"I Hate" Mondays #3

It’s the fourth Monday of the month, which means it’s time for another “I Hate” Monday. So far I’m the only one who celebrates this holiday, but I think people should feel free to go on their own IHM rants, as long as they call it “David Iscoe’s ‘I Hate’ Mondays Inspired by Garfield by Jim Davis” to give full credit.

Speaking of Garfield, I’m very intrigued by the idea of Garfield as Himself, which is available as a book or DVD. It suggests the idea that, within the Garfield universe, Garfield, knowing that he’s famous, stars in a series of comics based on his life, which is really weird because they’re presented in the same form as his “real” life itself.

Think of it this way. The show Curb Your Enthusiasm is Larry David as himself. Garfield relates to Garfield as Himself the same way the real-life Larry David relates to Curb Your Enthusiasm. But while we in the real world see Larry David creating the show Curb Your Enthusiasm in which he stars as Larry David, the Garfield universe never shows us how Garfield creates the Garfield as Himself stories (or how he knows he’s a star). He magically manipulates the environment of his show to go a layer deeper into the fiction, but while he’s starring in Garfield As Himself the base-level Garfield could be doing anything he wants, without showing us that reality. He’s an extremely powerful fictional character who can not only observe and comment on our observation of his own life and the medium through which we view it, but can control the observation itself.

I’ll go one step further. We think Garfield exists in Garfield, a comic by Jim Davis, because we exist in the same level of base reality as Jim Davis and he’s got us convinced that he’s the creator. But what if we’re just in an intermediate layer of existence between Garfields? Knowing what we know about Garfield, and how he likes to play with his own reality, is it really that crazy to think it’s within his powers to create a world with a cartoonist in it who then creates another version of himself? Or is it crazier to think that Jim Davis, an ordinary man, is somehow more powerful than this cartoon god-cat?

Image result for garfield as himself

I’m also intrigued by this picture here, in which Garfield, looking into a mirror, sees himself as an idealized version of Garfield. Which Garfield here is more real?

One interpretation is that the outside Garfield, also in the outer layer of reality (more “real”) is seeing in the mirror the Garfield he wants to see, and he imagines himself slightly chubbier, slightly more toward the yellow end of the red/yellow orange spectrum, and with more of a smug grin than a typical skeptical Garfield look. We see how he fools himself when he looks in the mirror.

But another interpretation is that the wide-cheeked, yellow, grinning mirror Garfield is the real Garfield all along, and the redder, slimmer Garfield we’re used to seeing was always just his character. Maybe Garfield was always Garfield as Himself and we’re just now catching our only glimpse of Garfield the actor without the stage magic. Maybe the Garfield outside the mirror looks a little nonplussed because he knows he’s not real, and the Garfield in the mirror is grinning at him to show “yeah, I know I’m in control.”

I love the fact that Garfield exists and got so entrenched in the culture, but I hate a lot of things.

I love Garfield, but I hate Garbutt

Who’s Garbutt, you ask? He’s some British politician who hopped in the Twitter mentions of beloved fiction writer Philip Pullman’s mentions to defend his waffling on transphobia (Pullman’s not sure what side of “the trans issue” he should be on, and let’s just say that as a Jew I wouldn’t find it comforting if someone said they weren’t sure what side of “the Jewish question” suited them best).

There aren’t really, not at all, trans people’s rights and women’s rights are in the same boat, against gender-based oppression, and trans-inclusive feminism has had the issue sorted for a while now, and I don’t need to tell you any of this, but I do need to tell you something about this fellow’s name.

It has “butt” in it.

“Garbutt” sounds like “garbage butt,” but zoologists will also note that a gar is a long-nosed, skinny freshwater fish. One time I was a kid in Nashville, Tennessee and I found a gar skeleton by a river during a field trip, and I thought it was very cool and that I was onto some sort of fish murder mystery, just like I thought I was going to be rich if I dug up the big piece of rose quartz from the hill we used to roll down by my elementary school in D.C. and sell it to watch manufacturers. I had very little sense of scarcity and value at the time, but anyway a gar is not something you want associated with your butt. I don’t know if he has the butt of a gar, if he is the butt of a gar, if he has a gar in his butt, or if his butt has gar-like characteristics, but he’s a Garbutt alright, and it’s also worth noting that “Peter” is slang for “penis,” so all in all this fellow’s name is Penis Fishbutt, and I hate that this meaningless and juvenile “criticism” will be given less credibility than his legitimately harmful concern trolling.

But enough about Garbutt, and no offense to any gars out there.

I love gars, but I hate cars (in New York)

Look, driving cars is really fun and they’re great and everything, but I live in a city that’s way too expensive and the benefit of it is supposed to be that you can walk from place to place without much interruption. The whole thing is one giant plaza and cars get through it somehow, that’s their business but they’re just visitors, we live here. Yeah, you have to look both ways before you cross the street, but you shouldn’t have to let more than a car or two pass before you continue on your way.

That’s why it bothers me a lot when there’s a road and cars get a whole lot of time to go down it, seemingly endlessly, and you can’t walk across. They shouldn’t build roads until they build bridges over them, or very frequent stoplights.

Grand Army Plaza is a nice place with a cool arch and a bunch of fountains and the awesome Brooklyn Central Library and a big park on one side and is at the convergence of some good walking streets, but cars whiz around it with impunity, and you can’t even walk out and stare them down like you can on most streets because they’ve already got a head of steam going. A head of steam should be for trains only, that’s why it’s called “a head of steam,” but trains in New York know how to stay out of people’s way and stick to their tracks, while cars will drive right where people are supposed to be walking. Shameful.

Maybe I could do more about cars if I wasn’t so loath to ally with the biggest group of anti-car extremists.

I hate cars, but I hate cyclists

Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good bicycle ride. Back in the day I would go riding around the block with the likes of my brother, Alex Spiliotes, and David Byrd, and we’d go down the street if we were trying to go fast or through everyone’s lawns if we wanted to do some off-roading, the toughest part of which was jumping the big tree root from the famous Japanese Sugar Maple that my dad was always talking about because that was the best tree anybody had. I forgot who owned the Japanese Sugar Maple but it died some years back and we never got any damn sugar out of it. Anyway, we were just kids on bikes, not some damn cyclists.

Cyclists are bicycle riders get really mad at anyone who’s in a car. Single parents should load their three children onto their bicycle and bicycle them to the school that’s 15 miles away because that’s as close as they can afford to the good school, then bicycle to work 20 miles in the other direction, then bicycle back with five bags of groceries and pick everyone up a gain. Plumbers should bicycle around with hundreds of pounds of pipes and tools. Old people should get younger, and disabled people should get able.

My first job in New York was as an EMT for a private ambulance company (we drove van-style vehicles, it’s really hard to effectively treat a patient in the back of a bicycle) and one time we were on our way to deal with an emergency call for a respiratory failure, with lights and sirens on, when a cyclist came in from the outside of a traffic circle, cut us off across two lanes of traffic, and then gave us the middle finger and continued to bike slowly in front of us, or what might be fast for a human on bicycle but is relatively slow for an ambulance on the way to an emergency. The good news is the patient ended up making it to the hospital okay, but the bad news is the cyclist probably made it to wherever he was going okay too.

Cyclists in New York are just a step up from cars. There aren’t that many of them and they don’t disrupt walking lanes as often, but you don’t really want them going through your neighborhoods. There’s a sense of community and equality with people on the sidewalk, where you’re all in this public forum where you acknowledge every person and see every storefront and even those days you don’t talk to anyone you kind of share this look that acknowledges you’re two humans who could conceivably start a conversation. Meanwhile cyclists just pass through like everyone’s a bunch of ghosts, with an annoyed look on their face like everyone’s a bunch of ghosts haunting their fit, hip paradise. And soon they’ll make ghost towns a reality, because where bicycles come, $3000-an-apartment high rises and vacant storefronts follow.

Speaking of ghosts, I’d rather get hit by a bicycle than a car, because it would be less likely to kill me. But if you made the result of the crash constant I’d take the car any day. Get hit by a car and break your hip? You’ll get an apologetic driver who gives you a lift to the hospital. Get hit by a bicycle and break your hip? The cyclists will yell at you until the ambulance arrives, if another cyclist didn’t delay its arrival too.

Yes, I’m sure I myself am a nuisance and my attitude is just as toxic, but this is my Monday, I’m just trying to celebrate.

I hate with reckless abandon, but I hate the idea that hating on people implies moral superiority

There’s an idea out there that hating is a luxury only afforded to the morally pure, that there’s something wrong with hating the small details of someone’s existence when you yourself are a filthy, annoying, spoiled, arrogant beast. But hating is for everyone, and this city is built on it the notion that even if we hate each other we’re all hating together and on some level it’s all love because we know that nobody’s any good so everybody’s good enough. When you stop hating, you stop being human, so in the spirit of the fourth Monday of October, take SCARE, and have a HATE night.