Wednesday, February 28

The real world is in decline.

While this statement is true in many ways, I am referring specifically to MTV's classic reality show "The Real World."

I was at the gym this afternoon, and they have little TV screens at every cardio machine that you can plug your headphones into if you care to watch. I was listening to my new iPod, and sort of vaguely staring at the screen in front of me, without hearing the sound to it. Slowly I became aware that whatever I was watching was becoming increasingly pornographic, and then I realized: Oh, it's The Real World.

This might age me a bit (even though I''m not old), but remember when The Real World was cool? I have fond memories of watching the first season of The Real World as a young'un and the big difference between then and now -- and the reason the early seasons were so compelling to me -- was that, sure all those random people were thrown in a house together, but they were all there with a sense of purpose; they had goals, ambitions, and were there to pursue them. That first New York season had the wanna-be dancer, model, rapper, the long-haired band member, the bisexual-intellectual; the show was as much about their group dynamic as their individual pursuits of their dreams. The dancer would exhaust herself in classes; the rapper spent time in the studio; the rocker had concerts; the model had shoots. You know, they had lives.

Cut to Real World: Denver, circa 2007. The episode I caught at the gym today was about 2/3 two housemates making out, and 1/3 actual sex scenes in the house. Yep, actual. Not even that early 2000s-faux modesty of showing hookups in blurry, nightvision green; this was right there, happening, with only the decency of the couple to cover themselves completely in a geometric-print duvet to spare us poor viewers all the goods. On top of this, a portion of the episode featured, via split screen, side-by-side simultaneous sex scenes -- depicting, I assume, two couples going at it in the house, both covered with the same geometric-print duvets, provided, thankfully and conveniently, by the producers. This was immediately followed by footage of said couples frolicking together in the equally-convenient oversized, see-through shower.

I suppose this is what actually happens when you pick seven strangers to live together in a house, when they don't have jobs or goals.

Fast-forward to this evening, when I went on an unexpected trip to see a show, a show written specifically for and about high school students. Like any good gritty high school drama, it featured lots of High School Issues, which included, but were not limited to, teenage pregnancy and relationships. My friend who took me to the show turned to me afterwards and said, "My, things have changed since I went to high school."

Well, if today's teens and pre-teens watch and look up to the folks on The Real World the same way I did when I was their age, it's no wonder.

Wednesday, February 21

Busy as a bee.

I've been working schizophrenically on five different projects over the past two weeks, so I've been neglecting my poor, lonesome blog. (To say nothing of my podcast, which is wilting away in a corner of cyberspace somewhere -- Don't worry, podcast, I'm comin' for ya soon!)

It's funny: people actually read my blog. Folks kept asking why I hadn't written a new post in awhile, and so, in the midst of my five projects, it'd been in the back of my head to squeeze one in somehow. My blog suddenly became the object of a Sondheim lyric that kept looping through my brain:

The morning ends,
I think about you.
I talk to friends,
I think about you.

Well, to my blog and everyone out there, and to quote another Sondheim lyric: I'm still here.

I've just made up a new blogging rule. No more quoting Sondheim lyrics.

I'm excited because this Friday, I'm going to see Richard Foreman. Mr. Foreman is something of a legendary downtown theater director, a product of the avant-garde movement of the 60s and 70s. Basically, his shows are totally wacko and make no sense and are awesome.

I was sad last year, when I broke an 8-year streak of seeing all of Richard Foreman's plays since I'd been in New York. (He does one every year.) For no good reason at all I missed "ZOMBOID!" and so will forever have a hole in my avant-garde soul between "THE GODS ARE POUNDING MY HEAD! AKA LUMBERJACK MESSIAH" and this year's "WAKE UP MR. SLEEPY! YOUR UNCONCIOUS MIND IS DEAD!"

How do I love Richard Foreman? Let me name some ways.

The first show I saw, as a freshman at NYU, was called "Benita Canova," and involved women dressed as sexy schoolgirls singing "Bennnnnniiiiiiiiiittttaaaaa! Caaaannoooooooovvvvaaaa!" in an operatic sort of glissando as a man in a gorilla suit stomped around with a giant phallus.

Do I really need to give any more reason than that?

There's an actress named Juliana Francis who sometimes does Richard Foreman's plays, and when she does, they're the best. She totally gets it. My favorite was one where she was velcro-ing little stuffed animals to an airplane that had descended from the ceiling, but there was one little stuffed animal cat that wouldn't stick, so she whipped it and whispered, "Bad kitty."

Oh, and the airplane was being piloted by a decapitated baby doll.

Maybe you had to be there. But take it from me: seeing Richard Foreman's show every year is one of the great joys of living in New York.

Thursday, February 8

Random times call for random measures.

Ever get that not-so-focused feeling? That's about where I am right now. I've got a dozen things I should be focusing on, and yet, lately my brainpower can't seem to hone in on a single one.

In honor of this personal zeitgeist, I'm simply going to spew out some random thoughts that entered my mind today.

Cialis. I get a lot of spam emails about this, and I can never remember if it's the name of an R&B star or an erectile dysfunction medication.

There was a fashionable guy on the subway today wearing sandy blond boots that matched, to a tint, his sandy blond hair. I was impressed.

Also on the subway: an ad, for the city's grassroots terrorism watch program "If You See Something, Say Something," said: There are 16 million eyes in this city, and we're counting on every single one. I started thinking...16 million eyes...8 million noses...80 million fingers... Then I tried to conjecture how many schizophrenics were in the city, and wondered how many personalities there might be in excess of one per resident.

I want to do everyone who works at the Apple Store. Does that make me a brand whore?

Meat is good. I don't care what Michael Pollan says.

Some New York politician wants to fine everyone who crosses the street wearing headphones. I think people -- pedestrians and politicians (particularly politicians) -- should be less stupid.

I have a favorite new author! His name is Joe Meno. I just bought four of his books.

What if I build a home out of all the books I buy? Would I save money on rent or just break even?

The AM New York guy shouting, "AM New York! Get your AM News!" at 6pm is freaky-deaky.

And probably the most-oft repeated random thought of today:

Motherf*!&er it's cold out here!

Thursday, February 1

Poor 'Pod is dead, poor 'Pod is dead.

Ernie I. Pod, Apple-brand mp3 player to composer Adam Gwon, died yesterday in New York City. He was just shy of his 2nd birthday.

Mr. Pod battled a spate of freezes and lock-ups over the past few months, finally succumbing to an irreversible "frowning iPod" icon on the A train last morning.

Since March of 2005, Mr. Pod was home to the diverse and often times inexplicable music collection of composer Adam Gwon, which included many of Mr. Gwon's original compositions.

Encased in translucent rubber, Mr. Pod's sleek 6-ounce frame was a ubiquitous presence in Mr. Gwon's travels throughout New York City, the United States, and the world. But it is Mr. Pod's unique shuffle feature and his innate sense of music equality that will be most remembered.

"[Ernie] always lived without judgement," Mr. Gwon said. "Without him, I never would have played Chick Correa and Kelly Clarkson back-to-back." Throughout his career, though, Mr. Pod was always steadfast to his own core beliefs. "He always had an unwavering fondness for Beck," said Mr. Gwon.

While Mr. Gwon has preparations underway to purchase a new iPod with video capabilities, he plans to auction Mr. Pod's still-shiny console for spare parts on eBay. "[Ernie] was an iPod's iPod," he said. "It's what he would have wanted -- to keep the music alive."