but other than a handful of other acts, I’m heading into this with no prior knowledge. Granted, I tend to steer closer to another genre, that of the college & indie scene over the Irish rock slash jam band palette, but the two styles are by no means mutually exclusive. There are going to be literally tons of bands playing tomorrow, and I’m open to hearing some great new stuff. Something like eleven stages and over fifty bands will be performing, so odds are I can find new stuff to enjoy on my way out to Philly next week to check out grad school.

However, to fully assert the fact that I am not, in fact, Irish, I’ll probably wear either orange and/or plaid. And I’ll most likely be pregaming with a heavy dose of the Water of Life.  Because we all know that the life philosophy of Cheat to Win is embodied by pregaming a tailgate.  See you at RFK tomorrow…

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Lighten Up

I don’t really know what’s been going on with me lately, but I am not the sanctimonious douchebag that I’ve been writing like lately. I totally don’t take things as seriously as you might think from reading my blog in the past month or two. I mean, come on, I frequently pee myself laughing at things like wordtoyour.com or Jordan Baker’s blog.

So I apologize for being so lame and I promise that I’ll make an effort to be more lighthearted and funnier as my blog progresses.

Sidenote – I just watched a speech Bill Clinton gave in Erie, PA today to stump for Hillary, and when he finished, U2’s “City of Blinding Lights” came on. Seriously? Are you trying to suck up to Erie or have you been watching The Devil Wears Prada a few too many times?

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“Spitzer Swallows.”

I was trying to think of a title for my blog post today and my buddy Pete suggested that. His highly original and mature take on the entire situation basically rang true for all of my interactions with the story. As I watched CNN yesterday afternoon at lunch and the story broke that Client 9, or Governer Eliot Spitzer of New York, has been involved in a high class prostitution ring, I was dumbstruck. To hear that his encounter had transpired in the Mayflower, of all places, was even more incredible. A friend of mine came over to watch after I pointed out the story, and his only response was, “I sure hope he’s not a Democrat.”

Is that what our country’s come to? A huge scandal that rocks an entire state’s bureaucracy, makes the state question their elected officials, and ruins the lives of countless people due to his assumed forthcoming resignation, and we hope that it’s a Republican who screwed up? How partisan can we be? How divided and cynical can we get?  Do we honestly have to mock everything that happens in America today?

This guy spends $4300 on a sexual encounter with a hooker in a storied hotel in downtown DC while his wife and kids spend the night up in New York thinking everything is okay. And it immediately becomes this huge joke to people around the country. Am I claiming some moral superiority? Of course not. I think it’s shitty what’s happening that all of these people think that they can get away with things like this – Mark Foley, Larry Craig, all the way back to Gary Hart and Marion Barry. But the point is not what party they represent but that they think they’re somehow above the law. This former Attorney General of eight years certainly seemed to think so. The thing is, I’m not above this. None of us are. Yet we love to make fun of the guy and turn everything into a joke instead of considering what’s the cause.  For some reason, we choose to tease and to rib and to ridicule instead of to wonder about some deeper cause. This world is fucked up, and our response is to merely distance ourselves from it even more.

Do we hold our elected officials to a higher standard? Of course we do, as they should be. But do we take real joy in taking them down once they’ve screwed up? Is the schadenfreude really that intense that we experience happiness by openly ripping apart the fallen and ruined?  Unfortunately, it almost seems like we look forward with bated breath and jagged teeth to the next public downfall.

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