I just wasn’t made for these times
Doug types too much...
April 25, 2022
Brian Wilson was the main driver behind The Beach Boys. His life serves as a cautionary tale. Despite being publicly recognized as a genius by his peers, he suffered through several nervous breakdowns. In addition to feeling overwhelming pressure during many periods of intense productivity, he added fuels to his fires by mixing in lots of alcohol and heavyweight drugs. He had a love/hate relationship with his father who initially encouraged his child prodigy, but his dad was also the one who sold off the musical rights to his son’s many hits, telling Brian his music would never amount to anything.
As Brian descended into acid-infused mental chaos, he became more visionary about what kind of music he wanted his band to record. When he wanted The Beach Boys to record the album Pet Sounds, band members turned on him. They thought he was going in the wrong direction. They wanted Brian to stay with the successful formula that had allowed them to surf their massive musical wave up until that point. Brian forced his group to do Pet Sounds anyway, and initially it didn’t do that well.
But Paul McCartney, navigating his own wave of Beatlemania, heard Pet Sounds and was inspired to go record Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, arguably the best Beatles’ album of all. To this day, McCartney regards Pet Sounds as one of the best and most influential records ever made.
It is said that one of Brian’s breakdowns came after he heard an early pressing of Sgt. Pepper. Brian was working on an album called Smile at the time. He never finished it. Not until decades later. Because at the time, Brian felt he couldn’t compete, that it was pointless to continue. So he descended into a period of remaining constantly high and he ended up essentially staying in bed for 2 whole years. His wife at the time said he would occasionally come into the kitchen in his bathrobe wanting something to eat. She recalled one incident where she placed a large steak in front of him and before she could return with silverware, he’d taken the meat into his bare hands, devoured it, and snuck back off to his bedroom.
In the course of his extended lost weekend, Brian’s weight ballooned to roughly 250 pounds. Later on, when he had a subsequent breakdown, he got up over 340.
I believe Brian is bumping 80 as I write this. He speaks in interviews with impeded speech which he blames on his extensive drug experiments. He’s been through many years of various people helping him through mental issues. So he’s kind of put together and even seems to have found a level of happiness in his later years.
During his creative bent putting Pet Sounds together, he recorded a song called I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times. I love the song and I love the sentiment. I feel the same way some days.
I was reading an article in Time magazine about Vitalik Buterin who invented a cryptocurrency called Ethereum, another version of BitCoin. I’ve actually read several in-depth pieces where the authors attempt to break down the concept of cryptocurrency for me. Maybe it’s just my stubborn brain, but after reading the explanations of how it works, I feel more lost than when I started. I mean, I sorta get it, but really I don’t. I read interviews with financial gurus who proclaim its benefits and then I read other interviews where equally smart folks say it’s a house of cards.
I work an IT job and if I’m being honest, this shit is moving way too fast for me. I am resistant to change. Perhaps because as a kid I grew up before mass reliance on computers. I grew up with phones you had to put nickels and dimes in. That all seemed simpler than what we surround ourselves with now.
But these days I’m being forced into giving up my old ways. Which kind of pisses me off. I understand change is inevitable. But now I have to embrace things like crypto because there will come a time where they won’t sell me a hamburger unless they can scan an app on my phone.
Let me say that again because it felt good just to type it.
I grew up without the internet. I find that to be a double-edged sword. On one hand, I love the fact that no matter what crosses my feeble mind, if I have questions in my later years, I can go to the internet and get instant answers. I guess it’s seeing the dark side of the internet that disturbs me as a human being. I see an instrument that was originally designed to be a help, but segments of the internet have been hijacked by a lot of nefarious leanings.
I work next to a guy who had a job where he used to have to sit down 8 hours a day and review content. Files that get posted for consumption. Beheadings. People and pets being tortured and burned alive. Rapes. Child molestations. As he said so succinctly, “That shit fucked me up.” His wife noticed the changes in his demeanor. His inability to decompress when he came home each night. He basically shut down completely during the time he had that job. And to this day, he can’t completely erase that imagery from his head.
Several lawsuits have been filed against Tik-Tok by content moderators. Low-paid employees sometimes work 12-hour shifts having to watch multiple video screens simultaneously. They are understandably manifesting PTSD from watching the sick stuff they have to sift through. Tik-Tok employs 10,000 people around the world to monitor and censor crazy stuff people are trying to post. That’s a lot of people. And that’s just Tik-Tok, never mind the myriad of other questionable platforms out there. 81 million videos were removed from TikTok in the second quarter of 2021. That’s just 3 months’ worth. What is double-disturbing is that there is a large audience who wants to watch some really depraved shit.
I remember when I was in grade school, if a couple of dogs started copulating on someone’s lawn, a crowd of adults and children alike would gather in a circle to laugh and point fingers. So it’s understandable that when porn became instantly available at the fingertips, there would be an audience. Kinda makes sense that if we thought watching dogs get crazy was entertaining, watching humans do it would have the same allure. Especially considering that unlike porn of old where not too handsome people participated begrudgingly, we now have very pretty people lining up in droves to do anything imaginable.
I saw an HBO documentary a few years back where a female porn producer said that when she first started in the business, being in porn made participants pariahs on some level. Now when she posts an audition notice, she’ll get hundreds of applicants lined up, many of them who don’t even care if they get paid. They just want to be in a porn movie. For the prestige.
And the interest in porn is not restricted to any particular group of people. There is a Christian group called Promise Keepers. They host stadium gatherings where tens of thousands of fathers attend with their sons in tow. The purpose is for the males in families to bond in seeking higher ground and to escape sinning. 85% of the people who attend are coming to seek absolution for porn addiction.
I knew a family guy in the early 1990s who got caught at work. Showed up in a nice suit every day. Very pleasant to work with. Smart about his job. But the internet had become available at work. And even though the government computers we logged into each day had very large banners advising users they were being monitored, he still watched stuff he shouldn’t have been watching at work.
Nowadays in a federal workplace, you would be instantly fired. But back in the infancy days of accessing the internet at your desk, he was merely suspended for 2 weeks without pay. When he returned to work, I remember cornering him and asking him why he’d done it at work. His answer? “I just couldn’t help myself.”
That guy wasn’t the only one I’ve seen get walked out the door. I’ve seen more than I can count now. There was one man I knew that everybody loved who admitted to me he watched 3 hours of porn, albeit not at work. No, this was at home. From 5 AM to 8 AM. Every. Single. Day. I remember remarking, “But dude, you’ve got a wife and 3 daughters. Aren’t you afraid you’ll get caught?”
“No, because I lock the door to the computer room while I’m in there.”
“And your wife never comes to the door while you’re in there?”
“Oh, sure. She tries the handle, but she can’t get in.”
“Does she ever ask you why the door is locked?”
He laughed. “No. Never.”
I laughed myself and said, “Okay, if I was locking myself in my computer room 3 hours every morning, I would come home to find Judy had removed the door off the hinges.”
28-year-old Vitalik was a child prodigy much like Brian Wilson, except with a focus on computers. He was working programming at the age of 4. There is indeed a genius to that. But at the same time, he finds himself extremely uncomfortable in social situations. When he shows up wearing pajama bottoms to give tech talks, he finds it difficult to talk with human beings one-on-one. And while he sings the praises of the benefits of crypto, he is quick to note that the ether is already being hijacked by greed.
In addition to crypto taking over how money is exchanged, this new technology is already being used to administer negotiations for nonfungible tokens, smart contracts, quadratic voting, coin voting, sharding, and decentralized autonomous organizations. I get that dollar bills are built on belief rather than real assets, and that it requires a certain suspension of disbelief to put your faith in cash, but at least with paper money, I’m able to count it. I can hold it in my hand. I can see it.
We know a couple whose daughter is a teacher. Grade-school kids. When I was a kid and a teacher asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, the list usually boiled down to wanting to be a doctor or a fireman. A police officer. Maybe an astronaut. You want to know what most of the kids now want to be when that question is asked?
“I want to be an influencer on the internet so I can get lots of likes and get things for free.”
I guess I’m just this cranky MF because that’s disheartening to me. The more I read, the more disheartened I get. I read a science article last week that said humans are consuming one credit card a week. That’s when you add up all the microplastics in your water, your food, and the packaging it comes in. Bottled water drinkers get to eat a little bit more plastic each week, but you get microplastics in your system from tap water as well. Medical professionals are seeing microplastics in the bloodstream now. People are having issues with their digestive systems and organs which is kind of understandable. We weren’t meant to eat credit cards, you’re just supposed to swipe them.
Change in general is hard for me. It’s harder if you’re stupid about stuff. Back in December of 2017, I rented a new car in Germany at the airport. After pulling out of the lot, I came to a stoplight and the engine shut off. It was rush hour. Heavy traffic around an airport hub. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. WTF. I just rented this brand new car and the engine dies at a major intersection. I had no idea newer cars were designed to do that. As soon as I took my foot off the brake, the car quietly started up again.
I’m not sure all this innovation is good. Like I said, I work in IT. I can watch a reliable computer hum away for months at a time and then one day, it just gets confused and freezes up without warning. I got used to that rental I was driving because I drove it for 3 and a half weeks. Still, I kept thinking what happens on that day when it doesn’t resume. I’m sure some actuaries somewhere have reasoned with designers that as long as it doesn’t happen very often, everything’s cool. You just don’t want to be the dude behind the wheel on the day when everything’s not cool.
I was driving home after work one day last week and a fire truck with sirens blaring and lights flashing came up in back of me. When I took driving lessons as a teenager, it was understood you gave way to emergency vehicles. I was in the left lane and the vehicle was approaching fast in the right lane, so the most I could manage was slowing down and pulling a few feet to the left to let them roar past. Once the truck was ahead of me, I resumed normal driving and a car in back of me pulled around to my right.
They beeped their horn. I thought it was someone who knew me and I looked over and gave a small wave.
The guy in the right lane was pissed. He didn’t know me. But he did want to give me the finger and yell “Fuck you!” out his window as he sped off.
I don’t know. Maybe I put too much thought into this. Maybe I shouldn’t care if Chris Rock gets his face slapped at the Oscars. Maybe it’s time to just get the hell out of everybody’s way.
Maybe Brian Wilson had something with that going to bed and pulling the covers over your head for 2 years thing.
I’m scared of change, too. All day long.
I just don’t want to balloon up to 340 in the process.
Although it might be fun to eat a steak with my bare hands.