PM Pick

Impending Drastic Inevitables

Glenn McDonald

At PopMatters, we've seen the future. So . . . want some investment advice?

Here at PopMatters World Headquarters (actually a series of fortified underground bunkers at Secure Undisclosed Locations) we recently initiated a new internship program. Applications poured in from the best institutions around the globe --universities, academies, conservatories, seminaries, detox units and a few federal penitentiaries.

In typical fashion, goddamn Conde Nast scooped up our best applicants with promises of glamorous editorial posts at Allure and Modern Bride, or whatever. Screw Conde Nast. They're just bitter because we spanked the Vanity Fair team last year at the annual basketball tournament. Those guys play like a bunch of sick nuns -- Graydon Carter thinks a crossover dribble is a pastry faux pas.

Anyway. After it all shook out, we had only one applicant in the bin: the lovely and talented Carol-Anne, recent graduate of the Aphrodite School of Cosmetology and Esthetics (Akron, Ohio). Besides her ability to do amazing things with eyeliner, it turns out Carol-Anne is actually a complete savant with plasma-quark temporal lattices. She was messing around one day in the PopMatters lab compound and managed somehow to invent a time portal out of a motorcycle helmet, some instant coffee, and a discarded Atari 2600 deck. (She was listening to old Lee "Scratch" Perry records on her headphones at the time, and I have to believe this is relevant.)

It's an amazing thing, really. Carol-Anne wanted in on the patent, so we had to explain work-for-hire contracts to her. She got eight hours of comp time out of it, so I don't know what she's whining about.

The upshot being that the thing actually works, and when we tweak the antennae just right, we can see into the future. That's right, not content with merely chronicling the current state of pop culture affairs, PopMatters can now give you the inside dope on future trends and events. You can thank us later (and you will, we've foreseen it.)

We're still trying to improve the reception — the year 2017 is completely fuzzed out, for some reason — but general patterns are starting to emerge. For instance, within 10 years, 65 percent of the world's surface will be covered with Wal-Mart stores. This may seem depressing, but the savings really are remarkable.

Another interesting bit is that in 2015, the world's biggest and best rock band is fronted by Frances Bean Cobain. In fact, women have all but taken over the scene, and no major label has signed a male-fronted band in years. Rock music is much the better for it, as you might expect. (By the way, first-edition pressings of Sleater-Kinney CDs sell for millions, so you should go buy The Woods right now.)

In the world of film, George Lucas will be pleased to find out that digital moviemaking has indeed replaced celluloid, and that the Star Wars franchise continues to thrive. The bad news is that, with the release of Microsoft's Myopic Bearded Director 8.0, artificially intelligent software has digitized the entire filmmaking process, from scriptwriting all the way through to distribution. Hundreds of thousands of displaced actors, writers, producers and technicians end up getting jobs at Wal-Mart, and Hollywood becomes another dead industry town, like Pittsburgh circa 1979, but without the charm. Star Wars Episode XXVII cleans up overseas, though.

By the year 2020, the current trend of reality TV programming plummets to its inevitable destiny when every single person on the planet is taped 24-7 by flying drone cameras. The feed is then bounced off orbiting satellites and relayed back via narrowcasting to power 13 billion basic cable channels. This produces a remarkable, if somewhat predictable, state of affairs in which anyone who wants to can be both on TV and watching TV at all times.

Funny thing, too, about videogames. Many pundits expected this nascent media form to be the dominant model of interactive entertainment in the future. But sometime in the summer of 2022, the entire industry collapses when consumers experience a collective moment of clarity. Affliction rates for attention deficit disorder, obesity, and carpal tunnel syndrome also peak right around this time. We can't really tell if there's a direct correlation here, but that's where my money's at.

Books? Well, bad news about books. There are still some nice Wal-Mart circulars, though. Also, we shouldn't even say this, but what the heck: Put your money on the Detroit Lions for Superbowl XLIII. Hard to believe, innit? But there you go.

We've got a lot of additional data coming in, but we're still sorting through it. To tell you the truth, we're a little distracted just now, as just yesterday Carol-Anne came up with another cool little widget. You know how sometimes you just want to send good vibes to someone far away? Like if your Mom is getting a root canal, or your favorite senator is going before an ethics committee? Well, Carol-Anne has constructed this giant Cerebro-type machine for amplifying emotions and beaming them out via sideband microwave frequencies. That girl is a marvel, I tell you. She made a big deal about being careful with it, but she worries too much. So we sent her to the local community college for a three-day workshop on Excel spreadsheets. We need someone to handle payroll.

Meanwhile, we've been having a ball with this thing. It's incredible! This morning I sent a subspace burst to Kansas City, hoping to cheer up my friend Max, who insists on being a Royals fan despite the relentless suffering. I had some problems with the focusing lens, though, so I just kind of shotgunned the whole downtown area. Apparently I overamped the stupid thing and toggled over into bad vibes, causing a massive 16-hour citywide bumout. No one seemed to notice, though.

Nevertheless, we here at PopMatters are resolved to use our powers only for good -- never with malice, and never for personal profit. We might make the occasional mistake, but we take very seriously our role as stewards of these awesome technologies. As Uncle Ben taught us, with great power comes great responsibility! More updates as events warrant.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image