Massachusetts, Paul Westerberg, Balloons, Freedom!
Congratulations, you’ve graduated. From something you probably haven’t had enough time to figure out yet. It’s that time of the year when some of you here can’t wait to move on. Some of you are moving on from middle school to high school; others are moving on from high school to college and beyond seeking greater knowledge. Many of you have been taught that there are rewards to earn from investing in yourself with a higher education and hard work. Jobs, promotions, cars, homes, a husband to be with a trust-fund, or a just a trust-worthy wife. Some of you will skip school in favor of drugs, alcohol and video games. Some of you will own big American toys, it’s going to be ok wherever you’re moving on to.
The possibilities are endless, kids. One day you could buy a speed boat and make babies, raise a nice family, have a job where you never get conned and wonder why anyone would waste their time and money on a college education; then go on to brag to many unemployed family and friends who did go in debt for a higher education that their way is the right way and only in America can dreams do come true. Only in America can dreams do come true! You will hear many people practice improper grammar; you will read their tweets or status updates and scratch your head every day. Warning, these same people will earn much more money than you doing much less with their human capabilities and you should befriend them as soon as possible. What ever you do, do not correct their grammar, scratching your head will be quite ok.
Not to leave out a percentage of those here that don’t fall into any 1 category, you will end up unemployed and lonely, barely able to buy a full bag of groceries every 3-4 weeks if you’re lucky. Fresh bananas will be the curse of you if you only had an extra $3.00. Anti-depressants and dead-end jobs await you every 5-7 years at a time but you’ll do your best to avoid them and fail. Your friends and family will worry for you but mainly they’ll blame it on your attitude instead of math, demographics and economics. You’ll remind them every now and then you are trying but they won’t dare approach or understand what life must be like in a box with no windows. You’ll end up filling out applications for jobs with your college degree that pay right above welfare just to make them think you are trying your hardest; and to avoid their schedules and pithy social events.
After a few years of never getting a call or an interview you’ll intentionally avoid answering questions on job applications that ask you what your gender and cultural background is. Trust me now, never check the boxes that say Male or Caucasian.
Avoid discrimination on your own terms but answering Asian will not guarantee you a call back after your first interview, and especially when asked mockingly if you’re really Asian. You know damn well you are not Asian if you thought hard about not answering Male Caucasian; but you will prove you are anything but a caucasian male somehow because you know that your worth is less than that of the American dollar bill on paper. Be prepared to deliver the truth; that we are all Asian, Caucasian, African-American, Mexican and whatever else you can fictionally tie your blood lines to. Young ladies and gentlemen, don’t be afraid to relate yourselves to animals, like chimpanzees, dogs, and bears. They are wonderful conversation knockouts that double as memorable conclusions too. You will not get a call back and your valid points will be misunderstood but at least you’ll be remembered forever. Chances are you’ll be joked about unbeknownst at Monday Morning Staff Meetings and Dress-Down Friday Lunches at the neighborhood Chilis you’ll never get a chance to sit in on—so waste their time.
Waste it with all of your heart; put everything you can into wasting someone else’s clock with any opportunity you shockingly receive. That’s right, lie right back, you never know when the person you’re talking to happens to be related to a 16th century elephant that you just so happen to be related to as well. Say What a small world!to them with a full smile! Open wide when you smile too; show them bleeding gums that were caused by years passed that you’ve managed to live without dental insurance or an extra $140 to have your mouth cleaned every 6 months by a professional. (Flossing only gets you so far, kids.) This is how many unqualified people earn good jobs in America, just lie. Prove you are related to the master’s minion that is interviewing you any way possible. Nepotism is proven to be a financially successful trick on planet earth.
Know now that you live in a politically wrong world and that your peasant points will never be understood by the master and his or her minions. You will fight the good fight but the best person for the job doesn’t get the job. There are statistics, laws and conspiracies to make sure this happens but NO WORRIES, everyone. You’ll find comfort in your clan. You’ll still laugh and get drunk the same old, inexpensive ways when you’re nearing 40 and 50 and maybe 60. Chances are it’ll be at Yuko and Hiro’s house instead of your two-bedroom apartment, or the recession era real estate mistake you got suckered with due to bad timing (as the banks will tell you and your face). Just disregard the illegal activities committed by American banks and county property cost assessors made on behalf of your home loan and those loans of a million others just like you. Whenever someone offers you a smile and a cordial well, at least you’re not alone, agree with them ironically and remind them you live in America, a place where we help everyone, and that help is on the way for our own people.
This is my work place and these are the people I work with, Yuko and Hiro. We work together, we work for the company that works to the future. We work hard to please me, they will protect us. I never see you. We’re never together. I’ll love you forever. – Damon Albarn
Chin up kids! It’s not all bad. I know, many of you are just scared and confused. You’re not angry yet, but you’ll get there. Let me help ease the next 2 decades for you. There’s no pot of gold but rewards for all the hard work you’re about to encounter will differ for each and every one of you. Sidenote, trust no one from this day on. Here, let me help you understand how to get angry quick.
You’ll wake up one day a few years or decades removed from an expensive degree you can’t pay back and you’ll laugh at yourself like Ricky Gervais’ David Brent character did many times on the BBC version of The Office. After a few hours, days, months and years of this your laughter will turn to disgust. You’ll stare at the imaginary camera just like Tim UK & Jim US have done with a are you fucking kidding me? shit grin look. That shit grin look is the same on each side of the pond you’ll learn and you won’t feel alone anymore. You will laugh inside forever now.
Congratulations too! By now you would have found the secrets inside yourself that you can’t dare share with anyone—not even Pam US, or Dawn UK! You’ll sum it up, all of it; your work, the decisions, the worth of your education compared to the silliest, happiest peasants you know with good jobs, health benefits and retirement plans. Notice daily that you have nothing on paper and that you’re almost 40 and you can’t figure out how to pay last winter’s gas bill let alone worry about a lingering cough and the loss of hearing in one ear. It’s ok, it’s funny inside of yourself! Don’t ever forget that, so hold that grin and unclench your fists—you lost already and you know it!
I hate to pound this on home but the worst part is a bit of jealousy kicks in too. It’s harder to emotionally discover jealousy later in life as it warrants nothing. Absolutely nothing, not even laughter inside or outside of yourself. Just accept you are a loser right away when you compare your needs to their haves. You’ll want what the peasants have, that you need; like health insurance, a savings account, a 2 week check, a vacation, and yes, a pound of bananas for your cheerio bowl dinners possibly, but not a speed boat. You won’t want a baby either because you know you can’t take care of yourself in this world let alone the thought of putting gas in a boat instead of a car; or food in a baby’s mouth. Hell, you can’t find enough time for yourself, how in the hell could you find time for a living creature that deserves the best in life? Accept that you can’t, and go fly a kite for freedom if you have one!
What are we living for? Two-roomed apartment on the second floor. No chance to emigrate, I’m deep in debt and now it’s much too late. We both want to work so hard, We can’t get the chance, People live on dead-end street. People are dying on dead-end street. Gonna die on dead-end street. – Ray Davies
Here we are finally, FREEDOM, this is what you have kids! You have your freedoms, never forget that. Always do what you do for freedom and tell that to anyone who asks you what you do for a living—pause to stare back at them. Take it in, that’s the moment you’ve earned with hard work that didn’t pay in monetary ways—it’s right there on their face(s), complacently confused and often stunned, this is your reward! ALWAYS PAUSE TO POLITELY POKE THE PEASANTS, do it. You’ve earned it. You’ll laugh for days and that is how you maintain a healthy body and mind without the courtesy of a decent health plan.
Your rewards will take shape unlike what you’ve been taught to believe up to this day, they’re on other people’s faces and they are priceless. They don’t have to be rude, remember that, just be empty, give away nothing and always remember to trust no one with your time. The best expressions will always come from bosses you meet at dead-end part-time jobs that barely pay the rent, gas and cell phone bill while you hold out for a real job opportunity—as your family and friends will call it. Don’t forget, tell them you do what you do for freedom and look them straight in the eyes, welcome the silent drop-off without flinching. The frozen moments between you and hyperboles or redundant advice coming your way is golden— freedom, score. Those real job opportunities will not come unless you want to go back to school to be a disrespected and underpaid teacher in a run-down community like say, Anywhere, USA. It’s up to you, freedom is free but it can be a little tricky come tax time.
I was looking for a job and then I found a job. Heaven knows I’m miserable now. – Morrissey
Some of you here today are still listening. Chances are it’s because you’ve been lied to your entire life by everyone. Your parents, friends, teachers, family, bosses, the law, and ohhhh, the government, shhh. Even this guy, I’m not real, I’m lying to you right now because I have a government job, I can’t tell you my real name for fear of losing my job. How’s that for freedom? I chose to lie to you and I will continue to—to keep my job like many miserable, responsible Americans do day-to-day. If there ever was a time to start new, it’s now, kids. Now’s the time to unlearn every single word you didn’t think of first, say, or write to begin with. Start there, write your own rules and question everything you’ve been taught; or deal with the overwhelming amount of disinterest you’re accused of having for everything at some point in life—which was taught to you against your will because you trusted everyone but yourself with your precious time.
Beware of reverse-psychological tricks like hope for the best and think positive. Try planning for the worst sooner than later and hope for the best; but expect a pile of shit, piss and lies coming your way too. It’s fun after a while being right while assuming the absolute worst outcome. Making lemonade out of lemons CAN happen but you CAN’T make lemonade out of horse shit—and that’s life.â„¢ (© Staasuhnator Rex)
Hope is a tricky word, kids. Many peasants you’ll meet or know already abuse it so please be on guard. Try and get used to failure, misery, and recovery. Expect it, make-believe your outcomes and how to deal with them beforehand, this is where character is developed. That’s a success in itself though I doubt many of the teachers you paid to learn something from taught you much of anything except how to make terrible financial decisions. Your math skills are shit, this is a fact—you’re an American. Spend some personal time getting to know hard knocks life math and while you’re at it, learn how to garden—make yourself a carrot tree for Christmas in the winter by ‘polyurethaning’ what you grew for preservation months earlier. You won’t be able to afford a Christmas tree so plan yearly and early on. Soon you’ll be an artist too! Sidenote, feel free to send me some cash to my paypal account for these free pointers. Please go to PayPal.com and send your payment to: firstname.lastname@example.org
What? Who’s that speaking in the meadow? Say it again- So what you’ve really been saying this whole time is that, if I go to school I will not get a better job? Yes, good job, you listened. That sums up the last 20 minutes I’ve spoken. Like I said, unlearn everything.
What am I supposed to do then? Do what you want and do it well, learn it yourself for cheaper, do it and live it every day. Now, please send a payment to me: email@example.com
What? What peasant is speaking out of turn here?! Speak up- Why will I not get a better job if I find one?! Why? Common sense, math, science: there aren’t any jobs unless you want to serve drinks to people with little ambition who can afford to eat well more than one time a week. Your existence is a series of numbers on paper to the establishment. You exist to be contained. You’d be a fool to go to Harvard, then say, relocate back to a place on earth your family and friends have called home, a place like Rockford, IL. You’re never going to get a speed boat or a dental plan that way! Your potential is all yours if you want to use it. It is not your family & friends to control, or your future bosses & spouses to determine, remember that. The ceiling is set—now break it till the dust settles on the consciences of all those who have held you back.
Career opportunities are the ones that never knock. Every job they offer you is to keep you out the dock. Career opportunity, the ones that never knock. – Joe Strummer
The majority of you kids have no idea what I’m talking about yet. Some of you are happy enough to receive an acceptance letter to the school your parents can or can’t afford to pay for. Many, many, many of you have no idea what kind of alternate paperwork you just signed your life away on to receive the loans you’ll need to get through school. Read the paperwork, seriously. These loans will stick with you for the rest of your life unless someone rich you know dies and leaves you millions to pay off your debts. Plan on dying with your good debts as the (liars, all debts are bad) bank and financial professionals call them.
Many of you have more doubts than debts right now about higher education and have been questioning the need for school for quite a while. It may have hit you recently at the grocery store, while waiting in the self-check out aisle for a store assistant to clear the purchase of beer and oranges; or it hit you in the 3rd grade and you’ve been miserable for a very long time even though you make everyone laugh. It’s that moment you realize you’re smarter than the teachers and fellow students you’re surrounded by. It is not a glorious realization, it’s a miserable, condescending self-awareness, and in many cases it means you’ve questioned your existence quite longer than your peers and superiors. Superiors will waste your time! The nerves of peasants, faculty and student body, gathering to celebrate team pride on a Friday when you could have spent that last hour of school listening to a record at home learning something that will last a lifetime. It’s infuriating and time-consuming realizing you’ve lived life on everyone else’s schedules. Cheer up, you still have time to throw it back your way now!
What’s that in the rafters? Me? When did I- When did you know how to unlearn everything? 5th grade was the first hint here, approximately. That year climaxed with a 50+ page report on the state of Massachusetts, hand written with hand drawn illustrations and charts about the state; its history, facts, demographics and economic well-being with references and citations. Other students chose less worthy states out of a hat. Whoever got Illinois & California must have ended up lying the best for 50 pages in hindsight. I got lucky with Massachusetts as there’s 5,000 pages that could be written about one of our great American states responsible for spreading democracy and bloodshed by any means necessary. The grade, a very good one, did not matter; the feeling I received from doing the paper has lasted a lifetime. It meant everything and nothing… it proved hard work was worth nothing in the end. I didn’t get a cookie or day off from school for all that hard work. I got a fucking letter A and a good job! I did not get a paid day off from school or an immediate promotion to 6th grade or beyond. Hard work rewards nothing.
Is it worth the aggravation, to find yourself a job when there’s nothing worth working for? – Noel Gallagher
Sweet bearded baby Jesus, what child is talking out of line now? Why would we pay to be bored to death? You’ll hear repeatedly that what you put into it, is what you get out of it. There are many lies that many of you kids are simply going to pay for. It’s an unfortunate part of life you’ll learn how to fake through further as you already have without knowing.
Me? I should have taken a cue from Mr. Westerberg, he who never formally finished high school, and doesn’t drive a car, became one of our great American songwriters; and in a much cheaper, rewarding way, he became my favorite teacher too. I never had to meet the guy or sit in his classroom and when I couldn’t take it another minute? Hit the stop button. Kids, think about how wonderfully peaceful and rewarding life could have been for you up till now if your superiors who’ve wasted half your waking life on came with a stop button. A minute was, and is still, never wasted with Mr. Westerberg’s lessons.
Knowledge is power, got your books go read ’em. Wisdom is ignorance; stupidity I call freedom. – Paul Westerberg
I heard Knockin on Mine in 1993. It’s the intro track by Paul Westerberg on his first solo release,14 Songs. Many of Westerberg’s lyrics and songs performed with The Replacements connected with many disillusioned kids like me throughout middle & high school. What I realized with Knockin on Mine and 1 year of college under the belt then was that some of us were being taught life lessons by Mr. Westerberg instead of the teachers with Masters and PhDs we paid with the Department of Education’s cash that they borrowed from China. Their monotonous deliveries couldn’t compete with him or many other writers disguised as song and dance men n’ women. The same said record that features Knockin on Mine‘s lesson comes with a great buried treasure, the home recording, Black Eyed Susan. Nothing fancy, just immediate, raw, songwriting. Combined with the discovery of Pavement’s lofi,Slanted and Enchanted the year before, and the glistening Bandwagonesque by Teenage Fanclub, I was being taught lessons outside of class that have lasted me a lifetime so far, for the cost of a few cassettes. No dotted lines, interest rates and bi-annual deferments. Some of you are going to discover the best teachers and lessons you’re unlearning are coming from records, writers and outside influences.
Some people they gotta work. Well I just hang around dreaming up useless stuff. – David Lowery
Five last positive lessons I’ll leave you to unlearn on this your day, your very special day to move on to something better—sorry, I take that back, I lied. I meant, ‘something.’
1) To anyone who advises you in an act of reverse positive psychology that the grass isn’t always greener somewhere else, tell them it must be the cows’ fault, or that they need to try switching up fertilizer brands.
2) Remember to pause and stare back (see Tim UK and Jim US for a good example); and don’t forget, your hard work’s reward is right there on their face staring back at ya right before they open their mouth to tell you about positive attitudes, hoping for the best and green, green grass!
3) Think twice before you sign the dotted lines on any loans unless you know there’s a job for you or a room for a well-insulated casket.
4) Pause to waste someone else’s time just like yours has been wasted; and just like I attempted doing to you again, here, today.
5) Please send a few bucks to my PayPal account as a thank you for the lessons I taught you for free today; lessons that your underpaid teachers were too afraid of losing their jobs over telling you instead. Remember that lying is A-OK if you want to keep your job before you ultimately lose it in the end despite your efforts. Please go to PayPal now on your iPads, iPhones, Smart phones, or simply remember with an old-fashioned pencil (or a pen), along with a little piece of paper, to send money to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welp. This was fun! I’d like to thank the Deans, your Principals and the Jr. Assistant Accountant who doubles as the Sr. Human Resources Director (team player, state budget reasons) for letting me share this amazing day with you for free. I’d also like to thank the hard-working, tax paying people of Illinois for allowing $9.59 an hour before taxes with a required college degree to draft my speech for all of you last night in preparation for today’s celebration! This was a real gift to be here talking to you like this, sharing your special day and preparing you for the best of what’s to—wait, hold—I’m supposed to warn you that there are cookies, orange drinks, coffee and miniature ham sandwiches waiting in the back of the meadow behind the staff and your superior significant others near the rafters. Yeah, go on, clap for yourselves, I’m talking to all you out there sweating it out in the sun! Listen, kids, seriously speaking here, I gotta wrap this shit up. I’d be careful from here on out, and if I were you I’d skip the snacks and go get drunk instead after sitting through this. Maybe you’ll still wake up tomorrow wanting to get married, employed, pregnant, arrested, divorced, fired and drunk again. If that’s the case, well, as I said before, do it and do it well. So go on now, leave. Your time will never be now again. I leave you bold, freedom.