The Abyss Laughs Also: A Belated Goodbye to Robin Williams (Frontier Psychiatrist, 8/26/14)
Being alive often feels like a joke. Like moths to the flame, we set ourselves up for inevitable heartaches and pain, setbacks and frustrations, and yet we keep on marching blindly in spite of it all, existential aches in tow, through the same cycles. And this is what is at the root of comedy: that life is hard, that we are all stupid, and that familiar, nagging feeling that you are an alien and that you don’t belong. To be alive is an act of defiance, as is comedy. To take these hardships and laugh at them is to turn life on its head, to take lemons and turn them into Molotov cocktails.
Which is why the death of Robin Williams is so jarring. The public and willing termination of the life of a man who seemed to embody comedy—whose presence seemed to ooze compassion and humanity—forces us to question, or at least acknowledge, our stubborn will to live. Maybe humor will not save us all; is that the lesson? It’s true: comedy doesn’t exactly come from a place of rationality; the fun often sits in illogic. There is also a more human reaction: to get up, dust yourself off and laugh in the face of darkness. Maybe history repeats itself. Maybe it doesn’t.
Read the rest of the essay here:
Don't Lose Touch: Growing Old at Punk Shows (Frontier Psychiatrist, 5/27/14)
This kind of jaded perspective is probably why I found myself in the back of the Newport with my friends, sipping on a Miller Lite and playing punk rock bingo: pointing out Black Flag tattoos and crookedly sewn Operation Ivy patches. At a certain point I had to turn the finger back at myself, the guy taking extra efforts to appear normal, making fun of audience members and waiting for someone to confront him with a “What? You think you’re better than me?!” A perfect representation of the nonplussed critic archetype. Bingo. I win.
I thought about what an impossible situation adulthood is. Is it better to sell out or to be reduced to a young adult bingo square? About how maybe Dustin Hoffman should have gone into plastics. About seeing the Violent Femmes at Summerfest, Gordon still singing songs about borrowing the keys to his dad’s car even though by all accounts he now looks like a perfect facsimile of some dude’s dad. Choices about identity never became black and white, but rather blurred into indistinguishable shades of gray.
I fought my way into the pit as Against Me! ripped through “Black Me Out”, a perfect hater-baiting anthem (“I wanna piss on the walls of your house,” etc.). But the haters I envisioned as I screamed every word did not have any name or face attached to them, the high-school pricks or Dick Cheneys I would have raged against in my teens. Rather they had become institutionalized, a cobbled mishmash of cultural forces of which I at some point had become a passive participant.
Read the rest of the essay here: http://frontpsych.com/against-me-aging/
21st Century Schizoid Man: The Truth About Millenials and Online Dating (Frontier Psychiatrist, 5/14/2013)
In spite of its increasing popularity, online dating is still stigmatized. I imagine this is for a multitude of reasons. For one thing, we still remember the pre-internet era, a childhood filled with frequent warnings of stranger danger unencumbered by technology. This shared past imbues every tagged Facebook post (e.g. “Tim Myers is at Wendy’s eating a Baconator and a Doritos Locos taco AT THE SAME DAMN TIME #YOLO”) with a certain degree of cognitive dissonance. Plus the internet is a nonsensical and sometimes terrifying place (my appreciation of “Ryan Gosling Won’t Eat His Cereal” may have given me an identity crisis) and thus probably not the most comforting place to turn for romance.
It doesn’t help that the platforms themselves seem complicit in the shaming. One of the first match questions I got on OkCupid was “are you more horny or more lonely?” That is enough to put one on the defensive right away (actually I am a well-adjusted 25 year old. And my mom says I am handsome). The users seem complicit in the shame as well. Under the category of “most embarrassing,” approximately 75% of OkCupid users disclose it’s the fact that they are on the site at all (note: these statistics are bullshit).
Read the rest of the essay here: http://frontpsych.com/21st-century-schizoid-man-the-truth-about-millennials-and-online-dating/