I need your help, because I'm dying.

OK not really. But I've been invited to be this year's speaker in a "last lecture" series on campus. The goal is to pretend this is the last lecture we'll ever get to give and make it about whatever we want. It's an interesting thought exercise, if nothing else. If I really was going to die tomorrow, what would I want to be the last thing I said to students, readers, my rats, etc.? Part of me would want to give a rambling three-hour political valedictory. Part of me would want to say "Eh, be nicer to each other" and leave it at that. Assuming that I don't want to subject the university community to either of those, I have to split the difference.

What's your favorite Gin and Tacos post? What if anything have I said that would be fitting – that is, important enough to qualify as "last words" but interesting enough that someone will actually want to listen to it. I've been doing this for so long that I've probably written about everything I could conceivably want to say to anyone, and I'm not the best judge of what will be well received or interesting as I write.

So help me out here, or these people may end up spending 22 minutes watching me air guitar and karaoke Milo Goes to College in its entirety.

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73 Responses to “LAST LECTURE”

  1. Marie Says:

    I also vote for a combination of "Battered Worker Syndrome" and "Green My Eyes" — such a great indictment of race-to-the-bottom capitalism.

  2. John T. Mickevich Says:

    "No Libertarians In Airplanes" gets my vote too.

    Barring that, I often refer to the piece that helped me find this blog. "Seriously, Fuck Ayn Rand."

  3. anotherbozo Says:

    Thanks for this excuse for me to inventory the highlights of G&T, I who have the usual attention span of about 15 minutes.

    I agree with many on the "libertarians on airplanes" philosophy as one candidate: it's vivid, a great metaphor, will resound to the last inch of the hall. Good as Elizabeth Warren's brilliantly concise rationale for taxes, IMHO.

    But if you can get a slightly more studious, contemplative mood going, Mike's suggestion of

    I recommended that post to the one right-wing acquaintance I've tangled with in the past two years. I, myself, thought it was epic.

    But a lecture on health care is certainly timely and critical, as we count down to the Supremes weighing in:

    And I vote for YouTubing it as well.

  4. j Says:

    Like everyone else, you should definitely refer to the libertarians on airplanes, and the baby boomers. But how could you leave out your investigative journalism wherein you infiltriated a Tea Party event? Best post ever. Those pictures would make for some nice visual aids, especially how "descent" is a "patriotic".

  5. terraformer Says:

    Think about what Alabamans need to hear most, and go from there.

  6. Cheap Jim Says:

    Tell them they should be glad they're not fat and miserable in Las Vegas. Or the Baby-Boomer thing. Same thing, in a way.

  7. Pat Says:

    I don't think your FJM posts are a good model for an audible lecture, just owing to format difficulties. And while I enjoy them, I have to say—Ken Tremendous still owns that format.

    I feel like I've been reading this blog so long, and genuinely loving it so much, that it's astonishing to me I cannot instantly summon a list of Favorite Ed from G&T Moments to memory, but it's regrettably a blur. So rather than point to particular posts, I'd like to highlight a few things I think you do particularly well (and which a 20-something might most need to hear):

    First, I always find your writing on the really hard-edged reality of the police state to be particularly superb. My friends who read this blog and I probably send each other more "wish I coulda put it this well" emails on those days when you post something with the sentiment "This is what we permit the police to do, in this country, because the alternative is feeling slightly more nervous about young males" than any other. (Again, I'm not putting it nearly so well as you do.) Most people don't think about those issues in a material way; it's more comfortable to occupy the theoretical discussion we inherit from cop shows and other familiar fairy tales. Pulling away that curtain, especially in front of rows of college students some of whom who are about to become those ranks of young males, is important.

    Second, and related, I think your writing is particularly strong when it discusses the material realities underlying the economic bargain we've struck in this country. Again, this is another area where most people tend to think about economics in terms of a morality tale, and assume that people have whatever they have because they deserve it. Pulling away that curtain, too, is important.

    Finally, and most obviously, funny is better, and I think you do "not funny-ha-ha but funny-weary-and-despairing" better than anyone. The aforementioned fellow readers and I have already appropriated "in closing, 45 minutes in your establishment made me want to join Al Qaeda" for our Yelp reviews.

    Count me one more vote for Youtubage.

  8. Dave Dell Says:

    I think some of the comments are correct. A lot of your writing would not translate well into a lecture. Having said that, I have a soft spot in my heart for what I feel should be the title of the lecture: MAGICAL PONIES SHITTING GLITTER. Based on last April 19th's screed of the same name.

  9. Pam Says:

    The choice is clear: "No libertarians on airplanes". Well written, articulate makes people think and ask questions. Also, for some reason, people tend to think they're being cool by saying, "I'm a Libertarian," even though they don't really understand what it means to be a Libertarian. Perhaps your speech could prevent that with some young folks who just think they're being trendy.

  10. Nate Says:

    Your NPF post about Trucknutz a few years ago is still my favorite NPF post. You'll work them in some how, you're in the South. :)

  11. Chicagojon Says:

    Nice find on the personal responsibility. This paragraph would be a great lecture:

    The American attitude toward the healthcare system represents our national obsession with Personal Responsibility taken to its ludicrous extreme. We feel that people should have to pay for any services they receive because A) we're proud capitalists, and thus everything of value must have a price attached to it and B) we blame individuals who end up in the hospital, just as we blame the ones you end up poor, in prison, on drugs, or unemployed. Everything that happens to you up to and including getting cancer is your own damn fault.

  12. mrearl Says:

    Just tell them what you've learned. If you can get that down to 22 minutes, you'll have accomplished something profound.

  13. Will Says:

    Whatever you pick, is there enough time to regrow your Chester A. Arthur beard before you deliver the lecture? Because you ought to do that.

  14. My Says:

    Given your ample skills, I say you vent your grumpiest burgeoning old man's spleen along the following lines (pulling from your posts, but as others have noted, not simply Cc'ing an old post into a 20-minute oral-blogging): You have, in many bits and more pieces, displayed a jigsaw puzzle of the last 30-odd years and what they have done to people just like those to whom you'll be speaking.
    I propose you use the first 10 minutes putting that in perspective. Then–and this is where it may challenge you some in terms of laying new track and therefore push you to your Ed-est–explain to them in frank and hopefully as un-profane as possible terms where they are headed on this arc and, without getting all preachy-cum-hypocrito-slacktivist feelgood on them, maybe the last two minutes on what they can do about it. In other words, squeegee the living fuck out of their sewn shut third-quasi-nonexistent-eyes.
    That's my two cents, anyway…

  15. Jordan Says:

    I'm a reader from way back. You mentioned this once, but I don't think you ever devoted a post to it: something as to why you swapped political viewpoints from conservative to liberal. While the other posts that people mentioned above might be better reads (like no libertarians at 30,000 feet), this one might have some practical effect.

  16. Nunya Says:

    Battered Workers Syndrome was the finest piece you have ever produced from your considerable volume of work. Go forth and spawn new pinkos!

  17. Noskilz Says:

    I'm not sure I have any great suggestions about revisiting a particular post, but including something about there being no substitute for actually looking at the thing being discussed probably can't hurt. I seem to recall some of your posts that attracted a lot of attention also involved you taking the time to read through the matter at hand rather than taking others summaries of the situation for granted. Illustrations of how never hurts to do your own legwork whenever possible.

  18. acer Says:

    Didn't have to think twice…

  19. acer Says:

    @Kevin @Arslan

    That'd be Philly. Philadelpha, Mississippi, that is. Better known as the site of Ronnie Reagan's "I Believe In State's Rights" speech.

  20. Dana Says:

    Much as I like knocking around libertarianism, I have to put in my vote for a lecture about how the struggle between generations will define American politics and prosperity for the next 30+ years. Most young people today have no idea the we're heading toward a society where their future–not just their working life and opportunities in general but also their own retirement–is set to be cannibalized for grandma's retirement. You can work in a few knocks on libertarianism along the way, I'm sure. Besides, I feel like the most effective tool for dulling hard-edge libertarianism is real life.

  21. A Says:

    Assuming youtube is veto'd (Yeah, I don't think I'd want my boss/employer outed or able to get back to this fairly anonymous blog.)
    Please do post here anything new (cobbled together greatest hits) or at least tell us whatt you chose.