Monday, March 03, 2008

Neuron Glut

Last month, I was eating beef cheeks* and sweetbreads at Cafe Atlantique with my dear friend and DC SuperPatron Renee Gier when she asked me if I'd gotten around to finishing those seven seasons of Homicide she'd lent me before Thanksgiving. I snapped back no like a kid who hadn't finished mowing the lawn. And then I felt like a dick for the rest of the meal. On my way home, I realized that I was under enormous self-imposed pressure to consume hours and hours of media and I was falling behind this regimen.

I never thought drinking up DVDs on my couch would become tiresome labor. It wasn't until last fall that I finally caught up with this splendid program called The West Wing and felt entertained enough to plow through the first five seasons (Sorkin Era). By my count, I'm now obliged to watch:

Homicide (Seasons 1-7)
The Wire (Seasons 1-5)
Deadwood (Seasons 1-3)
Six Feet Under (Seasons 3-5, although I've seen bits here and there)
Slings & Arrows (Season 3)
Battlestar Gallactica (Seasons Xyclon through Pafligate-G)
Twin Peaks (Both)

And that figure doesn't include those Netflix copies of Ran, Judgement at Nuremburg, and On the Waterfront still clogging my queue. My media trickles in through a narrow bottleneck, tightened all the more by the swelling cache of Simpsons and South Park episodes on DVR. Not that I can afford to see much theatre in New York, but if I could manage the two shows a week I want to see, I don't think I'd have much time or interest left for the accumulated syndication of Every Show Ever.

Which is fine. I know my friendships aren't based on the congruency of iTunes playlists. Mostly I just feel bad for snapping at Renee. She was the last in a line of about four people who've been lending me whole box sets to "check out" lately. What better way to muffle my shame than to make my frustration an essay on condition general?

Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, iTunes, eBay -- these are the tent poles that shelter a manic giga-ring circus. Because we secretly crave monolithic authority online, the preponderance of cyber-life is only a pageant of anarchy.

I'm Feeling Lucky

When I was a kid, maybe five or seven, I fell in love with a woman on the cover of Newsweek. She wasn't famous, I don't think. She was a punk-ish looking woman with short, dark hair and (I think) sunglasses. I hid this affair behind the couch and would sneak glances whenever I was alone. I remember thinking, without the word for it, that this was a fixation. Her mouth, in particular, locked my gaze for long stretches of Little Kid Standard Time. I wrote little odes on the glossy page.

I don't remember what happened to her. We moved to Canton around my 10th birthday and I may have grown into shame enough to hide my tracks before the furniture got shuffled. By then, I had discovered this hilarious game called Cooties wherein the losing party gets tackled and kissed by a quartet of neighborhood girls. Like Alvy Singer, I never had a latency period, so I loved losing each round.

But I was journaling about this seminal crush the other day when it suddenly occurred to me: I could probably find that picture online somewhere.

Google: Newsweek cover
Google: Newsweek cover archive
Google: Newsweek cover images
Newsweek: cover pages
Newsweek: archive
Newsweek: cover stories
Newsweek: punk 1986

And nothing.

Google News lets you scroll across a big time line, which I narrowed down to 1986-1988, searching for "cover story Newsweek." But that got me everything ever written about Newsweek cover stories, from every other source, during that time. Newsweek's own site lets you peruse the archives if you have a paid subscription. Other aggregate magazine and newspaper sites only have articles dating back to 1999 or 2000 at the earliest -- the chronological edge of the digital divide. Little 1s and 0s stacked and mothballed on a server somewhere.

Alas, my first love was Anna Logue and I don't know if this flashback will actually compel me to a library for a reunion. I certainly don't think it's worth paying for Lexis Nexis. So what's worth the search these days? When was the last time anyone out there had to leave the house to answer a question or find a buried memory?

*beef cheeks. This was a first for me. Delicious. As I was swallowing one big bite, Renee asked me "How are you cow jowls?" The more I repeat that disgusting, assonant phrase, the more I'm convinced it's better than the original**.

**better than the original. In the infancy of motion pictures, before there was an industry School for cinematography, one textbook author called film actors "photoplayers." Isn't that beautiful? I love when forgotten archaisms pop up to show the exuberance of a lost time. Orson Welles said he'd never call actors anything else. I'm sure Monty Burns would agree.

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