Saturday, February 25, 2006

B1's Pre-amble to 24HoTV

24HoTV is Special K’s idea, not mine. He first mentioned it to me about a year ago at our standing Friday breakfast and I said, “If you ever do it, let me know. I’d like to join in.” The world is rife with people who claim they’ll do something, but when push-comes-to-shove they don’t; Special K knows me well enough to know that an offer like that, from someone like me, isn’t an idle one. The planets aligned in a way that only the K-man can understand and now we’re on the brink of this.

The K and I have intersecting backgrounds, it’s as though God wanted us to meet, but we were just being stubborn in doing so. We both grew up in the Denver-Metro area, meaning we liked and watched the same things (Denver Bears baseball, Dino’s restaurant, University of Colorado Trivia Bowl, etc.). In fact, Special K’s second-cousin, Solid Goldstein, was one of my college roommates -- they ended up meeting for the first time through me. The K and I didn’t cross paths until we worked at Apple Computer and we became intimately familiar when we worked the grueling (and ultimately thankless) days at General Magic.

Although we have (too) many similarities, the differences between us are huge and there’s not a month that goes by where Special K utters to me, in exasperation, the phrase, “Why would you say something like that?” I won’t go into the details of where we differ, not because I’m shy, but because they’ll become very obvious as we go along here.

I have a chequered past with TV. Like the vast majority of Americans, I watched it continually as a kid. Looking back, American astronauts, Ali & Cosell, Johnny Carson, Gilligan’s Island, Kung Fu and Archie’s Fun House are the TV concepts that stand out in my mind. When I went to college I didn’t have a TV and, like a junkie who only shot up to be cool, quickly fell out of the habit.

With the exception of the two years I lived in Britain in the early 90’s, I never got back into it. The only show I watched as an adult was Twin Peaks. I couldn’t believe studios were actually offering David Lynch a spot and wanted to see what would come out of it. (In my opinion, and remembering that I have nearly nothing to compare it to, Episode 3 of TP is the greatest thing to ever cross the American airwaves.)

Today I don’t even know if my TV gets reception – I use it only to watch DVD’s. I associate the act of watching TV with travel, and always flip it on immediately when I enter a hotel room.

I’ve also developed a moth-like attraction to the tube. If a TV is in a room, it’s nearly impossible for me to ignore and it sucks my brain right in. This is bad enough that I have to face away from TV in any public space I’m in (bars, restaurants, card rooms, etc), or what little is left of my mind disappears. Places like Las Vegas, where motion picture diamond visions illuminate outdoor environments, are truly hazardous for me. Three times in my life I’ve nearly been hit by a cabs while watching some dancer in tights shake it across the marquee of the MGM Grand.

It’s sardonic because as a kid I used to study with the TV on. My dad gave me a hard time about it once when I was in junior high school and I made a deal with him: as soon as it affects my grades, I’ll quit watching it as I study. From that very moment forward I got straight-A’s and ultimately graduated valedictorian of my high school class (well before the days of grade inflation, I might add).

(And no, I’m not bragging. In college, I watched nearly no TV and graduated bottom of my class. You do the math.)

If you never watch TV, absolutely the most striking thing about it is the blatant commercialism. Marketing is being shoved down your psychological throat constantly – and not just in the form of advertising. I never noticed it so much when I watched, but now in my days of television fasting, I can’t not notice it. I find the demagoguery of it all both sickening and fascinating.

In Bowling for Columbine, Marilyn Manson says he believes that the news is designed to instill fear in you, this in turn makes you buy product – it is the self-perpetuating cycle of TV news. I’m not a Michael Moore fan, Mr. Manson has never impressed me (beyond his ability to coax dollar bills out of goth-y kids pockets), and I’m the opposite of a conspiracy theorist, but I have trouble dropping the idea. The US is in something like its tenth consecutive year of a decreasing violent crime rate, yet you’d never know it from watching the news.

The events unfolding later today and tomorrow will be interesting. I already know it will be frustrating, tedious and funny. I have no plans of powering through and staying up all the way, although I could. I’d say the over/under line for how much I sleep should be set at about two hours. My circadian rhythm is so out-of-whack right with a recent trip to the UK and a work schedule necessitated by Gibraltarian communications (up at 04:00, in bed by 21:00), that it wouldn’t surprise me if this whole affair throws me back into a embryonic state. I expect monoliths in my immediate future.

I can’t remember the last time I was bored (it’s something well over a decade) so 24HoTV won’t be that. I have a new book contract so, assuming my brain doesn’t get sucked out, I’ll be working on a sample chapter and finishing my table of contents. I’m way way behind in email so I’ll get a ton of that done.

Special K is a good friend and a true asset to humanity. With the obvious exception of Britney Spears in her S&M outfit, I can think of no one whom I’d rather have sweat on my arm for 24 hours. Events such as this are incredibly bonding in the strangest of ways, and even though it’s a day “wasted,” the absolute best thing about it is for the rest of my life I’ll always know what I did on February 25, 2006 – I won’t even have to go back and read this. And Special K and I will be that much closer. That’ll be a great thing.

Thanks very much in advance to you, the reader, Special K and I both appreciate the fact you’re here. When I started my blog (, I felt online journals were exercises in extreme (and usually inarticulate) narcissism. Having written one for half a year now, I can say with certainty that I was right. In the next 24 hours you’ll find out just how right I was.


Blogger Frank Zappai said...

alright, I'm in . . . that is, as an observer. we don't do tv either, just dvds and videos. we're out of the polterzeitgeist too I guess.

you guys better make this interesting. :-) actually you already have.

8:57 AM  
Blogger Mock Turtle said...

I have the same problem with TV which why I stopped watching it over 13 years ago: when it's on I can't keep my eyes of the screen no matter how stupid the commercial or terrible the show. I also have to sit facing away from the TV in bars and restaurants.

Recently, I had lunch in a restaurant and could not stop watching a potsticker eating contest on ESPN. I almost hated myself after that.

6:29 PM  

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