|Penn & Teller PCC articles by Penn Jillette||Reprinted with permission.|
I don't know how you got your computer. Maybe you went to
some store and bought retail like a fool. You might have sent
away to some mail-order-we-don't-charge-you-tax-and-we-never-
want-to-hear-from-you-again-PO Box and bought one that didn't
work. It's possible you hustled your boss with some bogus
computer-commuting scam and made him pay for it. I have no way
of knowing. The desk top you own may have belonged to someone
you used to live with. Maybe you were able to get him or her so
crazy they left you in the middle of the night leaving behind a
hot computer, a Tracy Chapman Cd, and a rented "Police Academy 3"
video that you never returned and therefore will show up at $89.95 on
your ex's Visa bill.
No matter how you got your computer, you will never sell it. Why the hell would you sell it? Six months after you bought it, it wasn't worth spit. How the hell could you sell it, it would be easier to unload used 8-track and beta tapes. Whatever you got on your desk or lap right now - there's a faster and sexier one with more memory and a better display featured right here in this magazine.
So, tell me this, why the hell is that thang still beige? And if
it's not beige, why the hell is it still tan? And if it's sleek,
So here's what I say and here's what I do. Make that computer
yours. Make it belong to you. Make it look right to you.
Dominate it. Rule it. Violate it. Posses it. Trash the
mother. I'm not going to tell you exactly what to do with it,
I've already stuck my nose too far into your business. I don't
care if you put on backstage stickers to Lou Reed and the Red Hot
Chili Peppers. You could peel the warning sticker off your 2
Live Crew CD and decoupage it right above the screen and change
your prompt to
Let's talk about motorcycles. Maybe you waste a lot of time on
your computer, your muscles atrophy and you consume too much diet
cola beverage and dark chocolate. Maybe your computer is going
to ruin your eyes or give you that disease in your wrists that
you thought hypochondriac Californians just made up. But, no
matter how bad the computer is for you, it's nothing compared to
a motorcycle. You screw up on a computer you end up using a
Leading Edge word processor for the rest of your life. You screw
up on a motorcycle, you become part of America's highway system.
But motorcycles are cooler. Why? It's not just because they're
dangerous, removing asbestos is only considered cool in very
limited circles. What have motorcycles got that computers
haven't got? (I'm getting into my Wizard of Oz jag here.) What
have motorcycles got that computers haven't got?
Oh, yeah, give me all the logical arguments. Rationalize all you want. Tell me that you can't have naked people airbrushed on your computer because the paint fumes will seep into the disk drive and screw up it's innards. You think your computer is more delicate than a motorcycle? Go out to a biker bar, spit on the tip of your finger slide it along the first nicely painted bike you see. (But don't tell them I suggested it. Come to think of it, don't even mention my name.) Then, if you're still sentient, you tell me how careful you think these airbrush guys are. The airbrush guys that are alive today know how to be careful with the patron's property. It's a very quick evolution. In the airbrush business, the customer is not only right, the customer has colors and a buck knife. The airbrush guy or gal knows how to be careful.
So, let other people tell you how to program the damn thing. That's important. But, I'll tell you, for the people that I've helped become computer-obsessed, making it look unique was an important step. The damn thing belongs to you, do whatever you want.
But, I want you to know, if you paint your computer like the back of one of those jean jackets that say "New York," or "Memphis" or "Los Angeles" with little shiny pieces of mirror glued on and lots of happy blue - I'll find you and kill you.
Penn "Born to word process" Jillette