Something Noteworthy

Tell Max if his work is noteworthy at [email protected].

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My friend (UC Berkeley Class of 2002) came to visit me.

We drank Heinekens, swooned over Johnny Depp on "Inside the Actor's Studio," and watched "Sleepless in Seattle" on TNT. (That's right, it was girl's night.)

Anyway, during one of our smoking breaks, after tiring of conversation about "making the team," "banging chicks" and "jock itch," and perhaps inspired by Depp's muffled, monotonous articulation of store-bought faux-spirituality typical of the off-beat celebrity, we started talking about our respective life plans.

While I pontificated about nonsense and meaning (a posture aided by the stick in my ass and the instruction I received in my philosophy of meaning class), my friend, being the Catholic-educated Jew he is, started preaching humility, Schopenhaur and about suppressing the "will." This was very odd, for at one time I respected him for being the only person who could rival my inflated ego and self-perception.

Both he and I suffer from a similar self-aware delusional god complex. We are simultaneously blessed with a revolutionary spirit, yet also bereft of talent and crippled by insecurity.

At times we feel endowed with the blessing of the anointed. Yet we lack any sort of marketable skills or evidence that are worthy of leadership positions.

But probably an even more severe neutralizing agent is the fact that we're hacks with nothing tangible to offer.

However, while I drown my enthusiasm by lamenting social circumstances and offering somewhat obvious critiques of pop culture (gestures echoed by none other than the marketable cynic, Janine Gerafalo-good grief!), my friend decided to continue with his obscure prankster scheming.

He's planned a series of guerilla art installations in Los Angeles under the rough heading "Space without Place." He'll trespass onto vacant lots and erect silly visual jokes regarding construction, property and human relations. But while he says he's holding onto humble roots, the success of these projects depends on their ability to generate public discourse. He claims that boredom is his motivation, but is that enough to get people talking about these ideas? Probably not.

At best, his Hollywood audience will drive by his sites and ignore them. It's Los Angeles-people wear blinders to everything that does not look green.

But does it matter if my friend endeavors in the shadow of anonymity and unrecognition? Of course it matters. We are yearning for community. This is the motivation behind these projects.

My friend and I are society's unconnected orphans. We're in between sizes, in between days; education placed us in an incommensurable position. We don't have a community. Who will notice these ideas? We're not smart enough to be genius professors, we're not stupid enough to be suckered by MTV, and we're not passive enough to settle as bitter, disaffected community college teachers.

People want only to see the recognized best. Their targets are too specific. The red flags that read "noteworthy" are too few and too rigidly defined.

Why else does something like the U.S. Open finals become interesting? I'm sure that less than half of the audience plays tennis. It's only recognized as something your co-workers will probably talk about at the office. Fuck that. That means nothing to me and nothing to you besides winning social credibility or PR points. Why is that even a concern? You look ugly in those headshots.

So what if my friend's ideas are dated? So what if the '60s did a much better job than his future plans. What does this mean? He didn't go to Yale School of Arts. He's not Matthew Barney. Is that what matters? He can't headline because he hasn't earned the respect of "Access Hollywood" hosts?

The world relies too heavily on precedent. Perhaps we can encourage the future to give up their dependence on yesterday's concerns. The invisible hand is ready for a makeover. As it stands, the gap is too severe.


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