Posts Tagged ‘generation x’

We All Died of Dysentery

February 5, 2017

rogue

So…I haven’t been here lately. And by lately, I mean it’s been more than a year. Truth be told, I forgot I even had a blog until today. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing.

For just under ten years, I’ve shared pretty much everything, unedited, unfiltered and sadly, in some cases, unfinished. I’ve enjoyed sharing the creative process with my writing, design and art, but somewhere along the line I decided it would be best to work quietly without a live studio audience.

I’ve been working on two books for a number of years, much of which I’ve shared along the way, but I recently put them aside to pursue a different story. I’ll return to them eventually, but right now I’m working on something new. It’s a work of fiction and a love letter to my generation. My recent exodus from social media has given me a new found focus, allowing me to dive head first into this piece, and I’m pretty electrified by what’s coming out. I don’t intend to share it until it’s finished, but since I’m here, I might as well at least leave something behind. This little snippet may not even make it into the final draft, but it was certainly the jumping off point for everything that’s come since. So here’s the prologue, and nothing else. I’d hate to spoil the story or any surprises that might come along the way.

Enjoy.

mtchmid

We All Died of Dysentery

Do you remember where you were when the Berlin Wall came down? What about 9/11? Are you old enough to remember, or did you grow up in its shadow? Where were you when you found out Kurt Cobain was dead? Do you even know who that is? Did you have an old black and white TV in your basement, growing up?

I did.

I grew up with a rotary dial phone tethered to a wall. I had a dial-up modem and before that, lived in a world where we could only connect four. (Pretty sneaky, sis.)

I lived through vinyl, cassettes and compact discs, and rented movies from an actual store on Friday nights. To quote the memes, streetlights were my curfew and trophies were earned.

I remember a time when, if you didn’t watch a show when it aired, you may never see it again, unless it found its way to syndication, a word that barely had relevance prior to cable TV.

I remember that, too. A time when the broadcast day ended. Snow was more than just a season’s mark, and there was a brief, dark moment when the world was completely quiet—when we could all collectively breathe.

Once upon a time, we could sleep without all the chatter, but now sleep is little more than a mode on our laptop. Our world—so immersed, so immediate, so apparent. Living, breathing, pulsating snapshots of a past we cannot ignore. Our present is so lost in posture and presentation while the future is merely the next unwritten meme. Moments of solace found in assumption, until our world comes back around again. We can try to hide—try to pull the covers up over our head, but we talk in our sleep; the chatter is always there, always on. Our world—so accessible, so obvious, so inadvertently tragic.

For as convenient as the world has become, life is anything but simple. Those days are behind us, and there’s too much momentum to stop. Our modern times have become accidental satire, and I’m too old too be anything more than annoyed by it all. Somewhere along the line, the rest of the world sped up and left me behind. Eventually, we’ll all become anachronisms if we’re lucky. Do I sound jaded? Just wait.

My name is Tucker Flynn, and I’m getting old.

And it really kind of sucks.

pen

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(Retro)spect

November 17, 2009

retrospect

I’m a part of Generation X.

I’m part of the last generation to live through the cold war, and the first generation to do worse than their parents.

I lived through the 80’s before they became retro.

I watched TV in black and white, and my phone actually had a dial—not buttons. I remember a life before call-waiting.

I witnessed first hand the death of disco and the birth of punk rock.

I’m old enough to be pissed off by remakes of the movies from my youth.

I owned an IntelleVision, a step above Atari, below ColecoVision—and ran the Pit Fall course backwards.

I died of dysentary on the Oregon Trail.

I not only remember the Challenger explosion, but the Very Special episode of Punky Brewster about the Challenger explosion.

The themes from M*A*S*H and Hill Street Blues were my lullabies.

I’m old enough to know that the now-retro fashion choices coming back into popularity were a bad idea the first time around.

My cartoons were hand drawn, and when I read, I chose my own adventure.

Old.

I’m old enough to be annoyed by teenagers and never get carded for beer anymore.

I’m old enough to remember when MTV played music.

Most importantly, I’m old enough to be nostalgic for my youth.

That’s why I find myself trolling the web for bits and pieces of it every now and then…

Now, I’ll admit…

I didn’t really develop much of a life until the 90’s. I spent far more time with the Ricker and Arnold Jackson than I did real people.

That’s probably why most of the memories from my youth are centered around the television.

So look forward to more trips, or perhaps more to wit, staggers down memory lane from time to time…

 

Project Pumpkin-14 Years Later

November 5, 2009

Fourteen years ago today my best friend and I landed in London. We had just moved there with little plan and less money. It had to be done, as we liked to say:

It would be rude not to.

I was determined to make it over there. I didn’t tell anybody I was even going, so they couldn’t try to talk me out of it. Rationale is different when you’re twenty-one.

Moving over there was, perhaps, the best decision I ever made. It shaped the person I am now.

So I figured I’d post this one again, even though it can be found lurking in the archives…It’s the start of a short work of fiction loosely based on the experience…some moments more closely than others, but I’ll never tell you which…I figured I’d repost it, as I revisit, and attempt to find a plot and an end…

 

So here we go, Post Cards from the Indestructable Boy…Volume 1…postcardswp

More to come…

bgbn

Rorschach’s Ribs Sample 3: Prom with an Open Bar

March 8, 2008
rrcvr

“Confucius say: Just because a man looks like a donkey, doesn’t mean he’s an ass.”
“Really.”
“I kid you not. Here’s my card,” I say handing out my third card of the night.
“Does it pay well?”
“More than you’d think.”

I’m talking to Ricky David. Back in school, he was one of those kids who could be so cruel. He did his best to make me feel like a steaming pile of shit most of my high school existence. His goal was to make me the butt of as many jokes as possible before graduation. It’s like I always say: Never trust a man with two first names.

Ricky David is not aging gracefully. He’s got a double chin and a really bad comb over. He sells RV’s, and bought his parents’ house when they upgraded to a condo. He never left.

There is some karmic justice after all.

Our reunion is being held at a place called “Pipe Fitter’s Hall.” During the week, it’s a meeting hall for plumber’s and pipe fitter’s union number 1201. During the weekends, it houses wedding receptions and high school reunions.

The night is like Prom all over again–with an open bar. Pipe Fitter’s Hall, coincidentally, is where we had our actual prom ten years ago. The DJ is playing all of the popular hits from the year we graduated and were released back into the wild. Old cliques have reformed. Aside from the fact that we don’t have to sneak our alcohol in this time, it’s not too different.

Shitz and I split up. He’s across the room sitting at a table full of theater geeks with his shit eating grin firmly in place. I wonder what he does for a living right now. I’m staying near the bar.

When I was in high school I was what most would describe as “non-descript”. I was pretty much average in just about everything. Aside from painting, I blended in nicely most of the time. I didn’t really start going nuts until college, so most of my former classmates know a very different Escher Smallwater.

“Escher? Is that you?”

It’s Kimmie Flanders; cheerleader, illegitimate crush.

“Kimmie Flanders,” I start. “Wow. You haven’t changed a bit.” I’m lying through my teeth. She definitely can’t fit into her old uniform anymore.
“It’s Kimberly now. Kimberly Jones. Married 7 years next fall,” she says staring at my bright blue head, and ironic neck-tie. “Wow. You look, um,” awkward silence, “How have you been?”
“Great,” I reply, reaching into my jacket pocket to fish out another business card.

So far tonight, I’ve been a rodeo clown, a chimney sweep and most recently, a fortune cookie writer. I’m almost afraid to look at my next business card.

“I’m a professional assassin.” funny Shitz. “I, um, really enjoy being my own boss,” I say with as straight a face as possible.
(blank stare)
“But enough about me. Kimmie Flanders.”
“Kimberly Jones.”
“What are you up these days?”
“I’m a stay at home mom,” she starts, as she opens up her purse. “I have two beautiful angels.”

With that the pictures come flying out–in abundance. Photo after photo, pose after pose, I look at Kimmie, I mean Kimberly’s ankle-biters. They’re cute, don’t get me wrong. But aside from what they’re wearing, they look pretty much the same in every snap shot.

And this, in a nut shell, is the majority of the evening. A parade of stay at home mommies and fatter, balder versions of former jocks and pretty boys. I would have been better off asleep on my balcony.

Most of my classmates stayed within a five mile radius of where they grew up. It’s bizarre to me. The county is so slow, and behind the rest of the world. It’s one giant strip mall. I can’t help but wonder if they stayed behind out of laziness or fear.

I take a drink of my bourbon. I’m drinking bourbon because it keeps me honest. I’m no better at drinking it than Phil. I’ve been nursing the same drink since my arrival. I need to keep a clear head tonight. The deal is coming closer to becoming a reality with every tick of the clock. My time in this world is limited; a fact I haven’t forgotten.

I think I’ve had enough time flying solo through this surreal car accident of a reunion. To my left, Ricky David is fast becoming a bad drunk, not unlike his former, younger self. I give him another 10 minutes before he picks a fight or cries.

I wander forth in search of Shitz, stopping every ten or so feet to make empty small talk with another former classmate I never hung out with in the first place. In the span of twenty feet, I’m a professional juggler, a crime-scene mop-up guy and a dentist. Surprisingly, dentist is the hardest to bull shit about.

Rorschach’s Ribs Sample 1: I Got Laid…Off

February 2, 2008
3

Let’s not sugarcoat it; Corporate America does not care about us. They don’t care about you, and they sure as hell don’t give a damn about me. It’s true. We are nothing more than producers and patrons. We are not people. We are demographics, and target markets — we are numbers. As corporate soldiers we marched the line for our piece of the pie – our little chunk of the American Dream. We did what we were raised to do…we consumed. We bought and sold for Corporate Charlie keeping the machine oiled and working. Settled into a dynamic world of e-commerce, geek-sheik glasses, and black turtlenecks, there was an air of indestructibility about those of us working in the advertising arena. We all felt ten feet tall and bullet proof–until the atomic bomb of the cola wars hit…the recession. This cyber-depression produced a backlash of failed dot.coms littering the internet by way of dead links. One year they’re buying stadiums and sponsoring the Superbowl, the next, their website is gone, and their office furniture is for sale on ebay. We call them the “404’s”…When you go to a website that no longer exists, the purgatory it sends you to is a blank page with the words, “http://404—error.” They created a ripple that tore through the advertising industry, leaving many corporate casualties to contend with a saturated job market and ridiculous credit card payments left over from a lavish lifestyle defined by “things” we bought after being lulled into a false sense of security by the dot.economy. Do I sound bitter? Just wait.

It’s Wednesday morning, 8:30 am – I’m sitting on my balcony drinking a cup of coffee, as I do everyday. And just like every day for the last four months, I’ll follow this up by checking my online account balance, to see how much of my severance is left. I’ve had to make some changes since being laid off–Folger’s instead of Starbuck’s, Budweiser instead of Guinness, Hamburger Helper instead of a cute waitress flirting for a better tip. My lifestyle is gone. Like a photo album in a house fire, it all went up in smoke.

I really wish I could take better advantage of my unemployment… sleep in, sit around in my bathrobe…but I just can’t. I’ve been programmed; I need to work. I need the safety of my cubicle, the awkward hello’s to coworkers I could care less about as they pass me in the halls, and above all else, a bi-weekly paycheck that allows me to drink imported beers and eat out every night. I need my routines.

Before I go on, allow me to try to piece together who I am and how I got on this balcony drinking Folger’s, watching cars zoom by en route to jobs that aren’t mine. My name is Escher Smallwater. I’m 2 years shy of 30, and I’m mad as hell. Being underemployed has given me a chance to reassess my life, and it’s left me more bitter than this dirty sock water I’m drinking—I will never be a rock star, or date a super model. I don’t get carded at bars anymore, teenagers now think of me as creepy, and I prefer VH1 over MTV. More and more I am guaranteed a hangover if I indulge in four or more beers the night before, and little by little, music is becoming too loud and angry for my tastes. I’ve stopped trying to live each day as if it were my last, because I’m too busy worrying about ten years down the line. It seems like my entire life is a formulaic process to determine some unknown end result. Pragmatism has never been my forte. I often feel like a very stupid game show contestant trying to phrase my answer in the form of a question. What is fulfillment, Alex? Somewhere between my first joint in high school, and my last cup of coffee, I quit trying to find an answer and left my fate in the cold, clammy hands of target markets, Ikea catalogs and a bitter piece of pie called the American Dream–At least I still have my hair.

They began programming me at an early age. I was born a consumer. Television and peer pressure gave me that hunger. Being middle class only fueled my desire for more. I can’t blame my parents, though. They were programmed, too. The price of being American: free from tyranny, enslaved by an evil of our own creation. It’s not my parents’ fault they understood the value of a dollar. They tried to teach me, but to this very day, money is still nothing more than a piece of paper one person gives me for one reason or another that I, in turn, hand over to someone else. I don’t understand the value, per se, but I know what a dollar is. I also know what it is to want, what it is to need. Even now, the smell of a freshly-printed J.C. Penny’s Christmas catalogue as thick as a phone-book means new toys I can’t live without even though I never before knew they existed.

How do you fight something that’s been programmed into you from the beginning? It’s like a fish that doesn’t want to swim…I fought the trite ideals of the American Dream, and sought freedom at every turn while I was growing up, but little by little I was buying into it without even noticing. I still went to college to prepare myself for the future. I still entertained the thought of marrying my high school sweetheart and making some grandkids for my parents. My rebellions were always in a controlled environment with a safety net. I didn’t storm the gates of the castle; I tripped acid in my dorm room. I went to college as an art major, but all I learned in school was how to roll a proper joint – a skill that to this day comes in very handy. What can I say– I’m too young for Prozac.

When I joined the ranks of the corporate soldier as an advertising designer, it was strictly as an escape from the menial world of the service industry. A way to stop serving people. When I was in school, I wanted to be a painter. My fellow fine arts majors and I turned our noses up at the commercial artists who shared our building and designated smoking area. We labeled them sellouts. While we sat outside, smoking pot and painting flowers, they rushed to class to learn about typography and layout principles. I later found out that “fine arts major” was a polite way of saying service industry, while “sellout” meant financial security. I spent the last 2 years of college, and first 3 after graduation working on the wrong side of a coffee counter serving up half-caff double tall nonfat lattes with a splash of vanilla to self-absorbed, over-medicated, bored housewives and store bought beatniks carrying around German philosophy books as fashion. It drove me to new levels of disgust for the human race. It was while I was working the midnight shift at an especially soul-taxing coffeehouse full of sketchy characters that looked like they could kill a puppy without blinking that I bumped into an old friend from college. He was one of the sellouts learning about fonts while I was busy getting stoned and kicking around a hackey-sack in the quad. He was also on the right side of the counter ordering a fancy espresso drink in a little cup from me, disgruntled and coffee stained. He was an art director for one of the many thriving ad agencies in town, pulling down three times what I was making as a coffee jockey. He worked half as hard. Being both lazy and greedy, as is the nature of my generation, I put away my paintbrushes, bit the bullet, and sold my soul to Corporate Charlie. The internet was a booming industry making it all too easy to fall into a career. I began designing web pages, and ordering the coffee instead of brewing it. I like to tell myself that I didn’t sell out, I merely bought in. Whatever it takes to sleep at night, right?

Rorschach’s Ribs: a Brief Synopsis

January 29, 2008

Before we get into snippets and samples of my novel, Rorschach’s Ribs,…let me lay it all out for you.

rrcvr

Escher Smallwater can’t sleep in. That’s the least of his problems. Two years shy of thirty and recently laid off from his job in advertising, Escher has a lot to deal with in his life right now. Forced to make some changes since being laid off, (Folger’s instead of Starbuck’s, Hamburger Helper instead of a cute waitress flirting for a better tip), his lifestyle is gone, and suddenly the American Dream seems more like a nightmare. As Corporate Charlie bares his darker side by way of recessions and hiring freezes, Escher has found himself with more free time to reassess his life, and he’s mad as hell. He will never be a rock star or date a super model. He doesn’t get carded at bars anymore, teenagers now think of him as creepy, and he prefers VH1 to MTV. He’s never been in love, his career path has essentially disappeared, and somehow, he and his neighbors have inadvertently become the drug kingpins of St. Louis headed towards one big deal. A life once filled with Ikea catalogs and cubicles now consist of consumer guerillaism, lesbian strippers and a gold-toothed thug named “Mo-Mo”. All this and an impending high school reunion.

Rorschach’s Ribs focuses on what happens when the first generation destined to do worse than their parents gets old and starts questioning the American Dream; what happens when Corporate America turns its back. Through an eccentric, colorful cast of characters and a cynical wit, Rorschach’s Ribs delves into a world of e-commerce, target markets, and the underbelly of capitalism.