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In September of 2003, You Learned:


[This piece was written to salute the tireless efforts of the Coca-Cola corporation and their winning, nationalistically-zested advertising campaign for the fictionalized "FOOTBALL TOWN, USA" and its gung-ho, one-for-the-team citizens.]

I'm scoring one for the home team!…in FOOTBALL TOWN.

I’m living life on the fifty yard line…in FOOTBALL TOWN.

I’ll try harder next time, dad. I promise…in FOOTBALL TOWN.

When I cut myself just a little bit, we win a lot…in FOOTBALL TOWN.

In FOOTBALL TOWN, it’s all about you, and you, and you, and you, and you, but
not really you so much. Sorry. Homo Town is two exits back on the interstate.

FOOTBALL TOWN will notice me if I can just land this split right.

In FOOTBALL TOWN, my mother learned her place.

Remember the earthquake? FOOTBALL TOWN does, grimly.

Dear Dr. Drew, I'm ready to put some more pizzazz in my sex life and some extra spice in the bedroom after 18 years of marriage but I'm stuck with a stubborn hubby. What should I do? I've tried everything – fad diets, glamour studio portraits, scented candles, a home perm, prayer, softer sheets, mint drops, international coffees, French feathers, even stuffing ether-soaked rags into the ventilation ducts – but nothing seems to work! Each night it's the same old thing. He lumbers into the bedroom after four hours of television, and I follow. He crawls into bed. I lift my nightgown over my head, he sees the tattoo on my belly that says "I FUCK BLACK DUDES" and he cries and cries and cries and insists on sleeping in the bathtub. What a fussbucket!!! Well, I'm nearly out of ideas. Signed, FOREVER FLUMMOXED IN FOOTBALL TOWN.

You can be President if you jump up and down for fifteen more minutes…WHISPERS FOOTBALL TOWN.

When the fatcats from Washington roll into FOOTBALL TOWN, the government can pry this oversized foam rubber "WE'RE #1" finger from my dead cold hands.

And all the world is football shaped it's just for me to kick in space – I just made that up myself! Thanks to FOOTBALL TOWN.

Our mayor is a football cleat…filled with great ideas!


I know I can make a difference, as soon as I clear these charges…with a little leniency from FOOTBALL TOWN.

Too bad there are no do-overs for hitting the paperboy with a bottle. Huh, FOOTBALL TOWN?

The town slogan is "kill the carrier" and the state bird is the buffalo wing and the national anthem has a double-neck guitar solo and we greet each other with a sporting slap to the ass and eat dinner off our tailgates and do the Icky shuffle to make it stop raining, and we all agree that only a wrathful God would have taken the guy from Blind Melon so soon and we're still not over that botched two-point conversion from 1997, and we are 100% positive that if we pray hard enough and look the other way when the Satanists sacrifice a head of cattle once a season for good luck that we'll each have our very own Superbowl ring waiting for us in heaven…engraved, "With Love…To FOOTBALL TOWN."

WE FIRST MET ON 09.18.2003

it's just a line; don't worry too much


Hey, Flash Mobbers! Once again, it's time to rattle the chains of the torpid social system with another mass experiment in radical phenomenology. Let's get Situationist-ical-errific(titious)!

Set your PDAs and PDA-enabled cellular phones because this Sunday, at precisely 2:13pm, we'll be descending on New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. We'll meet in the concourse – be certain to avoid eye contact with other 'shmobbers to ensure both our anonymity and our objective. Mum's the word. (WINK!)

Then, slowly, purposefully and, of course, en masse, we will proceed to the ticket counter and queue up in an orderly fashion. As each 'shmobber approaches the front of the line, he or she will pay the suggested donation or, failing that, whatever amount is immediately affordable. PLEASE DO NOT LAUGH OR OTHERWISE BREAK CHARACTER. Simply adhere your "visitor" button – ironically, of course -- somewhere that will be highly visible to museum security, and casually pass into the museum hall. Let's keep cool heads, OK? No digital pics for your photolog this time.

OK, at this point everybody will probably be tempted to fall down and writhe around briefly, or inspect their wristwatches at the same time, or maybe make a quacking sound. Please, resist. Instead, together, or in small groups, walk slowly through the galleries, pausing frequently to look at art. Head over to the Dutch Masters, or wend your way toward the Phoenician pottery. Study the detailed hands on that John Singer Sargent portrait. And don't just run through a gallery, checking the paintings' placards and announcing out loud, "Yup. Modigliani – just as I suspected." This is not a scavenger hunt or a final exam – it's absurdist performance art. (duh) When the museum closes, exit but don't head home just yet!

This is where it gets INSANE. On your way out of the museum, find another 'shmobber, or call a friend, and head to a nearby bar, post-haste. Grab a drink and talk about art. Talk about history. Talk about what moves you or, if you've had a few drinks, talk about why you haven't been open to a moving experience lately.

Talk about how, after feeling nothing especially memorable for longer than you care to remember, you thought Flash Mobs would be a good way to imbue your life with the sense of confrontation it has purposefully lacked since before adolescence, and has only become further amplified with the no-touch dawn of the digital age. And how this brief, regular shared "happening" with dozens of anonymous strangers is the closest thing you can approximate to an honest sense of experiential community now that your collection of online acquaintances and AOL Instant Messaging screen names outnumbers your deep, in-the-flesh human connections. That you measure yourself by voicemails, emails, address books, and Friendsters, but none of these means satisfy your sense of personal fulfillment any more than purchasing a DVD when you're feeling blue. By the time you hit "delete" or remove the shrinkwrap and security stickers, your fizzy joy has already flattened, displaced by a familiar ennui.

Explain how you sometimes feel intense phantom pains where real love and affection have gone missing, but how you've nonetheless convinced yourself it is far better to keep your back to bar full of potentially like-minded but largely unknown peers than to expose yourself to the discomfort of loaded eye contact, confusing body language and embarrassed misrepresentation caused by nervousness. And how, upon returning home alone and untouched by anything resembling The New, you boot up your computer and peruse personal ads for a full hour, hoping to find an online knock-off model of the boy at the bar who played that Generation X single you can never remember the name of, the one that makes you dance like you're at your own slumber party. And you click through scores of similar profiles trying to find a proxy for the boy whose glasses reflected the warm, colored lights from the jukebox as he carefully studied the selections and took a few unconscious sips through the straw stirring his Wild Turkey and cola, opening up a magical time portal for just a second to afford you an excited peek at his eight-year old self.

But you know this is ridiculous, this exercise, because you'll just wish a series of qualities on that boy's online counterpart, so you add someone (Massive Attack puts him in the mood, too!) to your Hot List but decide not to email him yet because all you can think about is how nice it would be to have someone press his face against the soft part of your neck without feeling you were both intuitively following a cold script designed to safeguard you from the hurt of mystery.

And confess how you've come to believe maybe Flash Mobs aren't really an experiment in phenomenology after all. Maybe instead of pointing out how bored and stultified society is, they're inadvertently pointing out how their participants fear their own feelings of boredom and ineffectualness. Maybe they're a collective plea for real companionship, however brief or meaningless. Perhaps they feel like the only way left to say "I did something real with someone else. I was there. Not watching, but doing," when you've reached a point in your life where you've suddenly stopped creating ideas, but just reference and opine on others' while worrying if your point of view is aligned with the most fashionable one, or if your own point of view is even truly yours. And just as you have started to feel like you're genuinely enjoying Flash Mobs, instead of wondering whether they are keeping you from more meaningful experiences, you simply wonder whether or not they are "over" yet. Whether you are over. And whether you'll ever be the first person to notice if they/you are or, preferably, the last person to care.

Most importantly, as you bang your empty pint glass against the scuffed wooden bar top, you wonder out loud if these Flash Mobs or any number of other recent experiences are just precognitive journal entries waiting to happen. You might want to stop fighting it, let your eyes close on their own, and maybe lunge forward and kiss if your skin feels prickly.

Do that, OK? Starting at 2:13pm. Then, after you do all of it, you can totally go home and blog it! That would be truly absurd(ist).

WE FIRST MET ON 09.09.2003

it's just a line; don't worry too much

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