Friday, May 2, 2008


"With an Xbox controller in his hand, Jones hops in a helicopter and heads to Times Square, where he steals a cab — the terrified passenger jumps out — and cruises down to SoHo before getting back in the helicopter and taking a tour of the oil refineries over in Jersey."

"Grand Theft Auto Steals the Show."
Story yesterday on Talk of the Nation.

I'm intrigued by this minor inclusion in mass popular culture. I was reading on another track entirely earlier this morning -- and article in the London Free Press about how the first commercial oil well is having its 150th birthday. They still use old pump equipment. The noise is referred to as a low breathing -- rhythmic, soothing.


OIL SPRINGS -- The oil fields serenade Charlie Fairbank.

From his home, or from anywhere he walks near town, a network of chains rattles, wooden jerker arms groan on their metal hangers, and the pump-jacks squeak as they extract oil from the swampy ground.

They pump at 11 strokes a minute, about the same rate as relaxed breathing.

"They sing," Fairbank says of the endless rhythm. "It's like living by the sea."

From the company website:

The Oil Springs Circle Driving Tour
Oil is an enormous industry spanning the globe. Virtually all trade, travel, agriculture, manufacturing and economies depend on it. The modern oil industry began with a spark in the 1850s and it took off like a brush fire. This fire ignited right here in Oil Springs, Ontario. This incredible tale is told in a whole new way in the Oil Springs Circle Tour. Here you not only see living history, you breathe it too.

It feels to me like oil is the breath in the background for the world right now -- I don't hear it as rhythmic and soothing though -- I hear it wheezing and coughing and with the itch in the chest that comes after an hour without nicotine -- craving more -- wanting more -- romancing the dark world of video violence and consumption...

"Parental Advisory: Your Kids Will Play This Game

Of course, the Grand Theft Auto series is known for letting you beat up cops and have sex with prostitutes than for any kind of emotional maturity.

Then again, it was never intended for children. Many gamers are in their 30s, and every game in the series has come stamped with a "Mature" rating.

Still, GTA IV will find itself in the hands of teens and preteens.

"Pretty much every kid who goes to my school will play Grand Theft Auto, I'm fairly sure," says James Lantz.

Lantz, a senior at Hudson School in Hoboken, N.J., has been playing GTA since he was 11 — and he's psyched for the new one.

Which might alarm some parents. Grand Theft Auto is so associated with the perceived evils of video games that mental-health experts Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson named a book after it: Grand Theft Childhood."

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