I am a George. There are Kramers, Jerrys, and a few Elaines out there, but I am a George. Now, I don’t mean that I act like George Costanza or want to be George Costanza, I simply mean that I enjoy humor that is uncomfortable. Kramers are people who like slapstick, Jerrys like observational humor or situational humor, Elaines are…I’m not sure of what Elaines are but I just started drinking coffee this morning and my iTunes update has me in a bit of a tither. (What happened to my interface? I am now going to have to spend ten minutes figuring out where everything is again. If you are reading this from a work camp in China my problem probably sounds minor, but let me assure you iTunes updates take a toll on the human soul.)
The Summer of George is one of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld. George freed from all of his responsibilities, plans to spend the summer in self-indulgent activities. It is the fantasy of many adults and a fantasy that I will be living for a month this summer. I have taken on a few additional work responsibilities at the old salt mine and will be getting some extra cabbage at the end of December. I should take this money and invest it in green energy or find a PO Box in the Cayman Islands to send it to, but instead I am going to ramble. By yourself? Yes, by myself. Don’t you have a family? Yes, and they are encouraging me to go which either means they love me or they can’t stand me.
Where am I heading on my Summer of Jon? Well, since I don’t have airline tickets yet I will give you a rough outline: Reykjavík, Oslo, Norwegian Fjords, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, and Munich. I have been to a few of these locations before, but this time I will be able to travel “Jon style”: Cheap hotels, getting lost without getting in trouble with my family, eating occasionally, walking fast, spending zero time looking for bathrooms, and seeing at least ten sites a day. (You might see why no one wants to travel with me.) While the details are still up in the air, I did receive the first real evidence that this trip will be taking place: my suitcase.
I will be traveling for about 30 days and taking one carry-on bag. Is this foolish? Maybe, but it isn’t like I am going to be attending the Opera in Vienna in coat and tails. Now if someone wants to meet me in Vienna and take me to the Opera, I would be happy to send along my measurements, but what I want to see in Vienna hangs on a wall and isn’t going to care if I wear shorts and a T-shirt. What I want to see in Oslo is a painting of a dude holding his face standing on a colorful bridge. You don’t need to dress up to order the best hot dog in all of Europe. (Reykjavík if you were wondering. There are three reasons to stop in Iceland: the hot dogs, the Blue Lagoon, the countryside of Iceland.) This trip will be an informal, come as you are , event.
Let the planning for the summer of Jon begin. Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!
Somewhere buried deep in the American Dream is the idea that everything is for sale. Everything. If you can put a price on it the hope is that someone will buy it with their hard-earned money. We Americans love our money, we love to talk about money, we love to spend our money, and we especially like to get something valuable while spending little. Even our history classes emphasize what a bunch of cheap asses we as Americans are. Our purchases of New York City, Alaska, and all the crap that came with Louisiana are not only discussed, but the great bargain is emphasized. “We bought all of Manhattan for a pile of rocks and two chickens.” (This is not a historical fact, so if you are an eighth grade history student who searched ‘how much did new york cost?’ and ended up here, do not put this information into your report, go to Wikipedia like all researchers do.) I don’t remember how much any of the land we “bought” from other people actually cost, but I do remember learning that we really ripped off the previous owners. While we should probably be ashamed, we aren’t.
This culture of bargain hunting will be on display the next few days. People are already lining up at stupid stores like Walmart because MallWart will be open on Thanksgiving and there will be cheap stuff there. I will not be joining my fellow Americans in line. I won’t step on any faces to get the last Tickle Me Elmo. I am a bit sickened by the whole thing. Those families who work in Alarmwart won’t be getting a super Thanksgiving, those people sitting in the cold waiting for some piece of junk that will get tossed out in a couple of years won’t look back fondly upon the Thanksgiving spent elbowing other bargain hunters in the throat. “Remember the Thanksgiving when we sat on lawn chairs outside of Walmart? Oh, those family outings were such great memories.”
No doubt the crowds of people will trample someone to death and then we will all wonder why? Why do people do that? They do it because someone sold them the idea that having a great bargain is about as close to buying love as you can come to in this country. Why search for meaning in the universe when it can be found on aisle 45 next to the mops?
Hopefully history classes in the future won’t be emphasizing how the American Experiment came to an end when we ran out of the latest video game where the players shoot each other, but I have a feeling that Roger Waters was right all those years ago when he wrote the lyrics to his solo album Amused to Death: Our culture is obsessed with war and profit. (Available for purchase on iTunes and apparently on Amazon.)
Why did I sit down to rant this fine morning? Did I forget to drink my coffee? Well, really this rant stems from one thing and that is that my blog has been hijacked by some jackass. No doubt the jackass is not an actual person, but some computer program that places ads on blogs. These ads aren’t there to sell you anything, there are only about 20 people in the entire world who read my blog, but the ads are there to annoy me. They are there to get me to pay. I am being blackmailed into getting rid of those ads by paying WordPress. I don’t know how much it would cost to get rid of the ads, because I don’t like to read when I am angry. I know that WordPress is a company and that they should be allowed to make money, but I don’t want to be involved in their little money-making scheme. If WordPress wants to charge me to use their cyber space, then I suppose they have that right, but blackmail? Blackmailing me isn’t going to work.
Gangster style with my Icelandic cash money.