Those trite little placards people post on Facebook usually piss me off. You know what I’m talking about; they’re usually quotes or vaguely funny one-liners disguised as “eCards” and it seems like they eat up thirty percent of all status updates. However, I saw one the other day that got me thinking. It was a picture of that evolutionary chain depicting man’s progress from something simian to where we’re at now, but the final image was a silhouette of one of those urban douche bags saying “YOLO” and “swag”. The penultimate figure was saying “go back, we fucked up.” Sure, it was just another prosaic internet meme, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t snicker a bit.
Sometimes it’s almost like I can feel myself morphing into one of those old bastards who bitches about the way things used to be and I really don’t want to come across like that. It’s nearly impossible for me to identify with the modern urban youth simply because that amount of pretention isn’t palatable. I hate the act and the lingo and the affected limps. But I don’t think that we as a species are headed in the wrong direction. We’ve got scientists that are close to capturing the god particle and using it to do whatever it is you do with a god particle (judge other particles maybe?). We’ve got doctors that are doing full face transplants and politicians that are pushing for legal weed. Not an Olympics goes by wherein at least one record is broken, so yes, pop culture might be at an all time low, but the rest of our species is kicking ass.
It’s a federal offence to deface Native rock art. I realize that probably came across as a rather jarring shift in direction, but stick with me. I live in northern New Mexico and it’s easy to go out into the wilderness and find a petroglyph. They’re usually pretty small; a hunting stick figure or a prancing deer or a crude woman with boobs (I guess that last one is the ancient equivalent of “for a good time call”). I enjoy hunting for the petroglyphs though. It feels odd to think that some dude drew the deer or the boobs centuries ago, and to him, it was nothing more than an idle moment of boredom, but to us, people he’d think of as aliens or gods, the small piece of rock art is the only surviving written record of a past era. That’s why the art is taken so seriously. You can spend some serious time in jail and face bankrupting fines if you fuck with a petroglyph.
However, Native Americans still have moments of idle boredom, except now, they come armed with rattle cans of spray paint. Not far from town, there’s a red dirt road that ambles through Chokecherry Canyon. You can find petroglyphs and metates and arrow heads and huge chunks of petrified wood. You can also find whisky bottles and mattresses and four-wheeler tracks and profane graffiti. It’s picturesque, it’s disgusting. How weird is that? Pottery shards have been replaced by Budweiser bottles. Spear tips have been replaced by shotgun shells. Look, I know that there will never be some advanced civilization in the future that’ll dig into our lives like we dig in to the past (they’ll hopefully still have Google) but I still think something’s been lost.
After a modern Native youth spray paints “420” or “fuck you” on a rock wall is it considered to be a petroglyph? It’s a misdemeanor to spray paint rock walls on state land, but it’s a felony to remove a petroglyph once it’s there. There’s a hilarious double standard buried somewhere in there if you dig for it. Hell, if I could think of an internet meme cheesy enough to encompass what I’m getting at, I’d probably post it on Facebook. But I guess it really wouldn’t be any different than the meme that inspired all of this in the first place. It’d be just as easy for a Native youth to fit into the silhouette shouting out “YOLO” above, and while it’s always been hard for me to read the bubble letters graffiti artists prefer, I’m pretty sure this says KEEP IT SWAG:
Anyway, I write and sell books and they never cost more than a dollar. If you’re a fan of fiction, you should check out Trailer Park Juggernauts here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00704HK6Q If you’re a fan of real life with just a sprinkling of fiction, you should check out Ephemeral Truths and Short Fiction here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AYRAXNI