Thursday, December 25, 2014

Too Much Pressure (Life As Evil Science Experiment, Take I)


Too much pressure, this pressure got to stop
Too much pressure, it's getting to my head
Too much pressure, 
they're giving me hard times
Too much pressure, my man made me sad
Too much pressure, 
him try to make me look small
Too much pressure, end up with no money

Released in August 1980, the lead-off single from this classic Two Tone band's first album sums up the steaming, noxious pile of crap that characterizes so much of our so-called modern life. I've always dug this song, because it does that classic R&B/soul trick of mating downbeat sentiments to some of the bounciest toe-tapping music you'll ever likely to encounter.

I'd have given anything to see the local lads' reaction once they stopped bopping their heads long enough at some hole-in-the-wall pub...and heard what the band was really saying underneath the bounciness. The song recently gained new life on The Abyss soundtrack, of all places -- but, hey, record sales aren't what they used to be, so you shake some action wherever you can, right?

Sadly, of course, this song's lyrics haven't aged a whit: for a further snapshot, see the link below to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's July 2014 press release on its survey about stress in American life. To me, the most interesting finding is that those in poor health and people with disabilities were most likely to report some kind of stressful incident in their lives. Such details have a "man bites dog" quality to them, but one that's often forgotten (especially by judgmental blockheads who tell you -- with a straight face -- to "just snap out of it").

Pressure has a funny way of blindsiding those of us who surf the margins...this is the third time I've restarted this post, because the situation keeps changing. For the last couple days, I've worked like a galley slave on various editorial projects to keep those funky dollar bills flying in...it's a little hard to get into the Yuletide groove when you're feeling chained to your computer screen all day long. 


The good news, however, is that -- thanks to my strong last-minute footwork -- the budget chasm will likely melt down to a budget gap. The Squawker and myself aren't exactly ready to break out the confetti quite yet, because we've still got roughly $200 in bills to cover.  But I feel somewhat better than I did last week about where the budget equation stands -- or else, this post might have taken a considerably darker tone. 

Earlier this week, we also won a $100 gas card.  With the oily black stuff hovering slightly north of $2 per gallon right now, the timing couldn't have been better...hell, if we'd have had some extra nickels and dimes to scratch together, we could even have gone on one of our celebrated last-minute road trips ("Man, it's too nice to park in front of this computer screen all day -- let's get the hell out of here"). I'm sure we'll make up that lost time another day, though.



Too much pressure, and 
all them certain kind of people
Too much pressure, them having it easy
Too much pressure, them having it easy
Too much pressure, them sail through life
Too much pressure, them have no joy
Too much pressure, them have no joy
It's too much pressure, it's too much pressure

Like I've already mentioned, though, we're not out of the woods yet.  One troubling, wearying feature of modern life -- which, as Blur so sagely reminded us, is rubbish -- is that somebody always finds a way to reach into your pocket for more of the pittance that you do bring home.

Case in point: starting in January, I'll have to resign myself to shelling out an additional $30 per month for water and sewer. It's the first time that I've run into such a concept as a renter, which deep-freezes my heart.  My mental image is of a malicious Mr. Magoo type rubbing his bony calloused hands together, cackling: "How can we squeeze just a few more pennies from these people? Hey, wait a minute, this idea sounds pretty inspired..."

No matter, the rent now edges up to $800 per month, and -- although I've been promised that's the limit -- the jury's still out on that one, as far as I'm concerned. You know that old cliche: when anybody in an official capacity advises, "Don't worry"...that's when you should worry. Remember all those "temporary" jails and taxes? They have a way of becoming pretty damn permanent, especially when people quit paying attention.

As I write this, I'm contemplating some type of eBay sale -- or maybe a repeat of October's hat trick...when I sold off about a quarter of my record collection to inject some greenback lifeblood into my bank account. In one sense, it's not a big deal: if you're a dedicated vinyl and CD archaeologist, it's not unusual to buy, sell and re-acquire three or four copies of a favorite album.  
On the other hand, it's another reminder of the nether status that you seem to permanently inhabit -- because, obviously, if your situation didn't feel so precarious, you surely wouldn't contemplate such a maneuver. Lately, this so-called contract life feels like bank robbery: you can't build a rainy day fund, because you've been forced to spend all the money that you just made from the last job...which forces you to go back out, and pull another, and another, and another...and so on, and so forth.  Wash, rinse repeat.


Suffice to say, it's not a situation that you feel like tolerating indefinitely. The Squawker and I talk a lot about what more we want from life -- the right combination of dominoes hasn't quite fallen into place, I suppose. For the moment, I'll just enjoy myself, unleash some of my pent-up creative energies -- starting with this post -- before I square off again with the economic forces of reaction that so many of us are staring down right now.  We'll see how things turn out, but just remember...pressure doesn't ever take a holiday. --The Reckoner

Links T'Go (Before Yer Head Implodes...)

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:
The Burden Of Stress In America:
http://www.rwjf.org/en/research-publications/find-rwjf-research/2014/07/the-burden-of-stress-in-america.html

Too Much Pressure: The Play:

Too Much Pressure: The Selecter (YouTube Video):

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