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Who Needs Sleep? July 21, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Who needs sleep
when you’ve got
a double shot
a double shot
a Starbucks’ double shot?
Who needs sleep
when you’ve got
a double shot
and an aerosol
can of oxygen?1

Yes folks, this is the chorus to the first song of Moloch!, the musical version of my service to Big Bank America so closely based on the Three Penny Opera the ink will dry on the papers from the Brecht estate before the paste dries on the show’s posters.

These are the sort of things that go through what P calls The Mind of Mark when it’s over winding the spectrum spring until every damn thing runs too fast, spectrum being a Disorder in the Disorder Service Manual Diagnostic and Statistical Manual in which, at the deep end of the spectrum pool we find, balanced by the toes up on the high board, Manic Depression (sing it, Jimi). Yes, there is High Anxiety Disorder when the second hand is a blur and on a good day at work, when I am whacking them into the stands like it’s a home run slugging contest at mid-season break, I think: King Kong Fucking Superman. Then the roller coaster goes into those dizzying spiral loops before the last few dull humps and drags to a dead stop, the ticket man leering over his cigarette as he pulls the brake so tight nothing is right. It’s time to leave the park and go sit in the dark, alone out in the car, smoking (again).

If anyone needs some ironic musical comedy in his life, it’s me. With a chorus of just-like-me henchmen, a rousing “Seeräuberjenny” in the middle, and a Big Finish where I get to walk away from it all just like Mackie. That and a Blu-Ray remaster of Little Murders so I can finally perfect my Alan Arkin scream, which I think will come in very handy at work these next few weeks.

1. Oxygen for Energy the stuff is called, but I call it Hangover Helper, a little trick I picked up from my college mentor who was an alcoholic flight line washout in the Air Force and got transferred to the base newspaper. He told us that back in the day the cure for the prior night at the Officer’s Club was Full Oxygen in the mask. He was right. It also comes in handy when you’re sleep deprived and about to go face plant on the keyboard. And at least one highly aerobic activity which late middle aged smokers are not quite ready to give up on yet. If ever. Ask your reflection if you maybe need a can of Oxygen for Energy.

Daylight Slaving Time March 8, 2015

Posted by The Typist in Moloch, New Orleans, The Odd, The Typist.
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Oh, by all means, let us schedule four days of meetings at 7:00 am my time, half an hour beyond the sacred hours of “protected time” that allows for the interaction of New York and their overseas developers and testers all on China Standard Time. What better week than the first of Daylight Slaving Time. Monday will run from 7 am to 6 pm. I will be reduced at day’s end to a sack of gibering idiocy, remote in hand and a book no where to hand.

Moloch is just in his mortifications. I have spent beyond my means to finish school and visit Europe, pointless exercises which added nothing to the Gross National Product or the annual earnings growth of my particular sect. I converted dollars to Euros, among my other sins.  Mea culpa, and pass the babes in finance down the long line leading to the furnace.

Twenty Six: Man-in-disorder February 12, 2014

Posted by The Typist in 365, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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— Samuel R. Delaney in City of a Thousand Suns

I agonized for days when the recruiter called me on a Saturday night, not two hours after I posted an application for the position. I knew I was a perfect fit for the position, but I had resolved to try to remain unemployed until I finished the bachelor’s degree I abandoned 35 years ago. Still, I have bills, responsibilities, a child about to start an expensive program of graduate school in psychology I would just assume not fall into the trap of an immense college debt. A bachelors in English Literature, whatever personal satisfaction I might take from it, is worth about as much as a piece of confederate currency.

I could tell from his excited voice that the recruiter was sure he had found his man. The job was with Moloch. I knew the hiring manager, had worked closely with this department in the past. The work was precisely what I had delivered during my time at the bank, greatly to their profit: the automation of financial data exchange. I had resolved before he called to take the job if the money was right: to insist on the flexibility to finish my classes and graduate, to find some way to continue Odd Words and 365 and still read and write what was important to me, not what was on the syllabus. I essentially resolved to try to spend the next three months on a few hours of sleep a night.

Then we got down to money. The job was a contract position, at two-thirds what I had just been paid as a contractor. That figure itself was a significant takedown from what I had earned as an associate, considering benefits, Long Term Incentives and bonuses, but I had taken it. Forty dollars an hour is nothing to sneer at. America is filled with former professionals who would leap at that figure, like myself the victim of the corporate rearrangement into a contingent work force, living examples of the elasticity of demand. I am, I realize, simply another piece of just-in-time inventory, a human resource no different from a a flat of plastic parts.

As a student I hear a lot about the commoditization of instruction, the huge contingent workforce living in poverty who are educating your children in the basic of English, math, science for sometimes fantastic amounts of tuition. The closest they will get to a real professor in their first year and seven second year of college is their advisor. Still I think of going to get my master’s, to become one of them.

Why would an unemployed person walk away from $40,000 for six month’s work? Because I am politically aware enough to realize that America has taken a terrible wrong turn at the hands of people who would reduce us all to credit card penury, willing to take any job to keep the house and pay the bills. I am no longer one of those people.

At my lowest moment between the first, missed call from the recruiter and yesterday’s conversation I thought often of the anarchist in Lina Wertmuller’s The Seven Beauties. An article on the film summarizes the moment: “…against the fascist Nazi ideal of order, this anarchist holds up what one is tempted to see as Wertmuller’s “solution,” an existentialist ideal of “man in disorder.” The anarchist’s last act, when the prisoners are assembled to hear Pasqualino read off the serial numbers of the six he has chosen for death, is to walk slowly out of formation, shouting, “I’m tired of living in terror, I’m a free man. I’ll go jump in the shit—man in disorder,” and dives into the cesspool, to be followed by bullets from the guards’ machine guns.” I would rather jump into the cesspit and certain death than to cooperate with the new slave masters. I will not be the collaborator Pasqualino nor the stalag guard.

Delaney’s words in his Cold War fable are a bit a graffiti that appears recurring in the novel until the moment in which the populace realizes there is no enemy over the mountain, no real war. It has all been a construct to maintain a certain order in society. I had the experience of that bright moment after Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood. I have had it again, or had it reinforced. I am a free man, a man-in-disorder, free of social delusions: a defective cog with no socially responsible role in the creaking of the great American machine in its progress toward the looming cliff.

Days of Disobligation October 24, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, fuckmook, FYYFF, Moloch, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Odd, Toulouse Street.

Now with spell checking (no IE Spell on the work PC) and less hungover proofing of other sorts at the same low price! –mf

It is the last Monday in my last week of service to Moloch, the financial institution where I have given good and faithful server for over five years. My reward is a pot-metal, gold-tone Five Year pin and the relocation of my job to Richmond.

I am not going to Richmond. We all pretended for a while that might happen but I don’t think anyone directly concerned believed for a moment I would.

I walk out to the car, dressed in chinos and socks and a collared shirt. The air is that state of damp just this side of drizzle and the air is rendolent of excrement and wet hay, the stable smell drifting across from the race track. Horse shit and fodder of docile, stabled animals are the perfect bas notes for a perfume bottled just for the event of my last week, my final trips into the office.

Over the next four days I will sit in what Moloch calls a huddle room, tastefully indicated by the skeletal outlines of tee-pees (I wonder if we are allowed to smoke here, if only ceremonially; I could use a cigarette in honor of the occasion). I will confer with two associates I am trying to train up to take over parts of my function, and spend too many hours on a Polycom, those conference telephones designed to fit into the decor of everyone who owns an English-Klingon dictionary, with those who will assume my other function.

There is a certain satisfaction that my job will be divided across multiple people, making up a substantial portion of the day of several. I like to think I will be missed, but better not to think of it as all.

At least I am starting the day out right, with a Revive vitamin water and now my third tall cup of coffee. Last night the Saints played the late game, a blow-out against the Baltimore Indianapolis Colts minus Peyton Manning, petulant scion of the Saint fan’s own hero of the early days Archie Manning. The game was so one-sided the only real pleasure was in the cutaways to Manning on the sidelines in a Colts ball cap, looking every bit the student of Newman and annointed future NFL star denied, through some cruelty of fate, the homecoming crown.

Saints fans are long-suffering and as such a people, we have long memories. Peyton’s insulting tantrum at the end of superbowl XLIV and the failure of Archie out of some misplaced consideration for his brat, to say one kind word about the triumph of the franchise he helped establish are not forgotten, and will likely never bed. Watching Peyton sulk was better than any touchdown or suggestive shot of a cheerleader.

When the game is a blowout, the world divides itself into two sorts of people: those who take their leave early and so to bed, and those who drift into the kitchen, game ignored on the radio, speaking of other things, in dangerous proximity to the beer the others left behind. I fall into the latter category, and so have a wondrous hangover to amaze the druidly Druids to carry me through the first of my final hours of Moloch.

It is a week of disobligation, a set of rituals of the sort favored by the Catholic Church. Not an excomunication exactly but in the end my boss (whom I dearly like, a great fellow) will arrive to collect my badge, laptop, Blackberry, sword, cassock, &c. and take us all out to dinner on the company’s dime somewhere I will suggest. He has never been to Jaques Imos, has long desired to go, and may never have an excuse to come to New Orleans again so that seems settled. After that, Frenchman I think, d.b.a. and that glass of Johnny Walker Blue we were discussing. (Neither of us scotch drinkers, preferring our Jameson’s but we are curious and hope to pass the expense off as another travel meal).

As we drfit deeper into what our children will call the Great Something (everyone agreeing that Depression is formally retired like the names of particularly terrible hurricanes), I should be more concerned. I am not. They are giving my a decent severance and a retraining bonus, enough without other emergencies to get me through a semester at the University of New Orleans, which will kindly accept every last credit hour off my thirty year old transcript and plug them into the current graduation requirements and in as little as six months: voila’, I will be promenading through the sterile mothership cavern of the U.N.O. Assembly Center, in Privateer blue with a bachelor’s white hood.

I rather like that the color of the Liberal Arts in general is baptismal white, as getting my long-defered degree will not be so much an ending as a beginning, the start of yet another reinvention of my life. I left the university both to take a job in journalism at a local newspaper, and to evidence my displeasure at the place denying me the editor-in-chief’s post. It was not so much personal pique but rather that in the late 1970s the U.N.O. Driftwood was a broadsheet that frequently ran to 24 or more pages a week, and sold enough advertising to turn a small but tidy profit, some of which we were allowed to spend to pay staff and throw a fabulously drunken end of year party that culminated in depositing the crawfish shell bags outside the private entrance of the Chancellor (one Homer Hitt, a very nice man who did not deserve it, but it was his Office we were honoring, not the man).

At some point we began to take ourselves seriously as a newspaper and took sides with the Faculty Senate against a particularly odious Vice Chancellor of Administration, and so when it was my turn to assume the top position the newspaper was reduced to a typically hollow college student tabloid, and my job was given to someone from a respectable fraternity who had never before crossed the threshold of the paper’s office.

From college I managed to make my way through journalism with an award or two along the way, a stint on Capitol Hill as press secretary and speechwriter, then a jump into the lower echelons of IT through a general knack with computers and a program of self-study, when I had determined DC was not for me and I needed to arrange some more portable skill than public relations. When I was first hired by another bank, I managed to quickly get myself plucked out of the ranks of bit plumbers and tool pushers and made a project manager, which is where I find myself today. Or rather, where I find myself at the end of in the last days of Moloch.

What happens after that I am not sure. I look forward to another stint in a corporate world that bears a frightening resemblance to the world of Dilbert with all the relish of a felon at-large contemplating his appointed noose. I am much in need of what the academic world calls a sabbatical. After that, we shall see.

In an hour or two the Richmond contingent will arrive and we will get down to work. Until then, I think another Vitamin water for my dry mouth to wash down some Ibuprofen and a cigarette or two are in order. We will get busy once they arrive, and we have only four days to transact all our business. I will be off on Friday to the Louisiana Book Festival both as workshop student and correspondent for NolaVie, the arts and culture adjunct of NOLA.com, and so escape the last bit of the ritual of this week of disobligation, the tossing of the apostate into the jaws of Moloch. I hope instead to carry away a few more unwanted pounds and a Biblical hangover to rival Noah’s from Thursday night’s parting dinner as my fitting punishment.

Monday, Monday August 22, 2011

Posted by The Typist in 504, cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
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The 18th Floor
A cubicle
Monday Morning

Monday is a day of conversations at the copier and coffee pot everyone reluctant to start the work week in earnest, the elevators and coffee shop full at 8:15 and no one looks like an early rising lawyer. Any sense of excitement is centered in the past, in the game Saturday and how much fun Sunday. I don’t think we’re unique in this but I sense none of Monday’s hunched hustle I see when I visit ‘Moloch’s central precinct in Virginia, that current of urgency that sweeps the malingerers back to their desks.

I lived for years in the mid-Atlantic. While Richmond is well in from the coast I know the main difference in our summers is duration, the sultry Gulf Stream sweeping the Caribbean up the coast but the proximity of DC and Virginia to the Anglo metroplex that runs along I-95, country overrun with the army ants of of the Yankee work ethic, overwhelms the wise grasshoppers resting in the shade for an evening of music on the porch.

Nothing to be done, not even a convenient tree and rope. Nothing to be done except a flow chart, a report and meetings. If one is going to spend the day in existential angst the company of Estragon, the hope of Godot, would be something.

And so I stretch my cigarette break past the reasonable and write this instead, and dream of a carrot waiting at the end of the day after the dull turnips of work.

ESTRAGON: I can’t go on like this.
VLADIMIR: That’s what you think.

The Eye of Moloch December 9, 2010

Posted by The Typist in 504, 8-29, cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, The Narrative, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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watches over us in our labors.

“Moloch whose soul is electricity and banks!”
— Allen Ginsburg in Howl

My G-g-g-g-generation January 19, 2009

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, music, New Orleans, NOLA, Odds&Sods, Toulouse Street.
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Screw you Pepsi.

This is my generation, baby. Born in 1957 I am supposed to be the last of the true Baby Boomers, and the Clinton’s are supposed to be my generation’s President.

Hell, no.

Their Traingularnessess represent everything that went off the tracks sometime around 1970, when the American Moloch (Moloch whose drink is Pepsi) tried to swallow and vomit back in clever shrink wrap every forward thought, every intangible positive vibration the 60s produced.

While Obama has more Clinton veterans on his dance card than Ken Starr had on his witness list, he is a much better representation of, is in some way the resurrection of the better angels of our nature that the 1960s promised.

My generation. This is my generation, baby.

Hit it.