Thursday, April 13, 2006

Where have all the strivers gone? (Part 2)

It's officially Spring in Minnesota.

I go through this every year. I promise myself, "Not until May 1st," because I know the weather up here isn't really nice enough to get away with it. Then I start saying, "Well, okay, maybe April 15th," because of like, global warming and all. And then one morning I wake up, and take the dogs out for their morning walk, and the sun is shining, and the trees are budding, and the birds are singing, and the skies are just so amazingly blue that I simply can't wait until 8 A.M. rolls around and I can call my insurance agent on the phone and shout, "TAKE THE TRIUMPH OFF WINTER STORAGE COVERAGE, I'M PUTTING IT BACK ON THE ROAD!"

And fifteen minutes after that I'm blasting down the 10th Street freeway entrance ramp at Warp 9, and the tuned exhaust header hits that resonant peak at around 3800 rpm...


Uh, excuse me, where was I? Oh yeah, I was going to talk about strivers this morning. Okay, short answer is, there's no shortage of strivers. You just won't find them in serious literature anymore. You'll find them aplenty in movies, usually about urban youth determined to make it big with nothing more than some raw talent and a hatful of dreams: e.g., Eight Mile Road, Get Rich or Die Tryin' -- (Could there possibly be more of a "striver" title than that last one?)

You'll find them in the engineering and computer science departments of colleges, where a couple of buddies are trying to figure out, not how to get blind drunk and laid in Fort Lauderdale, but how to make something that will become the next Google.

You'll find them on construction sites, where some guy with a truckful of tools, a circular saw, and both his thumbs is trying to figure out how to hire some help and double his business next year.

You'll even find them in suburban basements, where millions of kids like The Kid and his friends have already sussed that if you score more bolts now, you can buy weapons and ship upgrades and score even more bolts on the next level.

So why don't we find strivers in contemporary serious literature?

Me, I blame The Great Gatsby, but it's probably goes older and runs deeper than that...