crappy pop music: a whole new generation of terrible

the experience: KIIS FM, a top 40-playing la-based radio station that is heavy on all things hip, current and pop. they usually play the type of music with thumping beats and filthy lyrics that i only hear when i'm out and forced to mingle with the masses.

then: KIIS FM used to be my favorite radio station. do you remember how awesome pop music was in the late 90's? from britney and christina to one shitty boyband after another, during my junior and senior year of high school, my musical tastes gravitated, um, rather intensely toward this brand of so-sweet-it'll-make-your-teeth-hurt musical confection. from sunup to sundown, i probably knew, and sang along with loud and proud, every song this radio station played. i wore my boyband obsession proudly, and as such, KIIS FM was my ultimate source when it came to all things hip, hoppin' and overtly idiotic.

i have a very vivid memory of being 16 or 17 and sitting on the floor in my bedroom, next to my BOOM BOX (um hello, 90's), eagerly listening to "jo jo on the radio's top 5 at 9," during which the five most popular songs of the day/week/month (admittedly, my understanding of how these top five songs were selected is nonexistent) were played, and we idiotic listeners were expected to fawn over the musical stylings of lyrical geniuses like cher and sixpence none the richer. i sat there, waiting with baited breath for the announcement that my beloved BSB would secure a spot in this top five. yet it gets worse: i actually spent time recording these radio segments, for some inexplicable reason thinking i would one day want to listen to a radio broadcast from 1999 during which the backstreet boys proved their superiority over n*sync.

at the risk of spoiling the reveal of this re:experience, allow me to say this: i have never, nor will i ever, listen to my taped re-memory of BSB-awesome.

now: these days, my radio listening is 99.86% devoted listening to public radio. of course, my ipod is really what keeps my commute non-stabby, so it was somewhat of an aberration when i decided to give the ol' radio a try and stumbled upon KIIS FM and jo jo's top 5 at 9. admittedly, i only listened to two songs. i had never heard either of them before in my life, had no idea who sang them, and reeeeeelly didn't like them.

not only do i not know a single hip/hot/current-in-mainstream-culture song, but i am soooooo ok with that. don't get me wrong; i'm certainly no musical snob (nor could i ever claim to be one based on the aforementioned bsb obsession and the inherent discrediting that comes along with that), but OMG popular music today is terrible and makes my ears bleed. i can't tell the difference between the jonas brothers and justin beiber, and frankly, the only thing i know about the latter is that he looks like a lesbian.

in an attempt to get a better understanding of what "the kids" are listening to these days, i visited the KIIS FM website, where part of me died when i discovered that one of my favorite songs is on heavy rotation currently. yes, i think i'm too cool to like something on this shit-tastic radio station.

the re:experience: it's official: I'M OLD. at the ripe old age of 28, i've come to terms with the fact that i'm basically morphing into a (cooler and queerer) version of my parents every day. when i was 17 and adored every crooning note out of the divine nick carter's mouth, my parents rolled their eyes, likely thinking, "what the fuck is this crap?" how did i become so too-cool and such a superior person within a decade? age, my friends, is a frightening motherfucking bitch. i may not be able to identify a miley cyrus song, or even a contemporary of hers with whom i can compare her for the sake of this blog, but i know i don't like her. i know her music is terrible. i know that it makes me want to stab myself in the ears. i know that she looks like a ho. but that's about it. now i'm an adult, and as such, my musical tastes are refined and distinctive and sophisticated.

but britney's my homegirl, i KTBSBPA (in case you were wondering (which you clearly are because no one knows what the fuck this stands for unless you were once psycho like me), this stands for "keep the backstreet boys pride alive," and was my teenage password for EVERYTHING (go ahead, try logging into my AOL account)), and anyone who knows me knows that i have a serious soft spot in my heart for all 90's music. however, i can't help but wonder what my musical tastes would've looked like were i a teenager in 2010, when music is not only soooo much better, but also so much more prolific and available thanks to new media outside the realm of jo jo's top 5 at 9. i like to think i would've made better choices, but let's face it: i'd be the leader of the miley for life fan club.


the x files: the theme song is still amazing/stuck in my head

the experience: the x-files, a super-nerdy scifi tv show that dominated the alien abduction-themed segment of the television market throughout most of the '90's.

then: i'm fairly certain my brother and i watched this show from the very first episode, and i remember the x-files being an integral part of my sunday night experiences ages 11-14/15ish. i can clearly picture lying in my bed after the show every week, staring out the window and determining whether the flashing lights in the distant night sky were moving or hovering in place, (everyone knows modern earthly spacecraft cannot maneuver like UFOs), as well as a general and not-just-sunday-night anxiety that i was about to be beamed up and abducted right from my safe little bed. i frequently feared the nightmarish creatures dreamed up by the show's writers, and my brother and i were both slightly traumatized by a man forever known in our family as the VENT MONSTER.

however, this show wasn't all scare-factor for my younger self. in fact, a pretty big part of what i loved about this show was the dreamy FOX MULDER, played by david duchovny, the fictional character who became the standard against which i judged my male peers until i met colin firth's affably-snobbish mr. darcy. i even purchased some sort of x-files trading cards that had images of specific scenes on one side, and a brief synopsis printed on the other. i kept them in my makeup drawer, tucked away behind the hideous blue eyeliner and various non-human-shades of glittery eyeshadow that i wore in order to express my self-perceived sexual viability, and i would part with any of the cards rather willingly-so long as they didn't depict mulder's brooding visage.

as the show wore on and my teenage tastes veered toward insane-boyband mode, the x-files moved to the periphery of my pop-culture education (i also remember being vaguely bored by the endless quest to discover what the cigarette smoking man was really after, and what happened to mulder's sister samantha - i mean, the truth was supposed to be out there so what the fuck was taking them so long to find it?), but i intermittently watched the show through high school, and the series' themes and plots remained nostalgic conversation pieces for my brother and me for years to come.

now: in the past week, i've re-watched most of the first season of the show. i was surprised to find that, 17 years later (HOLY SHIT I'M OLD), i could remember details in most of the episodes and their plot lines. some of these plot lines are totally lame, others are paranormal-fun at its scifi best, and the fucking vent monster is still scary as hell (halfway through the first episode featuring this scary mofo, i called my brother not once, but twice to announce how scared i was).

noticeably different this time around, however, is that, although mulder is still a smokin'-hot piece of man meat, the only FBI agent i have eyes for these days is one dana scully. i can't believe my younger (and delusional about my sexuality) self thought this woman was dowdy. not only is scully totally superhot, but she is also soooooo badass. oh, yeah, you need someone to perform an autopsy on a really scary-looking alien? no prob for dr. dana scully. some bastard shape-shifter shooting at you? scully is so gonna shoot him and take him down. can't find your husband? scully is there to track down his otherworldly captor and save the motherfucking day. bad. ass.

i've also found myself in the midst of an internal debate regarding the show's believability, a factor that is rather difficult to measure in a series that's about aliens, gender-shifting-amish-y-people and endless government conspiracies. but seriously 89% of this show is filmed in the woods. mulder running through the woods. scully shooting people in the woods. dead bodies appearing in the woods. i mean, do aliens not abduct little girls from their beds in van nuys, california? how could i have missed this comforting fact during those sleepless childhood nights? is it really believable that so many cases, these x-files, would take place in the middle of nowhere? part of me says yes, because of course aliens aren't exactly going to park their spaceship next to the beemer in the 7-11 parking lot. but part of me is an equal-opportunity paranormalist, and i want to see some crazy shit go down in my own neck of the proverbial woods.

the re:experience: well, i suppose the shifting of my x-files crush from foxy fox to sexy scully is a pretty big difference, but not much of a surprise considering that on a scale from 1-gay, i'm practically pissing rainbows these days. overall, the thing that strikes me most is that, in this re-watching, i've been able to pinpoint specific moments in the show that likely scared the bejesus out of little me, and which were certainly incorporated into my once-solid belief that i had indeed been abducted by aliens (a belief, by the way, informed not by traumatic flashbacks of bright lights and little green men, but an inability to put anything in my eye, which i totally picked up from an early episode of the x-files). perhaps my eagerness to believe the unbelievable was a sign of my youthful malleability, and perhaps my lack of cynicism toward the x-files' specific brand of crazy was a sign of the way in which i once viewed the world as a place where anything is possible. perhaps it wouldn't be such a bad thing for this current version of myself to suspend my disbelief, accept the inexplicable, and say, "i want to believe."

wtf is this? the mission statement.

as humans, we are constantly-evolving entities. we live, we experience, we grow, and we change. that's kinda what this whole "life" thing is all about, isn't it? every day, we wake up and take steps that make us who we are, and who we will be, and all of those steps are informed by the thousands, millions even, of teeny steps we've taken before our feet even hit the floor in the morning and carry us through another day of living. so if we're on a never-ending people-mover called life, the ways in which we interpret the world around us change every day, and the difference in perspective a month, a year or a decade can make is huge. what we pull from the images, songs, books, movies, television shows, places and things that we encounter, and how we interpret and understand these experiences, is dictated by where we are in our lives, the relationships we're in and the mental and emotional roller coasters we're riding at that specific moment.

so what happens when we re-encounter something from our past? this time around, we're consuming this speck of life differently, with all of the experiences since the previous encounter stacking up to reach new heights of perspective and new methods of understanding that will, invariably, differ from the lenses through which our former selves experienced that moment. that is not to say that the ice cream you ate when you were six will be drastically different than the mint chip cone you were licking five minutes ago; in fact, lots of things and experiences probably don't change that much: cool sand between your toes is always a delight, but that moment at 16 and that moment at 28 evoke very different emotional and connotative responses, thanks to the 12 years of relationships, parties, failures, journeys, people and, well, life, in between.

we are constantly confronting the past. but what happens when we intentionally subject ourselves to the re:experience? read a favorite book from your childhood sometime and you might find that although the romance on which you'd based all of your pre-teen fantasies is nothing like real life, there are inappropriate adult references that your once-innocent young mind glossed over with little more import than a foreign phrase randomly inserted into insipid romance. or try listening to a song that you blared angrily through your first breakup, and you'll laugh at the angst-ridden lyrics that felt so true at the moment, yet so trite in retrospect.

i've made a habit of this in my personal life: re-reading favorite books, re-watching long-adored movies, re-visiting former-favorite TV shows and re-rocking out to once-beloved ballads. i've found that in many cases, the magic doesn't hold up to the test of time. i've been offended by once-innocuous dialogue, i've scoffed at over-wrought teen drama and i've laughed at things i've since learned to recognize as simple ploys. but sometimes, i find new life and enjoyment in these re:experiences, a new way to understand and appreciate a character, or an unexpected understanding of a particular plot point. these are the moments i hope to categorize and chronicle on this blog, to understand my place in the world around me then, and now.

this is the re:experience project.