Sunday, February 8, 2009
The Steroidal States of America.
I am not a sports fan. I watch maybe ten hours of televised sports a year, though occasionally I'll run up to Columbia and take in a basketball or a football game which my alma mater will invariably lose, but sports don't matter a whit to me. Yet, out of habit I suppose, I still read the sports page, or at least I glance at it.
Today I read that one of the greatest baseball players of our age, Alex Rodriguez, was found to have been using steroids back in 2003. Somehow I coupled sports and steroids with Tom Dashcle, John Thain, and the seeming collapse of our economic system.
Steroids if you think about it are a get rich quick scheme played out through biceps. You don't need to do the work, but you get the rewards. And nothing is more important than success, certainly not integrity. The only thing that matters, in fact, is accumulation.
It occurs to me that this steroidal mania explains Dashcle. A man for whom nothing mattered in the end but his fast enrichment. Or John Thain. Or those millions of homeowners who got on the steroidal jag and forgot that homes are places to live and love, not just financial investment instruments. All of America has been on this jag. We can all get rich quick. No waiting required. The world will come to an end if your pizza takes more than 30 minutes to arrive.
We live in an instant microwave era. Everything must happen in a blink. Riches, relationships, even writing (witness "blogging," which is often writing without thought.") As a culture we are all on steroids and silicon. We want abs of steel and bulging, fantasy accomplishments with neither the risk of failure nor the sweat of hard work.
I'm not sure if any of this makes any sense. Or what to do about any of it if it does add up. Or if anything will change our love of the quick buck. It's just something that hit me between the eyes this morning. A Spring Winter's day in New York.
Posted by george tannenbaum at 9:42 AM