Monday, February 23, 2009

A Freshly Unemployed Publishing Professional Listens To The New Springsteen Album

Axes fall. So do chips. So does the sky. The bottom? It drops like my stomach does when I use the word "unemployed" to refer to my status in the current socioeconomic climate. A friend on twitter (or a "twal" as they're referred to in the arcane infantile rebranding of babytalk portmanteaus that passes for a network-specific "language" on there)has informed me that I need to be more sensitive (let's say sensitiver) to the branding needs of all of us super-literate now-jobless folks awash on the dirty, jellyfish-laden shore of the book world. As such, at my friend's request, I am not "unemployed", I am "self-employed". Actually, in terms of putting a big, bright, ravey-yellow smiley face sticker over the stigma of being jobless, I by far prefer the term "under-employed".

At the moment, I am MOST DEFINITELY under-employed.

This is news that has "broken" (OMFG someone call Barbara Walters-wait, don't, actually, as I haven't the string cheese and Fiji water she requires)elsewhere and in more detail, so the links are here and here if you care to read that.

Shakes is shakes, though, unless you're Richard Blais and your shakes have foie gras in them. I am jobless and moving from Atlanta to New York at the end of March to find my way in the world.

Qualifiers in regards to the above paragraph: Jobless= Trying to scurry up freelance marketing and publicity projects under my "RussComm" name while I hunt for something full-time and constant. Preferably something with health insurance-you know, that mythical beast that allows an option for dealing with illness other than "die miserably and painfully".

Moving to NY=Yup.

My theory is that the math on the unemployment numbers work out as such: there are 100% more jobs I may or may not be qualified for in New York, which makes my odds double what they'd be if I remained in Atlanta. If my calculations are correct, then there are about 200% more jobs in NY RIGHT NOW. Those are damn near horserace odds. So I'm throwing my money down on the one named "uproot yr damnself". And thus I am.

I vacillate between a giddy free-falling hopefulness, like Fievel Mousekewitz moving to America, and a terrified and free-falling anxiety. However, lately, given my situation, a serious anger comes out whenever I listen to Bruce Springsteen.
And that's just weird.

I mean I tend towards angst by default, and this whole jobless thing has found me strangely complacent. But I never would've thought that it'd be my first and only real listen to Springsteen's new album, Working On A Dream that would see me super-over-entitled, Grandma-demanding-photos-at-the-wedding angry.

There is, apparently, something in me lately that snaps, sparks, really, at privilege. I feel awful, defeated, awfully defeated, trudging to the unemployment office and claiming what's rightfully mine, and I feel like a starving caged tiger shown raw, bloody meat when I listen to Springsteen's new songs of change, growth and renewal.

To these ears, they're empty platitudes entirely.

Mostly, because Springsteen plays as though he's a migrant steel worker, wiping work-sweat from his brow with his blue collar. In fact, I daresay I blame "working on a dream" for a lot of things. Other than its pervasive sense of 'we did it", a sentiment that makes my stomach queasy for reasons I won't get into, Working On A Dream gets a fat-ass wedge of my ire because, in a time when I, screw everyone else, I need something super-uplifting and inspirational, something to make me feel blindly, formlessly empowered, drunk on the feeling like a Human Resources rep at 4:59 PM on a Friday-sassy and ready to party-Springsteen, the American King of the Smart Arena Rock Anthem For The Working Class, has produced an album that's absolutely nothing but a letdown. To wit, I point to the single worst song he's ever written, which is on this album: "Queen Of The Supermarket".

Yeah. It's that bad.

Right now, more than ever, what's needed isn't a working-class hero, but an under-employed hero. Preferably in publishing. Again: this is just me, thinking solely of myself. Springsteen? Sorry, bud, you let me down this year. Hope is most certainly on the way, but not from you. These tales of "good things coming" ring as empty and hollow as the guy at the unemployment office leading the "work skills" class telling the room full of sighing, heaving, coughing folks that "the job market's never looked brighter!". Emphasis his, not mine.

If Working On A Dream proves to be anything, it's an insult to those of us who've followed the Springsteenian mythos to its inevitable conclusion: a giant brick wall of government checks and boxes upon boxes of unread ARCs. Oh, wait-again I'm just talking about me here.

On that note, consider this an open solicitation: publishers, publicists, authors, folks with great french fry recipes-if you need freelance marketing or publicity work, if you're looking for a publicist full-time, if you hear of a great job lead in NYC, if you're in New York and would like to treat a really awesome fellow to an espresso, a martini, or an espresso martini? Don't hesitate to email me at RussCommunications at gmail dot com. Next time we chat, I'll be in New York. Doing...something. Hoping, mostly. I hear it's on the way. It apparently shows up at the same time as my unemployment check. 

Russ Marshalek, formerly marketing and pr director for Wordsmiths Books in Decatur, really really needs a job in NYC like right now k thanks. 

1 comment:

Sanderdoe said...

The angst you so beautifully expressed is precisely your ticket to freedom.