Letter to the OC Weekly that will not be published

Dear The OC Weekly:

Please reboot your paper. You have maybe 3 or 4 good writers left: Arellano, Moxley, Schou. Ziegler’s Meltzer riff on Matt McCluer was good last week. The rest is painful: a depressing and irresponsible guide to holiday drinking, a Social Distortion tribute band, a review of a Paul Frank party, a botched mess of a feature that should have been excellent about the Asian sex mystique, and the worst circle-jerk of solipsistic first-person journalism ever seen. Reading the Weekly now is watching a party clique amuse themselves and each other. One friend of mine suggests that each feature should be indexed to its corresponding episode of “Arrested Development.”

There is a spanish phrase “verguenza ajena” which means “pain on seeing the embarrassment of others.” It’s the cringe sensation, and we’re feeling it for you. Improve!

best,

The O.C. Weekly’s Best of the O.C. Weekly’s Staff’s Drinking Buddies Issue

I shouldn’t expect too much from the free weekly paper in a rich flat right-wing suburb fifty miles south of Los Angeles, but I’m very disappointed in the Orange County Weekly’s “Best of O.C.” issue. It’s an unreadable mess of office in-jokes, arch post-ironic snark, inaccuracies, logrolling, and delusions of grandeur. It is, in short, the Waiting for Guffman issue.

It begins with a bizarrely academic leader which is precious as hell but probably the best-written thing in the issue. It belongs in a painfully literary college humor magazine.

Almost all of the rest of the issue is devoted to an in-group of 25ish partyers. This leads to “My Favorite Things” spreads for a fundraiser party organizer who like Lhasa Apsos and those old 90s records, some random community college student with one of the new-fangled “blogs” who is therefore a social critic, an activist stereotype straight from the pages of The Onion, and a Chapman prof who is claimed to be a novelist but appears to be Adam Sandler playing one in a bad movie. Oh, and an apparently very nice guy who is a computer dude and DJ and stuff but is oddly described as a Renaissance man. Maybe he buys drinks for them a lot. He does seem pretty cool.

About a third of the items are in Long Beach, which is not in Orange County. However the 25ish partyers all live and hang out there and this issue is for and about them, not about their readers.

Clearly the ad salesmen did way too good a job. The issue is big and fat, and even with the high ad-to-editorial ratio they run, that was a lot of inches to fill. But they do have two or three good writers. Arellano and Moxley are of national quality, and Nick Schou is capable and talented. But instead of letting some people with skill work on this thing they just dumped in a load of garbage they could giggle to each other over. They compound the problem by adding on a few “I beg to differ!” items to the end of each “best of” item. This gives you the charming sensation of being next to their group as they pass in-jokes back and forth. I fail to understand why anyone would care which El Pollo Loco these people prefer, much less be present at a cute little fake argument about the choices available.

I suppose it doesn’t matter that my local weekly paper blows so hard. People read it for the listings and the ads, the same way they read the L.A. Weekly. The good writing goes as unnoticed as the bad by almost everyone, and this particular crowd of drunk scenesters is fooling themselves about their importance as much as I did 20 years ago at a free weekly paper, myself. But it could be good, and I wish it was. There are a lot of great things to write about here, enough to fill a Best Of issue with, some Worst Of, and with a lot more cultural and political substance and way more actual fun.

I sincerely wish these people saw their opportunity and took it.

As they say in their own post-everything bad-is-good ode to cosmetic surgery, truly it is another nail in the rational coffin.

P.S. No one thinks you’re badass for hanging out in Santa Ana at night except your mom. They’re all going to laugh at you! They’re all going to laugh at you!

DEAR THE PEOPLE WHO PUT VIDEOS ON THE INTERNET

Thank you for capturing so many unique things on video. “Citizen Generated Media” has given all of us new views of the world around us.

We understand that you have choices as you edit and upload your video. One of those choices is to add a soundtrack. This is optional, and we urge you to consider the option carefully.

You may have filmed a raging fire, a funny animal trick, shocking and brutal scenes of hand-to-hand combat, volcanoes, or any number of terrifying military machines and associated havoc. None of these things are equivalent to “music video,” and none of them are enhanced by your favorite tunes by Laibach or Metallica, clips from Tarantino films, or the totally unrelated music you enjoyed when you were 19 years old.

This is true even though every video you see on television is either backed by music or narrated by an airhead. Please trust us.

Thank you,

Everyone who has heard enough shitty 90s pop culture for a while.

FUCK YOU, APPLE

Death of my AC Adapter (again)

The power supply for the Powerbook blows chunks. They fall apart in the same way each time.

For the second time I’ve had one die in flames, literally. This one was sparking and spewing clouds of smoke when I yanked the plug out of the wall.

They won’t replace them because they redefined their crappy design as customer damage.

Typically they’ve brought out a different power adapter for their newer machines but they refuse to acknowledge the problem with the older ones. The worst part is the patronizing way they blame the customer as though we were all swinging our computers around our heads like bullroarers.

$80 for a new one.

Kreiss, what an asshole

WITH his vintage blue-and-red rep tie, carefully tousled hair and old metal lapel pin reading “I {heart} Grandpa,” Loren Kreiss looks like a typical style-conscious 24-year-old. He collects cool things, like 2,194 “friends” on myspace.com, an antique Coke machine and 15,000 songs on his hard drive. His vintage wristwatch is a fashion accessory, not a tool.

“My watch and all my clocks are set to the wrong time,” Mr. Kreiss said recently. “It’s symbolic of me. I don’t like to look at time.”

But as the scion of Kreiss, his family’s California-based furniture business, Mr. Kreiss (pronounced to rhyme with nice) sometimes has to work at being an iconoclast. He can barely contain his contradictions. For instance, his three-times-a-week maid often resets the clocks correctly, forcing Mr. Kreiss to reset them quirky again. (To avoid missing appointments, he consults his ever-present BlackBerry.)

The rest of the article is here at the NY Times.

But wait, no, I need to paste another quote: Mr. Kreiss writes his graphic novels on his BlackBerry while working out on an elliptical trainer at the gym.

Wait wait, no, here’s another: He hung out with bands like Blink-182 during the height of San Diego’s neo-punk scene, sang in a band and produced three records on his indie Lurid label.

Okay I have to go punch a yuppie now. Brb.

Linux kernel annoyance (geekfilter)

My old server, which is actually a Gateway desktop machine from 1997, has an old SCSI card in it. It’s an Advansys. The Linux driver for this card hasn’t been updated in forever. There are apparently problems with the driver, although I have had none.

Therefore when I configure my kernel build, I have to check a box marked “Use broken things” or I can’t check the box for my SCSI driver.

Lately, the “use broken things” box has disappeared. On investigation I find out that the kernel tree ships with that configuration unavailable. I have to edit init/KConfig and add in a description for the “broken things” option, and then the box becomes available.

I understand that I should probably just get a new SCSI card, or actually a newer computer, but this is annoying. Do the kernel maintainers not trust the people building the kernel to know when to check the “Broken” box? If I’m building a kernel then I can always fuck myself by leaving out my filesystem or my network card, it’s not like I can’t destroy everything anyway.

Grr.

THE WORLD OF OBJECTS IS THE DOMAIN OF THE DEMIURGE

  1. CAR: Mysteriously jumping out of gear intermittently going between 2nd and 3rd, or sometimes 3rd and 4th. Today, new behavior consisting of the ever-informative CHECK ENGINE light going on, sometimes accompanied by a nonspecific warning from the VEHICLE STABILITY ASSIST program.
  2. DSL: Intermittently out, then totally out. Diagnostics with nice man from Speakeasy resulted in removing the surge protector from the line: margins went from 13% to 18% and now I’m back to normal… …FOR NOW.
  3. LAPTOP: Power cord now likes to sidle out of its socket, causing power loss, unwanted sleep mode, hilarity.

IT FITS THE NEEDS OF A VERY DIVERSE FERN

Due to Canon’s small problems with user interface, I shot a bunch of photos tonight, including some great ones of a geeky guy dancing like an ape to other geeky people playing medieval instruments, that no one can ever see. Because the camera doesn’t warn you when you’re shooting WITHOUT A MEMORY CARD IN THE SLOT. Why not a beep? Why not a clank? Argh!

I AM TURNING INTO JACK REBNEY, HERE

you steal… …nussink from me.

Someone broke into one of my credit card accounts online. I discovered this because I got email confirming my mailing address change. My… what? I signed on and had to reset the password, which had been changed. This can’t be good. Hey! I have an address in New York City now?

I called them up and after some confusion we confirmed that I do not live in New York, nor did I buy anything from eBay today. They’re sending me a new card. More unfortunately, the rep told me that whoever changed my address had the security code from the back of the card, indicating that they’d either had physical possession of the card at one time, had sold me something online, or had cracked some database at Chase (he didn’t mention that last possibility).

Punchline: The account that was compromised only had $160 in credit available on it.