AUGUST 9, 2010 1:57PM

How the hell did we wind up "like this"?

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Whether jazz listening, gourmet liberal or gospel listening, burger loving neo-con, it just comes down to a lexicon of activities designed to fill the gap and your yap.

Something to talk about, something to eat, some way to fill the day.

People get indoctrinated in many ways.  They usually pull their religion from whatever they were taught first.  The dramatic shifts from one god-plex to the next usually is just an elaborate acting out against your own superego.

Whining, "But I don't feee-eee-l  it in me hee-aaa-rrt....  I WANT to belie-ee-ve." Whatever, dude. Pick a god entity and go with it, or not.  It is just another thing you find to fill the time on Sunday versus the other days.  The thing that is familiar and the room that smells and looks right is much more important than the entity at the alter.  You love the burning candles, the stench of too much patchoulli masking weed, the sterile non smell of lillies, the stale non-deodorized reek of the unitarians...it is all about where you were when you were a kid and your mom was there with her smell next to you and the anticipated smell of the gravy, hummus/tofu, pot-roast, or vegetarian surprise waiting at home.  That is the smell of God there in your reptile brain and no amount of re-conditioning is going to make the compound smell right.  The right music will still move you, even a cold and broken hallelujah.

Scientists now say that our choices in music are largely formed between the ages of 14 and 19 because our brains remember musical information better at that age.  I plan to blast my kid with jazz, classical, funk, and bass music  for those years just to ensure some variety in his later years.  It isn't that I respect those forms more than others as much as finding people who only appreciate and listen to one genre boring and sad.  We don't have much choice, it is a brain thing.  After you are 19, unless you have serious sex while listening to the stuff, you won't like it as much as the crap you listened to at 18 (Flock of Seagulls is a terrible legacy, but it is, alas, mine).  It's sad when your musical choices are a happenstance of whatever 8-tracks your parents had lying around, but it is more likely to be true than a reflection of your extended education and taste.

Even the sex that altered your musical tastes is a matter of conditioning.  You think the gays are doomed and the missionary position is sufficient because it is the only natural way? Probably what you overheard during some furtive conversation hour late at night when you were supposed to be asleep but were there masturbating in the dark. Or maybe you secretly long for a seriously hairy hippie chick who is very limber but kind of passive...the Joy of Sex may have been your first pictures of lust.  God help the children of the internet age.  I am glad I will never have virtual on-line sex with any of them.  I am content with my repression, slight prudery, but enlightened sexual self-interest gleaned from the early '80's and subsequent therapy.  And I am fine with that.  I don't want any different and neither would anyone else set up like me in the particular late '70's Jello mold that un-molded in my loins in the early '80's to MTV tunes and Big Jersey Hair. If it takes all night, you are probably doing it wrong but learned it from Don Henley while he made yet another woman scream. (The therapy got him and my first terrible lover who had drunk the kool-aid out of my head and heart.)

Even our politics are just a happenstance for most of us.  Either lashing back at our restrictive parents or getting on board the family gravy train...either is six of one, half dozen the other. It all depends on where you were when you first needed a job and whether you got one.  Is greed good?  Depends on how that worked out for you at the time.

Do you love cooking, travel, ballet, symphonic music, and by some weird twist that you don't understand, find Lawrence Welk wunnerful, wunnerful?

You only got PBS when there were only 4 channels of shit on the tv to choose from.  You still feel calm and happy when black and white movies come on or you stumble across National Geographic or the History Channel.   The guy wrestling the python will always be Jim for you. 

So we're just mish-mashed conglomerations of ideas that stuck while we weren't looking, whatever we are.  And none is better or worse than the other because there but for the grace of whoever are you, me, and the guy down the street that you just don't understand.

Examine your life.  You can choose new stuff to find interesting, you can shed preferences that you didn't prefer, you can be the person you find intriguing.  It was tax free weekend here for back-to-school supplies. This older couple came in together and got in front of me.  They were buying two $1 packs of manila envelopes.  When they were rung up, the cashier had added the tax, 14 cents.  They protested and she re-rung it and they payed two dollars, even.  I bet they had worked themselves up all day to go and test the commie system and get theirs!  But I bet they never planned or chose to be that "old".  

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I had not heard that bit about music tastes being decided by 19. What a shame, but probably true. As for politics, I sometimes think mine have changed a lot, but perhaps it's just the world around me that's changed and my real position on important matters remains constant.
It made me sad when I heard of it. I vowed to do what I can when my kid is in the zone. I want him learning about good music, making music, and loving music of all kinds. It will take him far in life!

The rest of it, meh.
So that explains why "Islands in the Stream" gets stuck in my head. My mom listened to nothing but country during my teen years!