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Sunday, January 24, 2010

New York City Psychos: iTune, You tune, We All Tune Out




“Pennies? Nickels? Dimes? Change? Pennies-nickels-dimes-pennies-nickels-dimes-change!” yelled the musty panhandler, hitting subway commuters up for cash on the Manhattan-bound 4 train. It’s 8:07 AM. Another cold winter morning. The iron slave ship click-clacks through the subway tunnel, making stops near several plantations in the city that never sleeps. Another day, another dollar. Sometimes the pathetic routine makes Andrew Noble wanna holler.

As the mush-mouthed beggar approaches Noble, the rank rustler extends his soiled Florida Marlins baseball cap with the hope that Mr. Noble will spare him some change. “Please sir, spare me some change. It’s so cold outside. All I want is a cup of coffee,” he sobs with arched eyebrows and empty eyes while leaning heavily on his crutch. Noble merely shuts his eyes and turns up the volume on his iPhone, thereby phasing the beggar out of his existence.

Noble would rather hear Michael Jackson sing “Heal the World.” He thinks that it’s such a beautiful song. It reminds us all that it’s never too late to have a nurturing influence on the life of our fellow man. It teaches us that step-by-step, and day-by-day, we can build a better world; a better tomorrow. Just you and me. It’s ingeniously sincere in its lyrical simplicity. Gosh…What a song!

Noble opens his eyes again. The mangy, flea-ridden mut is still staring at him even after he’s made it clear that the Bank of America is closed. “Why doesn’t the bastard just get a job or overdose on some aspirin?,” Noble reflects to himself “Doesn’t this dude realize that I’m trying to enjoy this fucking song?”

Noble’s nose got raped by the foul stench of the panhandler who decided to move on to another passenger. Over 50 percent of the passengers had their eyes closed just like Noble and they were phasing him out with their iPods and MP3 players. You see this technological phenomenon morning, noon and night on the buses, the trains, the streets, the schools and even the job. This is starkly different from 10 years ago, when far less people were plugging in and tuning out. It’s a very revealing trend.

It seems that New Yorkers want to tune out the ugliness of the world around them more than ever before. We would rather ignore the signs of the times, but because we’ve become apathetic and taken the path of least resistance, the beast we are trying to avoid is becoming more brazen in its attempts to undermine us. Soon it’s going pull those iPod plugs out of our ears and strangle us all to death.

The culture of escapism is alive and well in New York. But since drugs are not a practical alternative for most, the iPod and the MP3 player have become the next best fix. Peter can’t afford to loose his job being strung out on dope, but he can bring his iPod to work and escape from the harsh reality of his immediate environment. The drug addict has always been stigmatized and looked down upon by members of our society.

What is ironic about this fact, however, is that just about everyone in the U.S. is addicted to one thing or another. Your opiate may be pornography while someone else’s may be crack-cocaine. No matter how we try to rationalize it, an addict is still an addict. The Devil is a liar. He’s also a crack fiend, but we’re the white rocks being smoked in his glass pipe. Can you smell the flesh burning?

Drugs release chemicals into your bloodstream that create the illusion of joy and bliss once the contaminated blood enters your brain. Good music activates many of the same chemicals in your brain that illegal drugs do. The only difference is that with music you actually feel good about yourself. The active ingredient in LSD and MDMA (Ecstasy), for example, is classified as a tryptamine. However, tryptamine is produced by the brain naturally in the form of serotonin. Many people who suffer from schizophrenia are treated with anti-depressants that do nothing but diminish the production of serotonin in the brain.

Black people produce the most serotonin, which is one of the reasons why our music is the one most loved by every ethnic group and every class. Its rhythms and melodies capture that sense of euphoria that every human being wants to experience. The reason why it is able to stir powerful emotions in people of all walks of life is because it is made by a race of sonic shamans who have access to the Other Side. When you go see Elephant Man or Vybz Kartel perform at a show and everyone is carrying on, acting rowdy and having a good time, that is how the gods and the ancestors are carrying on in the spirit realm. The only difference is that they’re having a much better time. Everything we do here is a spirited attempt to recapture what’s going on on the Other Side. Our favorite recording artists act as intermediaries between the mundane and the spectacular, man and God.

Nevertheless, the music that people are listening to on their iPods isn’t the problem I’m addressing here. The problem is that Illuminazi scientists are using our longing for happiness and self-fulfillment against us by giving us too much of a good thing through the development of technology for technology’s sake. A tiny iPod can store hundreds of songs, which is enough to keep the average teenager in escapist mode by putting a small record store in the palm of her hands. Theoretically speaking, technology is supposed to serve the public, but more and more it seems that we are becoming slaves to technology.

People who live in America are notorious for being spoiled to the core, and if we continue to allow technological gismos to feed our escapist tendencies, we’re going to be greeted by a horrifying surprise when the music stops and we open their eyes. It won’t be a panhandler begging for change. It will be the ruins of an apathetic society that allowed the abuse of technology to run it into the ground.