Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Truth Behind the Quinsey Blog



From time to time I get negative responses to the things I write on this blog (shocker). That said I thought it would be helpful to provide some background information to illustrate how this whole thing got started. If after reading this explanation you still think I’m an insensitive asshole, no worries. Half the time my own wife arrives at the very same conclusion.

Rewind to June, 2008. I’m driving around LA doing my sales thing when the song “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” comes on the radio. I’d heard the song several times before but had never really listened to the words. For some reason I decided to listen this time and was completely captivated. When I got back to my office I googled ‘sunscreen song’ and learned the following:

The song was inspired by Mary Schmich’s essay entitled “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young”, which was published in the Chicago Tribune as a column on June 1, 1997. In her introduction to the column, she described it as the commencement address she would give if she were asked to give one. The column soon became the subject of an urban legend, in which it was alleged to be an MIT commencement speech delivered by author Kurt Vonnegut in that same year (in truth, MIT’s commencement speaker that year was Kofi Annan). Despite a follow-up article by Schmich on August 3, 1997, in which she referred to the “lawless swamp of cyberspace” that had made her and Kurt Vonnegut to be “one”, by 1999 the falsely attributed story was widespread. In 1999 the essay was set to music, renamed “Baz Luhrmann Presents: Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen): The Sunscreen Song (Class of ‘99)” or in short “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)”, and released on an album by Australian film director Baz Luhrmann. When the column became a song, Schmich’s “wish” came true after Zagreb’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing started to play the song “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” at every graduation ceremony.

I was intrigued by the back story and thought it really spoke to the reach and power of the internet. I was so inspired in fact that I decided to start my own blog to capitalize on the “lawless swamp of cyberspace” referred to by Schmich. My first post was appropriately titled: “Graduation Speech for the Class of 2008” (inspired by Mary Schmich’s original essay). I sent the link to Mary Schmich at the Chicago Tribune and she immediately responded with a positive note of encouragement. That’s all it took – I was hooked. For the past 3 ½ years I’ve blogged regularly on a wide array of subjects - 164 posts and counting to be exact. Throughout this process I’ve learned some interesting things about myself. First off I really love writing. It’s the creative outlet I never realized was missing in my life. Secondly, people actually enjoy reading what I write. I feel a profound sense of satisfaction and frankly, surprise, every time someone tells me that they like the blog (thank you). Lastly, I’ve realized that I’m far more willing to freely share my thoughts, experiences, and opinions than most people. My wife describes this phenomenon as the lack of possessing a filter like normal people. I choose to see it this way: Putting yourself out there is not always an easy thing to do… unless you're me, because I just don’t give a f*ck. See the difference? Taking a step back here’s what I’ve learned about you (my readers):

The people who really know me interpret the Quinsey Blog this way: Simply put it’s a tongue in cheek way of sharing my inappropriate view points with the world. These people probably even hear my voice talking as they read through each post. They’re not wrong.

The people who think they know me interpret the Quinsey Blog somewhat differently: They see it as the bully pulpit of an alter-ego I’ve created to escape the confines of my every day, parochial life. They probably think I don’t really mean most of the stuff I write (or that it’s at least a blatant exaggeration of how I really feel), and only publish it to get a rise out of others. They’re not completely wrong.

The people who don’t know me at all interpret the Quinsey Blog this way: They see it as the polarizing rants of an ego maniac who has no compassion for his fellow man. They probably think I’m a brazen and closed-minded narcissist who clubs baby seals in my spare time. They couldn’t be farther from the truth, although I get where they’re coming from.

In order to appreciate this blog and understand where I’m coming from, there’s something you need to know about me first: I see the world a little differently than other people. It’s not that I’m smarter or more cultured than anyone else (trust me I’m not). It’s also not that I enjoy offending those who are easily offended (although I kind of do). It’s just that my brain is wired a little differently than most.

For example there’s this lady at the gym who ALWAYS wears a sweatshirt tied around her waist to cover up her ass. Logic would say she’s self conscious about the size and/or shape of her butt, and therefore wears the sweatshirt so that nobody else will see it. I, on the other hand, jump straight to the conclusion that she’s more than likely concealing a tail.

Another example: Have you ever noticed that black-eyed peas are not stocked with the rest of the canned beans at the grocery store. Conventional wisdom would say it’s because they’re not really a bean so they don’t belong with the other beans. I, on the other hand, cry black-eyed pea discrimination by the grocery store clerks. I’ve eaten black-eyed peas plenty of times in my life, and I’ll be God-damned if they’re not more like a bean than a pea.

Next example: One of my single buddies recently introduced me to a woman he’s been dating. He saw the look on my face when she left for the restroom and said, “I know what you’re thinking, but she’s just big-boned.” A decent friend would have smiled and said as long as she makes you happy that’s all that matters. My response? “That’s funny, I’ve never seen a fat skeleton.” (kudos to my buddy, Phil Schwalbe, for this gem)

Yet another example: Have you ever wondered why singers who speak with accents (Brits and Aussies specifically) completely lose said accents while singing? Most people would rationalize that talking and singing are different so it makes sense for the accent to go away. I, on the other hand, say they’re miserable frauds who need to either own the accent full time or lose it altogether. Don’t just use that shit when it’s convenient to pull chicks or sound smarter.

And finally: Most people believe that chronic fatigue syndrome and social anxiety disorder are legitimate illnesses based upon irrefutable scientific data. I, on the other hand, am convinced that they’re bullshit diseases created by weak-minded individuals as an excuse for excessive laziness and a general distaste for other people.

I guess the point is I don’t necessarily accept the obvious answers to life’s simple questions (I go straight to the tail every time). It’s not because I’m stubborn or cynical (although I’ve been called both before), but rather because the less obvious answers entertain me (which, let’s face it, is really the most important thing) and give life color. In summary if you want to live in a boring, hum drum, black-and-white world, don’t dare read this blog. But if you want to embark upon a wondrous journey with rapping midgets, crooked politicians, badly behaving celebrities, and apocalyptic prophecies, hop on board and buckle up.

Your humble tour guide,

John Quinsey

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