Three Strange Days

January 5th, 2006

My favorite cable network (day job notwithstanding) just went off the air.

I didn’t have any television whatsoever for the longest time. Chris and I had an old Sony Trinitron when lived together way back in the ’90s. It had knobs and everything. No remote. But Chris ordered cable, and put an end to that. We’d get home from work — he from Broadcast News Networks, me from Uncommon Grounds — and not land on one specific channel for hours and hours and hours. He would just click, click, click his way through the fifty or so channels (hey, it was the ’90s), and then do it again. We never landed.

Worse yet, Chris and I never talked. We just ripped bong hits, and channel surfed. So when the picture suddenly went black, I was like, “Dude, let’s just not replace it.” That was, say, 1994. It was eleven years until I sat in front of cable again.

I moved into my new apartment last fall. When I told my boss he said, “You should get cable. This whole media executive without TV thing is getting old.” So I did.

I live alone, so it’s not a total loss. That is, I’m pretty sure no conversation is lacking. I answer the phone when it rings. I keep my laptop on my, um, lap. Yunno, I do things. I write songs. Sometimes I read. And I definately land on specific channels. I’m a big fan of Sundance, Ovation, and (of course) MTV. But more often that not, it’s Trio.

But a couple of days ago, I noticed that the channel 102 menu description read “Off The Air.” But it wasn’t. Something was still on, it just wasn’t Trio. I mean, Trio was the best cable channel ever. One minute I’d be watching a documentary on The Pixies, followed by “Parking Lot,” and then “Gay Republicans.” Where else would you get interviews with Robert Smigel, Mr. Bill, and Damien Rice all in one place? I mean, this is a network that didn’t have enough ads, so they played music videos! Love it.

Well, love it no more. Trio’s gone. Kinda’. It’s gone broadband. I guess they were dropped by some cable carriers, so NBC/Universal decided to take ’em online. Which is actually kinda cool, and kinda progressive. As long as I’ve been in this Internet racket I’ve been saying, “Someday you’ll be able to get eny episode of “Seinfeld’ you want in one click.’ And while that might not quite be the case yet, you can get “Fat City” any time you want.

Which is cool. And is the idea. And is where we’re going. MTV’s on television, online, and we’re coming to all sorts of screens near you really soon. Video’s gonna be everywhere: cell phones, iPods, belt buckles. I always used to joke about watches, but they’re not far behind. My new joke is implanted chips.


P.S. I just saw an AT&T ad using Oasis’ “All Around The World” to sell its merger with SBC. The end of the world is definately nigh.

Rubber Soul

January 5th, 2006

The “Imagine” mosaic in Strawberry Fields had a halo of roses this morning. There was a whole, green apple in the middle. I puzzled on it a moment as I ran by, and then I figured it out.

I was 22-years-old the first time I visted New York with any sense of real mobility. Chris and I had driven down from Saratoga Springs to meet my mom for the weekend. I wasn’t getting along so well with either of them, so I fled the hotel with my guitar, and walked to The Dakota. I sat a while in the grass and strummed my guitar. I didn’t know any Beatles songs, so I made some up. It was the first time I remember feeling comfortable in the city. I remember thinking, ‘I could live here some day.’

I’m more of a Paul guy than a John guy (which is staggering uncool to most, I know), though I admire them in nearly equal measure. That is, I admire the mythologies of Paul and John in nearly equal measure. I’m not enough of a Beatle-ologist to know what they each contributed to the band. I don’t really know who wrote what. But I dig Paul’s apparent cheeriness, and sense of melody. And — his rapid remarriage notwithstanding — I dig his life-long (her life, anyway) love affair with Linda. At the same time, I appreciate John’s message. Peace and love’s alright with me.

But I’ve never been a huge Beatles fan. I mean, I wont’t deny that Lennon and McCartney were a rediculously talented songwriting duo. Or that their songs are a thousand times more memorable than most. I have “Sergeant Pepper,” “The White Album,” “Abbey Road,” and “Rubber Soul,” but I don’t spend a ton of time listening to them.

Last night, though, I played “Rubber Soul” as I stepped out of the office. It was nearly eight o’clock. It had been a long second day back to work. And Times Square was its usual loud, bright, relentless self. I was seeking some familiarity, some simplicity, and some beauty. And “Rubber Soul” has those attributes in spades: “Norwegian Wood,” “Michelle,” “I’m Looking Through You,” “In My Life.”

So I ran through Strawberry Fields (where John and Yoko once walked). I ran by Bethesda Fountain (where Prior, Louis, Belize, and Hannah once sat). I ran by the Reflecting Pool (where Stuart Little once sailed). And I ran past the Duck Pond (where Holden Caulfield and William Miller once walked). It was all familiar, simple, and beautiful.

And I felt just a little bit better.