Friday, June 05, 2015

land of the 'free,' home of the loud

When did every medical / surgical waiting room come equipped with a blaring television? Obviously, it was not always the case. In the Forties, Fifties, Sixties, Seventies, and maybe Eighties, it's not as if waiting rooms had radios to distract and divert us. What did people do? Read? Fidget? Pray? Converse? But starting -- when? -- in the Nineties or Oughties, televisions became ubiquitous in waiting rooms, as well as in a plethora of public places (supermarkets, barber shops, brothels, broth houses, sports bars, cafes, bistros, restaurants, fast-food joints, wedding chapels, betting parlors, electronics departments in mega-stores, corner stores, bodegas, salons, confessionals, opium dens). Televisions showing exactly what? Blather, folderol, pablum, static, chatter. Recipes, DIY, so-called news, energetic nihilism. Stories of triumph and optimism. America's great product: homegrown cheeriness blanketing doom. (You hear people use the phrase, "a disease of denial." But isn't all disease of denial? Go further, MadAvenue is built squarely on the bedrock premise of denying the Biggest D of All, the unmentionable and unspeakable closure of all closures.) So, today I paced a waiting room, an expectant father awaiting surgical news (all went well), searching for the never-to-be-found remote, tempted to tell the reception desk person to shut it all off, wishing If I Had a Hammer. What would Thoreau do? (WWTD?)

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