I wrote this a few weeks back … and then forgot about it.

Maybe you know the feeling: It’s 10 a.m., for the past two hours I’ve been drifting in and out of sleep, in and out of dreams, surreal situations, implausible gatherings of unrelated friends. I awake, barely, and emerge from one dreamscape only to roll over and dive into another.

In other words, I feel good. I feel good like James Brown felt good.

Coming back to San diego from Barcelona was not the smooth sailing I had hoped for. The trip itself – a two day journey starting at La Rambla at 5 a.m. and ending at Denny’s with HP around midnight the following day – was its own mini-odyssey. But then add to it sickness, hangover, dehydration, and my own body odor and it all becomes unbearable. Fast forward two days and Abo picked me up at the Santa Ana train station … he would be having a party, a BBQ really, with all the old crew coming over. That was last night. We ate like kings. We caught up. We laughed, we played. Abo chipped his tooth on a vase. He won’t be happy waking up and figuring that out again.

As it turns out, my morning cup of java was a thoroughly unenjoyable double espresso at Starbucks on the corner of the 17th and the 55 freeway in Santa Ana. That’s where I am. The green mermaid on my cup, she told me, “careful oso, the beverage you’re about to enjoy is extremely hot.” Those sirens. Cunning, amphibious bitches of the waterworld. It was neither hot nor enjoyable, but she just sits there on my little not-to-be-recylcled paper cup, with a scaly fin pointed at each grinning cheek, mocking me. I will step on her before I dump her in the trash.

If I may, an observation about American parties in the 21st century: one of two things is guaranteed to be brought up. Myspace. Or video games. Or most likely, both … like last night: “Dude, I shoulda brought my xbox.” Yes, because that is why friends who have not seen each other in years get together; to pretend they’re somewhere else. Searching for some way that I too could partake in the video game talk, I brought up the last video game I had played … Contra, in the late 80’s. And then, like a teenager discovering masturbation:

Dude!!!!!! Up up down down left right left right b a select start!!!!!!!

If you are male and don’t understand what I just wrote, I can tell you how old you are not. Let’s allow Slate columnist, Jack Schafer to explain:

There is a popular old school nintendo game called Contra and every “post-boomer” knows the reference up up down down left right left right b a select start, which is how you get to the cheat page of that game to sort of master it. Every post boomer is going to know that.

That quote comes from Schafer’s visit to one of my favorite radio-slash-podcast programs, On The Media. He was explaining what marketers will have to do in order to capture the “does not accept advertisements” generation. That would be us; the so called “post boomers”. I remember a Wired article on the same topic. Above it was a comic strip of your typical 20-something cyber-hipster. It went something like, “Billy spends 2 hours every day surfing for porn. 3 hours downloading the latest movies before they make it to the big screen. And four hours organzing music on his iPod. But not one second ever looking at a single advertisement.” True. So Schafer argues that marketers need to get smarter and more subtle. They need to use post-boomer-type references (like quotes from Napolean Dynamite) and loosely connect them with the products they’re pushing, but without ever allowing the correlations to appear to be what they are: ads.

Let’s go back to my starbucks cup. On the back of the cup – where a realist would paint a scaly ass – is a quote, supposedly the 12th in a series. It says:

The Way I See It #12

The humble improve.

–Wynton Marsalis

And then, below, in smaller print, but in italics, comes the important part:

Jazz musician. His music can be heard on Starbucks Hear MusicTM station, XM Satellite Radio Channel 75.

That is new marketing. Omnipresent, networked, informative, tempting. And slightly ironic, because if you look down at the very bottom of the cup, you will see in size 6 font, “This is the author’s opinion, not necessarily that of Starbucks.

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