The title above, if on a more candid note, would appropriately read " Why I love digital cable and now have no social life to speak of (and why it's unnerving that such a fact leaves me unphased)." Yet as a brave attempt to justify my obsession with momentary visual and mental stimulation, which is so effortlessly satisfied in mere seconds that it tops my list of instant gratifications, I present two offerings of valuable programs to the gods of judgement in an attempt to prove that yes, TV is good for you!
In the past twenty-four hours, I've watched two programs, both informative and entertaining on various levels, that have prompted me to share. The first was an episode of Independent America on the Sundance Channel. I have to admit that I was initially drawn to this edition because it featured Starbucks. The episode did have quite a few moments of Starbucks-bashing but overall focused on the search for the long-lasting Mom and Pop stores across the nation. It's a story we've all heard.. the now accustomed scenerio...big business squashes the competion (often independently owned family businesses) in an insensitive and cruel fashion. The show highlighted the obvious example, using Wal-Mart, McDonalds, and Starbucks as examples of the intrusion big business often presents on well-established small towns, often causing the ultimate death of the stereotypical American downtown ideal. Now I'm not saying that I'm jumping head-first into the abyss of fanatic liberalism ,where anything corporate represents evil and defamation of independence, with battle flags blazing in full support. I work for Starbucks, the greediest of corporations, for Christ's sake! With every insult flung at big business, a pang of the most defensive nature strikes - for big business pays my bills, allows me full benefits and health insurance. In this transitional phase in my life, Starbucks has provided quite the comfort in my life, knowing that I'm taken care of. That's not to say that I don't have my disagreements with policies and the micromanagereal aspects of running corporate stores because the list takes up some room. Yet the point of this spiel stems from the program itself, placing the spotlight on one of our country's silent tragedies - the disappearance of Mom and Pop businesses. The casualties can be seen in any small town where downtowns resemble ghosttowns with FOR LEASE banners outnumbering OPEN signs. And it all comes down to economics...supply and demand. The moment a big business enters a town, a large percent of the town's income goes into these chain stores, sending a pretty big chunk of change to a city sometimes states away instead of back into the city's financial blood stream. One of the most influential facts of the episode focused on the employment opportunities given by big business, obviously my ears perked up. Yes, they provide great benefits, reasonable hours, a sense of belonging through commerical and corporate propoganda...I mean, Starbucks is loaded with so much propoganda that Goebbels would be proud. Yet the opportunity offered by big businesses can be found in any city across the nations. I could wear a green apron in any part of this country. That is an appealing thought to a wandering youth. The trouble is that the reality of perpetuating such a transient society leaves the community struggling to service. There are those gems here and there, small shops with the same workers for years, restaurants with family members of many generations behind the counter, neighbors working and living next to each other. This will be a tale of the past if supporting the small business becomes an afterthought. So in the end...shop locally...save your community!
On a lighter and less lengthy note, my second program of great interest showcased the Traveling Wilburys...a band I've always acknowledged as worthy of admiration, yet never gave much exclusive listening time. I mean, really, it's pretty mind-blowing to think about. A group of friends, hanging out, making music, and well, they happen to be a schmoragsbord of mid 20th century's most talented musicians. You've got one of the greatest voices in rock and roll - Roy Orbison, doned in dark lenses and his standard black attire - standing next to the master of lyricism Bob Dylan - still squirrelly, still sexy - and in charge of it all, fucking George Harrison! In a more popular tune, Handle With Care displays the mid 60's sensibility of Beatlesque idealism and sultry desperation of Roy Orbison, set to the script of Dylan. Amazing, simply amazing. Yes we can't forget the other priceless contributors of which my fingers refuse to type out of exhaustion. With that, I bid you all good night. I'm going to watch more television. Viva la Cable!