I often find myself, like Alice, peering through a looking glass or down a rabbit hole into this queer and sometimes unexpected thing we call life. As with any spectator sport, I am drawn in by the drama, the upheaval, the sheer spectacle that unfolds. It has always been thus. The poet once said, “We all lead lives of quiet desperation.” Was, is he right? Are we the victims of a paternal hand? Am I merely a stage actor, reciting the lines of a predetermined fatum? It sometimes feels that way.
Certainly if one feels this way then one is almost duty bound to believe that all the ills in life are preordained and so, obviously not one’s own fault, right? Fate: Real or Imagined? Interesting question but that isn’t what this blog is about, so we can just nip that in the bud right now, thank you very much. No, I am not trying to delve into the metaphysical today, some other time perhaps but, not today. I am talking of the frenetic, even breakneck speed at which life seems to move around us.
Take the other night, while killing the brain cells in my head – one at a time, I found myself drawn into NBC’s THE VOICE as I listened to… before we continue, what the hell is wrong with these people who compete on this show! Some are moderately talented yes, even dare I say it really talented but, honestly now, how the backside you mus go on di man show and waan fi sing di man fiancé song dem an expek him fi pick yu? If you sing har song dem better dan har an him pick yu is problems dat when him reach home yu nuh.
Blake: ‘Miranda baybee, I found a girl today whohee, knocked your Gunpowder and steel clear down Whitchataw girl”
Miranda: “Yeah I saw, she skinnier than me too, watchya gawn do train her up and teach her mama’s fried chicken recipe while ya at it? Try’n to find my replacement fore the preacher even says we’re merrid?”
[Please forgive my badly written and amorphous southern accident above]
And if he, Blake, doesn’t pick the dude who actually has a way better baritone than he, can you really blame the man? Nashville spins out fifty or sixty new acts a week trying to kick this man off his pedestal, while he is himself trying to oust Kenny, Tim, George and Toby everyday. Pay it forward my ass, this game, i.e. life is about survival.
So, anywho one of these darling two day old sprigs comes out to sing and is absolutely tickled to be singing for her idol, the person she has grown up listening to her whole gosh darn life, wait for it, Christina Aguilera! Yes and XXXtina in all the matronly dignity of her 28 years mind you, will coach and groom this darling young thing into being America’s voice.
Can Christina do this, is she qualified? Absolutely, the girls got pipes that could level the Rockies. Is she talented? I refer you to the aforementioned pipes. But, you grew up listening to her, really? That one left me gob smacked. See because, I still remember when she was a genie in a bottle waiting to be rubbed the right way. Hell I remember her, Justin and Britney on the Mickey Mouse club, ‘cause yeah I was a mousketeer.
But more importantly, how the hell can I be older than an Icon? And by the way doesn’t this worry you that Christina Aguilera has hit iconoclast status? I mean I think she is brilliant and yes achieved a lot, but shouldn’t you hang around a bit longer before we accord you with the titles we give to Oprah or Maya Angelou? Okay, I might be a bit unfair; maybe I should compare her to legends in the music business and see how she adds up. Areosmith? No. Frank Sinatra? No. Nat King Cole? Nah. Gladys Knight maybe, no. Will she one day be in that league, absolutely again the pipes but, let’s wait till she hits fifteen years on the world’s stage hmm maybe twenty, hell Gladys has been doing her thing for forty five years and is still rock solid.
So, as I was sat there, my Kamikaze brain cells plunging to their deaths one after the other, it dawned on me I was watching life – the real spectator sport. In the blink of an eye Christina went from Mouseketeer to Icon.
A whole generation has grown up without the Pink Panther on television; portable computers no longer weigh twenty five pounds. The internet can be plucked out of thin air and picked up by your phone; car phones no longer exist. The Iron curtain fell, the Berlin wall is no longer, and the towers were hit not once but twice in my lifetime. I have left prep school and high school and college. I have seen babies born and grandparents die. There is a Black man in the White House and his name is not Benson.
My own triumphs and victories seem to pale when compared to the whirlwind of changes we have seen around us. And as I think of this the words of the old Trace Atkins song “Time marches on” soundtracks my writing, apropos of everything and nothing right now. In one generation we have lost our zeal for space exploration, that golden desire to reach beyond the moon and yet, managed to come closer to the extinction of planet earth than any other generation before us.
There are a thousand channels in this cosmic cable box for us to click on and, some of us are a little more tuned in than some. But for now I intend to watch the Voice and see which team wins. Personally I want that chick that reworked Kanye’s song to win this thing.