Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why I Stopped Taking Photos & Videos at Shows And Why I Finally Joined Twitter (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Split the Difference)

First reason I stopped taking photos and videos at shows was that the guards at Bowery Presents were instructed in about 2008 to enforce policies of which Bowery Presents used to look the other way. One night, Famous Steve the Whacky Bouncer at Bowery Ballroom said to me "I'm gonna take your whooooole camera away" before he did his usual yips and whoops to himself and downing McDonald's cheeseburgers from under the curtain. The second reason was that I just got plain tired of it.

The peak output for this blog was five years ago (though recently "reporting from" five concerts in three and a half days was a revival of those olden days). During that time, I attempted to go for broke. More than just review live shows, I wanted to bring the live shows to the blog, in some half-assed attempt at creating a mini media empire. I also did this because I suffered from an affliction that plagues many of my generation: the need to capture and enshrine every moment of every thing you witness. I didn't want to forget moments of what I knew would prove to be some of the best times of my life. But it had to stop. And I am glad I did. Because in the years since, this virus has only intensified, especially as our younger brothers and sisters start going to the shows. It's cell phone action all the time (I had the decency back then to stick to a digital camera). And while it is fine for someone to try to capture what may be an out-of-the-ordinary event like, say, a performance with a surprise guest, or a particular kind of incident, the mass need to record whole shows has gotten out of control.

And what really bothers me is the robotic like nature in which these people are doing it. One big wake-up call for me was during a Quintron & Miss Pussycat show in Toronto that I attended a few years ago. The band had to physically stop the guy from filming. He had such a serious devoted look to recording, that I thought he would be a real prick when he turned the camera off. Instead he was really apologetic and even looked stunned. First I chalked that up to being Canadian. But then I realized it's because he sincerely didn't know it was something the band would dislike. And his seriousness while filming was his form of enjoying the concert. Which is scary. Much more recently, I stood next to a woman during the Hold Steady performance at the CBGB festival. She never wooed or clapped or danced or nothing. She just kept filming. Like a robot. Scary. I don't want to be like these people.

Recently, I joined Twitter (@SPElwood). I waited a long, long time on this. I hate myself for giving in. But as I've switched my principal music doings from blogging about concerts to doing an Internet radio show, I figured this Twitter racket was a good way of getting the word out. Also it allows me to spit out the random nonsense that drives the ladies wild, something I stopped doing much on Facebook after I realized the sinister plot of that website is for everyone to be Big Brother to everyone else (though I still use Facebook for many things...unfortunately). So I'm OK with it. For now.

I didn't think joining Twitter tied in to recording at shows but maybe it does. It's sort of the same afflicition. Instant sharing of instant something about something happening. I would love for the next sentence to be truthful. At least I don't "live tweet" in the middle of the thing that is happening. Not true. I did it plenty during the five concert run. Not good. I've become one of THEM. Again.

Which brings me to the last thing about all of this. Incessant Documentation is the most prominent manifestation of the unrelenting narcissism that has amplified among people who are really not that special - AKA seemingly everyone under the age of 40, and many people over 40 who seem to suffer from mental disorders and take their problems to the Internet.  I just finished reading Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story. Uh oh. That was a big mistake. While his obvious bitterness and fear over the Bush Administration may politically prove to be overblown (we hope), his assessment of the Youth of Today in relation to their Internet-fueled narcissism is so far panning out, with no end in sight. So now, after reading that book, I'm doubly sick when I take to Twitter, this blog, this VERY piece, and even my radio show.
Furthermore, this behavior can be tied in to a new label I have for this set of people. Thanks to another recent bit of literature, The Hunger Games, I identify Capitol people (I live in New York, remember). And recently I was reminded of my old literary analysis - this is behavior  that could be indicative of the Eloi (but in The Time Machine, the Eloi became the meals of the Morlocks, and in real life New York, the Eloi have trumped us miserable Morlocks, so Capitol People may be more apt).

Where was I? Recording and taking photos too much at shows followed by giving into Twitter =  triumph of youthful android-like narcissism. Right. So I cringe with every use of First Person singular (feel the goosebumps going on here). Of course I also cringe when I read my own heavy "this is about all of us" mega pseudo-philosophical pronouncements of false wisdom that made little sense when I was 11, and when I was 21, and still now at 31. So again, this VERY piece is full of it.

And boy is it full of it. But regardless of that, yeah, no more filming at shows. And here's to not twittering in the middle of the thing I am twittering about. Unless the ghost of Jimi Hendrix shows up to play one night at a gig I'm at, I'm keeping the cell phone in the pocket. Otherwise I am effectively endorsing the regime of President Snow. Get me?


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