OH FUCK MUTHERFUCKER NOW YOU'RE WINDING ME UP
Because beer fucking sucks right now.
You know it, you just don't want to admit it - beer is straight-up bullshit at the moment. Yeah, sure there's a million tiny shitty little breweries out there but they're all being bought up one by one by AB InBev or SAB Miller and they all make fucking IPA. You know what IPA is? It's the beer you make when you don't have the room to make beer - IPA requires no refrigeration to make. It's that shit you made in your dorm room when the RA wasn't watching. It's that swill that tastes the same whether it's turned or not because they sell it to you pre-turned. It's that shit you drink because hefeweizens are too heavy - you know, the beer that they've convinced you to put an orange slice in it so it doesn't taste quite so much like pruno.
Fortunately for the beer companies, your tiny shitty little IPA from bumblesquatch colorado can be sold for fuckin' $2.50 a bottle because it says you need a lumberbeard to drink it or some shit, as opposed to $1.25 a bottle for pilsners that you're shipping from Canada or Copenhagen (or brewing down the street, but as we all know your dad's macrobrews have been fucking terrible for decades, that's why we started down this road). Unfortunately for the beer companies, nobody wants to spend fucking $9 for a sixer of Fat Tire anymore and the alternative you're offering them is fucking Michelob Ultra Organic or some shit which tastes about the same as Zima without the sugar, assuming you remember what Zima is. Fortunately nobody remembers Zima or Bartles & Jaymes so let's try selling them "summer shandy" or "radler" because a wine cooler by any other name would taste as cloyingly sweet.
LOOK AT THIS PICTURE.
LOOK AT IT.
Bud. Light. Lime. STRAW ber RITA. "Try it over ice!" What. The Actual. Fuck. This is AB InBev throwing their hands in the goddamn air and saying "we never knew why they liked our swill in the first place, mix a Kool-Aid packet in there and see if they buy it." Meanwhile the beer that everyone drank forever is fucking gone, yo. When was the last time you saw an Anchor Steam? I mean, I live 150 miles from the brewery and I have a hard time finding Weinhard's.
I used to drink Kirin Light. Now I can't even find Kirin.
I used to drink Amstel Light. I haven't seen it at the market in three years.
I'm drinking Sam Adams Light - and that'll work - but it is literally the only drinkable light beer left at my supermarket. They generally have three cases of Sam Adams, two cases of Sam Adams Light, five cases of Heineken, two cases of Heineken light, and an entire aisle of various and sundry IPAs.
And those fucking "summer shandys."
You know what I drink down here in LA?
They've got me drinking Russian beer, yo. I live in goddamn America, home of the macrowbrew and because the industry is pushing trasherita premix I'm drinkin' shit that's been shipped from SAINT FUCKING PETERSBERG.
Let's drive a stake through the heart of the whole goddamn industry. I'm so completely fucking over the direction it's taken. Kill this bitch so we can bury it and move the fuck on.
'K. So. That was delicious.
The "disappearance" of "telephone culture" is a direct consequence of place and decorum in that telephones used to be for places. You had a home phone and an office phone and if you needed to be reached at the office you had a number. If you needed to be reached at home it was presumed it was someone who knew you personally, wanted to know you personally, or had something important to communicate.
A phone was not an obligation - a phone was a tool for communicating within certain settings. And because phones were controlled by large monopolies with ridiculous build cost and tremendous vertical integration it was exceedingly difficult to sidestep the decorum associated with calling a phone number. And if you didn't connect, you didn't connect. If it was important, you'd call back.
Answering machines, which are older than Alexis Madrigal, allowed people to leave messages. This allowed people to screen calls, which has been happening since before Alexis Madrigal was born. Where things got messed up for the phone company, however, was when they went digital.
Because they couldn't do it all at once. Your digital system had to be backwards-compatible with your analog system, and your analog system had to be backwards-compatible with the first phone systems installed back in nineteen diggity-two. Which meant, effectively, that the controls on digital technology were adequate for nineteen diggity-two.
The same technology that allowed the phone company to give you voicemail allow VoIP pirates to phonebank the shit out of everyone from a call center in Bangalore. Once it's become data you can do anything with it. The original PCS transport protocol is literally 10BaseT. You're on a computer now, bubba.
So they made them smaller and they put one in everyone's pocket and phones were no longer about place. I fought them for years using this very argument: "I am not a place. If you need to reach me, you can reach me AT home. You can reach me AT work." For a while cell phones were things you called in an emergency because they were expensive. Texts, despite being free sideband metadata, were equally expensive. And then things were deregulated such that texts were free and calling was cheap and suddenly
And that's the thing Madrigal doesn't get (because he's a fucktard). "Telephone culture" has vanished because there's no goddamn freedom from it. There's no longer any unreachability because the number everyone has (and it's on Facebook and it's everywhere and VoIP is so cheap that you can literally dial every number sequentially) is in your back pocket. Which means if someone is calling you, they're fuckin' interrupting you. You can't get away from that thing.
So yeah. People text first because it's polite and asymmetrical. If you're the kind of person who responds to texts too quickly, people email you. You likely chat with your friends on the phone, but rarely... but when you do, it's important.
I work freelance. We're hired on the phone. Random-ass number calls you, you pick up because it is likely a producer who got your name from a friend or coworker and they don't want to waste time. They want to take your pulse and answer any questions. I once almost got fired off a job because I cracked a joke (wish I had in retrospect). Voice communication is more important now, not less.
My wife delivers babies. She's got a client portal in her EHR. She answers texts from patients all the time. But every single one of them - ALL OF THEM - call when it's time for the baby.
That most reclusive of species, the early-20s woman, who never talks to anyone on the phone anymore, CALLS my wife in the middle of the night to say the baby is coming.
Telephone culture isn't dead. It's just been elevated. And if you don't get that, you deserve to get hung up on.
"Hey, live feed. Active shooter in Texas."
"Isn't that outside Dallas?"
"Just another example of the government not doing their job."
And then we called attendance.
When I went to college 20 years ago, there were signs up about what to do in the event of a fire. This time? There is no room, hallway or bathroom without an 11x17 placard telling me what to do in case some fucking nutbag with an AR-15 decides to kill me.
We keep hearing "it'll never happen here" and statistically they're right but fuckin' hell, a buddy's daughter lost a friend in a school shooting so statistics or no, that is FAR too few degrees of separation between a statistical fluke and me and my loved ones. You know what I grew up with? I grew up with a constant back-of-the-mind fear that the Russians would get itchy and we'd end up as mohawk-wearing dogfood eaters on the edge of the Great Nuclear Desert.
Forty years. Strangelove, Failsafe, Wargames, Day After, Threads, Road Warrior, the Russians would eventually blow us up. It left an indelible mark on culture and fuckin' hell if the 'boomers didn't wallow in that shit like it was sausage gravy. If you were a kid? You just knew that between AIDS and Andropov there was no fuckin' point in planning for the future.
By the time I graduated high school most of the fallout shelter signs had come down because it had just been accepted that there was fuckall that could be done. It feels like we're getting there with school shootings. But while the 'boomers made sure the whole fucking culture understood that death was coming from Ivan the Terrible, everyone is fucking ignoring the fact that we've raised an entire generation to expect one of their classmates to turn an assault rifle on them sometime.
Friend visiting from Fresno. She's talking about the junior soccer league there. Apparently there was a barbecue and one parent got into a fight with another parent and pulled a gun on him. AT A BARBECUE. Which meant there had to be a meeting. About whether concealed carry was okay at soccer league functions. One faction argued - in all seriousness - "that it just isn't a party until the guns come out." And we have to humor that. Because that's the culture. But if anybody said "it just isn't a party until the tits come out" it'd be national fucking news and someone would be required counseling before they were allowed to work in an occupation around children ever again.
I'd rather my kid be around tits.
When I was in high school I had ready access to weapons. Went plinkin' multiple times a week sometimes. Friends of mine got in an armed standoff because someone made someone else mad. Nobody died. I used to fantasize about walking into a classroom with an AR-15 loaded with blanks to shoot at the ceiling. Never did. (1) I knew there would be dire consequences (2) I cared.
I think the caring part has decreased. When the Russians were going to kill us all, it was about fearing a natural disaster, basically. Nothing we could do. Active shooter shit? If you're at the end of your goddamn rope, and you have no real concept of mortality because you're seven-fucking-teen years old, the choice between popper and poppee is a moral one. And in these here United States, you aren't allowed to say "If you have a fatalistic attraction to tools designed to kill multiple people at once and minimal affinity for socialization and thriving, you are sick and we need to help you." Because if you love guns, you're a True American and if you think there should be not just access controls but oh, I dunno, maybe a concerted effort to disrupt a culture that values the tools of military aggression in the hands of civilian sportsmen... well, you don't understand, you're wrong, and I'm a responsible gun owner why are you punishing me?
It was just as easy to get guns 20 years ago as it is now. By any measure, the murder rate has gone down while the gun ownership rate has gone up. You are much less likely to die by gunfire now than you were then.
But back then, you were a lot less likely to die out of the goddamn blue, for no goddamn reason, by gunfire.
The NRA aren't terrorists. Gun owners aren't terrorists. Gun rights advocates aren't terrorists. But every mass shooter is a terrorist and our country has a hobby that is the proximate cause of terrorism.
Most people will never face a mass shooting. But every school student in America has to prepare for them as if they are, and they have to face the reality that we'd rather they memorize "run, hide, fight" instead of "stop, drop & roll" because a splinter fraction of the populace is concerned that if they give an inch, we'll take a mile and the next thing they know they'll be in fucking FEMA camps.
She was Serbian. She'd lost two houses in the war. Her neighbors had firebombed her house in the country and burned it to the ground. Then NATO had bombed her city and leveled her condo. I asked her which was worse. "The country," she said. "Carpet bombing you don't have to take personally."
The entire country arranged its culture around eventual, impersonal armageddon at the hands of unseen Soviet aggressors. Yet that same generation is perfectly okay with kids wondering which one of their classmates might shoot them in the face some day.
When the Run-Fight-Hide generation is tasked with taking care of the Duck'n'Cover generation, I wonder what they'll do.
I wonder if despite all their triumphs, they'll end up eating alpo on the edge of the desert.
And it takes every inch of my generosity to not wish for it earnestly.