(Image: Flickr/Jeff Kubina)
I was Googling the name of a talented juggler named Lindsay Benner one evening to find out if her first name was spelled "say" or "sey." As usual, I often search in "Images" because more interesting things turn up as I scroll down the page. In this case, and Yahweh knows why, I came across a photo of Harry Chapin. Not a juggler, not related to Lindsay Benner. Many of you might not even remember who he is, but I did and so clicked on the image. It led me, shockingly, to the blog of a friend of mine—a magician by the name of Shawn McMaster. He had written an appreciation of Chapin, who died at age 39 on the Long Island Expressway, his VW bug getting squashed by some asshole in an 18-wheeler, setting Chapin's car on fire and burning him alive. I loved Chapin, and had first attended a concert of his by chance in upstate New York during a summer in the late 1970s when some friends dragged me along. Saw him about four times after that. A great guy and a champion of the hungry—one day you should read about him.
While I was watching a performance of his on YouTube (the great rabbit hole of all holes), I noticed on the right side, where all sorts of other performances by Chapin were listed, a deleted scene from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Clicked on that and watched it, then made a note to watch that episode at a later date. Then I saw a "Behind the Music" show on Harry Chapin from VH1 (remember those?) on the right side, and clicked on that. Watched a few moments and then got a strangle hold on myself and commanded myself to STOP. Bookmarked it for later watching and went back to work. Total time lost: about an hour.
Not bad, only an hour. I call it "bouncing and blobbing," which is my poetic way of referring to loping from place to place on the internet until you notice that the sun has gone down, you missed dinner, and it's time to hit the mattress.
Bouncing and blobbing … is it a part of your life? Damn straight it is, and don't you lie to me honey (channeling Foxy Brown here, another movie I blumbled across on YouTube late one night, which coincidentally co-starred my friend the late Tony Giorgio, a great magician and dice hustler who went straight and became an actor).
Bounce, bounce, bounce, blob, blob, blob, the time and energy getting drawn out of me like some soul-sucking digital vacuum clamped onto my eyeballs and forcing my fingers forward on the keyboard. Except when I am commanded to stop, and watch, and listen, and then stop and watch and listen to something else, and then to something else (Anthony Newley and Sammy Davis, Jr. doing a crazy 1970s pop medley on some British TV show) which leads me to a pathetic video of Newley singing later in his life just before kidney cancer killed him, which I discovered by blopping to some article on his entire life story that took another 25 minutes to read. And then somehow I started watching clips of the Graham Norton show, which is really wild and bizarre. Then, of course, there is always Carpool Karaoke with James Cordon and … whomever (and thus I learned that Brittany Spears can't sing, and won't sing, while Michelle Obama can rock it, and Lady Gaga has some real pipes).
What causes this disease? I'm tired of the election, tired of Wikileaks, tired of the insanity on Facebook (which used to be fun, and sometimes still is, like when I just start scrolling down the "Home" feed and find a link to a video of Astrud Gilberto singing "The Girl from Ipanema" with Stan Getz saxaphoning in the background, which makes me think of her singing "It Might as Well be Spring," which is a wonderful song from the 1945 film State Fair by Rogers and Hammerstein, which I then have to go find on YouTube and listen to. She goes off key for a moment and that's bothered the hell out of me for 45 years).
Oh, right, tired of the day-to-day corruption in governments around the world, tired of the idiots who voted for Brexit and then realized they didn't know what it meant, tired of nothing but bad news from the middle east, various Arab countries involved in war, and more shitty news about Boko Haram and ISIS, and tired of reading in The New York Times about the corrupt idiots in the New York City government who've been trying to build a subway line down Second Avenue SINCE 1920 and the first three stations are just going to open … soon. It's the end of 2016. Is this the fucking Twilight Zone or what? Sometimes I am reduced to watching cute cat videos on The Dodo via Huffington Post via Facebook.
One day I hit rock bottom, The Lost Weekend, when I accidentally clicked on a box on the right side of YouTube about "The Pimple Popper." I watched one, and then another, and then "the biggest pimple ever popped" and then on and on for several hours. Omigod … my life had turned into a never-ending cyst-popping pile of pus and sludge of some sort. People getting squirted on, skin exploding, people cursing and covering their noses from the smell.
This is the modern definition of Jean-Paul Satre's play No Exit.
Try to turn off your computer. I dare you.