Friday, February 26, 2010

before cell phones there was only sadness and the world was black and white

My cell phone matters to me. "Matters" may not actually truly encompass the gravity I wish to impart. My cell phone is my everything.

Does anyone remember a time when these devices were not an extension of our beings? No, you granola-loving hippie kids who were born after 1990 but pine after a Woodstock in which you can never participate, I don't mean the time you were just "sooo over communication" so you turned off your phone and deleted your Facebook because you were "totally sick of people bugging you." I mean a time that really had no portable phones. Not even those ridiculous car phones, or even Zach Morris endorsed gems like this:

I'm not saying I remember this time. I'm saying I really don't. Did people really just agree to meet at The Flagpole at 8 and truly keep their promise? What if there was traffic? A thunderstorm? Multiple flagpoles?

Perhaps a couple of my age-inclined readers (PC euphamism for older, not to be confused with OLD) may remember this time.

For me it is but a fuzzy, distant memory that exists the same way a word is on the tip of your tongue but you lose it, or when you try to recall a dream you had but it hangs just out of reach; I know a time that predates cell phone usage is out there somewhere, but fathoming it is next to impossible.

Despite my pathetic and desperate reliance on The Precious, I have lost many a cell phone in my day. By my count, I've owned at least 8 in less than 10years. They are inexplicably drawn to the very same mystery location that all left socks go, most probably the Bermuda Triangle.

Each time this coveted piece of plastic and electronic mystery disappears from my possession, or I manage to break it by some haphazard accident (involving a freak occurance of lightning or seat cushions of any kind) and I am left without it---I feel stripped naked and all alone in a cold, wide expansive universe of FAIL.

My last brush with irresponsibility, I got a text from a cab driver imploring me to please pick up the lost phone that I left one night in his vehicle. His recovery was prompt; as in he called the very next day, mid-afternoon. But in a panicked state of despair the very next morning, I had already raced down to my provider to shell out the obscene cash they wanted for a new one. I literally couldn't stand to go longer than about an hour of conciousness without it.

It went like this: I wake up, bleary-eyed and briefly unaware of the impending doom awaiting me as I recollect the series of unfortunate events leading to the death of my beloved phone. Then all comes rushing back, like fragmented clips from a C-level movie flashing before my eyes. Me leaving the cab and skipping upstairs; Me searching with increasing panic for my phone in my purse. I chase after the cab, a pathetic display of arm-flailing and incoherent, frenzied pleas with a cab driver who most certainly doesn't have telepathy or supermega hearing abilities. Me with a gaping hole in my heart.

Suddenly I am sick with grief at the thought of being un-contactable. I become positive that I'm missing important correspondence. Ed McMahon is definitely trying to reach me from beyond the grave to inform me about having won the oversized Publisher's Clearinghouse check.

Worse, I've surely been invited via text to the White House for a prestigious luncheon in which I will lecture on (INSERT AREA OF EXPERTISE HERE WHEN I FINALLY HAVE ONE). Something... I'm sure of it!! I wring my hands, fretting that I've missed a major chance to plug my blog with national airtime at the Luncheon. Drat.

In a weird kind of way, sometimes I feel an affection toward my cell phone akin to that of a pet. Or weirder still, a friend even. I'm excited to check my phone after a long, hard shift at work slinging booze to unruly bar patrons and fanatical sports enthusiasts alike.

So when aforementioned lost phone situation occured and I decided to buy a Blackberry to replace it, I probably should have considered the fact that a sweet affection toward a phone, characterized as a friendship at creepiest, could turn a hard left into downright obsessive infatuation of romantic proportions. They do call it a crackberry, after all.

I'm sensitive to Crackberry's needs, as any good lover should be. Even in a dead sleep at 4 am, I wake up to check my emails when the little red asterick pops up with a chirp. It's always spam, but I need CB to know I'm here (Somehow, I managed to get on the earlybird spam list for every product known to man that does not pertain to me, including cheap Viagra and getting a GED online...FYI apparently it's not too late).

I suspect I may not be the only one out there who likes her phone a bit too much, who prefers to text instead of answer a call. I think it may be a product of the times, whatever that means. I don't blame television, or the Media, or Eminem (although his lyrics are widely held to be the culprit for nearly all of life's woes).

I don't blame anyone really. I come from a generation of people who are often funnier via Facebook comment banter than they are in person. People who do things like blog instead of work (living proof). Remember when we died laughing at Texts From Last Night??

My roommate and I regularly facebook chat while sitting right next to each other on the couch. This is the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius, people.

No need for a pitchfork-wielding lynch mob to take to the streets in protest of the lacking face-to-face interaction our kids today get thanks to evil new forms of communication. We still talk and hang out. But like I said, sometimes my friends say funnier stuff online than they do in person. Sometimes texting is a more effective way of making plans. Sometimes small talk is just plain awkward. Sometimes people find funny junk online via their crackberries and iPhones, and I get to see what kind of weird stuff is occuring in Bentridge, Arkansas involving farm animals and finger paint. More importantly, sometimes people I actually know do funny junk and post it.

check out some sweet Chilean Miners

Either way. as long as they post it, and my baby Crackberry can chirp about it...I'm in.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Soapboxes are for the stuffy and strong-willed.

Look, when it comes to blogging, I don’t usually take on relevant current-affair topics.

I leave the insightful, world news commentary to media demi-gods like wise, fair and balanced TV politico Glenn Beck, always irreverent and in-the-know Regis Philbin, or even perhaps the fashion-forward picture of natural beauty herself Joan Rivers. These are the voices of our time, people.

But there are some important world topics that are so visible, so pervasive---that not acknowledging their presences would be like lounging on the couch flipping through the channels with tepid interest while a monster truck barrels through the living room and parks on the couch.

In this case, the monster truck topic is Jersey Shore.

**(Sorry parents whom I love dearly but happen to hail from the oft-mocked state of New Jersey. You have raised me well and never once asked me to live in NJ. For that I thank you, and remind you the following is in no way a reflection of you. I have never witnessed you fist-pumpin. You're safe.)

Now, New Jersey has long been taunted as the armpit of the nation. I imagine that when MTV producers sat back in their swivel chairs during their brainstorming meeting--tucked away in some back room of a skyscraping executive LA edifice--they were tossing around ideas for what population might be most suitable for the newest concept in reality tv viewing.

One 30-something hipster wannabe leans back and sighs loudly.

"Ok so what do we know works? What have we done in the past that was a hit? Let's let the people dictate what they want to see, shall we? Go on, fucks. Tell us."

Another exec offers,

"Well we had 'Dismissed'---the one where teenage attention whores got rejected while trying to date for money on national TV. Lord knows everyone loves judging the shit out of pathetic schmucks who think so highly of themselves as to be exposed to large scale ridicule, yet whose self respect is so lowly as to be willing to act like an assclown at the drop of a dime, for under 200 dollars. That was an affordable one by the way."

"Ok true, you're onto something. Consider the pioneer, the father of our genre! Its the basic Jerry Springer principle in action---'Thou shalt judge others so as to be reassured that there are always bigger trainwrecks out there than thouself.' Good we know who the characters are. Let's talk setting, shall we?"

"Yeah that's a problem. Where the fuck are we going to find a magical land full of people who are young but of age, attractive to someone but still judgeable and still with no standards, terribly vain yet still slutty...when we've totally tapped LA and sucked Orange County dry??"

Wait I know a place like that! I had to visit my great aunt once in New Jersey...and after a week of hearing her bleat on about her world famous ice tea recipe and the proper way to clean her parakeet's cage, I finally went berserk fled. I blacked out for a while and when I came to I found myself at some bar down at this place called Seaside Heights. It was pretty terrifying, I've never seen so much fake tan and real, genuine disillusionment. It'll be perfect, swear."

And so went the fate of the universe down a dark path; deep into a new addicting low we hadnt reached before. If, as a nation our reality tv consumption was a heavy coke habit, we just graduated to crack. I'm not absolving myself of responsibility, i'm right there with you, crack pipe in hand.

Point is, Jersey Shore has seemingly swept the pop culture nation. Evidenced by some of the following facts:

~ratings that peaking at almost 5 million viewers

~They are signed on for a new season at 10 grand an episode!!!

~Snooki went to the Grammy's

What is it about this, shall we say candid group that makes them so viewable? Beyond the Springer Principle, I mean. I get that its mostly that--watching these vapid individuals flail about on screen is nothing short of sensational. But in a weird way, they kind of start to grow on you. When you first start watching, you laugh and point at Vinny's fist-pumping display of perspiration while 'beating the music back'...but after a while he becomes a bit endearing.

And the list goes on. Snooki is less than discerning in her men choices. But somewhere beneath all the displays of pickle consumption (literal, actual pickles by the way) and nether-region exposure, there seems to be a sweet albeit misguided girl.

Jenn 'JWoww' seems to house a good heart, although its buried deep underneath a mountain range of silicon. Pauly and Mike aka 'The Situation' seem desperate to contract as many STD's as possible by conquering every female on the Shore with the right parts, yet their frat boy antics are mildly funny and entertaining a la John Belushi in Animal House.

There are more characters, but you get the point. We become invested in the drama, a common social phenomenon that represents much of our fandom. Old women with their soaps, dudes with a diehard almost gang affiliation with their sports teams. Even work water-cooler drama needs following and catching up on after you've been gone for a while.

What I'm saying is, maybe some of you are above reality tv. And by above it, I mean, strong enough to escape it's crack-like clutches. Obviously, I'm not. But chances are, you follow something else. Maybe the object of your morbid affection is less tan, less oblivious to their own idiocy---but you have invested your time in it nonetheless.

At first, I was appalled by Jersey Shore. I felt this show represented everything that's wrong with the world etcetera etcetera, insert soapbox decree here.

Instead, I consider the give-and-take of reality tv consumption one of the most interesting sociological experiments of our time. This stuff is supposed to be us, to reflect us, People! And if one argues that much of it is mutually agreed upon (a script that someone writes, and the reality tv star reads/acts out) and not exactly true and candid 'reality'...I still argue that it doesnt make it any less us. We are consuming it, therefore shaping what we want to see. We give the feedback almost 5 million strong.

Ive heard of people having Jersey Shore themed house parties. 'GTL' has become part of mainstream slang (Gym, Tan, Laundry..what the guys did with their days). I swear Snooki will get a dating show.

And I'm sure I will watch it, in spite of myself. America will watch it, despite everything the Constitution stands for, and despite what our forefathers would have wanted. I'm not saying its good, bad or ugly. Well it is kinda ugly. What I'm saying is its our choice.

We're 233 years old, damnit, and we do what we want.