Huh. Sounds like you read a lot. You’re not one of those people who reads all the time and then acts all superior and says stuff like “I don’t even have a TV” are you? I hope not. Because I hate people like that. And I like you.
No, I’m not one of those people. I do indeed have a TV, in fact a 120-inch Samsung plasma with live streaming, Basra AntiGlare©, Harmon Kardon 18 speaker QuadSound©, and 360 degree NostrilVision©. On this technical marvel and black plastique monument to the limitless possibilities of mass production and skyward mental strivings of man, I mostly watch English Premiere League soccer from a feed drawn into Castle Dust via Ukrainian satellite signal. Additionally, I enjoy HAC, the Hardened Arteries Channel, which mainly runs old black and white episodes of Frontline, during which I relish the sight of William F. Buckley filleting his namby intellectual foes of the day, in particular the loathsome Noam Chomsky. I also have a taste for the local cable access channel Q-13, which frequently airs Your Hour With Jeannie Davis. It’s narrated by a delightful young woman who has recently quit her job as a pedicurist in favor of embarking on a career as a full-time musician, playing all the local clubs and pubs as the lead singer of Jeannie Davis and Sparkle, which, I can tell you, having seen them both live and on grainy up-converted video, is a true audiophile experience. I also enjoy Jeopardy, not only because it forces my remaining grayish matter to de-rust and neural pathways to fire and bad prions to continue to hibernate, but because regularly running through entire categories–like the always amusing Potent Potables–with nary an incorrect answer gives me a continuing sense of superiority and self-worth. And, I should admit, as they used to say of George W. Bush “he just seems like a good guy to have a beer with,” I have long felt that there is not a single person on the entire planet with whom I would rather quaff a Genesee Cream Ale than the unflappable Canadian quizmaster Alex Trebek. Finally, I find myself something of an addict when it comes to watching reruns of the splendid and sublime vampire dramady Angel, which, it should be noted, is a spinoff of the somewhat less fabulous Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in which Buffy’s former undead lover, the near cromagnon-browed Angelus (played with every ounce of dark and brooding heft one could ask of the deeply underrated David Boreanaz) moves to Los Angeles to take up his own campaign of alley-punching, heart-staking, and otherwise snappy thwarting of various unethical revenants. But, and here is where I go out on a very thin limb indeed, the true reason I tune in to Angel so unavailingly is the presence of the near-divine Charisma Carpenter, an actress of such presence and preternatural beauty that I am struck nearly dumb every time I am in her broadcast presence. Yes, friends, I am truly and undeniably smitten. Her portrayal of the wonderfully scattered and endearingly self-involved Cordelia Chase, so pitch-perfect and nuanced that one would be forgiven for suspecting that perhaps she is not acting at all (ha!) drives me to flights of amoral fantasy, in particular a scenario where Miss Carpenter and I are lying on a blanket in a field of gently swaying grass. I kiss her tumescently on halter-exposed clavicles. We laugh at private jokes and the bleatings of those unlucky not to have found their soul-mates as we have. And then she leans over and feeds me from a bunch of freshly washed Italian muscats, each ominously purple and the size of a ram’s testes.
Candy, of course, prefers the Real Housewives of Any Given City to almost any other show. I find this to be an execrable hour of manipulative and cynical programming filled with unrepentant egoists and silicone tragedies in which no one connected to the production–from the director to the gaffer to the wig wrangler–should be able to wake on any given morning without the urge to give up all their worldly possessions and move to Mumbai where they could spend the rest of their days purifying themselves in the holy slosh of the Ganges in order to remove the Lady Macbeth-like stain that corrodes deep into their very souls from having been involved with such a repugnant and contemptible moneyshot of televised “reality.” Although when I express these thoughts, Candy always tells me to “shush” and raises the volume to foundation-trembling levels. Further, when I suggest to her that perhaps, as an alternative, those production people could make amends by agreeing to embrace true reality and instead begin airing the Real Housewives of Breast Cancer, or the Real Housewives of Being Overweight and Alone, or the Real Housewives of Leaving Your Children for an Affair With Marty From Legal, or the Real Housewives of Dying on the Operating Table Due to Excessive Liposuction and a fatal Collagen-to-Platelet Blood Ratio, she tells me if I don’t shut the freak up I can go sleep on the couch, and good luck finding the spare sheets and pillow.
Now Fabian, as I surmise all young people do in 2011, has given up on broadcast television entirely, preferring to “stream” programs from the internet, primarily “tube” videos in which cats get their heads stuck in tuna cans, teenagers sing off-key, hefty shoppers do faceplants after slipping on spilled smoothies, young men with skateboards spavin their testicles on metal handrails attempting to do “reverse fakies” and Korean girls ululate in glass-breaking karaoke falsettos to the stylings of yet another pube-less manufactured heartthrob.
So yes, Anne, I have now laid myself bare and revealed to you the watching habits of my family.
But if I were truly being honest I would reveal one more:
Lately I’ve become a regular and ardent viewer of Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew. I realize it may sound as if I’m being facetious here, but I am not. I truly am fascinated by the program, at the same time that I loathe it–and loathe myself for watching it. There are so many unavoidable truths lurking beneath its voyeur-porn surface. Namely, that addiction is just another term for narcissism. That most people are wholly unable to see outside themselves to even the tiniest degree. That the machinery of fame is even more of a soul-thresher than Nathaniel West had warned us of. That Dr. Drew Pinsky is a charlatan of the highest order, hiding behind his lavender shirts the true purpose (cash money) for airing ethically bereft footage of sadly debilitated, clownishly suffering D-listers under the guise of selflessly wanting to “spread the word” about the dangers of addiction, as if somehow the “dangers of addiction” were not a driving force in the composition of almost every American family, from Coffee to Booze to Meth to God. Is there any person on earth who can watch Bai Ling climb the roof the Malibu Rehab Center, edited so that it is repeated half a dozen times during the show, and see the sheer craziness in her eyes, and not surmise that her post-rape alcoholic decompression is perhaps an immoral conduit for VH-1 afternoon ratings? Does anyone actually find it amusing to make “Mr. Brownstone” jokes while watching the hostile stroke-inflected paranoia of former GNR drummer Steven Adler? Is there any reason that Dr. Pinksy’s in-house assistants come across as uniformly cold, inept, cruel, and stupid? Is it possible that their clumsy handling of volatile personalities intentionally leads to more titillating pre-commercial footage? Is there anything more depressing than watching Doc Gooden sweat through coke withdrawal while crying and apologizing to his abandoned son for having preferred powder to parenting in a series of grainy close ups?
Cut to Dr. Drew, cool, serene, nodding and mouthing the words “Yes. So difficult. So very difficult. Gosh. Just keep letting it out…yes, all of it. Good. Excellent.”
You see, there are oaths (Hippocrates of Cos: “I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts” ) and then there are other oaths (Malcolm X: “Hoover up cash by any means necessary.”)
But as we all know, ratings, like LCD inches, are, in the end, the only things that (anti) matter.
Ask Me Anything.
Talk Shit. Be Vulnerable.
Go ahead, I know it hurts.
All contact info is entirely confidential.
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