The meeting took me months to arrange, however, everything in Washingwood is either in turn-around, waiting for a vote, floored, in pre-production, post-production, or in committee, therefore I wasn't irritated by the delay. The collision between Hollywood and Washington creates a layered mess. Nonetheless, there I finally sat in a cafe with highly placed and confidential source, a high-ranking executive at one the two ultra mega-ton tech companies (I will call him, for anonymity's sake, Mr. Core).
Of course the first item on my agenda was news, insight, some flake of information regarding Apple Computer's alleged non-payment of domestic and overseas taxes, the outrage in Whitehall regarding this topic, and the mandatory Senate hearings on the subject. I received much more than I bargained for.
"Taxes?!" laughed Mr. Core. "Are you kidding me? All that fuss about Apple not paying its fair share is just a dog-and-pony show! Makes the people feel like some injustice is being dealt with, some wrong being righted. Just nonsense! We just have to go through this public bullshit every few years. Shuts people up. Steve, they don't want us to pay taxes! They never have and they never will."
Needless to say, I was shocked. I must have looked like a naïve, pitiful child, hopelessly waiting for the pony that would never arrive, for Mr. Core softened his tone.
"Don't you see what this is all about?" he pulled, from his pocket a smart-phone and tapped the screen. "Look at that."
I gazed at the phone.
"That's the constitution," I said. "The Bill of Rights."
"No," he corrected me. "That's an app."
"No," I said sternly. "Those are the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution--"
He cut me off. "Oh, okay, I get it. You're one of those realsters."
"What the hell is a 'realster'?" I asked.
"Oh, one of those people," he said, with a tone of snarky disgust. "One of those people who are still obsessed with reality-based primary sources. They use words like 'tactile.'" He laughed, then howled. "Tactile! I bet you're one those people who like 'the look, feel, and smell of a book--'"
"Well, as a matter-of-fact, I do, because--"
"Because you're a realster. You're in a very dwindling minority, my friend."
I was becoming, slowly but surely, pissed off.
"Look, I don't know what the hell you're talking about but--"
Again, he cut me off (I've felt, over the years, a decreasing lack of social skills among the technologically superior. They blame it on ADD, however I think there's something more nefarious at play. A feeling Mr. Core confirmed).
"Let me lay it out for you," he said, patronizingly. He tapped the screen again. "Read that." He raised the phone up to my face.
"That's the first amendment--"
"That's an app! My God! Anyway, just read it!"
I began reading aloud. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble--"
"Stop! Right there. Stop!"
"Fine. Why did I stop there?"
"Don't you get it?" he said. "What happens when 'people peacefully assemble?'"
"I don't know. They--"
"Bad things happen! Very bad things!"
"What bad things?!" I asked.
"You're really that dim?" he said. "Okay, when people assemble, they, I don't know, want... things. They talk to one another and decide they want, damn, deserve things! The result is pure chaos. That's why God created the app!"
"God created the app?!"
"God, Steve Jobs, whomever!" He was getting frustrated. "Anyway, since we, I mean we, as a society, do not want to promote chaos, it's cleaner if we create more apps. Can't have too many groupers lingering about."
"I give. What's a 'grouper'? I mean, beside the fish--"
"You really are a 'realster', aren't you? A grouper is exactly the sort of person that wants to 'peaceably assemble.' Like I said, when realsters meet other realsters and become groupers, bad things happen. Don't worry, though." He looked around, his eyes searching for interlopers. "We're working on an app for that."
"An app for what?!" I was utterly confused.
"An app that makes bad things go away!" He tapped his phone and held it up to my face again. The screen read: "Bad Things Go Bye-Bye."
I gazed at him, absolutely convinced of his insanity and grabbed his phone. I began tinkering with the screen.
"What?" I asked. "What about this?!"
He grabbed back his phone and read aloud. "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? It's an app. Free download. Monthly fee."
I stared at him, utterly bewildered.
"Oh and don't forget, Steve," he continued. "The 'right to free speech'? It is free. It's an app. You get up fifty megabytes of free speech, which I think is a hell of a good deal! I mean, you have to watch a thirty second commercial now and then. But who cares?"
I was fed up. "I care! And what's the goal here, anyway?! To keep everybody to themselves, their faces buried in their smart phones?! Not talking to other, I don't know, alive, pulse-beating human beings?!
"No," he said, calmly. "That's not the goal. That's the reality. And," he said, tapping his phone, "I use that word... 'reality' in your realster terms." He showed me the phone. On the screen was a photograph of what looked like the Pacific Ocean. Above the picture was the word, "Reality," in bold print.
"So," I asked. Reality is just an app?"
"Oh absolutely!" he said. "And thank God, or Steve Jobs or whomever, it is! Otherwise? Chaos."
Just then something quite strange happened. I began to hear rumbling. Like the rumbling of a crowd. I looked outside the café window. Sure enough a crowd of people were beginning to form.
"Damn!" he said. "I've been spotted!"
I felt, at that moment, utterly exonerated. "See, Mr. Core?! You can't stop all the people! All the so-called 'groupers'!"
He smiled. "Steve, take a close look at what they want."
I stared at the various placards. They all read the same. "More Apps!" And as that awful reality was sinking in, I began to make out the chants: "More apps, we want more apps!"
I sunk into my chair.
"I better get going," said Mr. Core.
"Wait!" I asked. "Wait. One more question! There's this group, this band, The Rolling Stones--"
"Yes, I know," he said, frustrated. "You want a song? I'll give you a free download--"
"No, no!" I stood up. "One of their songs, there's a lyric that goes like this: 'Love. It's a bitch.' So I was wondering--"
"You were wondering about love? Sorry, Steve. The Rolling Stones were wrong."
"You mean...?" I began.
"That's right," he said. Love? It's an app."