“Of course, the fact that some of his ideas didn’t pan out wouldn’t have bothered McLuhan much. He was far more interested in playing with ideas than nailing them down. He intended his writings to be “probes” into the present and the future. He wanted his words to knock readers out of their intellectual comfort zones, to get them to entertain the possibility that their accepted patterns of perception might need reordering. Fortunately for him, he arrived on the scene at a rare moment in history when large numbers of people wanted nothing more than to have their minds messed with.” Nicholas Carr
“The most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance.” – David Foster Wallace
Before we begin let’s do a little creative visualization.
Here’s how I see myself while blogging:
And here’s how all of you see it:
Moving along –
The hotshot newspaper columnists and pundit types sincerely believe that you’re supposed to have some insights in the past 12 months so you can shower ’em, in the words of my mother “Like cheap costume jewelry and big handfuls of penny candy” on the poor saps who read you. Such is not the case here, instead you’ll find that what follows are merely the ideas I had for posts which didn’t pan out.
A lack of concentration.
Case in point – and a valuable insight into the male brain for the women reading this – I was onto something that I thought would be a good post which slipped away in an instant. While trying to bring an idea out of the ooze I was in traffic and I managed to pull up behind a 1970s vintage boogie van. Beyond the faded Franzetta-ish painting on the side its most notable feature was a brand new hotel-style coat coat hanger wedged between the interior rim of the back bumper and the tail pipe. Now most men would look at that and say, “How does he get that to stay put?” when the better question is, “What the hell is that all about?” Bypassing the latter question some men will obsess all day on the mechanics of wedging a hotel style hanger between the exhaust and the bumper when the constructive thing to do is ask the van’s owner, “OK, let’s go slow and maybe you can remember. So you pulled into the Hilton, then what?” Beyond that you start to wonder if the parking valet was so imbued with customer service that he ran out to the van, resplendent in the light reflecting off the faded picture of Moon Maid with Ax, and chipperly said, “Checking in?”
Once the mental obsession sets in you forget whatever came before it.
Vaguely, ever so vaguely, I do remember something about the falling price of oil and how part of it can be attributed to speculation collapse. The per-barrel price rocketed up last year because Putin was going to have a tantrum, then the price went through the roof because ISIS/ISIL was getting rich off the stuff, and finally there was ebola. Not that ebola really had that much to do with the overall picture. Rather it seemed compulsory that speculators and trader of all type had to loose their shit over ebola in the same way that the Olympics have Greco-Roman wrestling.
Why does it exist? What the hell is it? Does anybody even understand how it works?
But you can’t have one without the other.
Having said that –
Some one some us know decided to explore the idea of Boomer Cultural Hegemony (tm pend.) starting with the popular songs of the Christmas season. Her central thesis tries to follow the thread of logic set out by the WaPo article linked to in her piece. All well and good until you realize, and I hope this doesn’t come as a shock to those of you with delicate sensibilities, that the WaPo has no idea how the media works these days.
Boomer cultural hegemony is not the villain here. While it plays a part what really is at the heart of the matter is something that can only be called Scarcity Media. The central divider of old vs. new media is the economy of scale that was needed to maintain regular newspaper publication or daily broadcast transmissions prior to 1990. The media in the 20th Century is best summarized as what many were able to accomplish with what little the industrialization of American gave them to work with. Making due with what was on hand gave most of the country a single daily newspaper, a handful of radio stations, and a scant few tv outlets. That meant that things were amplified and re-amplified at an alarming rate for most of the Boomers’ early lives. Therefore it is not our iron-fisted hegemony that perpetuates what music is played at Christmas – instead the music of Christmas is more the living memory of an America with limited choices.
A different way of looking at this comes from an event I was involved with for several years. It found itself wrapped in faded glory when it became apparent in the 1990s that kids were no longer being raised with only four channels of tv. The kids were staying away – in droves – as they had never known a time when there wasn’t at least 30 channels of tv. They had not spent their time watching and re-watching Bugs Bunny, old Universal horror movies, or The Three Stooges. (To them Matt Dillon shooting some guy was not the opening of each week’s Gunsmoke – it was a potential Hollywood scandal involving a young actor.) So there might be new and popular Christmas tunes, but with a media of abundance, a media that can cater even to the smallest group, we’re never going to know what’s hot because there’s no longer a limited number of voices to tell us over and over what is or is not popular.
One caveat here from Mom – stuff still gets through and gets re-amplified. She says, “Look at Gangam Style which busted the meters at YouTube.”
Look – I’m not saying Boomers are blameless here.
Our blinds spots are numerous and our epiphanies can be unexpected and painful.
Epiphanies can really suck especially when you have them forced on you. A few days before I checked out of FB there was a melancholy and almost tearful post from a guy I’ve known on and off for many years. He had to hang up his entertainment column that ran in his hometown paper. Not that his columns were problematic, in fact he saw them as educational. All were cleanly and clearly written. At times his work was very lively, but it sinned by getting long in the tooth. His bosses said there’s lots of new and exciting nightlife featuring venues full of new, young bands from all over the country so he could either cover them or give up writing about musicians who were a big deal 30 or 40 years ago. The FB post was largely about his shock, which had nothing to do the publisher’s reason, but the fact that no one would want to read about the records which have – at least for us Baby Boomers – an eternal shelf life.
But enough of all that – let’s dance.