Thursday, December 08, 2005

when the man comes around

i do not sleep well anymore. this started about a week, exactly a week ago. thursday, december 1st, the day that splits my past and my future. on that day i heard a tap, tap, tapping on my door, our doorbell yet another victim of my dad's limited scope of what was necessary in a modern home (i.e. "i didn't have a doorbell growing up, so why do we need one now?" this can be expanded to other things as well, "i didn't have heating growing up, so why do we need it now?" or "a toaster? we didn't have toast growing up, so why can't you eat your bread cold?") i am amazed, at times, that he actually grew up in the same half of the century that i did.

my excitement grew. it was me who called a week earlier and made the appointment. it was me who stumbled across a deborah johnson, the best phone salesperson i've ever run into, who informed me of a spectacular deal on on-demand digital television (less than our normal service by $7.00, but more channels than i figured humanly possible to ever watch all of.)

or maybe not.

it was me who opened the door and let in the cable guy.

it took him 13 minutes to install the digital cable box and program the remote. i counted each second in my mind as i watched this fidgety, slight little man with a red hat ply his trade. he handed me the remote and started talking to me, but the words drifted away as i began to devise a plan. a wild, maniacal, twisted plot.

to watch everything on tv.

as i began to close the door on the cable man's face, he gave me a strange look. an adult puzzled by a child's fascination with the simplest of high-tech objects, the universal remote, as if i might put it in my mouth any moment and attempt to eat it as i would a banana. as if my simple mind couldn't grasp the complexities of digital cable, the awesome magnitude of the intercyberglobotech industry.

'you sure you don't have any questions?'

'no, thanks for everything.' i shut the door and held my breath, heady with the possibilities that stretched out in front of me.

fuck the intercyberglobotech industry. what's on hbo?

i made my way back downstairs. i left the lights off so that all that greeted me as i felt the carpet on my toes was the soft blue glow of the digital cable guide. i began thumbing through each page with the page down button, progressively processing the amount of time i'd have to spend in front of the magic box to fulfill my goal.

i started watching digital cable 7 days ago. it is true what people say about television. it's mostly shit, actually to quantify that, i'd say it's about 80 percent shit. the 20 percent that's not shit is divided as such: 13% is sports, which are nearly impenetrable (barring player salaries and at the very least on the playing field) from the vagaries of commercialism and capitalism. 4% belongs to hbo, which is a considerable amount for one channel. the other 3% belongs to the rest of television, the other 400 or so other channels.

the amazing thing about all this shit though; about all this crude, artless shit....i can't stop watching it. i try. i've been trying for 7 days now. but every time i leave the basement and come back to the light of the first floor, a part of me remains on the sofa, a faint imprint of my soul. it is this part of me that i convince myself i get back everytime i return to the wash of blue light.

tv is the great magician of our times. the houdini of the post-cold war world. we watch in hushed anticipation for its next great trick. deciding a presidential election, putting a man on the moon, the beatles, monday night football, mtv, playboy channel, pay-per-view, digital, on-demand.

on-demand. we are no longer slaves to our tv's. or at least that's what they want us to think. thursday nights spent watching the cosby show, monday dinner with archie and edith bunker, sunday evenings with the simpsons. we used to limit tv to the twilight hours, a way to fill in the monotony of darkness. george carlin said in a recent special that we never left the cave. he's right, it's just that our fire is the tv.

now television does on a daily basis what mankind has dreamt of and written about for years; manipulating time for its own benefit. you can watch anything, anytime, anywhere (well, almost) you want. imagine modern television as a drug, visual crack for our brains; highly addictive, and way more accessible than cocaine was in the 80's. we know its bad for us and we can't get enough of it.

seven days and still i can't say no. the military channel taught me how tanks are put together, and bobby flay outdueled iron chef sakai in international battle trout. eric idle sang a silly song about freedom and isaac mizrahi showed me how to arrange flowers.

i haven't slept soundly for seven days.

what's on hbo?


Blogger shearer said...

Dude!! The trout battle on Iron Chef was awesome. Sakai totally had that pretty boy Flay. Weak!

10:39 PM  

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