Why-to drive a car
Somewhere in the hubbub of human history, humanity found time to develop the automobile. With horse drawn carriages only moving so fast and so far, the car seemed like the obvious next step in the evolution of transportation technology. And, before the appearance of freeways and the innovation of the traffic jam, cars were generally considered a quick way to get from point A to point B. So, driving a car can seem like a very practical thing to do.
Cars can also be extremely beautiful to look at, molded from metals and plastics into magnificent shapes. Some sleek and aerodynamic, resembling creatures of mythology - such as the faux dragons, the Lamborgini and the Ferrari. Others boxy or bubbly, favoring a friendly look over a hip one.
Why-to use geometric principles to design cars:
When Buckminster Fuller designed his Dymaxion Car in 1933, it was 20 feet long, twice the length of a standard automobile. It fit up to eleven people and got 30 miles to the gallon. It had two wheels at the front and one wheel responsible for steering in the back, which allowed it to do a U-turn the length of the entire car. And, as was essential for many of Bucky’s designs, this streamlined teardrop could be easily folded up and unfolded.
Throughout Fuller’s career, the architect, philosopher, and mathematician explained that he did not care whether or not his designs were appealing to the eye. Ideas of aesthetic beauty, he thought, were often based on trends and designing things with those ideas in mind was foolish. He believed, instead, that, if you were to design something based off of nature’s basic principles, they would have an organic beauty to them and, more importantly, they would be sound and efficient. He drafted a variety of structures that were meant not only to be cheap and easy to build and transport, but that would use minimal amounts of energy and withstand great force. The reason for this was that he wanted to provide every human being with the resources needed to survive, such as stable housing, and he wanted them to be able to achieve this by doing more with less.
It’s hard for me to imagine the seemingly counterintuitive Dymaxion Car achieving overwhelming popularity today, but it’s still tragic to think that the only reason that production on the car stopped was because the other car filming it at the World’s Fair crashed into it, killing the driver and injuring two passengers.
Whether it be cute or cool, driving a good looking car can fill you with a sense of confidence, even if you’ve done nothing to earn it.
They’re also a mobile room where you can truly be yourself and meditate. A few years ago, I drove across the country alone for two months. It was so strange. I basically stayed at the houses or apartments of friends and family that plotted a route outlining the United States. I went from Los Angeles, through the South, over to Florida to see my sister and my newly born niece, up to Boston, over to Chicago (where I’m from), to Seattle and back home to LA.
The reason for this trip was that I needed to be alone. I was in that terrible relationship where I couldn’t end up being myself and had to keep my thoughts and opinions locked inside of my head because, if I disagreed with her, I’d have to defend myself and my defenses would always be taken apart very quickly, until I was convinced that they were wrong. I never liked debate in school, so I was never very good at it. She, on the other hand, was on the debate team in high school, so seeing flaws in the arguments of her various opponents was never a problem.
This trip was the beginning of a liberation process for me that made me think that I could slowly get away from her and make a full break. And I think it really might’ve worked.
Why-to consider the mechanics behind the operation of cars:
Though I enjoyed the constantly fluctuating scenery, I often thought, while I was driving, that a really great thing about cars is the actual mechanics behind their operation. Starting a gas-powered car requires a tiny explosion caused by a spark of electricity sent from the car’s battery to the car’s engine when you turn the key. After the initial spark, the powerful pistons in the engine move up and down, letting a little bit of gasoline and air into a chamber to be ignited. The gas that results from the explosion is then sent out of the chamber to turn the wheels, attached to the engine by an axle. The wheels use the friction between the rubber tires and the earth to pull the car forward. As you accelerate, the car picks up to merciless speeds and, soon, you are travelling quicker than the fastest animal on land.
When you’re driving, music acts as a soundtrack for the road. Some songs fit the prairie, others the desert, and there are even songs perfect for cruising through the city with friends. On my trip, I had to pre-plan a lot of my music just to keep myself occupied while driving. I planned out a playlist of songs for each part of the journey. I used country music for the West and Southwest. Then I had some more pastoral and upbeat rock songs for the South. And so on. I also brought a tape recorder so that I could brainstorm ideas for novels, songs, jokes, and the purpose of life. There were times when I said some pretty crazy stuff into that microphone. For instance, I thought that maybe, before life existed, every person was connected together as one, but then life happened and we all got put into our own subjective bodies. So now everyone looks familiar, like we’ve all been through something together but we can’t quite remember what it was. That other place where we’re all together still exists in another dimension, but it’s hard to access on a regular basis. If it’s true, I wonder if we’d ever return to that dimension again permanently.
The highlights of the trip were seeing my aunt Mimi and cousin Robert in Austin, TX during a beautifully humid couple of days, holding my new niece, Maya, in Tampa, going on the “People’s Barcrawl” with my friends at the University of Illinois, and also seeing Seattle, which I’d never seen before. The negatives were: that girl (who I don’t want to call my girlfriend) came on the barcrawl, losing my glasses in Oakland, and losing my sweatshirt in Illinois.
Why-to not drive cars:
Currently, cars running on gasoline damage the very livelihood of the Earth. They pump poisonous toxins into the air, which negatively affects the respiratory systems of all oxygen breathing life. Greenhouse gases reduce the ozone layer so that the Earth heats up to the point where it can no longer sustain organisms that depend on cooler or more temperate climates. Skin cancer could likely become a rising problem. The oil necessary to fuel automobiles is not a sustainable source of energy and, so, countries that have access to oil become disputed territories for countries that depend on oil to maintain their present lifestyle. Power struggles often occur in these territories, which lead to a loss of life and morale for the countries involved in these disputes - which are not simple skirmishes, but long lasting wars that affect every other aspect of life on the planet.
If cars can use a more sustainable, less hazardous fuel - such as biofuel or solar, electric, or hydrogen power - the aforementioned dangers can be avoided or, at least, substantially reduced. There will still be the problem of noise pollution, congestion, and physical danger, however. Drivers tend to blast music and honk horns and the very noise of them whizzing by at great speeds builds up to create overwhelming commotion in busy cities. Noise pollution is just one of many stressors that exist in urban environments and can cause an increase in mental illness and decrease in physical health. Driving in traffic is a terrible hassle and leads to road range amongst the drivers. Finally, cars weigh a couple tons and travel very quickly so that any accident that might happen has the potential to cause property damage, not to mention death.
The benefits of public transportation or manual transportation, such as biking and walking, might call out to some people. Public transportation, which can be crowded at times, relieves you of most of the responsibility of getting to a destination, freeing up time for other pursuits, such as reading a book or magazine or even striking up conversations with fellow passengers. Maybe, just maybe, there is some solution, then, to the overpopulation problem, the chaos problem. If we could just think outside of the box, use some elbow grease, and apply ourselves, a new option, a new activity free of moral depravity or ambiguity would present itself.
All beliefs acting as working hypotheses, there are times when I wax teleonomical and see an intrinsic desire to blossom in all things. Because, if history is real, or, at least, the majority of the population agrees that time exists, then, based on past events, there might be a predictable future.
Originally, we might suppose that human beings began on this planet “naked and helpless”, in the words of Buckminster Fuller, exploring the environment with partially closed eyes. Through the development of language, they were able to exchange vital information regarding their survival and learn what dangers to avoid, how to overcome obstacles, and what tools might best give them an evolutionary advantage. Once a culture began to develop, language was used to transmit information over time via oral histories, which eventually became written histories. Abstract concepts made it possible to reason large scale patterns and, even, to imagine elaborate fantasies.
Eventually, technologies and practices were developed that pushed humans from an existence of meager subsistence to something a bit more comfortable: agriculture to allow for a sedentary lifestyle, roads and wheels to to permit ease of transportation, and weapons to make hunting less of a strenuous activity. Of course, in some societies, hierarchies were formed that directed the flow of resources to those who wielded the most power. Kings or queens ruled over entire populations and a tiny minority thrived at the expense of a desolate majority. Disease spread and little was known about the forces at work behind everyday phenomena, such as gravity or the movement of subatomic particles. But, as humanity learned about its existence and an understanding about the disparity between the powerful and the meek spread, revolutions took place and that disparity was beginning to lessen.
Soon, the population of the world, through the use of network communications, became interconnected. Literacy spread across the globe. The histories and cultural practices that were once transmitted in small communities via oral and written storytelling, were being transmitted to a vast population of 7 billion people. Stand-up comedians would reflect on the nature of existence with humor. Artists would show the world through abstract symbols. Urban planners would organize efficient cities. Human rights organizations would utilize grass roots campaigns and unwieldy bureaucracies to ensure the actualization of the disenfranchised. Environmental activists would try to bring the Earth to a state of homeostasis. Though the process was not yet streamlined, the hive mind still schizophrenic, there was an awareness breaking through the once naked and helpless collective. Individuals throughout history had gained the ability to stare into natural bodies of water and see themselves, but this was the first time in history that the species as a whole could look into the enormous mirror of the world to see its own reflection and ask, consciously and knowingly, the question that had always been at the heart of things: why?
Of course, this is only true if we choose to believe in the days that precede today and count on coming tomorrows. Otherwise, life might be constrained to a single moment which we are doomed to watch birth and die on a diurnal basis for all of eternity. Our actions then, though delicately beautiful in their daily witherings, would be of no lasting consequence. Our wills would be pointless and directionless, our suffering meaningless in the absence of any end. However, if time is real, based on a group consensus to believe in a hallucination, there might be some point at the end of this heliotropic tunnel in which that question is finally answered, revealing that the blood, sweat, and tears needed to even begin to ask it were really worth it after all.
Why-to believe that drag is a legitimate form of art:
Chad Michaels presents zir own why-to guide to why-to-guide.com! Thanks, Chad!
Why-to re-write a why-to on RuPaul:
Completely immersed in the why-to craze and the unending search for that “next, hit why-to”, you might forget what the point of writing a why-to is in the first place. Aside from being a short and helpful guide to motivate one’s pursuit of activities either a.) previously not pursued or b.) pursued so regularly that no one knows or remembers why they’re doing them in the first place, a why-to is supposed to be compelling in some way. That is to say that a why-to should at least be a bit interesting and I’m not sure that my last why-to on RuPaul’s Drag Race was all that interesting. It seemed to be missing an essential aspect of the show, that is: the inherent sensuality of the world of drag.
Why-to delve into the sensual world of RuPaul’s Drag Race:
The opening credits of the show are an onslaught of vibrant technicolor the likes of which could only be invented in the post-nuclear era. Vector cut-outs of RuPaul in drag pink patent leather are hurled at the screen while her flamboyant dance music pumps a bassy theme song that reminds you of which show you’re watching and exactly the reason you’re watching it because, beyond the subversion of homosexual drag queens competing for thousands of dollars and a gay cruise, there is the pulsating light and sound of the show, the reminder that you are alive.
As a survival mechanism, your brain is normally numbed to the overwhelming texture of senses constantly affecting your body. If you were truly aware of just how much stimuli was flying by you at all times, your brain would suffer a violent embolism and the blood cells beneath the surface of your skull would burst. So, when you see the show’s drag queen line-up, there is a kick to the head that lets just a fraction of that stimuli through to your conscious mind. Men strap themselves up in sequin dresses that reflect solar systems of light from each tiny, plastic mirror that covers their body. They flip through their make-up kits for a palette of neon colors just this side of comprehension - flashing orange, glittered magenta, toxic green - and apply them to their faces in just such a way as to conceal their god given fault lines, the cracks of age, the greasy blemishes of organic life, the rugged edges associated with masculinity. Many of their outfits are hand made, created through years of diligent work and self-reliance. And they have spent all of their free time crafting unique stage personas with which to attract the attentions of audiences of people. They caw and cackle so as to declare themselves that much more worthy of attention than any competing sub-standard queen unable to fully summon the power of the spotlight. And, weeding out the worst and the boring, the most compelling and luckiest queens rise to the surface and broadcast themselves out to the masses via LogoTV.
Why-to examine the style of particular drag queens:
No one was more aware of the mechanics of beauty, art, and attention-crafting than season 3’s winner, Raja. Raja, a tall, thin, and racially ambiguous make-up artist based in Los Angeles, wielded a knowledge of the fashion scene, knowing just how to render a drag outfit that was both visually cutting edge and almost wearable. Raja’s tribal ensemble was a runway interpretation of a 60’s copy of National Geographic. Racist though it may have been, it was certainly only mimicking the racism of the dominant, white gaze.
Manila Luzon, the next best contender of that season, is an expert at dragifying any concept, any object, any pop reference, any cartoon from your childhood. Her entrance onto All Stars showcased a Cruella de Ville look complete with a hat made from an elegant hand holding a long, thin cigarette holder. Where Raja maintained class, Manila went for wit. And, on All Stars, showcased just how high brow her references could get with an homage to Ingmar Bergman’s existential masterpiece, The Seventh Seal, dressing herself as a dragged-up version of Bergman’s chess playing death.
And last year’s winner, Sharon Needles, somehow managed to do both. She knew both the high class runway and the low class alleyways, forming a Gothic, punk persona out of the broken memories of an awkward gay teen coming up in a testosterone pumped world of death and pointless, money-driven carnage. Beaten back by mainstream society, Sharon Needles turned her bruised and bloodied face towards normativity and reflected back its worst nightmare: a man consciously dressed to be a woman so ugly that she was beautiful. But it wasn’t Sharon’s style that won the hearts of audience members; it was her personality. She managed, in the heat of competition, to always show compassion to her fellow human beings and, despite what anyone might say about the show being edited to create such a character, there was a compassion that shone through the thick layers of artifice - the ersatz of gender twice over, of humanity, of reality itself - to reveal the person behind the persona of Sharon Needles to be a good and decent soul.
Almost more importantly than the rainbow of colors and personalities springing forth from the human life that makes up the show’s contestants is the ruler zirself, RuPaul. There is something, not dissimilar from that which breathes at the heart of Sharon Needles, emanating from the show’s host. With each meeting she has with a Drag Race queen or a Drag U woman broken by a patriarchy bent on pushing females through the processor of meaningless, unattainable standards and double standards, you can see a kindness glowing from RuPaul. As a female, she strives for the patriarchal epitome of feminine beauty, a self-made black Barbie doll that refused to play the hand that god dealt. As a male, he maintains a style and grace evidenced by plaid suits tailored to his slender, tall frame. And as both, zhe laughs in the face of clothes meant to serve practicality, to protect you from the elements, and instead declares that one’s attire is meant to inspire.
Why-to consider the practical nature of clothing:
At the same time that the beautifully detailed and, no doubt, expensive nature of Ru’s clothes should be lauded, we might wonder what the world would be like if the fashion industry, at least in its current, high-profit form, were done away with entirely and if the profits from the industry were instead redirected to the world’s unclothed or barely clothed homeless. While drag queens are capable of creating art out of scraps of clothing for thousands of dollars and a gay cruise on national television, there are people who can barely afford to wrap themselves in the barest of fabrics just to fight the elements and stave off pneumonia.
My eyes are magnetically drawn to Ru, as he strides elegantly into the workroom with a task for the contestants to complete. The clothes match his edges perfectly with lines latticed along his figure as if to say
Why-to zoom into the fabrics of RuPaul’s suit:
Live among the fibers, the individual strands of wool shorn from some distant sheep somewhere. A field of beige and brown linen made from millions of years of cosmic unraveling. The color brown itself a concept conceived by entropy and there, among the wool, the wind of the working world coasts down and pays me a visit in perfect isolation. No people (except, of course, Danielle - my one true love). Just this suit. After being stranded there for some time, we construct a modest house out of thread and static electricity. We create a suit guitar and play a tune on our fiber porch, twiddling songs and whistling Dixie and living the life meant for two human beings who have every thing they need in life except for the means to maintain it and waiting for the day that it will all come to an end. The sun sets among the fields of tailored Italian micro-wheat subsidized by a benign gay cross-dresser turned entrepreneur and we finally rest for an eternity, at which point RuPaul takes off his suit, having served its essential purpose, and hangs it in the back of his closet - no, in a glass case monument to be worshiped by the whole of mankind. He puts on tomorrow’s suit for some other unfortunate wonderer to be sucked into for all time.
And, as the winners and losers are decided by men and women and men dressed as women, the fabric of the whole mess is revealed: in a world where we are all gods, the concept of divinity has little value.
But, waiting in anticipation for the next episode, I am reminded of something even more important: in a world where we are all capable of cruelty and twisting the noses of our fellow sufferers, the slightest hint of divinity in any of this can be something worth living for.
So, as we get lost in the endless rush to find that “next, big why-to”, it’s important for us to take a moment to reflect again on why-to why-to. Are these why-tos just supposed to be helpful? Are they simply meant to convey information? Or is there another type of information, the information of the senses, that must be paid tribute to in order to remember, fundamentally, why-to.
Why-to vote RuPaul for president:
Normally, a candidate will tell voters that s/he has years of experience doing this or that or that or this, which makes him/her eligible for president. If we are going to have presidents in the United States, or in the world for that matter, there’s no one better to transform things than RuPaul.
Why-to watch RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race:
The basic format of the series is like any other “reality game show” or “reality competition”, such as Project Runway. There are competitors vying to be the best at what they do in order to win prizes, money, fame, and, possibly most importantly, recognition that they are the best at their craft. Winners, losers, flashy colors and quick edits to give the impression that there is a story, that there is drama between the contestants who are portrayed as characters, rather than human beings, that there is a beginning, a middle, and an end. So, anyone who is uninterested in reality TV, gay culture, drag culture, or drag queens would most likely roll their eyes and flip the channel if this came on.
While the normally dulled senses of a television viewer won’t really register it, what the show does is almost mind blowingly transgressive and subversive. It is featured on Logo, cable’s “gay channel”, which is already treading into firsts territory because this is a demographic that, until recently, was completely neglected as a legitimate consumer group. Then, Ru’s show features a sub-culture of a sub-culture, a minority of a minority. Though I don’t generally like to assume, I think that it can be said that all of the participants on the show are homosexual, so we are looking at a narrow group of drag queen homosexuals or homosexual drag queens.
Additionally, it expands notions of beauty to include all shapes and sizes, featuring many plus-sized queens proud of being bbws, at the same time as it examines and cross-examines beauty and femininity.
Why-to watch RuPaul’s Drag U:
Drag U, though it’s not quite as compelling as Drag Race because it doesn’t have the season-long story arc and characters, provides its own unique critique of the feminine ideal. By offering drag queens, men who have closely studied and exaggerated the traits of feminine beauty, as experts to women who want to feel beautiful again, the social construct of beauty becomes obvious. “Who better to instruct a woman on how to be a woman than a man pretending to be a woman?” becomes the strange rhetorical question that runs through your mind.
The best part of the show isn’t the critique, in my opinion; it’s Ru’s one-on-one meetings with the three female contestants. Most of these women have undergone some recent trauma, the loss of a partner or a divorce, and simply lack any confidence in themselves. Ru suggests that each woman’s drag persona is a model of empowerment. Just as the men on Drag Race transform themselves into these powerful female figures, women on Drag U can turn themselves into their feminine ideals to gain some sense of confidence. And because, in this show, beauty isn’t determined by the dominant society with its unrealistic standards of skinny, blemish-free, white attractiveness, these women can learn to construct their own ideas of beauty for themselves. And that’s what drag is all about.
This sort of programming would be unthinkable twenty to thirty years ago. It doesn’t just frame drag as a legitimate way of life and form of art, it contextualizes it as empowering - almost the highest form of art.
Why-to think of drag as the highest form of art:
Of course, we can look at drag as the highest form of art from a sheer quantitative point of view. As Ru puts it: “Tell Tyra that the Queen has returned, and while you’re at it have, Heidi clear the runway. I’m going to pump some ‘realness’ into reality. To be a winner on this show the contestants need to be a fashion designer, an American Idol, and a top model all rolled up into one. And they definitely have to be smarter than a fifth grader.” The best drag queens often combine a knowledge of fashion, performance, art, sexuality, gender, and history of drag to create highly conceptual works of persona art. For instance season 4’s winner, Sharon Needles, somehow retained the camp of early drag queens while remaining fashion forward, pushing the boundaries of what could be considered fashionable. In the very first episode, he dressed as a post-apocalyptic Nosferatu with a bald head, feminine face, and blood dripping from his mouth. He was like Lady Gaga meets Samantha from Bewitched or Elvira meets the creature from Alien.
More importantly, though, we might think of it as the highest form of art if we consider Foucault’s interpretation of art. While I didn’t exactly understand the whole thing, I did gleam a few bits from Madness and Civilization. For Foucault, art is one of those few bits of insanity that is accepted in society. It’s that crazy that doesn’t seem so crazy because we label it “art”. So, art can act as a gateway to that borderless world that existed before distinct categories and perceptual and linguistic labels. Drag seems to be the epitome of that gateway. I can’t even watch the show without getting tripped up over my use of gender pronouns. I don’t know whether or not to call contestants men or women or what and no other show has ever done that to me in the same way. You start to lose all track of gender and begin to see these elaborate works of art walking around the stage parodying every aspect of normative culture and even drag itself.
Why-to watch Paris is Burning:
My perfect and beautiful fiance, Danielle, and I were watching this documentary the other day about the drag balls put on by drag queens in the 80s. I had no idea that Drag Race had come out of this tradition of informal contests thrown in places like New York City. The boundaries of these drag balls were dropped even further than those of what I’ve seen on Logo because there were no sponsors, no mass television audiences. And so, men and women alike would dress in costumes that really challenged race, gender, and class. For instance, there were realness awards for men who could act the most straight. So, you’d see men dressing like men and acting like men in the subtlest of satire because, for these gay men, passing as “straight” was a normal part of life, a part of survival. There were men dressed in military uniforms, African-American women dressed as rich and elegant white women, African-American men dressed as white business moguls. The one thing that Drag Race is missing, then, is the expansiveness of earlier drag balls that critiqued wealth, sexuality, and even the very basic roles that we take for granted in society on a daily basis.
Eventually, from watching enough of these shows, it becomes clear how constructed every aspect of our lives is. Our very clothing is an art to be performed. The way we carry ourselves and interact with others is a part of our well-rehearsed persona. The whole thing starts to resemble a simulacrum fueled by commerce and capitalism and, if even a tiny ounce of that feeling of falseness makes it into the subconsciousness of the show’s 720,000 Facebook fans, an awareness might break through our civilization that leads us to begin to ask the question “why?”, eventually returning us to Foucault’s zero point.
The most recent season, of course, features the runner ups and favorite non-winners of the previous four seasons, including Manila Luzon, Latrice Royale, Raven, Jujubee, Nina Flowers, Tammie Brown, Alexis Mateo, Yara Sofia, Shannel, Chad Michaels, Pandora Boxx, and Mimi Imfurst - who isn’t exactly a favorite, but more of a loose cannon. So, this season will be especially exciting as we get to watch our favorite queens, the best of the best really, push their creative limits in trying to beat one another. If this is how capitalism is supposed to work, then it might not be such a bad thing, as long as I get to see Manila Luzon create a high fashion concept piece inspired by a children’s TV show, like she did with her recent Teletubby outfits or her Big Bird dress in the past.
Not only is RuPaul the best dressed female on TV, but he is the best dressed male, and one of the most transgressive and subversive entrepreneurs in the entertainment industry, promoting a change that I can truly believe in. And the foundation for such a method… is love, as Ru ends Drag Race by saying, “if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else? Can I get an amen?” and ends Drag U more simply by saying, “everybody say ‘love’!”, prompting a rousing cheer of “love!” from the audience. Only in a RuPaul America would we be able to transcend traditional notions of beauty, gender, and sexuality while still learning to love ourselves and those around us. Who knows if she’d be able to properly run a country, but he’d certainly be able to pick a cabinet that could, as we’ve seen him pick such deserving winners as Raja and Sharon Needles on Drag Race. And, even if Ru never did face issues of class head on, as seen in Paris Is Burning, I would still vote for her before anyone else, aside from, possibly, Noam Chomsky and Ralph Nader.
A few of the different radio stations I called. I edited them down for brevity’s sake, but in the order that they are recorded: KXLU, KLOS, KROQ, and 104.3myFM. It’s difficult to determine from the recording, but you can tell that KXLU, the college radio station, really had a good time speaking with me. The man from KLOS was very respectful. I was transferred to a few different people at KROQ. And I was threatened by 104.3myFM.
Why-to listen to college radio:
College radio broadcasts are one of the few things on the airwaves that you can tune into in order to hear those with the opportunity to attend institutions of higher learning engage in intelligent chatter about their eclectic tastes in music, their informed views on political issues, and their various interpersonal relationships, social gatherings, and brushes with overindulgence in drugs and alcohol. These young people have a chance to speak their minds, no matter how aimless or misguided, and introduce their many listeners to music and ideas that they may not have previously experienced, like ska, for instance.
More importantly, however, because college radio is not as heavily monitored and enforced as mainstream stations, such as those owned by the Clear Channel mega-corporation or the General Electric mega-mega-corporation, the DJs can play and say almost anything they like. Their minds may be less heavily structured by the rigid social mores enforced on those living outside of the collegiate bubble. And, so, they may be more open to diverse opinions and beliefs.
Why-to call a college radio station:
They may even engage in the occasional phone conversation with an audience member. After calling the nine top college radio stations, according to the Huffington Post, as well as Loyola Marymount’s KXLU, I realized that these idle young DJs have not a care in the world and will even speak with me for a whole six or seven minutes.
Why-to call a mainstream rock station:
Of course, one shouldn’t be biased in generalizing the types of people that broadcast media in this world. While it’s easy to stereotype college students as willing to spend endless amounts of time just sitting there and listening to almost anyone or anything, one can find the same sort of care and respect in speaking with full-fledged adults. I called FM 95.5, a Los Angeles based rock station, and the man who answered my call was willing to speak with me for a whole six or seven minutes as well. He told me that I made very good points and he was generally quite respectful.
Why-to not call a mainstream adult contemporary station:
I also called 104.3MyFM, a Los Angeles adult contemporary station, at 818-559-2252. When greeted by the receptionist, “Good morning. Clear Channel. How can I help you?”, I began asking that most meaningful of questions, “Do you ever wonder why you’re alive?” I told her all about my why-to guide, how helpful I thought it would be to the world - or, at least, could be to the world. I was told by the woman who answered that I was not “conversating”. Of course, I was probably too excited to let her get a word in edgewise, but that hardly warrants “reporting my number”.
Why-to not report someone’s number to the authorities:
If reporting my number meant that she was giving it to the authorities, I could get in quite a lot of trouble, had I been doing something illegal or if they found out that I had been doing other illegal things completely unrelated to calling radio stations. Either way, the phone call was harmless enough and would only deter me from calling others in the future. In other words, if the point of punishment is to deter people from committing socially unwanted acts,
Why-to deter people form committing socially unwanted acts:
As a teeming mass of 7 billion people, living a semi-harmonious existence with one another can be quite difficult. It’s possible that things like “crime” and “punishment” are meant to keep us organized as a society. By deeming murder a “punishable act”, for instance, we may feel some comfort walking around and thinking that, for the most part, not many people would risk being imprisoned to kill us.
At the same time, some behaviors can be punished to help maintain the current power structure. So, for instance, treason is a punishable act because it keeps national security from being challenged and the ruling government - the government that enforces the laws regarding itself and within itself - from being challenged. Therefore, in the case of something like Wikileaks, which may provide useful information regarding the military conduct of a government, a government that feels threatened by the organization can try to incarcerate the group’s leader as a means of keeping power. So, while Julian Assange may provide evidence of the U.S. Military killing civilians in the Middle East as a way of holding the U.S. government accountable, keeping it transparent, and keeping the populace free, the United States government, as well as many other governments, can try to incarcerate him “in the name of national security”.
this receptionist may have been preventing me from connecting with others, from reaching out to people, perhaps in a time of great emotional and psychological duress. For all she knows, I could be quite on the verge of a mental breakdown and her cold reaction could have put me over the edge. Of course, that’s only a hypothetical, but the threat is very real.
When I called back to ask to be put on the air with “whoever the current DJ is” - well, of course he knew better than to do that and, instead, redirected my call to someone in charge of programming. I left a brief message and hope to hear back from KLOS quite soon.
It’s that kind of attention paid on the phone with a complete stranger that helps me retain faith in humanity, and even myself. If a young ska fan in a college radio booth will talk to me, listen to my woes, and reflect on the plight of humanity with me, it’s possible that many more will do so. And soon, it’s possible that we’ll be able to move forward and work together with a universal goal mind. Perhaps, one that improves humanity’s overall place in this world.