7/15/2013

#6 Musak; short for "Music? Aak!" (1998)

rat All Rights Reserved © 1998 Thomas W. Day

And now, for something really different.
Let me tell you a story about my youth. When the sun was little-tiny and the moon wasn't even born yet, things were a lot different than they are today.

This is back when my knees didn't hurt and I could pee my name in the snow without soaking my socks and I was absolutely certain that I'd never take a job that required me to wear long pants, let alone a tie. Back in those days, the mark of being a resident of Geezer-ville was when your favorite songs were playing in the grocery store. It was an absolute truth that you were out of it, old as dirt, obsolete as a Liberal Arts major, when you stepped into an elevator and heard a song you recognized.

It was comforting to know, deep in my bones, that I'd never have my wrinkles waved at me in that manner. Back in 1969, I'd have bet all of your retirement investments that I'd never have to listen to Jimi, Janis, or Canned Heat while I hunted for denture glue. OK, I figured the Beatles would quickly end up as voices from the ceiling, but Jimi? No way! The Establishment could never get that hip, even for money.

Who'd have guessed that hippies, and the kids of freaks, would turn out to be grocery store managers? TV shows like "ER" and "Chicago Hope" assault us with emergency rooms (hence the acronym "ER," duh) and cardiac surgery nurses dancing to the sounds of everyone from Sly and the Family Stone to Doggy Dog. Van Morrison. Eric Clapton. Blue Oyster Cult. Van Halen, for Pete's sake. It hurts. Momma it hurts and it doesn't matter where you kiss it, it's still gonna hurt.

So that bit of security has been yanked away from me. I plod through my local super market, ridiculed by music I love used as a cover-up for "you will buy the things you want" subliminal messages. It's not enough that my joints hurt because of the abuse I gave them when I figured there was absolutely no chance I'd live to 30. It's not enough that a surgical screw-up has left me with an 8kHz tone whistling in my right ear at all times. No, just yesterday I was forced to endure "The Wind Cries Mary" from one hundred and fifteen microscopic loudspeakers powered by a three watt amplifier, accompanied by the erratic thumping of a few dozen square-wheeled shopping carts. Jimi, what are they doing to you?

Now I know that there is nothing sacred on this planet. I will die knowing that everything I value will be trampled and abused; before and after and while I'm dying.

Now that I've got the whining out of the way, there's an upside to this. You've probably all heard that the rate that the world's knowledge increases is on some kind of exponential curve. Fifty years ago, the world's knowledge base doubled every decade or so. In the 60's, the number of things we thought we knew doubled every couple of years. In the 80's we actually got dumber. In the 90's, we have to buy six gigabyte hard drives and 300MHz Pentium computers just to balance our checkbooks.

Anyway, you get the picture.

Geezerdom is doing the same thing. It gives me great pleasure to announce that my own, stodgy MBA-laden company is playing 1990's music on hold! Not even the pansy bubblegum stuff, but Blues Traveler. Even the grocery store, where I heard Jimi aurally violated, played U2 and Boys-to-Men tunes immediately afterwards. It almost lifted my spirits, until I realized I'd forgotten what groceries I was supposed to be buying.

You see what this means, don't you? The only generation that's going to be able to, legitimately, call Boomers "geezers" will be our grandchildren. At the rate generations are achieving geezerdom, even they may not be able to get away with it. Every time an elevator or a grocery store updates their playlist, another generation of geezers looses its bragging rights.

"Don't be calling me 'Pops.' Isn't that your favorite song on the p.a., old man?"

This is so cool I may put on some rubber boots, drag a ladder into the back yard, and see if I can write my name in the snow. I'm still going to be bummed about having to wear long pants to work, though.

February 1998

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