Taste Takers: Forget normal 

Last night, I spent about five minutes trying to step into the psyche of a man in a viral video clip. I watched the video probably eight times from my Facebook feed, end to end, trying to piece together all the decisions the man may have been negotiating during the pivotal ten seconds of the video. Welcome to my weird brain, I guess.  I was actually in the midst of losing all motivation to write this particular blog entry when I realized the man was a perfect illustration for the message behind Taste Takers. Some people scroll through their notifications and watch all the puppy and kitten videos. Some people quiz and re-quiz in order to discover which Hogwarts house they truly align. I get excited when my feed can jumpstart me into deliberations about the moral systems of others. I know that’s a strange admission, but when you’re in your own head a lot, you learn the dangers of trying to extrapolate everything from your own experiences alone. 

I should add that my conclusions are often pretty damn wrong, which can really suck.  My closest friends know I can be painfully analytical as I try to find linkages between facts, events, people, and solutions.  I can be pretty assertive, and outright ingenuous, about my thought processes. Still, the ride is always enlightening for me. I’ve argued for a while that being wrong is usually more valuable than being immediately right. There seems to be far less to be learned when you’re always right – and, that seems boring.  Truth-be-told, my regular deliberations while on social media help me feel in-sync with humanity.  I’ve read articles from high school classmates, concluding that President Obama’s race is the reason Americans don’t have any optimism for the future. I read posts about America’s destitute being nothing more than lazy bottom-feeders. I rarely find paragraphs I immediately agree with in these write-ups, but I try to understand the systems that spur their creation.  When you disagree with someone, it’s easy to dismiss their ideas.  Everyone knows we all function this way – but, fewer see how susceptible they really are to the ideas they hotly oppose. The most important ideas are never as black and white as we wish they could be, and I don’t believe heroism is any different. Taste Takers makes the argument that the ideas less-privileged are often the ones we, collectively, hold in highest regard.  But, since seeing is believing, something needs to, first, boldly present the evidence. 

So, hopefully you’re still with me as I try to roll toward the theme behind Taste Takers. This is my favorite song on the record, partially because its spirit is hard to explain quickly without underselling from where it comes.  Also, I was hoping you’d be baited with curiosity for the video content that kicked off this whole entry. So, here goes; The man that stunned me was pumping gasoline when a speeding car careened intentionally into the gas pump he was using. The pump exploded, of course, and the firestorm enveloped both cars with impervious black smoke. On the CC footage from the convenience building, you can clearly see the man escape from the pumps and off camera.  At this point in the clip, I had total empathy for the man that sprinted away.  It’s a simple relation: when you don’t want to be in danger for your life, you get the hell out of there. Derp… Fewer than five seconds later, however, the man runs back into the smoke, reappearing as he drags the unconscious driver of the car from the fires. It’s not the most incredible story you’ve ever read. I’m not even willing to say the story here is uncommon.  The point is that it’s easy to take either camp if you had to debate whether he should have gone back in to the firestorm.  To be clear, the situation was fucking life-threatening dangerous. In fact, the whole area blew up like it was under the direction of Michael Bay the moment the two men reached a ‘safe’ distance.  And what if the final pumps ignited while the man was still unbuckling the driver? Does a different ending then punctuate the decision as idiotic? I know my answer. I think he made the right call.  I think the video went viral because hundreds of thousands of other people thought so, too. 

It was extremely humbling, but that gave me a sinking feeling more than anything. I’m not confident I would have done the same when put under the same pressure, and that bothered me.  That doesn’t mean I can never gain the confidence for such heroic feats, of course, but real commitment to a system is clearly more than intellectual. You have to be able to fly it in the face of doubt and discomfort, and as a prolonged venture, you have to defend the system to its various counterpoints, manifesting and spanning a multitude of ten-second challenges.  I believe that the most inspirational personas in this world maintain their drive above all else, despite the stumbles. I sound like a Nike commercial, sure, but I’m of the opinion that such rhetoric is justly saturated into American comic-book hero culture. 

“I'm the best there is at what I do. But what I do best isn't very nice… I’m a long way from home. An’ I think I’m dyin’. That’s good news to some. I’m crazy, y’see? – a berserker, a psycho-killer. That’s fact, not truth – the whole truth, anyway… I’m on the run, but I’m used to that. The important thing is, I’m free… So, I keep movin’ an’ hope things get better."
  - Wolverine, The Uncanny X-Men, Issue 162 

We’ve stated before that Cosplay songs have a theme that often implement the personalities and story arcs of known, costumed characters, and Taste Takers is one of those. Formally, it’s about Marvel’s Wolverine, but doesn’t reveal any homage to any Marvel storyline. The song is simply about Wolverine’s disposition; the strong-willed, brooding loner has always grabbed me as a powerful identity. Also, I felt Logan’s supernatural abilities played nicely into the Taste Takers meaning. He is an adaptive, self-healer, of course, able to regenerate damaged or destroyed body tissue far beyond the capabilities of an ordinary human. His passion becomes strength, and he meanders toward betterment through frenzied, often regressive behavior.  He must withstand the jealousies and violence that he evokes through his wild and tactless propensities, but his conviction is known, and it’s his conviction which humanizes him. None of us boast the Adamantium core needed to physically recover from all our miscues as we bang out our life’s callings, which is why sprinting into a torrent of flame is an act that absolutely floors me – but, it’s not the Adamantium that sends you running back in the first place. 

Here are the lyrics to Taste Takers.  Thanks for reading. 

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I’m the best.  I’m the best.  I’m the best there is. 
My best ain’t very nice – yet what I do is causing you to salivate. 
Hit me with your violent jealousies; let’s see you crack these bare bones. 
Though you laid these wounds wide open, the best don’t pick the cut. 
I heal up. 

The best things in life are freaks. 
Model my skills and stamp me out. 
I am a tastemaker. 
I am a freak. I am the beast you’d like to be. 
You’re just a taste taker – you’re scared of missing out on normalcy. 

So hit me with your favorite malady; let’s see you bore this dense core. 
I could show you the parts in motion, but the best just shake it up. 
We all should. 

The best things in life are freaks. 
Model my skills and stamp me out. 
I am a tastemaker. 
I am a freak. I am the beast you’d like to be. 
You’re just a taste taker – you’re scared of missing out on normalcy. 
  
So hit me with your violent jealousies; you’ll never leave a scar on this freak show. 

When you laid these wounds wide open – 
You lashed out like a green-eyed child. 
You laid these wounds wide open – and lashed out.  You lashed out like the worst there is. 
It’s how we were born. And you can bet it’s evident you’re fond of us now. 
All the best won’t be blended to death in this world. 
You’re not the best. You’re far too much like the rest.

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