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Posted on June 3rd, 2015

Remote Senselessness – Bury the Past

You might notice some changes this month as three columns have been abandoned to focus on other areas of interest. We noticed, and perhaps you did as well, that those old columns (i.e. Small World, Outside the Box and Back to School) were yawners. About the only thing they were good for was a sleepless night where Nyquil and whiskey just weren’t doing the trick. Other than that they came to the party empty-handed. And you’ll notice that staff writer Justin Harmon is no longer on call either; he got buried too. Figuratively, of course. Maybe…

So I’m in charge of the new direction for some of this content. I don’t promise anything. I hope you don’t expect much. This column, Remote Senselessness, will be a sort of hodgepodge of things. There will be no theme, just some topic that I find interesting, unique or odd, will make its way into press in some form or another. One month may visit a TV show, the next we may investigate a hot dog stand. Who knows? I certainly don’t.

Another column to help fill the void will be The Geography of My Mind. This will be the philosophical ramblings of yours truly. Topics here will be broad too; and most of them come to me when I’m not using my brain for anything productive. Some topics may have a layer of appeal, others may cause you to ask, “Why I didn’t keep that to myself?” Vague, you say? Well, just read this month’s incarnation; it’ll spell it out for you.

So now back to this here column, Remote Senselessness. This month, I will be trying on my old man pants and wishing for the “good ole days” when life was easier. Reminiscing about the glory days of my youth, those defining people, experiences and triumphs that made me who I am today: MTV. Not the MTV of today that doesn’t play ANY music, but the MTV that changed how people listened to music.

The first song to air on Music Television (MTV) was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles. What, you had no idea who sang that either? Surprise, surprise. When I hear it these days it annoys me profusely. I guess a lot of songs from that era do the same thing. But it reminds me of coming home after school and listening to/watching music videos until my folks got off work and told me to quit staring at the idiot box. Inevitably, I would be sent to my room to do homework, but I had a stereo in there so I could make-believe my own rock videos under the guise of diligently doing my studies. I had this really cool Dukes of Hazzard toy guitar that I foolishly ruined by scraping off the decals and then writing Bad Medicine on the back because I really liked Bon Jovi. I saw that guitar on eBay a few years back and it was fetching bids in the several hundred dollar range. If I hadn’t been such a punk little brat, and been born with some foresight, I might have taken care of it and made a few bucks down the line. Instead, I idolized Bon Jovi of all bands. Geez.

My room is actually still the way I left it when I moved out after high school. Whenever my parents want to embarrass me, they show people what a dork I was (still am probably). Amidst all the clutter there are a few cool gems. I used to be really into skiing even though I lived in Illinois. I got to ski like 3-5 days a year tops, but still my wall is covered in ski magazine pages. I live in Colorado now and I didn’t ski once this year. I guess I was a poser back then (still am probably). Anyhow, I have this clipping of an extreme skier, some rad chick, can’t remember her name, but she is recalling one of her grade school report cards. It reads: “I still have my 5th grade report card; the one that says, ‘has good insight but lacks common sense.’ My parents keep it framed next to a picture of me skiing off a 70 foot cliff.” That was my senior quote in my yearbook. I never made it as an extreme skier, but at least I still lack common sense.

Back to MTV. Now all they show are programs like Jersey Shore and Teen Mom. I guess everybody gets their music through other avenues, but I don’t know why the channel thinks no one would watch a Top 20 countdown or Yo! MTV Raps again. I would. I think. I’m pretty sure kids would. I think. I mean, Americans love to sit in front of the strobe lite-esque flashing picture maker. Surely watching music videos that are steeped in current culture would be better than watching some drunk hillbillies race go-carts in Arkansas. But then maybe music videos today would be of the same cognitive power. I’m beginning to feel like Sisyphus pushing a damn rock here…

A few years ago there was a song called “Internet Killed the Video Star” by the Limousines.  What, you had no idea who sang that either? Surprise, surprise. Better yet, you probably never heard the song either. Anyways, it’s catchy, but more importantly, true. I mean, if anyone is reading this column right now, you’re doing so online. This is called a newsletter, but it didn’t come to your physical mailbox. The internet has killed a lot of things. Are we better off with it? Probably. Has it caused a lot of headaches and dependencies that will never go away?

Hell yes.  

Neil Postman wrote a book in the ‘80s called, “Amusing Ourselves to Death.” In a nutshell, it spoke at lengths about how TV killed communication and real experience. It was re-released in 2009 or so and is just as relevant in our age of the Web. So, you say, this sounds a little contradictory; I’m promoting the benefits of real music television and talking about how bad TV and the internet are for our society and the formation and growth of relationships. Well, look what the column, it’s called: Remote Senselessness. I don’t have to defend talking out of both sides of my mouth. As Hunter S. Thompson famously said, “Never apologize, never explain.” Though he kind of explains with that statement…

Dire Straits’ song “Money for Nothing” proclaims the line, “I want my MTV.” And that’s what I want. But this generation wants their MTV. So I guess I need to keep up with the times. Perspective is a funny thing. For the most part, we operate on our own and forget to consider others’ views, meanings and paradigms. But when we make the effort to do so, we find that we can relate more to our fellow (wo)man. It’s hard, and easy to forget to do, but trying to understand someone and the accompanying context can help us have better relationships. So while I miss my MTV, and chastise today’s MTV, I do so at my expense because I alienate myself from a larger cultural conversation (a crappy one at times). My MTV is still there in my memory; those videos are online; many of those bands still drag their tired bodies around the country to play Bar Mitzvahs and high school reunions. If MTV were to go back to what it was, how long would I like it? I used to watch Beavis & Butthead (yes, of MTV. No, not music programming…) growing up – loved it. A few years back they started making new episodes – didn’t love it so much. So maybe the MTV of old should be kept in a time capsule. But maybe we could just put the whole thing in there now and save future generations from the perplexing allure of the “reality” TV it has become…


Marco Esquandoles

Court Jester

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