Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Real men drive trucks

Do what thou wilt – let that be the extent of the law. Well, that's all very well if you're Conky Kitten, Alistair Crowley, bunny-in-chief or Alberto Gonzales. For the rest of us, there are rules. Like getting your ‘ass’ to work in the morning even if it's sub-zero, there's three inches of snow, you're running on 28mm slicks and the hippies at City Hall won’t salt the roads because it's "bad for the environment."

In fact getting to work during the big freeze wasn’t nearly as tricky as getting home, when a day's traffic had reduced the snow to sheet ice. Still, I have to admit I quite enjoyed the frisson of danger as I skidded sideways down the hill towards the lights on 20th and Belmont. The cars by this point had given up the fight (see here for footage of Portland motorists unsuccessfully braving the elements) and I was largely free to explore the delights of this newly formed cycling Val d'Isère solo. I should like to show you photographs, but at the time I was rather preoccupied with not dying. One's former preoccupations can so often seem a little frivolous in hindsight.

What do real men drive in creamy old England? I have no idea (suggestions below, please). Here in the US, it's a lot more straightforward – real men drive trucks. Big ass pickup trucks. At a certain point in time the truck somehow unseated the horse as the emblematic vehicular accessory of choice for your archetypal rugged, distinctly American manly man's man; brawny, square-jawed, clean shaven (moustache acceptable), proud, hardworking, practical, sincere and dependable men of their word, men of few words, men with vice-like handshakes who look you square in the eye and call a spade a spade in full knowledge of how a spade works and how to deploy it with optimal efficiency - wielding it perhaps as if it were made of balsa wood with a blade cast from samurai steel, slicing through the dry earth as if it were rather the softened butter that their devoted wives are that very minute beating into pound cake. Men who work for a living – real work – the kind that gets you dirty – not sitting in front of a computer all day deciding what shade to colour the cells in an Excel spreadsheet. Of course, not everyone can realistically aspire to such nobility, but at least everyone can buy a truck – whether or not they need one, or indeed can afford one – in the hope that some of the magic will rub off.

If the concept still seems a little elusive, hopefully this Ford truck ad will give you the idea.

The UK, by contrast, seems bereft of a correspondingly rural and/or hard working macho archetype. And I mean that with all due deference to Sean Bean's turn as a gardener or somesuch in Lady Chatterley’s whatever. That's 'cause in Britain we look down on people who, you know, actually work for a living, reserving a special form of disdain for anyone who actually takes pride in a job well done; they are, after all, obviously taking the whole thing too seriously, probably in an attempt to ingratiate themselves to their superiors, or, possibly, work through some kind of early childhood trauma. Which leaves us with two categories of real men, both lacking formal employment, who, along traditional societal lines can be divided into officers and the rest. I'll try and make this a little more tangible for you; representing the officers we have posh-boy adventurer Bear Grylls, star of the Discovery Channel's Man vs Wild (perhaps called Stranded in the UK), whereas the other type is the sort of devil-may-care cockney hard-man personified in the oeuvres of Ross Kemp or Jason Statham (who, if IMDb is to be believed, would have been in my class at primary school had his parents only had the foresight to move two miles up the road). The point to grasp here is that neither really work for a living. Bear obviously had the kind of private income necessary to become the world's best climber / snow-boarder / parachutist / horse-whisperer etc and clearly benefited from that expensive kind of education that instills effortless charm and never-say-die attitude, characteristics which he now cheerfully exhibits whilst hacking his way out of the jungle/desert/tundra with no more than a pocket-knife and the three pinenuts which he wrestled manfully from an itinerant panther. Your typical Kemp/Statham character is, on the other hand, more of your streetwise, cocky, distinctly urban hard man, and whilst they might technically be earning money in some capacity or other, are typically doing so by engaging in high-testosterone, criminal activities such as breaking and entering, driving at excessive speeds or killing people, which at very least you have to assume is a sort of busman's holiday for them.

Meanwhile the true sociological analogues of Ford Truck Man in Britain either drive a Transit or a tractor – yes, it's White Van Man or Eddie Grundy. That's how sexy work is in the old country. Shame on you people! No wonder you lost the Empire.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

All Hail The Bunny!

The bunny-in-chief tells the other bunnies what to do: gather clover, dig tunnels, whatever. Freeing up a little time for chewing on the azure wing of a Duplo aeroplane. Out there in the world, supposed 'individuals' meander about the pasture, wearing sweaters, satellite high on such vainglorious notions as self-determination, freedom, habeas corpus etcetera. They probably think it makes them happy. But we the rabbits know better; for once you submit to the bunny, once you relinquish all claim to your former existence, everything is suddenly straightforward, effortless, joyful. All hail the bunny!

What could be cuter than a bunny in the laundry basket? Nothing, obviously.

According to Debrett's, the bunny has assumed several identities: baby fluffy, Mr Munchalophagus and Lord Loopenstein, to name but three. When not exercising his duties as a subcultural icon he enjoys brightly coloured plastic objects, the company of rabbits and his good friend Mrs Mouse. He lists his favourite foods as sweet potatoes, carrots and rice cereal, though will only countenance the former in liquidised form.

Mirror, signal, manouever.

It's good to know that Conker isn't at all jealous.