Thursday, September 16, 2004

The Value of a Handshake

You know, I was going to start banging my head against this fucking social commentary I'm writing again, which apparently I can't get fucking right. But you know, “the pressure's off,” which is a euphemism for “we're fucking you out of 25% your paycheck.” So I'm just going to sit here and listen to Motörhead and front like I'm doing work. You know, when [boss] finally hands me a contract with [monetary amount] written on it, I'm not going to sign the fucking thing. When it works its way back up to [larger monetary amount], which is what we shook on, I'll sign it. What is a contract worth from someone who welches on a handshake? Despite the ethics chapter in his book, which equivocates anyway, and his big stand on tag lines, going back on a handshake sure is a spineless cunt move.

“Stay Clean” is on right now. How fucking apropos:

“So you see, the only proof,
Of what you are is in the way you see the truth,
Don't be scared, live to win,
Although they're always gonna tell you it's a sin,
In the end, you're on your own,
And there is no-one that can stop you being alone, Stay Clean.”

There it is, Mr. Kilmeister--you said it. I thought this was an ideal job when I took it a couple months ago, and I'm sticking with it… for the money. Who's the spineless cunt now? (That ultimate Sonic Youth quote: “Fuck you. Are you for sale? Does 'fuck you' sound simple enough?”) I know I'll work my way back up, but I've got to promise myself not to forget this. And in the meantime, I've got to commit to my own personal writing-getting my articles done, widening my freelance work, and writing fiction. No one gets any recognition--let alone self fulfillment--as the asshole who wrote the really bitchin' trash bag ad.

He told me: “We made a deal, and I'll stick with that…” but asked me to voluntarily drop down in pay while I learned the ad game. Yeah, it's a game all right, as opposed to reality, and I'm learning it from having the sharp end of the situational ethics stick rammed up my ass. He held to a handshake for a month, then had a personal friend of mine break the news that it's the pay cut or the door. Man, this is so fucked. I've cut down a lot on my incessant use of the f-word since Dolly learned how to talk and pick up phrases, but I really am too pissed off to come up with anything but “fucked.”

I've been thinking a lot about advertising as an industry. Does it do any good for anyone? Does it let people in on the relative merits of products so they can be informed consumers instead of rampant spenders? You tell me-is there a corporation out there who wants consumers to spend wisely, or less? The first week I had this job, I went to Thee Hemlock to review a show for The Guardian. I walked in and the opening band, Fastpass, was on stage. Between sincere, if a bit naïve, songs about heartbreak, Tracy, the singer, swigged back some [brand of beer]--cheap and free to the bands performing. An anti-brand brand. Then I remembered the “marketing deck” for that very company back at the office.

You may be drinking it because it's anti-establishment, because it's cheap and there's no one from Anheuser-Busch ramrodding glamour girls in bikinis down your throat, to the tune of “drink this and it'll make you something other than a broke, out of work punk rocker,” but let me tell you what, Jack: They've got you sussed. Your bike messenger ass is delineated and deconstructed in a document in my fucking office. You can't step out of the stream of product placement, the ad men are in your fucking head, and deciding to choose against something doesn't mean you're not making a choice. (That's Sartre, fuckstick, not a Rush song.) Somewhere in an air-conditioned boardroom, some tool in a pinstriped suit is hiring some other slightly less out-of-touch tool to run your ass down. They're tiptoeing through your subculture trying not to fart too loud or step on any sticks. They're going to market your poverty and sincerity back to you as “cool,” then they're going to price it up 200 percent and sell it to the Marina crowd.

And then? When you've turned away from your old standby in disgust, they'll sell you the next thing you think hasn't been fucked over by corporate culture. Sucker.

What's the value of a handshake? Ask me the next time you see me. I'll be able to give you an exact dollar amount. I can also tell you, the value can be reduced by 25 percent at will.

Never shake hands without gloves on. You'll get shit under your fingernails

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