Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Out of It

I think I may be dead – or just recently emerged from a deep coma of many years, I’m not sure which. I’ve been aware for some time that Views From the Tower is more than a cutesy, not-too-original title for my blog, but a fair description of my life in the 00’s. I’ve been a recluse for much of this decade, and while I’ve been getting out more over the last couple of years, I’ve hardly gone from hermit to gadfly. The point is, I’m only keeping up with politics and social issues I care about. I have no idea what’s going on “culturally.” I say this with quotes, because my sightline from up here tells me nothing much is happening culturally, except for the ever-increasing glorification of youth, mediocrity and technology.

But perhaps I’m just revealing my ignorance. Maybe there’s a world of riches going on out there in the arts and fashion. I’m a reader, but not what you’d call a timely reader; if there’s a whole new school of hot writers out there, I don’t know who they are. I feel a little bad about this, but not so bad that I’m rushing over to the archives of the New York Times Book Review. I’ve never been into classical music, or dance, or theater, so I don’t know anything about what’s going on in those arenas, but I have to admit I don’t feel too bad about this; you can’t change the tastes of a lifetime (at least I can’t). I’ve disliked the vast majority of modern art I’ve seen ever since the 70s (I don’t know much about art, but I know what I dislike), and I don’t feel bad about that at all, because everything from Jackson Pollock on has given me the Emperor’s New Clothes heebie-jeebies.

But for decades I knew something about film (well, American movies, anyway) and popular music and television, especially television; I’ve been a TV junkie since I was a toddler. Pretty much through the 80s, I could watch Entertainment Tonight and I knew the people they were talking about throughout the show biz world, and I knew which shows were traditional network hits and even watched some of them. But the 90s were a turning point. With the advent of cable and ever-increasing numbers of channels, I succumbed to the dangers of niche programming, which is to say, I watch what I like and blank out the rest.

As a result of all this, I didn’t watch the Grammys last week, because I don’t know who those people are and what little of their music seeps into my consciousness turns me off. I probably won’t watch the Oscars on Sunday, because I don’t know who most of those people are and I don’t go out to movies, I wait for them to come to cable and Netflix, so I’m always a year behind – and much of what seeps into my consciousness turns me off.

Should I know that Chris Brown beat up his wife? Perhaps, if I knew who he and his wife are, which I don’t. Should I care that A-Rod is taking steroids? Perhaps, if I gave a damn about sports and sports figures, which I don’t. Should I be aware of the names and faces of hundreds of young “personalities”? Perhaps, if any of them struck me as interesting, which they rarely do.

I’m going to be 57 in a couple of weeks and I think the simple truth of the matter is, I’m getting old and I’m out of it, and there’s really no place for me in this new cultural world. I’m a post-menopausal woman, also known as a demographic that nobody cares about, except Oprah and AARP. I do feel bad about being so completely out of the loop, but not as bad as I could. Years ago, I had a boyfriend who was a lifelong musician (jazz/sax), fulltime audio engineer and occasional record producer. After 40 years in the business, he used to say: “I don’t listen to music anymore, I wait for music to jump up and bite me on the ass.”

Unless something in today’s popular culture jumps up and bites me, I don’t listen. And although I’m sometimes embarrassed and don’t particularly enjoy being so completely out of it, the truth is, I really don’t care. It’s lunchtime in the Tower. I hope there’s something good on TCM.

No comments: