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Those Magic Changes

Bad is my new good. There are times when bad may be conceptually tweaked to be good, e.g. super bad or bad-ass, but I am referring to the real kind of bad. Some things that I watched on TV helped me get my thoughts together on this. While I was traveling, I indulged my too-cheap-to-pay-for-cable sensibilities by watching TV in my hotel room when I had some breaks from doing the thankless work of a government stooge. One of these breaks lasted approximately 3.5 hours, during which I watched Grease one and a half times. Back to back. I know. It was a slow night in Denver, but relatively stress-free. Since Denver did not appear to have too much going for it in the p.m. except for a dive bar with a pool table where Spacemen 3 once played, I also spent the same amount of time watching this incredibly awesome economics doc. on PBS, however walked away from that experience unable to remember von Hayek’s name. Yes, I’ve got it now, yet all the lyrics to “Summer Loving” were, no worries, permanently etched in ye olde brain tissue.

But as I was perseverating on the whole bad theme already, both programs spoke to me on one or more levels about bad times and change. You see, by inducing change, the notion of “bad” actually becomes “good,” in so far as it is now reclassified as a catalyst of sorts. Not too brainy, right? Right. As is my wont, here is a quickie equation to sum up our thesis: bad stuff (disgust with self and circumstance) + desire to ameliorate situation = good-o action. Thanks to the gang from Rydell High, I like to call the actual moment of catalysis fusion the Thunder Road moment.

In Grease, Sandy goes to Thunder Road alone and while watching Danny tear it up in Greased Lightnin’ realizes that she is unhappy because she has not tried on any of the Pink Ladies’ loaner spandex stretch pants and spiked heels yet. If Danny gets mad at her at the drive-in for spurning his advances while she’s wearing 3 gobzillion layers of starched crinolines and cashmere sweaters, think how he’ll react to a date who does that wearing an outfit that would make even Rizzo blush and appears to be inspired more by the white-hot fashion trends of Grease’s actual production year (1978) more than the nifty Fifties themselves. Anyway, Sandy knows what she must do to jumpstart Danny’s interest again before he becomes a low-life hit man who can barely navigate a sock-hoppin’ dance floor thanks to too many cheeseburger royales. It is the pivotal moment in the film and we can all learn from it. Faster than you can say, “hand jive,” Slutto Sandy is shimmying around the Senior Fun Fair performing dominatrix-like moves for a writhing Danny at her feet. She had to go from good girl to bad to execute the inverse correlation in her life situation and Thunder Road was her rock-bottom turning point.

I think my Thunder Road is coming up soon.

Oh, and the economists’ contribution to this was merely to get me thinking along those boom and bust lines. Free market forces versus centralized control might also be a turgid metaphor for allowing oneself to be buffeted by the winds of change or just spitting into them and damn the consequences. This bit, much like my grasp of economic theory, is not so strong.

Chicagoland! It is haunting me with happy memories!

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