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Music Savaged By The Average Beast

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for July 16, 2003

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Tuned Out, Part Two
by Your Diva, Robin Pastorio-Newman

Previously on Altrok, we chatted with Laura, a personable twenty-something grad student who broke up with pop culture and refused to return the ring. We learned that she reads, sees perhaps two movies a year and has little patience for keeping up with the Bridget Joneses. Dahhhhhling, music happens so fast and most of it disappears without a trace. One wonders how you feel about missing out on music?
Laura: It's not that I don't love music ... I do! I listen to it an awful lot - in my car, getting dressed in the morning, hanging out web surfing at night - but I tend to find something I like and stick with it. Again and again and again. Any new album that enters my household is treated with the utmost respect - carefully unwrapped, cover art examined, pertinent lyrics read. Inevitably, I often do not like the album on the first go-round. So it gets put aside. Listened to later, as background music, I find myself tapping my foot to it and discovering why I bought this album in the first place. Then it goes on constant repeat for months, after which point it is either relegated to the occasionally-listened-to-but-mostly-filed-with-the-others category, or the always-on-hand-and-sitting-in-a-pile-on-my-desk group.
Clearly, this whole process is so time-consuming that I have little time to actually be scouting for new favorites. Any music entering my abode, unless by a previously approved artist, tends to spring from the hands and hearts of my friends (who take pity on me and supply me with the latest and greatest.)
Altrok: So, no random CD store finds or Saw That On TV for you!
Laura: What is going on here, I believe, is my failure to have adapted any sort of music information-gathering habits in life. I don't watch MTV, I find the radio to be mostly teen-idol crap or too often heard oldies (and so reserve my listening habits only for the car. I don't know any stations. I just surf until I find something good), and I don't pick up any of the publications that introduce new bands, music, etc. My frustration with any of the easily accessible sources for information led me, several years back, to stop trying. And I found that eventually new things came my way anyway, through the previously mentioned channels.
Altrok: And what wonderful goo seeps through these channels?
Laura: My favorites include everything from a stable of female artists like Tori Amos, Ani DiFranco, PJ Harvey, Sarah McLaughlin, Zemphira to Dylan, Daniel Lanois, crazy Russian and Serbian music, bluesy/jazzy anything, my newfound favorite Stereolab, my new guilty pleasure the White Stripes, old favorites like Depeche Mode, the Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, etc., etc. My cat likes classical only, especially the Magic Flute. Don't ask me why. I don't know.
Altrok: Heaven forfend! What about movies?
Laura: I love movies! My happiest days were back a few years ago when my live-in boyfriend and I had a ridiculous cable subscription that cost and arm and a leg, and often included movies. But I found, living in NYC, that going to the movies was an expensive endeavor, and one not worth attempting with any regularity. For 2 people to take in a movie it cost around $70 (2000-2002 standards) by the time you added in transportation, candy, tickets and the inevitable dinner AND it took up most of the evening and thus became an "event." I objected to a simple movie being my event for the evening - when I was used to the phrase, "Let's catch a movie this afternoon" from my pre-NYC days - and felt that any "event" of such magnitude might as well be something more unique. I was living in Manhattan for Chrissakes!
Altrok: Intriguing, yet millions of Americans think of movies as the only thing to do.
Laura: There were a million OTHER things to do (and bars to hit) that would suck up as much cash and time as a mere movie. So I waited for it to come out on video or hit pay-per-view. And thus a habit was formed. Now that I live in the wastelands of Jersey, and could see a movie every night for much less money and effort expended than in the city, I have grown unaccustomed to seeing movies with any regularity. As we all know, our primary sources for information on new movies are the teasers preceding other movies so it becomes a vicious cycle. I seem to have settled into about a movie every other month. I'm happy with that, and so should you be. Altrok: Couldn't be happier - what?! You were a TV junkie who never saw an episode of the Brady Bunch until college. What changed?
Laura: When I recently found myself living on my own again, in an attempt to avoid replicating this mental-crutch situation I decided against replacing the TV the ex had taken custody of. No more Chris Matthews screaming at me every night, no more constant ESPN, and no more of my many hours of useless watching. And I am a more active, and happier person for it. I don't seem to have any more free time than before, but this seems to be because I have filled that time with a yoga class, swimming several times a week, learning to knit, emailing incessantly, gossiping with the gals, and writing incredibly long responses to questions from Altrok.
Altrok: So your missing-out doesn't seem to be missing anything?
Laura: My miser-out status is fed by a combination of lack of desire to hunt, lack of interest in 85% of what's easily found, lack of concern for maintaining currency, and confidence that the best of what is out there will still mange to fight its way to my doorstep through the kind efforts of others. And I take some rot of sick satisfaction in my ignorant status - I have become a curiosity ("Did you know she doesn't even know who Britney is dating this month?!). And that is what we all aspire to in the end, ain't it?
Altrok: Until our fifteen minutes are up, sure.

©2003 Robin Pastorio-Newman

All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.


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