A verbatim record of a diary I wrote while visiting friends (Paul & Rice) in Austin, Texas during the Easter holidays of my second year at University in 1994. Re-blogged on the anniversary of each entry. 2017 Commentary, where necessary for context, added as footnotes in italics.
Wednesday 23rd March 1994, 16:53 (CST)
COMPUTER LAB IN LIBRARY, UT, AUSTIN, TX
Well, here I am, replete with new pen and ready to take on the world in my “journal” as Chris puts it [Reminder: Chris’s email number is IFZE530*]. This is going to be a waffly entry, I can tell. Here, seated in between Paul’s and Chris’s monitors, and I’ll get distracted a lot… …(see!)…
Anyway, I went for a wander round Austin today and bought a Charles Manson CD**. I’ve just emailed Matt and written a couple more postcards. It’s possible to play a CD and listen to it while you work on a computer here… …That would be cool; if we could only do it at Lancaster!***
(Chris has just disappeared for a bit so I’m now writing this whilst listening to said CD)
(Ah, now he’s re-appeared, and I’ll have to stop now) — see, I knew I’d get distracted…
I can’t believe I’ve actually got very little to say at this juncture — this is a new experience.
Oh yes… …soap-box time.
Without getting all political on you, cherished reader, I’d just like to point out a sinister side-effect of Americanisation. We don’t have this in Britain right now but we might soon — after all, we didn’t have Sunday trading or car-jacking until not very long ago. The point is the open warfare that most natives refer to as ‘TV advertising’. Whereas in Britain, firms are not allowed to say things like: “Fly British Airways because Virgin is shite and Richard Branson is a tosser”, this is standard practice over here. Granted, Richard Branson is not the Nobel award winner for being an OK bloke but when this type of message is dumped into the houses of a nation, the underlying message is one of a twisted sense of morals. It isn’t really cricket. In principle, the idea of slagging off your bitterest rival is the commonest of common sense but when you get the ‘bickering’ effect of AT&T appearing, saying “MCI is crap, they don’t really save you money”, immediately followed by MCI saying “AT&T is useless and they charge more than they should”, it all gets a little shambolic. I’m all for free enterprise but negative advertising is depressing to the intelligent viewer, not just because of the infantile method of reaching the masses. The really depressing thing is the masses actually lap all this up; i.e. it is their lack of intelligence that dictates the parameters of the marketing battle — if everyone was intelligent enough to see through the pantomime, then AT&T and MCI aren’t stupid enough not to change tack. No, America is (has been and always will be) market-led and it is the ignorance of the public in general (i.e. the marketplace) that is to blame. That is ultimately what is so depressing about it all. After all, it is not merely the cable & wireless companies; everyone is at it: Coke v Pepsi, all the car manufacturers are after each other. All the insurance firms are in there — everyone. Where it gets absolutely ridiculous is during election time, when believe it or not, even the political parties get involved!
Sheesh, sometimes this place is so unbelievably over-the-top, I just laugh, be glad I’m British and try to imagine John Major and John Smith**** appearing on adverts saying nasty things about each other… …Oh no, Party Political Broadcasts! What are we turning into?
At least it’s not: “That John Smith, he’s so stupid, he’s fat, he’s bald, he wears glasses, er… …he’s Scottish” etc. etc.
Except in John Major’s case, it may give him a little credibility!
Anyway, enough of these musings. Beware, Britain. Beware of the demon negative advertising, for it will try to encompass us all!!!
<<That was Paul’s soap-box for the day. Tomorrow at the same time, he will investigate the disturbing plight of misogyny amongst the tree-dwelling Indians of the Venezuelan Amazon.>>*****
I don’t think I did so badly for someone who didn’t have much to say, did I?
PS JCB = Jalapeño Cheeseburger. Jalapeño = VERY****** hot Mexican chilli.
** Yes, you read that correctly. Charles Manson, convicted multiple murderer had a song, ‘Look At Your Game, Girl’ covered by Guns ‘N Roses as an unlisted bonus track on their 1993 punk covers album ‘The Spaghetti Incident?’. I was browsing in Tower Records on Guadeloupe St. (more commonly known as “The Drag”) and found it. I had to buy it and still have the CD. Occasionally one of the tracks on it pops up when my iDevices are set to ‘Shuffle’.
*** Wow! Playing a CD in the CD tray of a computer while working on another task on the same computer! Imagine that!!
**** John Smith MP. Remember him? He died less than two months after I wrote this, creating a vacuum in the Labour leadership – which would be filled by an up-and-coming politician by the name of Tony Blair.
***** To be clear, this was the most random thing I could come up with, in the name of satire. It’s not really a thing. Or at least I’m not aware that it is.
****** See earlier post for relevance of this post-script. Not that hot, relatively speaking – as I’ve since learned…