Altamont at 50

A nuanced, intricate look back that I think is quite necessary.  Some thoughts:

If you were stuck in the sticks as I was, it took years to piece together exactly what happened, period. Could not have imagined that I would get to a place where, after I found out they wanted $700 for a ticket to their latest concert, the Rolling Stones were performers I could hardly bear to think about.

The worthy move now is to step away from the monster villains Hell’s Angels, the tainted, tormented, tortuous superstars, the cosmic cultural moment and focus on the key victim. And never again imagine that Meredith Hunter died because he waved a pistol around.

Who Wins If the Lottery Loses?

Here’s another issue that even Grown Olde me can’t quite sort out.

I was confidently informed in publications for kids that I read in grade school that lotteries were being ended and even outlawed in America because the people who could least afford it spent the largest part of their income buying tickets. The same problem casinos present. I’ve always disliked gambling because I know first-hand it can ruin lives and because ultimately it plays on human weakness.

But now I understand it isn’t as simple as that. Casinos, and more commonly the lottery, can be embraced out of desperation — the only way for true discriminated-against outsiders to grab some real power. I’m not certain how true it is, but I get it that they feel the lottery odds may be long but the straight-life odds are zero.

So I now argue that players can include the frantic as well as the foolish. That lotteries might be eliminated because they give too many undesirables a shot at moving up.

Floating around in my head, still.

Conundrum of Isolated Human Tribes

This has puzzled me since I was a kid. Over the years, the romantic notion of the ideal-civilization “Lost Tribe” became obvious bullshit — they were much more likely to be impoverished and hostile — even murderously hostile — to outsiders.

This was the first spectacular incident that I can remember.

And now we have another one.

(For the record: explorers get sympathy; “missionaries” get their proper place in Dante’s universe.)

Necessary To Remember

I cannot believe that exactly 11 months to the day after this post we will be attending another memorial.

But I certainly believe age brings wisdom, however sad. Something my Dad said to me when I was, like, 15, was that one of the more difficult parts of getting old (he was 77) was how more and more often you had to attend memorials. And that it was even more disturbing when the number of them began to drop off.

I had no emotional understanding of that back then. But now I am glad he said it to me.

Reflections on Second Life

Interesting update on, yes, quite faded “platform reality.” I stayed away from it not least because it was another way to avoid doing work and because the avatars seemed like such banal caricatures of real persons. And the idea had been around for a long time. I mean, Second Life is almost exactly what was imagined in “The Machine Stops.”

Happy Halloween Headline Horror

A Japanese serial killer. The piece notes the utterly low rate of homicides in the country. I wondered about that context, and so read the stories of a couple of Japanese multiple-slayers. Most chilling: they were exactly like the sexual-sadist psychopaths from the US, Russia, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, you name it. This is a poisonous combination of characteristics, nothing special to do with the environment. One biggest advantage for a serial killer in Japan is that murders are so rare the police aren’t looking for them. I mean, they found this creep out almost by accident.