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Why I Still Listen to Bad 80’s and 90’s Pop Music March 16, 2010

Posted by dataduchess in Uncategorized.
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The man in the office next to mine at work plays his radio all day long – let’s call him George just to make writing this post easier. I suppose the volume would be a smidge too loud for some people, but since I generally like the music on the station he plays, it doesn’t bother me. It’s mostly an oldies/light fm style station – the kind of music I grew up listening to in my mom’s station wagon as a kid.

George is a bit older than I am; to be generous, I would call him a solid middle-ager, and I am entertained all day listening to him impart wisdom to his younger co-workers about “classic” movies, tv and music (and actually quite a few other topics as well, but I’m already getting off track).

Today, I overheard a conversation he was having with one of his older co-workers, a woman around the same age as my parents. They were in his office and a song came on the radio – I don’t remember which, but it might have been the Beatles, or some contemporary of theirs. The woman commented that whenever she hears songs from her youth, they remind her of things. For example, the Beatles’ Hey Jude was popular while she was learning to drive, and even now, every time she hears Hey Jude, she remembers what it felt like when she was learning to drive.

From joannamkay's flickr stream under Creative Commons.

The conversation then turned to “kids today” and whether they have the same experience? I had to chuckle (very quietly) as they decided that the “music kids listen to these days” can’t evoke the same emotion, you “can’t even understand what they are saying half the time”.

Obviously, this would be less amusing to me if I agreed. I may not be a “kid” anymore by George’s definition, but I definitely did and still do form associations to songs. Ask anyone I went to college with how annoying it was every time I heard a “GAP song” (those songs played on the store intercom on an infinite loop while I worked retail during high school). Even now when I hear those songs, I feel the urge to start folding tables of sweaters and polo-shirts.

Songs that were popular when I was a teenager remind me of all kinds of things when I hear them now, from high school friends, to my first summer with a car, to driving to off-campus lunch.

OK – so, I know George and friend are wrong. Here’s my example, when I hear Aerosmith‘s Livin’ on the Edge, I remember my first time away at summer camp, when one of my new friends let me borrow a mix tape, and Aerosmith was my new favorite band! Now, tell me how you know George is wrong!


Remember the Blackout in August 2003? December 23, 2009

Posted by dataduchess in Uncategorized.
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Yesterday’s post about the increase in visits to the New York Times website on the day of Michael Jackson’s death sparked an interesting comment from pupfiction about other notable days in recent history. I, in turn, recalled the Blackout of August 2003, including some some fascinating satellite images of the northeast from before and after the failure.

NOAA satellite imagery one day before the blackout.

NOAA satellite imagery the night of the blackout.

In trying to find the images shown above, I read the Wikipedia entry about the Blackout, and it was really interesting. Through an official investigation, they created a sequence of events that caused the blackout, and even traced the cause back to some overgrown trees near an Ohio power plant. This is worth reading.

I remember the blackout quite vividly: I lived in NYC at the time and was lucky enough to have only my regular 15-block walk home. My brother who was commuting to a summer job in the city was about to get on a subway when he felt the city shut down around him, and he turned and climbed the stairs back to the street before he could be trapped. He walked about 50 blocks to my apartment and then we set out to find a payphone (cell towers were overloaded, and I didn’t have a land line in my apartment) to call our parents and let them know we were together and safe. We spent the evening playing cards by candlelight, and turned a crazy event into a fun memory. The next morning, we ventured down to Grand Central, in the hopes that trains would be running, and fortunately we were able to get on one. We couldn’t buy tickets with no power in the station, but the conductors were just letting everyone on anyway… it was kind of nice that they just wanted to help people get home.

Do you remember where you were during the blackout? Did it affect you? Did the event turn out to be a positive, like it did for me?