Tuesday, April 12, 2005
I recently spent an evening with public access television. If you don't mind low production standards, public access has a lot to offer. I was going to mention dubious content, but that's standard across all television, so I'm not going to single out the lo-fi programming for their choices of topic.
I enjoyed the first program simultaneously with a bowl of buttered popcorn and a can of diet soda. As I switched to channel nineteen, I saw a strange middle-aged man with electrocuted bleached hair, a fake tan, and vacant eyes. He had an enormous chin and his jaw squeaked when he spoke. I believe his jaw must be a metal replacement. This man could chew through a chainlink fence.
He stuttered his way through a monologue about musical collaboration. Behind him a sixteen color screen saver from an early nineties computer sputtered along, likely powered by shrinkrayed convicts on hamster wheels. Although this show was intended to promote the band, it performed the opposite. The other members appeared and shared their mumbling stoner philosophies on life and music. Several didn't know to face the camera and stared instead offscreen at Shalajoramba, the invisible tiki god of topiary. I didn't once hear a song until the closing credits rolled twenty minutes later.
They're called Moist Guitars. Isn't that disgusting? I'd rather listen to a band called Fetus Burrito than anything with "moist" in the title. One guy said, "When people ask what moist guitars means, I tell them it's a yak. A yak. Either you get it or you don't, you know, it 's like our sound. It's not something I can explain, so I say yak."
Well, I don't get it.
Next up came the Other Winfrey Show, which seemed to be clips of local entertainers jammed together. There was a comedienne that told some funny lesbian jokes, a cover band, and interviews at an awards show for suburban nightclubs. I don't have anything nasty to say about it. I liked the show.
Finally came the true jewel of public access programming. Star Performers Showcase! At first I saw a fat guy wearing sunglasses lip syncing to Ray Charles songs while he swam his head, just like Ray. Then he did Stevie Wonder, and he got the neck twisting body language down perfectly for him, too. He went on to cover Barry White and Al Green songs, and this guy was white as fresh porcelain. It was jarring but wonderful.
Next came a strange dance club in a banquet hall. Men and women alike stood in lines facing each other and people took turns charging up the middle to the stage, where they stuck their asses in the sky and shook them like tambourines while the clapping lines hooted and juked. Twenty year old rap music played. One fat girl's tits swept the floor while her enormous rump slapped bystanders, knocking them stupid to the ballroom floor.
After the rap ended they all lined up for the locomotion dance, but instead the song was "Hot Hot Hot" by Buster Poindexter. I was shocked by how many people of different cultures could sing this dubious modern classic with precision until I realized this recording might just be fifteen years old. The guys were separated out and only the women boogied a single file circle, but some sneaky young guys snuck back in, looking around guiltily to see if anybody would bust them for horning in. All of the revellers were seemingly unaware that some practical joker was recording this for transmission.
Finally, real karaoke. Pale sweaty fifty year old men with swaying jowls and thick glasses and suspenders and knobby little hands took turns singing Bette Midler and Jimmy Buffett and Dean Martin. They weren't doing this in a dimly lit bar full of drunks, but instead in a church social room brightly lit. The audience was served chilled fruit medley cups and oatmeal cookies. I'm sure offbrand adult diapers leaked onto metal folding chairs while these dregs of society fulfilled their lifelong ambitions to mimic Jon Secada while wearing a cummerbund. People actually clapped. One poor pre-pubescent boy sang a beautiful rendition of "My Girl." Despite the accolades he received I still think his parents should be shot for exposing him to all those pedophiles.
After this marathon I was exhausted and suicidal. 10:26 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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