Plug your ears in cotton so deep you can’t fit that third bagful in, and then cram in the rest. Snort the top, semi-solid layer of sewage off the edge of a basin. Swallow deep-fried razor blades wrapped in twenty, forty, and seventy year old toffee to make sure it dissolves at different times to keep the hits coming. Finally, go to an acupuncture clinic and demand that the most inexperienced, drunk, clumsy man they know apply the procedure.
This is how I’ve felt the last week. Vaguely.
I’m still nowhere near a hundred percent, so forgive any slight I might provide in the realms of professionalism this week. Since I’m not really capable of deep, philosophical thought beyond the topic of my freak illness, I’m basically going to talk about me, my last 5 days, and what I watched on—say it with me—television.
Let’s start with Wednesday morning, when all I’m really feeling is the onset of a bad cold. I boot up the hermaphromac and check out this site right here, and what do I see? Shawn M Smith has gone and taken something I’ve said about mainstream hip-hop and assumed that I must have been trying to insult his personal integrity. This is the third time this has happened.
Inhale for a second, Shawn, and let me tell you a story. You know Greenpeace, right? Back before they were a global force, they were seven guys in a boat, putting themselves in the middle of a nuclear test site in Alaska so that the Americans wouldn’t test their bombs on live soil anymore. While they were doing that, they garnered major support all over Canada for their brave/suicidal tendencies. A few years into the program and after several very successful missions against the Americans, Greenpeace decided they needed to do something about Newfoundland and it’s habit of sending fur trappers up into the arctic to skin poor baby seals. Greenpeace didn’t at all anticipate the kind of hatred they would receive for trying to stop these guys from skinning baby seals. You know why they were getting flak? Because the seal-skinning business was huge money for Newfoundland, and if Greenpeace was successful at stopping it, then that money went to Sweden or Russia (Greenpeace at the time wasn’t nearly large enough to tackle countries halfway across the world). It took Greenpeace five solid years to stop a single seal hunt because of the problems they faced. The lesson learned? People loved it when Greenpeace took care of issues that were anywhere but home.
Or, in non-metaphor terms, Shawn M Smith is perfectly fine with everything I write so long as it doesn’t touch the shit in his yard.
Also in non-metaphor terms, Shawn, think of yourself as Newfoundland here, and think of “Keeping it Real” as you clubbing to death and skinning a one-month-old seal. A seal that hasn’t even opened it’s eyes yet.
Anyone who read my column last week should have been able to tell the difference between “Keeping it Real” and “telling the truth”, and that the only reason I mentioned “Keeping it real” was to establish that difference, but if you want to take that as a personal affront, then I’m sorry, but I’m really way too sick right now to stop you.
Okay, onto Thursday, when for more than, lets say, four reasons, I became less than human. I was on so many drugs the last few days that I don’t remember much, but you know what? A lot of what I do remember happened to be VH1 programming. I have no idea why this is, but I think it has something to do with the station only presenting us with televised moments that were already involuntarily lodged in our heads.
Here’s what I mean. Up here in Canada we have a channel called Muchmoremusic, sort of an MTV2 of sorts, except it’s only apparent function is to show snip shows put together by VH1. Shows like “The Best week ever” and “The Fabulous Life of…” don’t offer any new information so to speak. Instead, they put already known, mocked, and excreted information in a new context, like a flashback (to 2004!) or a montage (show Briteny and Madonna kissing again! and again!). It’s sort of like pop-culture trivia (except for when it comes time for a commercial, and then it actually does become pop-culture trivia) but with all the answers right there, endlessly spinning.
And because Muchmoremusic can’t get every Vh1 show broadcast here (for some reason, all the first-run shows don’t like Canada) they instead create shows almost identical to nostalgia-driven VH1 stuff, but with slightly different twists. “Evolution” is a show about finding a link between old pop stars and new pop stars (Madonna and Briteny were in a video together. Giggle!) “The ABC’s of Rock” is an alphabetical trek through every clip they’ve ever put together. “Heat Meter” is a hot-or-not show about le stars. Etc. The thing is, almost all of these shows are talking about the exact same group of people, and when VH1-inspired programming mentions a person, there is always a ten-second montage of that person’s walk down a red carpet, their most infamous moment, and a quote that makes them sound stupid. And you know what? It’s those little ten-second montages that kept me conscious the last four days.
VH1 has the whole “Images Capture Lifetimes” down to a science. Just one split second of Ashlee Simpson in plaid pants doing a shimmy makes me immediately think of her lipsynching incident, which makes me think of her show (which was basically one long lipsynching incident) which makes me think of her sister and her show (both major lipsynching incidents…but America would forgive that girl for causing a nuclear holocaust) which makes me think of how easy it is to fool Americans, but more importantly makes me think of just how many conversations I was stuck in where Ashlee Fucking Simpson kept getting mentioned because people watch way too much goddamn television. The third time I saw that shimmy (out of probably a couple dozen times in the last four days) I had to vomit. For an hour.
Watching Muchmoremusic is sort of like watching a conversation between six or seven people about pop culture, often because it is literally that. The ‘host’ of whatever show will flash a celebrity (or celebrity faux-paux) montage, and then a bunch of people that work mostly in the tabloid industry will give their opinions on the topic. Everything is pre-taped, so it all just sort of looks like there’s a conversation happening. When they feel particularly frisky, they’ll splice in old interviews with the celebrities they are gabbing about (or sometimes, with celebrities that shouldn’t have anything to do with each other like Gavin Rossdale and Ryan Adams). I can’t imagine they’re doing this on purpose, but by watching the special on drugs in rock, Muchmoremusic made me nostalgic of the time I watched Muchmusic in 1996 when one of the interviews was originally taped, while at the same time making me nostalgic of 1998 when pieces of the narrative were originally put together for a different introspective on drugs, while making me nostalgic of a week ago when I had the strength to do more than watch Muchmoremusic.
The thing is, I would watch something else if I could. But when you’re on that many drugs, and when you’re in that vegetable-like state in between asleep and awake for four days, things like ‘news’ and ‘sports’ and ‘evangelist’ programming just isn’t suitable. One needs something completely free of surprise, of tense moments, of anything remotely described as ‘entertainment’. You have to judge entertainment on an intelligence scale. At the top end would be things like high-end literature, Chess, history, cooking, etc (wink, wink) and at the bottom there is that DVD that loops what appears to be a fish tank or a fireplace. Floating dangerously close to fish tank material is Muchmoremusic, and by proxy VH1, which is why I was so entertained while I was down to two senses and spitting up stuff that doesn’t exist on the Home and Garden Networks’ list of colours to paint your refurbished bachelor pad.