Speaking of the stupid people column, I got some e-mail from a guy named Steve who mentioned the fact that there are a lot of smart people who are not bright. I have to agree with him. I've met a lot of smart (IQ wise) people, who were not bright (ie. lacking common sense). And yes, these people still qualify in my book as STUPID. I had a friend once who was really intelligent. He wanted to be a doctor. That scared me, mostly because he was so fucking stupid. He was the kind of guy who you'd give a ride home, and when he got out of your car, he'd forget to close the door. I could just see him as a doctor -- he'd do a heart transplant and forget to sew your aorta back on. Scary. Anyway, if you're smart enough to be a doctor, or scientist, or whatever, that doesn't get you off the hook for doing stupid things like writing a check in the cash only lane of the supermarket, or spending your free time watching sports on television.
Of course, the check-writing-cash-only-lane idiot could just be spacing off, but in my book, that excuse doesn't cut it! Part of being not-stupid is being aware of your surroundings, and taking the time to pay attention to details. Just because you do something on accident doesn't make you not-stupid -- it just shows me you don't take the time to THINK, and therefore, you must be STUPID.
The same goes with watching sports on television, or most television in general for that matter. Television (with exceptions, and sports is not one of them) does not cause you to THINK, and therefore, contributes to the general stupidity of the public at large. I 'm not against people participating in sports (even though I find the competitive attitude inherent in them rather repelling) mostly because it is an activity that makes the person go out and DO SOMETHING (and even if it doesn't involve a lot of thought, that's better than being passively fed images by the idiot box).
I've had the argument with sports fans that watching sports does make you think, if you understand the game, because you see the strategies of the game, and gain more understanding of each player through how they play. However, I don't see having more knowledge about a game (ie, knowing that Joe Blow is at his 300th home run, or understanding why a team made the play they did) as THINKING. It may stir a little something in the brain cells, but there is very little new synthesis happening, and that's what thinking is all about. Actively thinking -- realizing that you are thinking -- not justifying the fact that you were thinking when someone tells you that watching sports make you stupid.
It's this lack of conciousness -- this unawareness of one's surroundings -- that causes stupidity. So, if you want to be NOT-STUPID then all you really have to do is pay attention. Look around you and see things you've never noticed before. Tell yourself you are going to learn how to do something new, and then GO DO IT! Watch people and figure out why they do what they do (or at least, pretend to yourself that you've figured it out) and realize at the same time that the reason they do what they do is probably because they are STUPID, and not because they are malicious or have anything against you or the others they are being stupid towards. But remember, just because someone is stupid doesn't give you the right to tell them that they are, or to be rude to them, or to flip them off, or anything else -- it's counter-productive and a waste of your time.
Wow, I didn't mean to rant that long about stupidity again, it just all flowed out of me once I got started. Hope it made some semblence of sense, and if it didn't, see my column of three (?) issues ago -- you'll gain a better knowledge of what I think is stupid, and Dan will get some of the back issues off his hands (assuming he still has them -- back issues, not his hands STUPID).
I also got e-mail about my column about punks having an easier time of it now than ever before. Some of you took issue with the idea that punk is in some ways BETTER than it ever was, and usually the excuse you gave was that there were so many trendies involved in it now. "So fucking what?!" is my answer to you. I recognize that there are some dangers in punk rock becoming trendy -- good bands may get eaten up by the major labels, there might be too many people at the next show you want to go to, and shit like that -- but to me, punk is a lot less superficial than that. Some of you also bemoaned the fact that it was getting hard to tell the true punks from the trendies. Why do you care? It's what is in you heart and your head that counts, not what you look like. It's what you DO for the punk scene, not how cool you look (oh jesus, I'm sounding emo or something). If you have time to worry about shit like that, you have too much free time. Get a life, and quit being STUPID.
Finally, I opened a can of worms by offering to help people with advice on their different projects, to the best of my ability. I've given out what advice I could (and had time to give) and hopefully I've helped people out somewhat. Once again, my e-mail is always open for you to ask questions of me, and like I've stated before, I will always attempt to offer what bits of wisdom I've gleaned from 15 years of being a punk rocker. I am not saying that just because I'm OLD (and decrepit) you should do things my way -- you should DO IT YOURSELF, but I'm always happy to tell people what has worked for me, and don't mind being used as a board (ping pong ball table?, tennis court?) to bounce ideas off of. So, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com if you have something to say, or you can write to me at PO Box 752; Boise ID 83701 (but if you write to me, don't expect a quick reply -- I'm slow at writing back). That is all.
Mark Hanford (6/28/96)