Pink Floyd: The Original Punks

I know.  Who would’ve thunk it?  Me, of course!

We had the pleasure of going to see Roger Waters on his Wall tour this past weekend in Chicago.  Awesome does not even begin to describe the entire thing.

For a generation of us X’ers, this album helped to define us.  For those of you not familiar with the Wall, let me introduce you to the messed up mind of Roger Waters.  This is an album of lost hope, coping with excess, and trying to find your place in a world that seems to be completely careening out of control. 

The undertones are endless.  It asks all of the important questions that we should all be asking of ourselves and our world.  Should we blindly follow a government or leader? Should the powers that be dictate to us what we wear, what we eat, what we do, what we think?  Why is excess so excessive?  How do you move on?  What is the best way to protect yourself and still stay sane?

These are all important questions that we should examine.  Roger is and always will be a wonderful commentator on social well-being.  The messages embedded in the Wall are timeless and it seems as if they have never been more relevant than they are today.

People of my generation have seen the world change in a much more massive amount in a much shorter period of time than other generations.  If you had told me when I was in high school that I would be carrying a phone around with me in my pocket all the time, using a bank card to pay for everything in my life, or using a computer every single day to accomplish everything in my life, I would have laughed at you and called you crazy.  It’s absolutely surreal that we live in this futuristic, practically Star Trek universe. 

We could only walk away from this world with the  moniker “I survived”.  The changes that I have seen are absolutely unbelievable.  When interacting with the Wall, the first question that we really ask ourselves is: How do you protect yourself and still let people in?  this is the never ending question of people on the spectrum sometimes.  It’s very difficult for us to let people in to begin with and even more difficult for us to guess who can be trusted and who cannot.

I know, you want to know why Pink Floyd were the original punks.  Let’s think about the message that is obvious.  The Wall.  The big picture idea is that the Wall is similar in message to the Berlin Wall.  The Berlin Wall only stood for a little under 30 years, and yet the things it represented were so much more.  The things it repressed were even more astounding.  Think of the idea of the government dictating every little thing that you do and even telling you how you can think.  Think of being barricaded in to supposedly keep the evil out, but suspecting that the evil you are keeping out is actually on your side of the wall.  Think of the alienation that this mentality causes. 

Is the Wall a protest.  I think so, most definitely.  It protests every form of government that we encounter in our lives.  It begins with our parents and the doctrines we were raised by.  Then we are moved into schools where teachers and administrators tell us how to dress, how to eat, how to learn, and how to think.  They dictate what we write and how we do it.  Then we move in with a spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend, etc. and start having to live by someone else’s rules and learning to behave in ways that are socially appropriate for them. Then you have a job inwhich everything is again dictated to you while sitting in a little cube plugged into a little machine.

Wow, that is some pretty big picture stuff that is very scary!  All of these issues are tackled in the Wall.  Along with coping with those issues.  You can’t help but wonder, does Pink feel as if everything in his life is a prison?  By the time he breaks out from under the Wall, you are villified and excited.  You feel as free as he does.  Pink addresses all of our feelings.  In the worst possible way, we realise that we are all “prisoners of our device”.  We are empathetic with Pink, though.  He is not solely responsible for life turning out the way it does.  Other people are just as much to blame for his wall building as he is.  However, Pink is “hanging on in quiet desperation” because that “is the English way”.  He shoulders the entire blame and almost kills himself in excess trying to make it all disappear.

Pink builds the wall because it is what he is taught to do and told to do.  He believes that this is how one protects himself from being hurt.  He is taught this by his mother, who obviously was not the spokeswoman for happily ever after.  He becomes a rockstar to get away.  Although, in the movie there are only allusions to Pink’s rockstar status.  Such as the girl he takes back to his hotel room and she asks “are all of these your guitars?”  To Pink, though, being a rockstar is equivalent to some fascist dictatorial leader.  He feels that he has the ability to tell his fans what to do.  And seemingly, he does.  Pink goes to his own show not as himself, but as a “surrogate band”.  He proceeds to point out the faults of his audience and starts to pit them against each other based on arbitrary traits.

Still, we find that Pink is the same scared little boy trying to wrestle with big picture issues that he is in no way equipped to handle.  When he is put on trial for “the way you made them suffer, your exquisite wife and mother”, we realise that Pink is not now and probably never has been in control of his own destiny.  He makes experimental forays into the world without a wall, but becomes frightened and retreats.  Better the devil you know, so to speak.  His entire life is just a reaction to everything around him without the attempts at interaction that we need as human beings in general.

This is the part where I rant and rave about the stupendousnous of the show and how wonderful it was.  We could never see another concert and feel as if we had gotten our money’s worth from it!  It was a show and a spectacle.  Roger himself tooled around the arena dressed like a bum complete with shopping cart and fairly inflammotory sign.  There were giant puppets. There was, of course, a giant pig with every icon of opulence and excess that you can think of.  Yes, I think that if I never saw another concert, I am grateful that this was the last one I saw!

Dinner for Schmucks (& other enlightening messages)

Last night was movie date night at my house and we decided to go see “Dinner with Schmucks”.  This turned out to be pretty cool.

First we have corporate slog Tim who is trying to get ahead with the not so subtle urging of his secretary who apparently has more than a bizarre fixation on cole slaw.  Tim is a go-getter and comes up with a great idea to save his company’s business.  Of course, he is still stepped on and looked over even with this fantastic idea in place and everything but signed off on.

Tim has a fantastic girlfriend who is some sort of art curator for weirdos (and not the good kind necessarily, but the truly weird kind).  She’s trying to get ahead, too.  Which is apparently sort of the catalyst for some of the movie’s plot.  That and the fact that he keeps asking her to marry him and she keeps saying no.

Tim is told that he can be one of the big boys by inviting an idiot to dinner and letting all of the other corporate schmoes make fun of them.  Apparently  everyone invites an idiot to dinner and they pick the best idiot, give them an award, and then send them back into the world supposedly “none the wiser”.  So, at first, it looks as if  Tim’s idiot is going to be his girlfriend’s weird artist.  As luck would have it, he practically runs over his “idiot”.  Enter Steve Carell who makes fantastically detailed diorama scenes with dead mice (before you get too grossed out, he’s a taxidermist).  They really are pretty wonderful.

So, the long and the short of it is that girlfriend finds out and thinks it’s awful and leaves, Steve Carell’s character gets the date wrong, disaster ensues and really the middle chunk of the movie is like a bizarre atomic fireball skipping across an expanse of dry plains that is seemingly endless.  You will laugh.  I promise.

I don’t want to spoil it all for you because really it’s a pretty funny movie.  You will laugh at the final dinner scene and you will definitely feel as if there was a message to be had here. 

The message that I want you to take away is the same as my message always is.  Just because it’s weird or different, it’s not wrong.  It’s just weird and different. To you.

Tim gains an amazing insight at the final dinner when he realises that some of these people truly are just bizarre, but some of them are actually extraordinarily talented, even though they are bizarre talents.  I read once in an interview with a guy who does some of the Ripley’s books that these strange talents are often times the result of someone spending way too much time alone in their rooms.  Funny, but probably true.

So, Tim gets this insight bonking him on the head and he manages to turn not only himself around, but Steve Carell’s character as well.  This is the good part. 

I think about how often people are afraid of being different because it MIGHT sound weird to someone else and so they don’t.  They pray for a life as a cookie cutter person and make it fulfill them.  These are the people who always seem to have a big hole in them because they are intrinsically unfulfilled and haven’t figured out their true purpose.  They are just going along doing what they think that everyone else thinks they should do.

The only problem with that is the big hole of unfulfillment that sits in your stomach like a rock.  This leads to filling it with other things and none of them are probably good.  This, of course, leads me to the point.  (I know, I never know what the point of a blog is until I get to it and it’s always a long and scenic drive.  I’m sorry.  Welcome to the land of Asperger’s.)  The point being that we should all strive to do something in our lives that we find fulfilling and that makes us feel whole and complete as people.  A world full of people who are all the same is just that…always the same and very boring.  It’s the truly different people who have their own music and their very own drummer who make the difference in the world.  Think of your “crazy” friend.  The one who is always getting you into trouble, but that you love with all your heart, just the same.  Well, that’s the guy we should strive to be.

So, I know, it started out as a movie review, but I think that maybe I had it in the back of my brain all along that the true message of this movie was bigger.  Our wacky friends are the ones that we would never trade.  I seem to be the wacky friend in most of my friends’ universes. Would you believe that even wacky friends have wacky friends?  I do.  Her name is Dianne.  (And Didi, you knew that it was only a matter of time before you got mentioned in this blog, if the Best Buy guy can’t escape, neither can you!)  She is the one who let me know at the most critical juncture in my life that it was okay to be different.  It was actually okay to listen to the drummer and do a little dance to his tune.  Apparently, I did the same thing for her.  How bizarre is my world?

Which sort of leads me to another point. All you need is one good friend. One good friend who is always there, good/bad, rich/poor, happy/sad, living/dead.  If you have one good friend that gives you the support that you so desperately need when you need it and the pats on the back when you feel that you desperately deserve them, then you, my friend are doing wonderfully.  It’s even better when your good friend gets your brain so well, that they can guide you through your darkness-of-the-day and get you back on track.  The bonus plan is that you never are both down at the same time.  It means everything if you are in such sync that you are able to always balance each other out.

Thanks, Dianne. I knew that there was a reason that I loved you more than my husband.  Laugh out loud!