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Moscow Babylon June 26, 2002
Don't Get A Life
By Mark Ames Browse author Email
Page 2 of 3
The dream of "Getting A Life" is real, all too real, for Americans. And why not? What is "real life" in America: long days in a cubicle where everyone pretends to be a creative individual and a team player, everyone smiling and asking "How are you?" even though they'd sooner get a court restraining order than invite you to their house as a guest, a life from the duplex to the Saturn to the cubicle and back. A life through windows. Where nothing, and I mean NOTHING, ever happens at all, except for a yearly incremental salary increase (agreed upon in-advance in the contract) and mounting bills... that is the life that America represents. The No-Life option. The dream of humanity since the discovery of Fear. It wasn't an easy life to construct: it took a genocide and millions more dead at home and abroad to create such a consequence-free life. But America did it.

American life is so safe that even death doesn't really happen. In the movies and TV shows, sure, but in real everyday life, death just isn't talked about. The most obvious proof is that Americans have no idea how to react or what to say to someone when they had a death; they often are too afraid to call that person up and express condolences, because Americans have so little experience in REAL death, as in Life. I was like that myself until I watched my stepfather die of a brain tumor. I watched how all of his friends, his "teamwork" employees, even his family and priest, all avoided him like the plague as he crawled towards the grave. He was bumming everyone out -- death isn't part of the consequence-free American script.

That's why the need for nuclear terror thrillers, the car chases, the exploding skyscrapers and frightening stalkers who disrupt the Perfect Families. Neither existed -- the grand terror, the stalkers, or the Perfect Family. But they are necessary in country where nothing happened.

And that's why the terror attack on 9/11 was both "like a movie" (from all the training and preparation we Americans have had about terror attacks) and yet on the other hand "impossible to comprehend" or "earth-shattering". People's lives were jolted, their view of the world crushed. Suddenly, they couldn't work, couldn't sleep, couldn't think, couldn't fuck... Because the outcome of that event didn't correspond to our training: this time, the good guys sort of, well, lost. No Ben Affleck crawling on the wing of Flight 11, shooting his way through the pilots' window and steering it to safety, saving everyone in the Towers at the very last second. Nope, that's not what happened. The bad guys just killed lots of presumably good-guys (if you think bond traders are good people), and they may kill lots more. The ending to the real script is unpredictable. That's the essence of having "A Life" and the core of danger -- unpredictability.

On 9/11, all of America "Got A Life" and it wasn't fun at all. Insomnia and paranoia spread across the continent like smallpox. The script of Life was no longer rigged in advance by the cigar-chomping Jews in Hollywood. It now has an unpredictable ending and even middle. So now, in the quiet intermission, the thrillers are being rolled back into the theater to show us that we can win, to repair the damaged delusion. In the end, Ben Affleck will save us all. Right?

Out here in Russia, it's much easier to "Get A Life" and all of its thrilling benefits and unpredictable dangers. Most of us Americans living here have been able to sample a portion of this Life, reaping most of the perqs while avoiding or ignorant of the attendant dangers. This is the Moscow we've loved, the Moscow that looks like a thriller movie: strange phone calls, stalking scenes, sex with a movie star, danger, and in the end, we walk away the heroes.

Why am I writing about this?

I got a whole lotta A Life this past week. To quote another film: "I've seen things you people can't imagine." You might notice that parts of this issue appear thrown together at the last minute, that the shite factor is a little higher than normal. Next time, I swear, the issue will be stronger. We'll all be able to focus a little more. So just bear with us this issue. Get drunk before reading on.

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Book Review
A Million Pieces Of Shit :

The Man Who Would Be Orange : Filthy and Freezing on the Moldovan Campaign Trail

Once Bitten, Twice Felched :

Cause Of Russia’s Tragic History Revealed :


Save The eXile: The War Nerd Calls Mayday
The future of The eXile is in your hands! We're holding a fundraiser to save the paper, and your soul. Tune in to Gary Brecher's urgent request for reinforcements and donate as much as you can. If you don't, we'll be overrun and wiped off the face of the earth, forever.

Scanning Moscow’s Traffic Cops
Automotive Section
We’re happy to introduce a new column in which we publish Moscow’s raw radio communications, courtesy of a Russian amateur radio enthusiast. This issue, eXile readers are given a peek into the secret conversations of Moscow’s traffic police, the notorious "GAIshniki."

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Your Letters
Russia's freedom-loving free market martyr Mikhail Khodorkovsky answers some of this week's letters, and he's got nothing but praise for President Medvedev.

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The Fortnight Spin
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Jared comes out with yet another roundup of upcoming bardak sessions.

Your Letters
Richard Gere tackles this week's letters. Now reformed, he fights for gerbil rights all around the world.

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Everybody complains about celebrities, but nobody does anything about them. People, it’s time to stop fretting about whether we’re a celebrity-obsessed culture—we are, we have been, we’re going to be—and instead take practical steps to clean up the celebrity-obsessed culture we’ve got...


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