An Interview with The Man

Went down a rabbit hole and came across this old piece from 2013 on David Cain’s Raptitude site. The whole thing is a must read for hilarity – even with the sting of the fact that it rings far too true – 6 years later.

David Cain: You have employees everywhere, but the United States is probably your most profitable venture so far. What’s been your secret to success in the US?

The Man: I love America. As much as I dislike the phrase “Perfect Storm”, it’s like all the right factors came together in one place. The big one is the hyper-normal level of consumerism and its relationship to self-esteem. I know you did a piece on that. [Here – Ed.] People in the US, more than anywhere else, respond to personal inadequacy by buying stuff or trying to get in a better position to buy stuff later. This is great, because buying stuff eventually creates disappointment, which creates more buying.

I also love its strange breed of future-focused happiness. Almost every young American thinks he’ll be rich at some point. Later is when life will be great. No matter what their salary, very few people think they make quite enough money now. So they’re willing to put up with “just ok” or even “not quite ok” for many years.

There is also, in the working world, this wonderful shaming of any hint of Bohemianism. Can you imagine an American taking a two-hour lunch, with wine, like they do in Europe? Nobody does it, nobody. Work is a virtue, no matter what the work is or what they produce. They are grateful for two weeks of vacation a year. Two weeks out of fifty-two! The culture does most of the work for me. Some people don’t even take those two weeks, because they’re afraid their colleagues will think they aren’t serious about working at all. Stopping to smell flowers is suspicious behavior there, unless you’re retired.

Despite that, there is a permeating sense of entitlement here, as if things should not only be good all the time, it should be easy to keep them good. Do you think the citizens of the world’s richest nation actually want fairness across the board? They think they’re getting the short end of the stick, can you believe that? If they only knew.

Mind if I smoke in here?

Reasons to be Cheerful

“News for when you’ve had too much news.”

Reasons to be Cheerful is a non-profit online editorial project that is tonic for tumultuous times. 

We tell stories that reveal that there are, in fact, a surprising number of reasons to feel cheerful. Many of these reasons come in the form of smart, proven, replicable solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. We’re here to tell you about some of them. Through sharp reporting, our stories balance a sense of healthy optimism with journalistic rigor, and find cause for hope. We are part magazine, part therapy session, part blueprint for a better world.

Reasons to be Cheerful was founded by artist and musician David Byrne, who believes in the power of approaching the world with curiosity—in art, in music, in collaboration and in life. Under the banner of Byrne’s Arbutus Foundation, Reasons to be Cheerful embodies this sensibility, applying it now to the future of our world. Through stories of hope, rooted in evidence, Reasons to be Cheerful aims to inspire us all to be curious about how the world can be better, and to ask ourselves how we can be part of that change.

David Byrne to the rescue again. “Same as it ever was.”

Take the Five

Interstate 5, the primary highway on the West Coast of the United States, runs for more than 1,000 miles between Mexico and Canada, through California, Oregon and Washington. In this experimental short film, the US filmmaker Conner Griffith takes the Californian stretches of the highway, and flips, spins, intercuts and speeds them up to exhilarating effect, set to a vigorous rendition of Take the ‘A’ Train, performed by the US jazz pianist Richard Tee. The video cleverly juxtaposes quintessentially East Coast urban music with West Coast rural imagery but, more than anything, it’s a wildly fun ride.

-via Aeon

As a kid I spent countless hours riding up and down California’s roads visiting relatives. So many of these landscapes are etched on my mind from endless window gazing. Do yourself a favor and go full-screen on this one.