Reshaping the world in my own image

by Brian Clarey

Know what you’re doing, do as you must. – the Slackers, “Rude and Reckless”

Every now and again I ask myself: “What would Madonna do?”

Madonna – the entertainer and not the Virgin Mother – is famous for introducing the bra as outerwear, bringing promiscuity into the mainstream and proving that it’s possible to wake up one day and suddenly talk like you’re British.

And that’s my point: The Material Girl knows how to shake up the mix, recast the die, reinvent herself in whatever image she chooses.

It’s one of the secrets to a successful life, I believe. David Bowie knew it. The Beatles knew it. Michael Jackson knew it, but he really screwed it up.

And I know it too.

Recently I decided that what Madonna would do, were she the editor of an alternative weekly in Greensboro, NC, would be to get in the game, to more fully engage with the world, to seize the opportunities that drift past like bright creatures on the wind and devour them live and wriggling like Jabba the Hut.

You’ve got to go for it, is what I’m saying. Strike the hot iron, grab the beast by the horns and let the juice run down your chin, again like Jabba the Hut.

So I cut off most of my hair – life’s too short for bad haircuts – and I’ve upped my coffee intake, which I find gives me a nice, sharp edge. I started playing more poker because poker, we’ve learned from Mr. Doyle Brunson, is about controlled aggression and controlled aggression, I believe, is the way to bend the world to my will. And I’ve been working out, not just because I’m tiptoeing around what may eventually turn into a full-blown mid-life crisis but also because it makes my clothes look better.

Not unlike Madonna.

And I’m drawing inspiration for my new, fully-engaged, control-freak self everywhere I look.

Like our man George Bush, for instance, who has certainly attempted to redraw the world in his own image during his time in the seat of power. And though even casual readers of this column know that I’m not a real big fan of W, there is a part of this new me that surely admires the way he grabs life by the throat.

Like his take on global warming, which, as it turns out, is a very real phenomenon according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a cabal of more than 2,500 scientists put together by the UN and the World Meteorological Organization.

But facts be damned! Our president and the people with whom he’s surrounded himself have a well-documented history of soft denial about the fact that it’s all of a sudden getting hot in herrrrr, renaming it “climate change,” saying the “jury’s still out” (or was that his take on evolution?) and actively freezing out climate experts in discussion of energy policy while accepting nearly $2.5 million for the 2004 Bush reelection campaign from the oil, gas and coal industries.

That, friends and neighbors, is how a go-getter deals with the so-called “reality-based” world.

And when a cadre of scientists who participated in the federal Climate Change Science Program – 43 percent of them – came out last week and said they were pressured to downplay the significance, or even the existence, of this epochal heat wave, Bush and his Machiavellian buddies issued a statement toots suite saying that, hell yeah, there’s global warming – excuse me, climate change – afoot and they’ve been on it since 2001, on it like a bonnet.

I believe that kind of behavior is called “chutzpah,” and it is a very big part of my new take on the world and my place in it.

You’ve got to have some balls in this life, is what I’m saying. Like those dudes from Google who got pinched in Boston for adorning all corners of the city with little Lite-Brite gizmos that maybe looked a little bit like bombs but were actually promotional tools for a show on the Comedy Central network called “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” in which various components of a fast-food meal have been anthropomorphized and made to snark on each other like stoned teenagers.

Guys got busted for disorderly conduct – hey, who hasn’t, am I right, ladies? – and some strange “hoax” charge, and then during a press conference refused to speak about anything but hairdos.

Balls, I tell ya…. Don’t leave the house without ’em.

Also, as a symbolic gesture that attests to my new spirit of dynamism, I’ve decided to get on board with a cause that epitomizes my desire to have a hand in shaping the world in which I live: the Super Bowl Monday movement (, introduced to me by my brother-in-law, proposing that the day after the Super Bowl should be a national holiday because, dammit, we should all get Monday off after an event of this magnitude.

At least that’s the way I see it. And I believe Madonna – though I’ve heard she prefers the NBA – would agree.

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