Thursday, June 25, 2009

The day the music died

No, this is not about "American Pie" or the real-life events referenced in the song. Catchy tune, though. Parts, anyway.

Nor is it about Michael Jackson. His death is sad in the way all deaths are sad, but he never really meant anything to me. Call me a liar, contrarian, whatever, but I never really liked his music. Not even Thriller, which even some hipster-turd music snobs claim, either ironically or genuinely, is genius, but I don't see it. Rick James is better than Michael Jackson and Rick James isn't even that good. I'll remember Michael Jackson as a sad and strange tale of American celebrity, but not much else.

No, this is the death of Laid Off Loser. I'm not dead, obviously, but it's the death of the blog. Well, maybe that's too final — let's just say I'm putting it on hiatus. My reasons are many. Here's a few of them.

1. I've been doing a half-assed job with it the last couple of weeks. 

I know it, and I think my small audience knows it, as traffic to the site — never much to brag about in the first place — has dropped dramatically over the past week or so as I write less and less.

I hate doing things half-assed. There's not much middle ground with the way I live my life — when I get into something, I really get into it, and when I'm not into something, I virtually ignore it. Sports, for example. I either fully invest myself in a full season or pay no attention to it. I pretty much ignored the NFL for about five years, but the last two seasons, the Cro-Magnon in me has been hopelessly addicted to it.

But back to the blog. It has become an obligatory part of my day — a chore, really — something I no longer wake up excited about. And most days I post as an afterthought just to get something up before midnight, another thing I feel I have to do before I end my day, and lately my posts have been half-inspired at best. When it gets to that point, when my heart isn't really in it any more, I know it's time to move on. 

2. I'm getting busier in a vocational sense, which is sucking some of the time and energy I once put into the blog.

For the past three months, I've been attempting to build my own business while looking for full-time work that isn't there, and I'm starting to see some forward progress with the venture. I'm still collecting unemployment, and I can't accurately say I'm even part-time self-employed, but a little extra money is coming in nonetheless — all of which I'm dutifully reporting to the Idaho Department of Labor, in case you're reading Mr. Madsen. Money is a stupid game. But in terms of self-preservation, making it — hopefully more of it in the months to come — has become a matter of necessity, and I need to devote more time to the effort with a minimum of distraction.

I don't think I ever truly thought Laid Off Loser would turn into a blogging-for-a-living thing, but I suppose I thought it would do a little better than it did. All told, in donations and ad revenue (the latter of which I have not seen a nickel of), I've pulled in around a hundred bucks and some change. I could have been more overt about that modest Paypal donation button in the top right-hand corner, but that's not my style. I still feel a little dirty about it and the whole Google AdSense thing, but whatever. It is what it is. Everyone has a price.

3. Most blogs have a (short) shelf life. 

If only more people realized that. There's nothing worse than someone, be it a party guest, a fading celebrity or a blogger, who overstays his or her welcome. It gets sad for everyone at a certain point, especially when it involves a clumsy pass or reality TV.

I generally find blogs to be self-serving, and Laid Off Loser is no exception — I wanted people to notice it and shower me with monetary rewards and/or gainful employment. That said, I've also viewed it as a personal journal that the whole world — or at least 38 unique visitors a day — could read. Even if I never write another word here, I'll probably pay the 20 bucks a year to keep the domain and all its gooey innards alive in cyberspace. It'll be fun to see if I can get down to zero visitors some day. Maybe my daughter will get a kick out of reading it 20 years from now. Maybe not. I'm not fooling anyone if I claim that, in the end, this was for anyone but me.

But yeah, blogs come and go, and there's a lot more that should go but never will because people will keep slogging away at it and continue to bore the world with the most trivial details of their day-to-day lives. At a certain point you have to ask yourself what you're offering, and Laid Off Loser — despite pseudo-noble attempts to create a network of the unemployed, occasional insight into economic news and a few mildly entertaining and decently constructed music reviews — wasn't offering much. It's kind of like the "ham sandwich" Tweet — you know the one, "I'm having a ham sandwich." Really, was the ham sandwich that memorable of an experience that you had to tell everyone? As if we care anyway?

I'm sick of hearing myself talk. And if I'm sick of hearing myself talk, I can't imagine how others are feeling. In the beginning, the blog was cathartic, an outlet for all the emotions associated with losing my job. And it was amusing to me as an experiment in self-promotion. I knew exactly what I was doing and what would happen when I sent out that first press release announcing I had started a blog — I got attention. A good deal of it, actually. More that I really expected or deserved. But I proved to myself that my contingency plan, reinventing myself as a no-bullshit PR flak, was a good one.

And I had fun picking on the Idaho Department of Labor. Was I a little hard on them? Probably. But did they deserve it? Absolutely. Even when this is all over and I'm back to full-time employment and a full-time happy face, I'll still speak badly of them. Their problems are fundamental ones that won't ever change, because that's how the government operates — behind the times and moving at a glacial pace to catch up. Kind of like the newspaper industry.

Ugh. So, I think this is the point where I've run out of things to say — off the top of my head, anyway. And we really don't need to belabor this any more or invest additional thought and time trying to make the farewell longer than it needs to be. Goodbyes are awkward, and that's the way this one is feeling. We could spend time trying to make it less awkward, talking until we find that great walk-off zinger hiding in a dank corner of the brain, but then I'm no better than that party guest who refuses to leave before making one last clumsy pass at your sister who's in town for the weekend and would be in bed already were she not waiting for him to leave so she could help clean up.

So, um ... goodbye.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Laid Off Loser Playlist, June 24, 2009

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Laid Off Loser Album of the Day: "Kid A"


Yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Laid Off Loser Playlist, June 23, 2009

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Various Artists - Funk Spectrum III

Laid Off Loser Album of the Day: "The Budos Band EP"

The Budos Band

So, these Budos cats — part of the same funk-soul family as Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, may not work too hard to title their recordings (The Budos Band EP follows The Budos Band and The Budos Band II), but perhaps it's one of those let-the-music-speak-for-itself things. Or maybe they just don't have the energy at the end of the day — three of the members hold down day jobs as school teachers, after all.

In any case, this EP — which culls tracks recorded between the two albums, is an all-too-short gem. If you're a fan of the Budos' buttery analog Afrobeat-inspired funk-soul instrumentals, you'll want to add this to the collection. All but two of the tracks were heretofore unreleased, and you've likely only heard one of the previously released tracks before, that being "Mas O Menos," which inexplicably is included despite appearing on The Budos Band II.

No matter. This EP is all sweet summer sunshine soul, the sort of thing that inspires work-related insubordination, long drives to nowhere, the wearing of guayaberas and mass consumption of spirited beverages beneath cooling fronds.

Hear "The Proposition" by clicking here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Laid Off Loser Playlist, June 19, 2009

Click on the artist for more information. Click on the album to purchase music.

Vinyl Saturday at the Record Exchange!

I may be jobless, but I can't stay away from the record store, namely my favorite shop on the planet, Boise's Record Exchange.

Tomorrow is Vinyl Saturday, a new monthly event started by the Record Store Day folks offering limited edition vinyl releases exclusive to indie stores. There's some Wilco and Modest Mouse in there, so the gettin' is good. 

Read more about Vinyl Saturday here, and wherever you are, support your local independent record store. They need to eat, too.

Laid Off Loser Album of the Day: "Middle Cyclone"

Neko Case

I like Neko Case, Uncle Steve. Maybe Neko Case doesn't like you.

Nice column on the faces of unemployment in Idaho Business Review ...

... and not just because I was interviewed for it. Robb Hicken takes a look at some of the faces of Boise unemployment, which he believes are overlooked among all the facts and figures flying about.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Laid Off Loser Playlist, June 18, 2009

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Laid Off Loser Album of the Day: "The Kink Kronikles"

New Hampshire, Paris, Now.
Self-medication, hedonism, life.
Time travel, self-made revival.
God save the Kinks.

Unemployment rolls heading in the right direction — for now

The number of people on unemployment insurance dropped for the first time in many moons the first week of June. That's good news, but we're not out of the water yet.


What a sad story, this city. Things are so bad there people don't have easy access to a good grocery store.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Laid Off Loser Playlist, June 17, 2009

Click on the artist for more information. Click on the album to purchase music.

Various Artists - Six-Pork: Dad's Hick Mix, Vol. 6
Harold Budd and Brian Eno - Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror

(If you try clicking Six-Pork, you won't get anywhere. That's a mix CD I made my dad today for Father's Day, the sixth in a series of mixes I started making him about five years ago that feature old school country, alt-country, cow punk, roots rock and assorted rustic weirdness. 

The first CD was called Too Much Pork: Dad's Hick Mix, name so after the Southern Culture on the Skids song "Too Much Pork for Just One Fork." That song in particular was a hit with everyone in my father's sphere of influence who heard it, so moving forward with subsequent mixes I decided to play off the word "pork" in the titles. Because, you know, pork is a funny word, especially when used as a verb, as in, "Last night I porked my girlfriend on the davenport for a change of pace." Pork. Huh huh.

I don't know if this is the best mix in the series — my wife described it as "more bacon-y than porky," which I interpreted as a creative way of saying she didn't like it — but I definitely put the most work into it, whittling down a shortlist of 111 songs to a crisp 23 for the final mix. I spent way too much time on it, but it's a labor of love. That partially explains why I didn't post anything today until 8 p.m.

Dad, if you're reading this, pretend you didn't. And watch the mail.)

Laid Off Loser Album of the Day: "The Soft Parade"

The Doors

Successful hills are here to stay
Everything must be this way
Gentle streets where people play
Welcome to the Soft Parade

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Laid Off Loser Playlist, June 16, 2009

Click on the artist for more information. Click on the album to purchase music.

Laid Off Loser Album of the Day: "Diggin' Songs"

Hillfolk Noir
Self released

Strange fringe-folk spooks who sing about God and the devil in strange, spooky ways. This is a concept album of sorts about digging. As in, graves. Love that these weirdos are from Boise. 

Tough economic times mean tighter pants

We've already covered jobless fatness here at Laid Off Loser, but this is a reminder to you and me both: Watch what you eat, because you might come out the other side of your unemployment with a big ol' bootylicious backside.

My weakness is peanut M&M's, purchased in bulk at WinCo. Early on in my unemployment, I found myself gobbling them by the handful(s) well before noon and restocking my supply frequently. No longer. I still break down every now and then and buy a big ol' bootylicious bag on the weekend (what debauchery!), but I have definitely cut back.

I may be exercising more now that I don't have a job, but I'm battling stress fat (maybe — I feel less stressed than I was when I was working, so maybe this isn't an issue) and impulsive tendencies. Which means, when faced with the choice between an afternoon apple or ice cream sandwich, I'm not exactly keeping the doctor away.

It's all about balance yo. If you simply cannot stop yourself from ropin' the wind with Twinkie the Kid at 10 in the morning, take a walk while you eat. Even if it's walking in place. Or to the fridge for a strawberry Yoo-hoo.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Laid Off Loser Playlist, June 15, 2009

Click on the artist for more information. Click on the album to purchase music.

Getting Boise jobs back may take years

One minute Boise is going to triumphantly lead the country out of the recession, the next we're going to be last out the asshole end of it.

Whatever. It's like all those lists Boise lands on each year. One says we're the nation's No. 2 exporter of funk, another has us first on a Whiter than Art Garfunkel list.

Anyway, if you want to read the article, click here.

Don't let go of the handrail. Me thinks this wild ride we're on is gonna keep on chooglin' for a while.

Laid Off Loser Album of the Day: "Flight of the Conchords"

Flight of the Conchords

Thanks for the Monday laugh. I needed it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Laid Off Loser Playlist, June 12, 2009

Click on the artist for more information. Click on the album to purchase music.

10 things that could still go wrong with the economy

Swine flu is No. 1, gasp! Buy gas masks! Bury your money! Hide your children in the closet! Go to Wal-Mart and arm yourself with apocalyptic crap! And while you're at it, if you're silly enough to be eating tomatoes and spinach again, stop for the love of God, stop!

Seriously, folks, you're more likely to get hit by a bus than get swine flu. The government wants you to be afraid of it and everything else they cook up to keep you nice and contained in front of your TV.

Oh yeah, and if you want to read the article referenced in the title, go here.

Laid Off Loser Album of the Day: "La Cucaracha"


You never know when Ween is being serious with one of their genre explorations, but the light-rock "Your Party," complete with smooth-jazz saxophone from cheeseball alto sax blower David Sanborn, is seriously hilarious. The lyrics are even better.

Happy Friday. Hope your weekend lightly rocks.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Laid Off Loser Playlist, June 11, 2009

Click on the artist for more information. Click on the album to purchase music.

Laid Off Loser [Single] of the Day: "Touch Me I'm Sick"


From a 1996 New York Times article:

So the film is full of amusing marketing anecdotes, as when a member of Mudhoney recalls the story behind his group's 1988 ''Touch Me I'm Sick,'' an early Sub Pop hit. As Mark remembers (the film's interviewees are identified on a companionable first-name basis): ''[Sub Pop cofounder Bruce Pavitt] said: 'Hey, you sing about dogs. You sing about being sick. You got a shtick, it'll take you to the top.' And he basically gave us five chords, but he said don't use more than three within one song."

Americans lost $1.33 trillion in three months

Woof. $1.33 trillion gone. Just like that. Read more here.

When do we start using seashells for currency again?

Problems of old Chrysler linger at 'new' Chrysler

Of course they do. Details here.

Some good news, some bad news ...

... but mostly bad. The economy, despite a drop in new jobless claims and a rise in retail sales, is still going to be in the shitter for a while.

That's not pessimism, my friend, just realism.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Laid Off Loser Playlist, June 10, 2009

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Laid Off Loser Album of the Day: "Green Mind"

Dinosaur Jr.

"Puke + Cry." I can't think of a more appropriate sentiment some days.

All good in the hood with the Department of Labor?

I never heard back from the Department of Labor about last week's eligibility review, and I got another check in the mail today. Yay, groceries!

I'm guessing that means they checked up on me and realized I'm bona fide. Or the review is still ongoing. You never know — this is the inefficient government at work, after all.

As long as the money keeps rolling in, I'm not going to complain.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Laid Off Loser Playlist, June 9, 2009

Click on the artist for more information. Click on the album to purchase music.

Laid Off Loser Album of the Day: "The Eternal"

Sonic Youth

Most bands release a greatest hits compilation as a career summation, but Sonic Youth isn't like most bands.

The Eternal is the veteran art-rockers' Matador debut and first new album since ending their relationship with Geffen Records following 2006's Rather Ripped. The 12 songs are all new, but taken together they sound like a retrospective of the band beginning circa 1988 and the double-album opus Daydream Nation.

Which is very cool, especially when the songs recall peak-period albums like Goo, as opener "Sacred Trickster" does. Sonic Youth spent the better part of the last decade being mellow and weird to mixed results, and hearing the band bring the noise in vintage, grunge-era fashion is particularly refreshing.

Ditto the mix of buzzsaw guitar riffage and fluid psychedelic washes on "Anti-Orgasm" and the Floydian 10-minute closer "Massage the History." Throughout The Eternal, these two pillars of Sonic Youth's sound play off each other quite well, which hasn't always been the case with a band that has done a fair amount of experimenting throughout its 28-year career.

Given that longevity, the band's vast catalog is subject to varied interpretations of what's "good Sonic Youth" and what's "bad Sonic Youth," but don't be surprised if you hear people say The Eternal is the best Sonic Youth album in the last 10 years, maybe longer.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Laid Off Loser Playlist, June 8, 2009

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The Budos Band - The Budos Band II

Obama repackages stimulus plans with old promises


7 ways your money will never be the same

Interesting article. Click here to read more.

What's retirement, by the way? I definitely don't expect it to be around when I'm "of age." Ditto Social Security. Fifty years from now I'm going to be the best damn Wal-Mart greeter money can buy. That or a niche male prostitute.

Laid Off Loser Album of the Day: "That's the Way of the World"

When you wish upon a star
Your dreams will take you very far
But when you wish upon a dream
Life ain't always what it seems
What'd you see on nights so clear
In the sky so very dear

You're a shining star no matter who you are
Shining bright to see what you could truly be

Shining star comes into view
To shine its watchful light on you
Gives you strength to carry on
Makes your body big and strong

Born a man-child of the sun
Saw my work had just begun
Found I had to stand alone
Bless it now I've got my own

So if you find yourself in need
Why don't you listen to these words of heed
Be a giant or grain of sand
Words of wisdom yes I can

You're a shining star no matter who you are
Shining bright to see what you could truly be
You're a shining star no matter who you are
Shining bright to see what you could truly be
You're a shining star no matter who you are
Shining bright to see what you could truly be

Shining star for you to see what your life can truly be
Shining star for you to see what your life can truly be
Shining star for you to see what your life can truly be

Let's see what you're made of, kid

I'm starting to get antsy. Or impatient. Or something.

We're past the two-month point here, as I've previously pointed out. Not a lifetime, not a milestone in any way, but on this particular Monday in early June, I'm itching for something to happen. Not that I expected to have a job by now, but everything is wearing on me a bit today. I'm feeling more worry and doubt than I've felt in a long time.

Maybe it will pass — maybe today, maybe later this week, whenever. Who knows. But for right now, it's a motivator. The fire under my ass. The call to arms. The drill sergeant inside me spitting commands. Make. Something. Happen. Loser.

What will I make, exactly? Work? Money? A nice sandwich? We'll see. But I'm ready to see what I'm made of. See if my resolve is as strong as I think it is, or if I'll eventually call my own bluff. We're not in do-or-die mode quite yet, but the creeping feeling of desperation is difficult to ignore. Here we go. Deep breath. It's on.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Laid Off Loser Playlist, June 5, 2009

Click on the artist for more information. Click on the album to purchase music.

Let's all move to North Dakota!

North Dakota is an economic paradise, according to this article.

Is it time to move, eh? There's some serious Darwinist shit going on right now, and I'm open to anything. Hell, Fargo was cool in a creepy way. And they don't have to deal with that whole "Idaho? No, you da ho!" nonsense or get confused with Iowa or Ohio.

Idaho unemployment rate at 22-year high ...

... and here in the Treasure Valley, it's 9.6 percent, higher than the national rate for the first time this recession.


Jobless rate inches closer to double digits

More here. Happy Friday. Is it too early to start drinking?

Laid Off Loser Album of the Day: "Decade"

Neil Young

Neil Young wrote "Sugar Mountain" on his 19th birthday. It's a melancholy song about the loss of youth. Joni Mitchell wrote "The Circle Game" in response. I've always thought Wilco's "Misunderstood" was sort of their version of "Sugar Mountain." Ditto Whiskeytown's "Inn Town."

Decade was on heavy rotation the sad fall of my junior year of high school. I was 17, two years younger than Uncle Neil when he wrote "Sugar Mountain." It made me feel like a nothing. In my adolescent naivete, I convinced myself that I needed to come up with my own "Sugar Mountain" before I was 19 or I would continue to be a nothing. Maybe forever.

I held myself to "Sugar Mountain" well into my twenties. Maybe I still do, I don't know. But one day after turning 30, I was listening to Decade for something like the millionth time and it hit me: I can't keep going back to Sugar Mountain. I just have to get over it.

Everyone gets older, even the young. Even Neil Young. There's nothing wrong with looking back. Perhaps more important is looking forward. But the best we can do for ourselves, no matter our age, is to look at Now, as slippery as it is to grasp. Oh, to live on Sugar Mountain ...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Laid Off Loser Playlist, June 4, 2009

Danielle Sansone - Two Flowers

Idaho Department of Labor all up in my grill

The daily mail brought a letter notifying me that I had been selected for the Idaho Department of Labor's unemployment eligibility review process. Yay.

The first thing I did was call, because the Department of Labor's Web site is painfully uncooperative when it comes to these sorts of things, and I had applied for two jobs online — one of which did not specify the company's name or phone number. Usually something like that is a red flag for the Department of Labor bot and he spits a warning message at me.

He didn't, thankfully, and the phone representative was patient and helpful in answering my questions. (See? I'm all about giving credit where credit is due.) She explained how to navigate around the missing pieces of information, and to my surprise, it worked. The form only took 10 minutes to complete.

Now that we've reached this point, I'm wondering how much of a hassle they make this — will it be a simple done-and-done, or will it turn into a convoluted, drawn-out process resulting in an Angry Man Walk downtown to the Department of Labor office with further documentation proving I did in fact apply for the jobs? Time will tell. 

Fair warning, Department of Labor: I'm going to be pissy with you if I have to put on pants and pay you a visit.


Have you heard of "funemployment?" It's this totally kickass concept of not giving a fuck about losing your job and using the time to have the time of your life. I love my generation.

Read more about funemployment here. One dude even "embarked on a spiritual quest to find various mystics and shamans around Asia." Damn. And I thought riding my bike to buy avocados and look at records was a pretty chill way to spend the afternoon. Guess I need to work on my funemployment technique.

Thanks to Big Peubs in Santa Monica for the tip.

Laid Off Loser Album of the Day: "Mothership Connection"


Funk not only moves, it can remove. Dig?

An anniversary of sorts

Today marks two full months of unemployment. Damn that went fast. Do they make a greeting card for this sort of thing? Is cake appropriate? I love cake.

Thoughts? Feelings? Reflections? Uh ... Depends on the day, I guess. Strikes and gutters, ups and downs, mostly determined by the chemical swirl of my brainhole. Too bad Sinatra never cut a song about this. Then I'd be able to express my feelings with someone else's art, as I'm wont to do.

I have my days of frustration, worry and doubt, but overall, there's a strong sense of hope and encouragement. But I went into this with realistic expectations, and I definitely did not expect to be fully employed by early June. We're still in "figuring shit out" mode here.

My efforts to make work for myself have been rewarded. I'm still far away from a full-time "job," but if all goes as planned, in six months I'll be a small business owner and my own boss.

But there's work to do to make that happen. And I must continue dancing the unemployment dance each week, looking for full-time work that isn't there to keep the checks rolling in. And I must continue documenting my experience and attempting to help others, because if I didn't, I'd be letting myself down.

Somehow, some way, it's going to get me somewhere. I'm too stubborn not to get there. Far out, man.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Laid Off Loser Playlist, June 3, 2009

Click on the artist for more information. Click on the album to purchase music.

Laid off? You'll likely never make as much, says the Chicago Tribune

Bummer article from the Chicago Tribune about laid off workers earning less when they find another job.

Hmm. Most people I know who have been laid off at one time or another are actually doing better now than they were in the job they lost. So there you go.

But obviously there's some truth to the article. Does that mean you should lower expectations? Not really. I look at it as "rethinking" expectations, where well-being and happiness take precedence over a paycheck. I'm done chasing money. You should be, too.

Laid Off Loser Album of the Day: "The Night is Ours"

Youth Group

You might have heard Youth Group on The O.C. back in the day or, more recently, on Gossip Girl. And with good reason: Their sound has that cinematic, oh-my-God-this-is-the-most-important-moment-in-my-life thing that makes music supervisors salivate.

This Australian quartet is an interesting case. There's a touch of the epic in their sound, but they avoid coming off as U2 or Coldplay wannabes. They make emotionally-charged modern rock, but they don't fall victim to emo trappings. They're in the same stylistic ballpark as Snow Patrol, but somehow not as lame.

Spend some time with The Night is Ours and it will grow on you. There's a little Smiths ("All This Shall Pass"), a little shimmering post-punk ("One for Another") and a lot of good storytelling and song titles ("Dying at Your Own Party" qualifies in both cases). The anthemic "Good Time" is one of the best comedown songs in recently memory. "Babies in Your Dreams" is a killer Death Cab homage, whether intended or not.

Try this one in the car some listless summer night while you're driving around with no destination in mind. It'll feel just right.

Will Idaho lead the economic recovery?

Encouraging article today by my former employer on Idaho's possible role in helping lead the country out of the recession.

According to Moody's, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Texas will be the first out of this mess based on a number of factors, including population growth and business climate.

Interesting observation: Among the five states, there is a grand total of one GM plant (Arlington, Texas).

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Laid Off Loser Playlist, June 2, 2009

Click on the artist for more information. Click on the album to purchase music.

Laid Off Loser Album of the Day: "The Lost Boys: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack"

Various Artists

Great, if dated, vampire flick starring Jack Bauer and the Two Coreys. While the soundtrack boasts a killer cover of The Doors' "People Are Strange" by Echo and the Bunnymen, the highlight is Tim Capello, a cartoonishly muscular, sax-blowing singer who only could have come to semi-fame in the 1980s. I about peed my pants watching this clip from the movie:

GM, gee whiz

Monday was shit. I made the mistake of listening to talk radio (NPR) for the first time in a long time, and the yackety-yak was all about the GM bankruptcy. And it got under my skin.

Maybe it was the semi-foul mood I already was in — I woke up on the wrong side of Monday, and for the first time in a long time wasn't finding any humor, ironic or otherwise, in my current situation — but hearing people wax about GM, and really starting to think about all of it for the first time, well, it pissed me off.

What triggered it was a caller discussing his longstanding preference for foreign automobiles for reasons up to and including their superior quality and performance. He was critical of the government stepping in and rescuing a company that, when you get down to it, has been insanely mismanaged and misguided in its operations for decades, all the while pumping out product of suspect quality.

I'm on the side of the caller on this one, and don't bother trying to call him or me "unpatriotic" because I don't buy that bull. Somewhere down the line, someone got the idea of selling American cars to American consumers on the notion that it was "the patriotic thing to do," that if you buy a foreign car you might as well burn the flag or push your mother in front of a bus.

I consider myself a patriotic, country-loving American in my own way, but I take issue with someone — be it a politician or a car salesman — using the flag to exploit his fellow countrymen in the interest of say, starting a bullshit war or lining his pockets. But it happens all the time, and people get all doped up on these false notions of patriotism that they can't see what they're buying into for what it really is. Don't get me started on religion.

Getting back to the caller, I'm sure plenty of people gave him shit for what he said, but in his experience, a foreign car has been the better choice. I'm with him on that one. I have owned three cars in my lifetime — the first two American, the third foreign — and I had the first two a combined two years. I have had the third for nearly ten. 

Both American cars were purchased used, and the first one, to be fair, met its end in a run-in with a deer. But the second one, albeit it fun to drive, quickly turned into a maintenance headache. Meanwhile, the third car, a foreign station wagon I leased new and later purchased outright, has been a workhorse over the last decade. It didn't have its first major repair until year seven, and even after 135,000 miles it's still getting over 30 miles per gallon. And I'm not exactly proactive when it comes to car care — my check engine light has been on since January.

What chaps my ass the most about all the "Buy American" sloganeering is that most flag-waving U.S. consumers only subscribe to the idea for their automobile, then they drive said automobile to Wal-Mart to purchase shopping carts full of foreign-made goods each week. Oops, guess someone left their country-loving conscience at home on the counter.

So when I hear that the government is saving this gigantic mismanaged car company with our money just so it can fuck up again, and people call it a good, patriotic, American thing to do that will lead us out of economic turmoil, it incenses me. Does anyone really believe that a lumbering dinosaur like GM is going to reemerge overnight as a smartly-run, forward-thinking, quality-driven, socially-conscious, profitable operation? It won't. And if you don't believe me, let me point you to a little film called Who Killed the Electric Car? and you'll see just what happens when someone at a car company thinks outside of the box.

I understand the argument that the auto industry is a pillar of the American economy and needs to be saved in order to avoid further meltdown, but that doesn't mean I buy it. It should have never gotten this way in the first place, yet here we are running to the rescue of another failed corporation because we're too dumb to think of anything better to do. I guarantee GM will fail again. If in 50 years I'm proven wrong, I'll buy the nicest Chevy on the lot.