A Generation of Worthless Men

A Generation of Worthless Men

Kirk Wisland


We are a generation of worthless men.

Watching and waiting.

Making nothing. Building nothing. Planting no seed.

What do we know?

We know drugs—we got high, baked, buzzed, tripped, dosed, shroomed, zoomed, huffed, puffed; we snorted and jammed needles into our arms and legs and between our toes, and we rode the wave of euphoria that was ecstasy like the second coming of the love revolution, which they killed, they who had watched in horror as their order had disintegrated twenty-five years earlier with a whole generation checking out to become hippie pacifist non-consumers—and they were not going to be caught unprepared like that again, no sir! So when ecstasy took off, when the raves washed ashore in Puritan America like the second coming of the British invasion but this time from Manchester, and the dancing


dancing to the point of dizzy dehydration, of dropping like suddenly paralyzed squirrels from trees, the dancing and the emphatic oneness, the cuddling—when they saw this burgeoning new love movement, they sprang into congressional action with the cleverly acronym-ed Reducing Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy


the RAVE Act,

which stated that the promoter of a rave was responsible for the drugs that might be used or sold at their events, that the promoters were responsible for every single person in the warehouse, under the night sky, wherever the rave was, that the local authorities could assume illegal activity based on the visual sighting of water bottles, pacifiers, and glow-sticks—and thus the burgeoning threat of the raver was quashed like the dope fiend in Reefer Madness and the raves were legislated to near-extinction by a gaggle of future presidential wannabes led by Joe Fucking Lieberman, all eager to bestow their benign providence in order to protect us from all that dangerous peace, love, and understanding, and thus with the gavel strike and presidential pen, that fire of love was doused and order restored.

We worthless men,

What do we know?

We know boozing—we know beer bongs and quarters and binge drinking. We are the international champions of drunk driving, date rape, puking on our shoes—the vast celebrations of our regrettable ridiculous inebriations. We follow our boozy-writer dreams, as if it was F. Scott’s highball that wrote Gatsby or Ernest’s bag of matador red wine that made the sun also rise. We know fucking. And then fucking crying about fucking, or the loss of fucking, or the fucking of others who used to do their fucking with us.

We know profanity. We are vulgar in ways that make George Carlin and Lenny Bruce smile down from heaven—we are so fucking full of shit, shithead, bitch, ass, asshole, asswipe, and of course fuck, with all of the awesome grammatical “Noun! Verb! Adjective!” and cultural usage opportunities that come with such a versatile four-letter word. We have stripped swearing of almost all meaning now. When we were young, thirty years back in the pleasantness of the post-Vietnam 1970s, a loud public utterance of the F-bomb would have elicited shock and awe, gasps and tut-tutting from our elderly ancestors, possibly even rebuke from parents with young children in tow, but now fuck is almost boring—the lazy verbal hackery of a clichéd script in which we utter it, in a whiskey-soaked two-packs-a-day drawl, as a compliment—this is good fucking soup, Ma. What do we know?

We know abortion—the only seed we planted the one we desperately wished to spill on fallow ground. We are the delinquent fathers of a million zygotes flushed from this world in sterile stainless steel clinics by women who were as unwilling to carry our babies as we were to prevent their conceptions.

What do we know?

We know how to break things—how to smash, crash, crack, blast, shoot, shatter, splatter. We litter the Internet with videos of our comic-inspired mayhem, our ritual need to immaturely ape masculine idiocy. We are a generation of Jackasses.

But we don’t know how to fix things.


When we were kids, our dads drove cars up onto ramps and drained thick gritty black oil into greasy metal pans, popped hoods and fixed plugs and wires, gaskets, valves, brake-lines, carburetors. Our dads knew how to work the hand-throttle to choke a winter-frozen car to life. But we can’t fix things. We can’t change our oil or jack up the car to fix a flat—why bother when Jiffy Lube does oil changes for twenty dollars while we sip complimentary coffee with non-dairy creamer in Styrofoam cups and hum along to the pleasant Muzak, and why learn the machinations of the jack and tire iron when the ubiquitous cell phone means we’re never alone anymore anyway, so we can just call some guy, some tattooed retro-dude with a pompadour, one of the last few who know the ancient secrets of changing a flat on the dangerous shoulder of the freeway, those wizards who know the proper alchemy of the engine, how to talk to our machines and make them purr. So we drive our cars on pancake-flat tires at seventy miles an hour, never thinking to wonder why our hood slopes down from left to right, because there’s a light that’s supposed to blink to life on the dashboard and warn us when the air pressure in the tire gets too low—the light that tells us it’s time to take it somewhere so that somebody can do something about it. What do we know?

We know information. We know everything about everything. We are Googled, Twittering and tweeted, spammed, hyperlinked and Wiki-fucking-pediaed. We have near-godlike knowledge at our constant fingertips; we are all now Gods of Information; we are the envy of our forbearers, who, with their near-pagan superstitions, watched the sky while trying to the divine the intent of a cruel and capricious Mother Nature—will it be rain or hail?

We know everything. Two bad we can’t do anything about it. Our agrarian forefathers knew one thing at a time—a gap in the fence line, a tractor that wouldn’t start, a fox making murderous forays into the henhouse by night.

We suffocate under a deluge of knowledge—so much pain, so much misery, rainforests cleared, girls sold into sexual slavery, famine, drought, starvation, pestilence, biblical suffering and the suffering caused by the Bible and the other holy books of humanity, toxins in the river, nuclear waste leaking from mountain depositories, murder, rape, terrorism, greed, avarice, child abuse, fraud—a new Gilded Age descending, a second Dust Bowl rising, the new Okies of the Third Millennium now of a middle class bent, Okies migrating from everywhere now, equal inopportunity, from the empty rust factories of Michigan, from the phosphorous-choked dead zone fishing ports of the Gulf of Mexico, from the dead, dying, empty towns of the Great Plains, from our drowned cities, from our empty desert sprawl, the new ghost towns of snowbird suburbia, here today gone tomorrow like tumbleweed, the fortunes of our grandparents blowing back up the mountain, the poor Okies now without golden California dreams, fleeing from California, please take back your poor huddled masses as we mass at the border in mass hysteria to keep out the brown, our xenophobia-cloaked in the tri-cornered hats and slogans of pre-Revolutionary War America, and the tigers and snow leopards going extinct, the cheetahs and elephants soon to follow, oceans emptying, a floating island of trash—the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—miles of immortal plastic debris, trapped in the North Pacific Gyre, choking the birds caught in the six pack rings, loggerhead turtles starving on the constipating nutritional nothingness of a trillion plastic baggies they mistook for edible jellyfish, so we know, we know,

we know the horror

the horror

like Kurtz couldn’t imagine in his most feral jungle nightmares—any wonder why Hunter S. Thompson blew his brains out in despair, why Spalding Gray dove off the Staten Island Ferry into the winter Hudson and never came back up for air?

We know it all, we email and post and cyber-march and blog it out, screeching and wailing and gnashing our virtual teeth in the blankness of cyberspace, as we put iPod earbuds into our ears, jam them down deep—block out the noise, the horror—jammed down as we jam ourselves down into comfy chairs with laptops pushing down our laps further into isolation, dark sunglasses, profile pics that show all while saying nothing, brims of our hats pulled low, wild snowboarder bangs to hide our red-rimmed sleepless eyes. The horror pulls us deep inside ourselves

our isolation

café secrets lost.


Lost, ladies and gentlemen, floating in the wherelessness of cyberspace, where we are friends with millions, knowing none.

Forgive me Father Ginsburg, for I am not a poet.

We worthless men,

we neither grow wheat, nor kill our own meat, but we complain about the lack of proper fiber, literal and moral, in our pre-measured individual-serving packaged oatmeal and we bitch about the high cholesterol in the dead cow we never knew.

We worthless men,

we don’t fight. Our fathers went to war, shed blood and died by the thousands for the sanctity of an insignificant corrupt democracy in southeast Asia, and those that didn’t fight or die at least had the decency and courage to go all-in the other direction, to burn their draft cards and march and go to jail or flee to our gentle maple-leafed peacenik neighbors to the north.

But we worthless men don’t fight—we grew up in a decade of peace, between Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, between the Good Gulf War and the Bad One—between Iraq I and II, between the first and second acts of Saddam Hussein as Hitler.

We didn’t fight. We thought about joining in those fifteen easy years post-Vietnam—flirted with the Marine Corps, tantalized by that forty grand for college, willing to consider doing time in the military, which had forgotten war, just becoming another semi-unpleasant peacetime job—

—forty grand—

—for four years in the Marines or four years on an Alaskan fishing boat? At least in the Marines we figured we’d get to shoot guns and not reek of fish guts. So we took their test, and they called and called and whispered sweet nothings about information technology opportunities and that fat GI Bill, but when it was time, we didn’t sign. We traded the bayonet for the bong, the discipline of the military for the mayhem of the dorm room, for our quicksand immortality. And twenty years on, we’re still stuck where we stayed.

Watching and waiting,

wasted and wasting.

All rights reserved to Kirk Wisland.

The Boys That We Are

Nonfiction: Kirk Wisland