Monday, September 14, 2009

The Rubik's Cube That Could Change The World

I've never written a blog entry from an airplane before. I failed to bring any reading material whatsoever to Vancouver, BC with me. The copy of the Horizon Airlines magazine in the seat in front of me has a soggy, crumb-filled bottom.

Not unlike my great aunt Betty.

So, here I sit, joining some sort of epistolary version of the Mile High Club.

I'm sitting in seat 8D, directly adjacent to the right wing's propellor. Those things are louder than a baby getting circumcised, which could actually be happening somewhere else on the plane for all I know. Fortunately, the props are blocking out the sound of the greasy chick's iPod from across the aisle. The screen says she's rocking out to some Paris Hilton.

The 8-year old kid sitting next to me just finished a Rubik's Cube competition in Vancouver. He got a nineteen-second solve time on a regular cube, and I just watched him solve a 5x5 cube in about three minutes. Pretty amazing. As you might guess, he sports a pocket protector, is a total dork, will die a virgin, and will probably end up making some incredible technological or scientific discovery that will change the world.

Ah, Horizon Airlines. Free Jones Soda and Oktoberfest. Why must your flights be so short?

On my flight up to BC yesterday, I sat next to James Curley, the former CEO of Salomon Sporting Goods and the current president of Portland-based Keen Shoes. He's a super chill guy, and a closet musician himself. He invited me up to his brother's downtown penthouse last night, but unfortunately we were mixing my new single, "Easier Said Than Done," in the studio until after 1 am.

I also almost got invited to party with Taylor Swift. Unfortunately, Kanye ran up and grabbed her phone right as she was about to give me a call.

What is it about the spotlight that people crave? Attention is a good thing; everyone wants to be noticed, and everyone wants to be heard. It's a basic human trait that we all share.

Not all of us are cut out to be the Voice Of Our Generation, though. Not JT. And certainly not Taylor Swift. Who wanted to listen to her genuine, heartfelt acceptance speech at the VMA's anyway?

What is it about celebrities that makes our culture hold their every word, their every viewpoint, in such high regard?

Any idea what the top story on three days ago was?

Yeah, that's right. 9/11 was three days ago. Probably some tribute to brave Americans, right?

Wrong. This is much bigger than remembrance, much bigger than a couple of silly towers and some dead people.

Paris Hilton's wisdom has been immortalized in the renowned Oxford Book Of Quotations! Her quote? "Dress cute wherever you go, life is too short to blend in."

Don't think for a minute, though, that Paris doesn't know what it's like to suffer, much like the victims of 9/11. In the words of her mega-hit "Jailhouse Baby," there's a crazy world at war, right outside of her front a public enemy...all those lonely nights of terror...

What did Paris have to say about being featured in such a distinguished book alongside the likes of Confucius, Martin Luther King Jr., and Stephen Hawking? "So cool that I have a quote in the dictionary," she wrote. ZOMG, girl, that is, like, so cool, LMFAO!

What's next, Paris for President? At the Palms chilling with a martini. Paris For President. Your commander in bikini!

Fittingly, Oxford opted to print her epic quotation with incorrect punctuation. You guessed it--that should be a semicolon, not a comma, in between clauses.

Why do we as a culture care so much about what pop icons do and say, even pop icons who have reduced themselves to laughingstocks, much like Kanye and Paris? Why do we care so little about people who are doing things that really matter? If it isn't entertainment-related, it gets filtered directly into the Spam folder of our brains.

Someone just auctioned off Paris Hilton's boarding pass from a flight to Fiji for $205.00. What is that lucky buyer going to do with it? Pay their mortgage? Feed their kids? "Put a little more ketchup on it, little Jimmy. No dessert till you're finished!"

Have you heard of Daniel Nocera? Me neither. He's the MIT chemist at the forefront of developing a new method for making hydrogen fuel from water. Within a few years, we could be meeting global energy needs from a few smaller bodies of water.

What about Somaly Mam? She's a Cambodian who escaped from a horrific decade of sexual slavery and torture in a brothel in Phnom Penh. She has started a nonprofit organization that works with police to raid brothels and liberate women from a terrible and unspeakable existence. She has already helped more than 4000 women escape and find their lives again. She's had to endure the kidnap and rape of her own 14-year old daughter by brothel owners bent on
deterring her work.

I'd like to give TIME Magazine mad super-fly props for their issue featuring the 100 most influential people in the world. Rather than filling the pages with Paris and Kanye, they've brought to light the stories of people around the globe who are doing things that truly matter, things that make a tangible difference in the lives of real people. Think those 4,000 former sex slaves would find the words to Kanye's "Therapy" or Paris' "Human Sacrifice" touching?

You know a celebrity or two. You know a hero. That teacher who inspired you to learn. That parent who loves you unconditionally no matter how many times you screamed and slammed your door growing up. That friend who brought you over that mint chocolate chip ice cream when the love of your life broke your heart and let you cry all the tears that you had. People doing things to better our environment, our society, our health, our souls.

Maybe we should listen to what these people have to say.