I thought of this the other day, but I didn’t want to harsh anyone’s mellow this holiday season, since there are lots of folks I know who genuinely love the holidays, especially Christmas, and I respect that.
But it occurred to me how the mythology surrounding Christmas, at least the American conception of it, kind of encapsulates us as a nation in a less-than-entirely flattering way.
Think about it. The Christmas myth is, essentially, that if you behave yourself and do as you’re told by authority while being surreptitiously surveilled by an invisible judge given to binary distinctions (you’re either on the nice list, or the naughty list), you’ll be rewarded with material goods. If you don’t behave, bam! Coal in your stocking (which does at least beat having Krampus). Or fewer presents. Or none.
The worst thing is that the kids who actually receive this punishment aren’t necessarily misbehavers: they’re just poor. The mythology connects material prosperity with virtue and obedience to authority. I don’t mean to take too jaundiced a view of the whole thing, but it’s a hell of a thing to teach little kids, never mind that it sets them up for the inevitable disappointment of learning that Santa Claus is actually just their parents, and that the volume of material love under the Christmas tree has more to do with their parents’ wealth than anyone’s virtue or behavior.
Every year there’s noise made about a War on Christmas, and as far as I can tell, the folks making the noise think the war is on the Christ part. Maybe for some folks it is. For my own part, I’m pretty down with JC. But if we wanted to declare war on the crass materialism that we’ve come to celebrate alongside his birthday party, I’d be inclined to join up.
Another eventful week, full of domestic terrorism, Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi testimony, a new Star Wars Ep 7 trailer, some helpful life advice, and, for those in the know about how awesome she is, a new Kelly Link story for our Fk Yeah! finisher.
Short on time today, so let’s get down to it. Continue reading “In Case You Missed It: Weekend Reading 10/23/15” →
Hello there, and welcome to (what will hopefully be) the first of many installments of In Case You Missed It, where I’ll post links to the most interesting things I read on the web in the previous week and linked on my facebook page.
The big news this week was the first Democratic Presidential Debate. But I also found some interesting think pieces on Columbus Day (or, as we celebrate in my adopted home city of Seattle, Indigenous Peoples’ Day), violence, and socialism in the modern day and age.
And, in what I hope and expect to become a weekly tradition, we’ll end with a dueling WTF?/Fk Yeah! pair of stories to make you scratch your head and cheer. Continue reading “In Case You Missed It: Weekend Reading 10/16/15” →
So an interesting thing happened to me when I went into work yesterday at my new job tending bar at Monsoon.
I came in, put away my bag, chatted a bit with the manager, and started doing the things you do to open a bar. I decided a cup of coffee sounded like a good idea, as it often does at the beginning of a shift, so I went over to the dining room, where the coffee is. I saw one of the daytime servers behind the counter, with a weirded-out look on her face, folding napkins and taking direction from a photographer set up in the middle of the dining room. I thought “Hm. Must be some new promo thing for the restaurant,” and I waited respectfully while the photog snapped away (the coffee was at the far end of the counter). When a free moment popped up, I crossed behind the girl folding napkins to get coffee.
“What’s this all about?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she replied.
“It’s for Discover,” said the man directing the photo shoot, a fifty-something fellow with unruly hair and glasses and, for lack of a better term, kind of a seedy air about him (I hate to judge people on instinct, but it’s a skill I’ve had to develop to survive almost twenty years behind the bar).
“So, are you paying her?” I asked as I passed him by on my way back out to the bar with my coffee.
“Oh yeah,” he said. “You can’t even count the zeroes. There’s a bag full of money outside.” Then he went back to telling the day server, who looked decidedly uncomfortable, what to do, how to hold her head and whatever, and I went back over to the bar. Continue reading “No, You May Not Use My Image for Commercial Purposes Without Compensating Me” →
Depending on who you ask, tipping as practiced in the contemporary United States is either a crassly exploitative transfer of economic risk from a business to its employees which leaves them vulnerable to wage theft, sexual harassment, and economic uncertainty or a great way to earn a good living working part time for cash in hand — much of which is untaxed — leaving time to pursue any number of artistic or academic endeavors while sleeping in every day and getting paid for being likable.
As someone who spent the bulk of his adult life working front of house in restaurants and bars, I think I can say pretty definitively that both of those things are true. Continue reading “Making Gratuities Gratuitous” →