A man uses the machines you built
To sit down and pay his taxes
A man uses the machines I built
To listen to the Beatles while he relaxes
The last several 2 or 3 lines posts have been about a few of the 100 people featured in the current "American Cool" exhibition at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. (The exhibition closes on September 7, so you have plenty of time to visit it.)
|The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery|
and American Art Museum
I'm not sure exactly what makes people cool. But I am sure that a lot of the folks who made the cut for "American Cool" are not cool at all.
Someone who is cool is not necessarily admirable. Cool people are often vain and self-absorbed. And cool people can be clueless -- much of the time, the reason that a cool person remains cool under pressure is that he or she doesn't comprehend just how bad things are.
|The "American Cool" exhibition|
Not surprisingly, virtually everyone on the "American Cool" list is a pop culture figure. Actors and popular musicians dominate the list. There are a number of athletes as well, with a sprinkling of authors and even a couple of artists thrown in to make the whole exercise seem a little classier.
The only person on the list who clearly doesn't fit into one of the above categories is Steve Jobs, one of the founders of Apple. There are no other entrepreneurs or business leaders on the list -- and no politicians, no scientists or inventors, and no lawyers or physicians or religious leaders or military figures on the list.
So don't take "American Cool" too seriously. Despite its scholarly co-curators and its Smithsonian seal of approval, the exhibition panders to the hoi polloi as much as any reality TV show.
biography of Jobs
Let's get back to Steve Jobs. Was Jobs a cool guy? Here are some an excerpts from a New Yorker article about Walter Isaacson's authorized biography of Jobs. You be the judge:
Steve Jobs, Isaacson’s biography makes clear, was a complicated and exhausting man. . . . Jobs, we learn, was a bully. “He had the uncanny capacity to know exactly what your weak point is, know what will make you feel small, to make you cringe,” a friend of his tells Isaacson.
Jobs gets his girlfriend pregnant, and then denies that the child is his. He parks in handicapped spaces. He screams at subordinates. He cries like a small child when he does not get his way. He gets stopped for driving a hundred miles an hour, honks angrily at the officer for taking too long to write up the ticket, and then resumes his journey at a hundred miles an hour.
He sits in a restaurant and sends his food back three times. He arrives at his hotel suite in New York for press interviews and decides, at 10 p.m., that the piano needs to be repositioned, the strawberries are inadequate, and the flowers are all wrong: he wanted calla lilies. (When his public-relations assistant returns, at midnight, with the right flowers, he tells her that her suit is “disgusting.”)
None of that is the least bit cool. But sometimes people who start out as uncool eventually learn how to be cool. Did Jobs put uncoolness behind him before he died?
Isaacson begins with Jobs’s humble origins in Silicon Valley, the early triumph at Apple, and the humiliating ouster from the firm he created. He then charts the even greater triumphs at Pixar and at a resurgent Apple, when Jobs returns, in the late nineteen-nineties, and our natural expectation is that Jobs will emerge wiser and gentler from his tumultuous journey.
He never does. In the hospital at the end of his life, he runs through sixty-seven nurses before he finds three he likes. “At one point, the pulmonologist tried to put a mask over his face when he was deeply sedated,” Isaacson writes. "Jobs ripped it off and mumbled that he hated the design and refused to wear it. Though barely able to speak, he ordered them to bring five different options for the mask and he would pick a design he liked. . . . He also hated the oxygen monitor they put on his finger. He told them it was ugly and too complex."
Steve Jobs's company may make cool products -- especially compared to its bête noire, Microsoft. That's the point of the lyrics from today's featured song that are quoted at the beginning of this post: PCs are for bean counters, while Macs are for more creative types.
But according to the lyrics of today's featured song, Steve Jobs was not a cool guy:
You blow, Jobs
You arrogant prick
Nice Peter and EpicLLOYD (whose real names are Peter Shukoff and Lloyd Ahlquist) are the guys behind Epic Rap Battles of History, a YouTube video series that features rap battles between famous (or infamous) historical figures. Previous Epic Rap Battles of History episodes have featured Darth Vader vs. Hitler, the Mario Brothers vs. the Wright Brothers, Frank Sinatra vs. Freddie Mercury, Miley Cyrus vs. Joan of Arc, and Donald Trump vs. Ebeneezer Scrooge.
The Jobs-Gates Epic Rap Battle video has been viewed over 70 million times to date, making it one of the most popular of the series.
Here's "Steve Jobs vs. Bill Gates." But before you watch it, click here to read the lyrics and the Rap Genius annotations to the lyrics.
Click below to buy the song from Amazon: