Sometimes I see or hear things and they make me scratch my head and wonder if I am in fact living in a parallel universe. It seems to happen more and more as I get older so it worries me that I eventually will turn into one of those geriatric figures that love to start sentences with “When I was your age…” Could it be that I have somehow been transported to a parallel universe? Or is it rather that I just haven’t changed (enough) to “keep up” with modern living?

I stopped trying to listen to music on the radio sometime around the early 1990’s. It had more to do with the fact that I was listening to a certain obscure musical organization known as Phish. Tape after tape after tape was traded, and nary a minute was spent listening to the radio. In the early part of this decade I got back into Pearl Jam and cds came and went but still no radio. The few times that I did listen to the radio, I aimed the dial as it were at classical music stations or jazz stations. There were times, however, that I either inadvertently was stuck on a radio station or I was forced to listen to a radio station thanks to being in a department store that always kept some kind of music on.

Nowadays it is Starbucks that keeps music on at all times, except when their music player is malfunctioning or someone has asked them to turn the volume off for the duration of their stay. The music in Starbucks is just a little less relevant for the purpose of this train of thought, as I shall explain. For a long time, the music that played both on the radio and in Starbucks seemed to be whatever was newest and what Starbucks was trying to sell. Then at some point Starbucks started selling music directly to people through their iPhones, iPod touch, and computers using iTunes connected to the Starbucks network. It wasn’t long before the music being played in Starbucks seemed to be different from what it once was. To me it seemed that they were playing whatever music was selling the best. This was how I determined that I have similar taste, musically speaking, to people who use their Apple products to shop in Starbucks.

That was a bit of a tangent and for that I apologize. The point I was trying to reach was that whenever I am forced to listen to the radio for whatever reason, the songs that are played are inevitably complete foreign to me. Are you familiar with the film Total Recall? I rather enjoy the film for numerous reasons including the idea that we sometimes have to have our perceptions challenged and our realities turned upside down to figure out who we really are. Anyhow, I imagine that if a person would go to the underground cities in Mars in the year 3054, the music playing there would be just as familiar to me as the music that is most frequently popular on the radio now. I am dumbfounded by the lyrical arrangements and the melodies, and the way that older songs are torn apart and mixed together to make “new music.”

Rags on Teenagers
I personally have gone through many stages of clothing before settling where I am at the moment. When I was a child, not so curiously, my parents and grandmothers dressed me. This extended perhaps a little too long as my father’s mother would pick out what she thought were good outfits up until an age that I no longer remember but know was way later than anyone I knew. When I was in junior high and early on in high school, I would intentionally wear clothing that just did not ‘go together.’ By this I mean that I would wear dark red plaid shorts with a green long sleeved top. Maybe that’s why I didn’t really have that many friends when I was that age other than Eric. Then when I headed off to The Peddie School there was an enforced dress code which meant no blue jeans and that shirts always had to be tucked in nicely.

This developed into its own thing at Rutgers where I started wearing a lot of gray t-shirts. It took awhile to become the Threadless person that I am now but I am happy with how I get dressed every morning. Meanwhile, there is a world of people that I see every day that make me wonder what they are thinking when they get dressed. Perhaps it is just me getting older, but wearing Ugg boots with shorts that look as though they are no more than five inches long and a tube top is not the meaning of good taste in fashion. Then I see some fully grown men wearing their trousers as though they were still in the process of putting them on. I’m not sure what half-on trousers is supposed to mean but I find it to be a combination of amusing and frightening.

Putting the ‘boob’ into Boob Tube
While I was away at Peddie and for a good chunk of time during my University education and then again in Israel and while living without a television in Monsey and the Upper West Side, I apparently missed out on some changes that were being made on television. Over the last couple of decades network executives have grown shorter and shorter patience when it comes to what will be allowed to stay on television and what will not be allowed to stay. Take The Hills, for example. By taking it, I mean that you should take it off the television if you happen to be watching. Put on something more mind expanding, like perhaps something on PBS. Whenever I am watching a television series with my friend Elizabeth and we both agree that it is a quality program, we look at each other from time to time and say, “I hope this doesn’t get cancelled!” This is exactly what happened to the television show Journeyman. That was a brilliant television show and it really felt as though it showed the possibilities of unintentional time travel.

When the show was cancelled there were so, so many questions that were left unanswered; perhaps it would be possible to revive it in the form of a series of comic books or graphic novels. I would be willing to bet that a large fan fiction community has sprung up already. The question comes up again and again: why are quality programs cancelled and trashy exploitative programs left to go on and on and on? What good will come to the world and how is anyone enriched by watching the television show Cops? The common criminal is degraded in front of millions of drooling fans. The experiment known as To Catch a Predator clearly was a failure because people who know the show is out there and even are fans of the show continue to be lured by the thought of a young child who, in his mind, should be not thought of as a means to a sexual end but as the next generation that should not be sexually abused by the previous ones.

Maybe it really is just that I am getting older and ‘more mature’ and things just stand out to me in a way that they did not stand out when I was younger. Maybe not. I suppose this could be considered as the beginning of a grand experiment to see if, as the years go by, I will ever feel as though the world is getting more ‘normal’ or if I will continue to wander in an incredibly strange parallel universe.