2.24.2008

aggressive

now playing: bob seger, "down on main street"


the guitar hook in that song is an absolute classic. i'm just sayin'.


anyway...


the idlewheel tour diary is posted both on my myspace blog and on my soon-to-be-consolidated session log blog. no dirt or secrets, just observations. no revelation of the identity of craig bickhardt's "mona lisa" or anything juicy like that...although discussions have commenced regarding making a sequel to the davinci code with the plot revolving around discovering the identity of the wearer of "mona lisa's frown"...


so, the northeast is in the midst of something of a snow and ice storm at the moment...there were a couple of reports this morning of the turnpike being shut down in places, and the schuylkill expressway in philadelphia was one long line from king of prussia into the city. it had started snowing already when j.d. malone and i were coming back from our show in maple shade, NJ last night...and by the time i'd transferred my gear to my trooper and started heading further out 422 westward towards home, it had completely covered the roads and was coming down at a brisk pace.

i made up my mind that the drive this morning was going to be ridiculous before i'd even gone to bed...and, of course, the berks county commuters never disappoint in that respect.

i will admit, freely, that most people would consider me an aggressive driver. i don't think of myself as aggressive, because i'm not really aggressive in any other area of my life. that, plus i'm not a headlight-blinking, fist-waving lunatic....i don't act out or anything of that nature. i do, however, have an agenda when i get behind the wheel of my car - and i take offense to those who would stand in my way simply because their heads are so firmly implanted up their asses that they impair my ability to follow through on said agenda.

but they're not the criminal. i am.


in fact, pennsylvania is one of the states that has decided to spend all that surplus tax money they have gumming up the coffers of the treasury on something called the smooth operator program - a state mandated waste of taxpayer money aimed at targeting those who behave in an aggressive manner on our state's roadways. never mind that one mans' "aggressive" is another mans' "motivated"...how does one define "aggressive driving", anyway? does an accident have to occur? must gunfire be exchanged? or does the antiquated opinion of a single cataract-lens-wearing bingo nazi suffice to label another driver "aggressive"?



here's a thought - how about a few bucks to fund a program to purge the roadways of people who aren't aggressive enough? how about we ticket, fine and revoke privileges of drivers who endanger others by taking mental vacations behind the wheel of their vehicles and putting other drivers in just as much peril as the meth addict whos' cutting across three lanes of traffic, waving an uzi out the window?


i want to be clear that i'm not condoning that kind of behavior...there are people who need to be extracted from their vehicles and tazed for doing dopey shit like that, and it's usually a fratboy type, driving an xterra with a visor hanging from the rear view mirror and a succession of college decals in the rear window, with whatever passes for music these days blaring from the subwoofer in the back. you should be able to get a license for those just like you do for deer at the beginning of the season - two bags per motorist, maybe three, and you're finished until next fratboy season starts, and then you pay for your new stamp and go out and bag two more. a few seasons of that and they'll thin their numbers out enough that they won't be much of a menace anymore.


my point is that the assholes who tool along, holding up traffic because they're driving with one hand and squinting at a mapquest printout with the other are an equal menace - if not greater - than those of us who race up your ass in the left lane trying to send you a message that you're in a place where you don't belong.


it's perfectly ok to tool along in the left hand lane at 40 miles per hour, oblivious to those who would use the lanes of the roadways as they were intended...slow on left, faster on right...indeed, i've often thought while travelling "the blue route" (a stretch of I-476 just off the schuylkill expressway in philly) that most of those people would rather have to register as a sex offender than to drive in the right lane. the inside and outside lanes could be devoid of traffic and these soccer mom, SUV driving, reality television addicts would be lined up, bumper to bumper in the center lane. far and away, i often make my best time on the blue route in the right hand lane.

that's mass idiotic behavior at its most apparent.

but again, they're not the criminal. i am.


but you know what's all the rage in the kind of weather that we're having today?


well, that would be random braking, devoid of reason.


that's right, folks...tooling along at the typical 28 miles per hour, regardless of road conditions, all because some douchebag with a bowtie on the weather report told you to - not because you believe the evidence presented to your own eyes and the soles of your feet when you got into the car, but because of what you were told by the television. there you go, driving safe as can be, with cars lined up behind you who would like to get to the grocery store before you, so they don't have to fight you for the last loaf of bread...and all of a sudden, for no logical friggin' reason whatsoever, the brake lights come on. no wild animals running out in front of you, no traffic lights in sight, no discernable reason for your sudden desire to stop, dead still, in the middle of the road, save for the fact that the voices in your empty-assed head must have told you to.


here again - they're not the criminal. i am.


there are so many instances of douchebaggery that take place behind the wheel, it's hard to catalog them all - pulling out into a lane of traffic right in front of me with your head turned, looking in the other direction - that's a fave of mine, because it makes me look like an ass because i have to slam on my brakes and hope that no one behind me is reading the movie titles off the marquee instead of paying attention to the fact that i just had to come to a dead stop to keep from doing to the asshole in front of me what you're about to do to my vehicle.

the other classic is the guy who sits at a green turn arrow and stares at it, as if they didn't feel worthy of being given permission to make the turn at this early date.
ok, i'm willing to admit that likelihood that they weren't actually staring at the light, but were probably otherwise involved - maybe manipulating the discs in the CD player or something like that...swapping out that taylor hicks disc for some bucky covington or something like that. hey, life's short. why not use your free hand to shove some mcdonalds' fries into your maw, while you're at it? what's that? you don't want to get grease on your cell phone? oooh, snap.


did i mention? that they're not the criminal? i am.


i want to clarify that i haven't been cited for aggressive driving, and i'm not venting for any reason other than i'm sick of our recent national infatuation with viewing placement of blame as a sport. we sue people who make coffee for making it hot because we're too fucking stupid to respect the very parameters of its nature.
and, in the same spirit, we want to punish the driver in the left lane for the extreme measures he has to take to escape the effect of the douchebag who cannot and will not abide by the truman edict of "lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way".


but, it must be said - this de-evolution of the human species isn't confined to our nations' roadways. this isn't a traffic problem - it's a human problem.

because that asshole tooling along on their way to the bingo parlor at 40 miles per hour in the left hand lane with a big mac, a cell phone, and a mapquest printout? you know the guy, right?

well, that's the same asshole that you end up behind at the supermarket, with their cart in the center of the aisle at a 45 degree angle, standing slack-jawed and staring at the back of two jars of peanut butter while a line of aggressive shoppers forms behind him.

it's the same asshole who wants to chat up the sexy latina cashier at the bank while you're standing in the growing line waiting to conduct a 45 second transaction so that you can get back to work.

you'll also find that asshole in line at the post office, buying stamps that they could have gotten out of the machine in the lobby. but don't bitch - that just makes you an aggressive customer. and, lord knows, there are enough aggressive folks at the post office.


all this behavior, vehicular and otherwise, points back to two central traits that are going to be largely responsible for the demise of humanity in general.

one - people don't give a shit about anyone but themselves.


how hard is it, really, to ease over to the right when someone comes up behind you who's obviously in more of a hurry than you are? i can tell you, because i've done it hundreds of times. it's about as hard as raising your cabbagelike head about an inch, rotating your eyeballs slightly to the right to check your mirrors, and - finally - slightly rotate your hands to turn the steering wheel gently to the right and straighten it again.

it's less complicated than placing a vote for your favorite american idol contestant....yet motorists view this as a sign of weakness, as a physical affront to their ego.

let me just say it - what the fuck?!??!??

it doesn't make you less of a man, it doesn't diminish your standing in gods' eyes, it doesn't demean you in the presence of your family...in fact, once you get used to it, you'll find it a nice change of pace to be able to take the moral high ground and say, as i am right now, that you're contributing to the solution instead of being part of the problem where this issue is concerned.


seriously - you're no less a person just because you're relinquishing the lane to someone with a more urgent agenda than your own.


but it's not that, is it? it's not that at all. it is, more likely, central trait number two.


two - people just don't care about shit anymore.


it's not about whos' in the left lane at all. it's that you just don't give a fuck. you don't care about the guy behind you whos' trying to get to work, to a gig, to the hospital to see his son before he goes into surgery, to get their kids to school on time, to pick someone up or drop someone off at the airport....fuck them. they're not you, so they're not important.

you don't care any more about that guy behind you in traffic than you do the guy behind you at the supermarket, at the bank, at the post office, wherever. you just don't care.


so, to summarize - you're out for yourself at the expense of anyone else who might have the misfortune of finding you as an obstacle, and you couldn't care less about it.


and, since it bears repeating - you're not the criminal. i am.


millenia from now, historians will look back on us with incredulity and wonder how it is that, with so much potential for knowledge, civilization took so many steps backward during this era.

we've managed to couple this uber-apathy with staggering levels of ignorance - america is routinely measured in academic terms against other nations and we fall further behind every year, despite the alleged best efforts of president dirty harry and his pet "no child left behind" act. we do so by making ignorance cool. the kid who busts his ass and gets good grades is the dork, while the kid who gets thrown out of class for making fart noises is celebrated by his peers. we elbow quality programming off our airwaves in favor of so-called "reality television" and garbage like "jackass", "celebrity rehab with doctor drew", and the like.

(allow me to burst your bubble for a split second here. do you really believe that those tanned wilderness buffs you see on "survivor" are eating beetles and tree bark while being filmed by a union camera crew with a deli spread on a table thirty feet away? seriously. wake the hell up.)

the same situation exists in music. some years ago, my buddy jim boggia released an album titled fidelity is the enemy...he knew then what it's impossible to ignore now - that we've dumbed down our tastes to the point where our universal fidelity standard is a compressed MP3 file that has none of the harmonic richness of an analog recording mastered to digital, where it's again been earmarked as "cool" not to be able to sing or play your instrument - fuck that. we'll fix it in protools, and it'll all be good. music is compressed to the point of asphyxiation in an effort to be as loud and devoid of dynamics as possible, and this butchery is not only accepted, it's encouraged. but then most of what's being foisted upon the masses in this day and age doesn't necessarily suffer from being technologically neutered. it's almost as if we've realized the folly of polishing a turd and we've said to the music-consuming public, "hey - here's a turd. enjoy."


no wonder we don't give a shit.


i grew up as part of a generation constantly confronted by hunger in third world nations, by an unjust war being broadcast into our living rooms...being told by my mother to clean my plate, because there were children elsewhere who'd give anything to have what i had - and let me tell you, that wasn't much. now, when confronted with a situation like darfur, we immediately shut down and tune out and move on to something more pressing - like forging alliances in world of warcraft or what's new on iTunes this week.


i'm painfully aware that the older i get, the older i sound...and, interestingly, i've made peace with that. i've often said that if i could be eighteen again, i'd do it in a heartbeat...but only if i could be 18 in 1972 or so. i wouldn't be a kid again in this day and age for any amount of money. youth isn't that important to me, and i feel lucky to be the age i am more often than not. and i'm aware that every generation has a certain amount of disdain for those who follow them.



me? i reserve that disdain for the ones who drive like self-consumed douchebags.


now either step on it or get the hell over. i'm late for rehearsal.