They did not come right out and say, “David, you can relax now,” but the message was loud and clear. It is the subtext every time technology lulls us into obedience. This is a “Privilegemobile” piece so I am of course referring to the Wifi on the bus.
The conventional wisdom about the free Wifi is that it will increase our productivity. We all love our jobs so much, you see, that we are itching to keep working after we’ve left for the day. That may be true for some, such as hyper-earnest college or those trying to keep their jobs after getting dinged on their performance review.
For most though, it provides material to fill that hour-plus gap between home and work life. The nature of the material can be whatever torques your crank or puts a rocket in your socket. This is not to say we are all surfing for porn, except that we are. Whether it is shopping, news, or whatever, it’s still porn.
However, this doesn’t make us a community. We operate in silos and the only thing we have in common is mutual disgust for what turns the other person on. The progressive-minded want us to believe that tolerance is our default setting and it is a toxic culture that turns us judgmental. I don’t buy that for a second. I know a little something about human nature and I can tell you that tolerance is nothing more than our innate tribalism that’s been stretched to design limit.
I make it a point not to trust any of them. That’s why I am still on the bus, still employed, and still alive. If they get whiff of what I really think, they will decide that I am nuts and the predictable derision will follow.
Mocking the mentally ill is a popular pastime for a couple of reasons. One is that it feeds the us-versus-them mentality so ingrained in the human psyche. Identify the outliers and descend on them like a pack of dogs. Another, of equal importance, is that people with mental illness have a hard time defending themselves. They know they are on shaky ground as far as perception of reality goes, which makes them easy targets for gaslighting.
A standard trope for this is the tinfoil hat. We point and laugh at schizophrenics for being so paranoid, they have to fashion protective headgear to shield them from mind control beamed in by unseen forces. Yet here we are, blithely welcoming whatever gets sent into our brains via our mobile devices.
I’m not saying that space aliens or the CIA are behind it all. That would be, well, crazy. Somebody is though. I don’t know what exactly their game is, but one thing is certain. They are not doing it out of the goodness of their hearts.
Future evidence may refute this, but my current theory is that it is done for a lulling effect. They have the perfect drug to pacify us during our off hours and it can be switched off when it is time for us to be industrious worker bees.
Social critics and scolds have been warning us about this for years and even though these people annoy me, I cannot dismiss their point. I know that when I used to binge watch “Emergency!” on Netflix, I would be whisked away and spend hours of contentment in the magical sprawling landscape that was LA in the early 1970s. In the end, I’d have nothing to show for it except the amount I’d aged and the sad realization that I was a lesser man than Randolph Mantooth.
Don’t take my word for it. Do your own research.
You’d think the people feeding us our digital soma would have stopped fiddling with the knobs when it became clear that they had won. But fiddle they did. A couple of weeks ago, the Privilegemobile “broke down” and a replacement was sent in that had intermittent Wifi.
Why mess with a sure thing? The answer, in a word, is capitalism. We are all in servitude in some form, even our rulers who must answer to the almighty dollar. Cost-effectiveness is a harsh mistress that demands that expenses either be cut or recuperated through fresh sources of revenue.
That is how the other passengers and I became part of this experiment. By throttling Wifi or eliminating it altogether, they could observe how many of us would switch to mobile data without changing what and how much we consumed. Does this mean the telecom giants were in on it as well? I have no proof, but since they were instrumental in the removal of net neutrality, one cannot rule out this suspicion.
The experiment must have failed. The Privilegemobile was returned to service complete with full Wifi. Perhaps people downloaded their stuff at home so they could consume it without fear of data overages. Those in charge will no doubt find a way around this dodge and try again someday. In the meantime, they assure themselves, it was a limited experiment so there was no harm done.
But that’s where they were wrong. During the data crisis, I listened to MP3s I had on my phone, music I’d heard hundreds of times before. It was pleasing to have in the background, but it did not demand my attention. My mind was free to wander.
I thought about when I was a teenager. I often contemplate the past to try to make sense of the present. My thoughts turned to the 1970s, when I was thrown into the confusion of adolescence. Memories of that period are hazy. I was much younger then and it was so long ago, but I knew I should be able to remember much more than I did.
Rewatching old shows like “Emergency!” filled in the gaps a little too well. That non-reality became part of my reality even though I spent that decade living in Oxnard and Santa Barbara, not Los Angeles.
It’s amazing what the mind will latch onto when it is feeling incomplete. It makes me wonder how many of my memories are my own. Maybe most of them were manufactured for me and maybe for others as well. Maybe we are not supposed to remember what happened back then. When we ask what was going on between Woodstock and AIDS, the answer we’re given is disco. It makes perfect sense on the surface, but if you dig deeper, it just doesn’t add up.
On the bus listening to the first Ramones album for the umpteenth time, I have plenty of free cycles to dig deep.
When I first heard about AIDS in the early 1980s, it seemingly came out of nowhere. Devastating diseases don’t magically appear as if by an act of God, no matter what Pat Robertson might say. With viruses (as is the case here), it is the result of mutation. HIV is terrible, no question about that. However, the suspicious memory gaps seem to indicate some mass coverup, which means the pre-mutation virus was something far worse. Who knows how many people it killed?
Conspiracies are like zits. If you clamp down on them too hard, they explode all over the place. Controlled seepage is key. Just make sure that what comes out can easily be explained away.
So what could have oozed out of the pre-AIDS plague? It had to be something acceptable to people in that decade and beyond. Something popular like a hit song that people know about even now. It was the disco era so a song of that genre with a disease theme would be perfect. The answer is obvious. It is “Boogie Fever.”
Disco was never about the words so I never had them committed to memory. Instead, I google the lyrics to see if there is any hidden meaning. I get more than I bargained for. When I read the following excerpt, it chills my blood.
I called the doctor on the telephone (doctor, doctor)
Said doctor, doctor, please, ah ah ah
I got this feeling
Rocking and a’reeling
Tell me, what can it be, is it some new disease
They call it boogie fever
You got to boogie down (just get on down)
Boogie fever, I think it’s going around
There is no denying what it all means:
- “I got this feeling/Rocking and a’reeling” was the symptom of disorientation and confusion. A similar symptom, a decade later after the virus mutated, would come to be called AIDS dementia.
- “Tell me, what can it be, is it some new disease” shows the patient had no clue what the plague was, a clear sign that the truth was being suppressed.
- “You got to boogie down (just get on down)” tells the patient that the disease terminal and once diagnosed, there is nothing to do but lie down and die.
- And last, “Boogie fever, I think it’s going around” shows that this is a highly contagious disease on the fast track to becoming an epidemic.
There is no doubt in my mind that “Boogie Fever” is as much about a hushed-up disco-era plague as “Ring a Ring o’ Roses” is about the Black Death. For further information, I go to Wikipedia, a trusted source for all my knowledge.
My spirits sink when I start reading the page for the song. The powers that be must have known that someday someone like me would come along and question the official version. They wanted to convince any seeker of truth that further efforts would result in humiliating failure.
“The bass line for the song…was based upon that of ‘Day Tripper’ by the Beatles,” it says on the page.
The words feel like a rape.
The reference was deliberate and no doubt alluding to the movie “Yesterday” in which only one person knew could remember music by the Beatles. My attempt to claim special musical knowledge that others have forgotten was nothing more than ripping off the film’s premise. It may be true that “Boogie Fever” was not a Beatles’ song and it was recorded by the Sylvers, but it is also true that the Fab Four was once known as the Silver Beatles.
I sit feeling defeated as the bus exits the freeway and travels its final few miles before dropping me off at work. I dare not share my thoughts with anyone. Being considered crazy was bad enough, but to be accused of plagiarism was unendurable. There is no worse fate for a defiant oddball than not being different enough. The buildings of the campus loom ahead looking indistinguishable from each other, one more reminder that there is nothing new under the sun.