March 28th, 2006


Grups and Stanislaw Lem

There's that tricky word again: passion. What’s with the Grups and passion? It's all anyone wants to talk about. Passionate parents, passionate workers, passionate listeners to the new album by Wolf Parade. Even Rogan lights up when he talks about touring Japanese textile factories to find the perfect denim for his jeans. And I start to realize: Under the skin of the iPods and the $400 ripped jeans, this is the spine of the Grup ethos: passion, and the fear of losing it.

Which brings me back to my father: the one who wore suits, not jeans; the one who, when he was my age, already had four kids; the one who logged a lifetime at exactly the kind of middle-management jobs that no one wakes up excited about going to in the morning, and who then found himself sandbagged by the late-eighties recession, laid off in what must have felt like the worst kind of double whammy. All the adult trade-offs he’d made turned out to be a brutal bait-and-switch. Is it any wonder that the Grups have looked at that brand of adulthood and said, "No thanks, you can keep your carrot and your stick." Especially once we saw just how easily that stick can be turned around to whap your ass as you’re ushered out the door, suit and all. Just how easily a bona fide, by-the-book adult can be made to wonder where it all went wrong, and why you ever bothered to grow up in the first place.

That's from an article on The New York Metro about being a Grup, a term sadly nicked from a episode of Star Trek, and which basically refers to people in their mid thirties who dress like they're in their twenties and fashionable, and listen to fashionable music, and want to avoid slave wage jobs. Which, outside dressing fashionable--I never have paid two hundred bucks for a pair of jeans and I never will and besides, I wear black pretty much all the time--is probably where I'm heading, in terms of label me as a demographic and market to me person. I'm thirty this year. I thought I'd be dead by then, really, in that horrible cliche of Early Life With Depression, so now I need to find a new thing, or just go back to the dying part again. Seems like such work that one, though.

Still, for the most part, the article spends its time talking about fashion and upper middle class rich white people, and for that, it's mostly nauseating. You kinda want to burn the author and, if by chance any grups are around, them too, and maybe William Shatner if he's round just to be safe. It's not until he hits this section about jobs that he gets interesting, at least for me, and it's only what he's missing that strikes me as interesting. See, this soulless, fucked up middle-management whatever kind of jobs still exist. They'll always exist, and some poor fuck will have to fill them, because that's the nature of capitalism. We can't all be riding in freedom basket of being our own boss and succeeding and doing what we want. Someone is going to have to fill the positions that exist and here, you have to wonder who it is going to be, and why it is that they're not going to be the focus of articles. Is it because they're as invisible as factory workers and teenagers selling burgers at the local McDonalds? Better fucking believe it.

The point that the writer makes about passion, however, is one I can follow. Is one I do follow. If you don't have passion for what you do, then what's the point of being around, anyway?

At any rate, this blog has picked up a huge amount of traffic from 'The Ten Things I Have Learned From Writing' post, which makes me kind of wish I'd put a bit more thought into it, but that's how it is occasionally. If you've gone beyond that one post and stuck round, Hi.

In other news, Stanislaw Lem has died at 84.