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The Soundtrack To A Shattered Self-Image

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When I was growing up, what you heard at the supermarket (besides “price check on Light Days Panty Liners, please!”) was usually Muzak. And if it wasn’t Muzak, it was some other equally nausea-inducing crap that the supermarket radio programmers thought would appeal to old people like, say, my parents. The oldest, least cool people I knew.

And then there was music used in commercials. Tune into CBS or some other network aimed at the geriatric set and you’d get treated to ads for adult underpants and, ironically, stuff that helps you poo, the music bed for which would inevitably be some '40s throwback thing that would appeal to the target consumer. Old music for old people: just the way it was supposed to be.

Then, a few years ago, that cruise line decided to start messing with the status quo and used the song “Lust For Life” in their ads. I don’t know about you, but Iggy Pop doesn’t belong in an ad for cruise lines in any world I want to live in. Because look: Lust For Life is an amazing album (I’ve still got a copy on vinyl I bought in a record store in London in 1981), but people who aren’t cool aren’t supposed to know that. So on what planet would they use the music in an ad for something as lame as going on a cruise?

There was only one way to explain it: the people who recognized the song certainly didn’t know the rest of the album, therefore are poseurs, therefore aren’t cool, therefore probably do go on cruises, therefore my status as cooler than them was intact.

But then came the Buzzcocks incident. Another great band from my past, and they popped up on a television commercial one night. Not necessarily a disaster, so I looked up at the TV to see what very cool company was using them in their ad.  AARP.  A-A-R-fucking-P. The Buzzcocks and AARP are like matter and anti-matter: existing in the same space at the same time risks destroying the universe (or at least my deluded vision of my place in the universe), so I assumed that I must have been slipped a hearty dose of acid and had hallucinated the entire event.

All the same, hallucination or not, this was a disturbing trend. I mean, it’s one thing to hear Elvis Costello at Home Depot, but it’s quite another to hear, as I did just a few nights ago, Echo and the Bunnymen at the supermarket. I was pushing my cart down the frozen delights aisle considering some tropical pops when it came on, driving any thoughts of an icy treat from my head. I love Echo, but they were never as mainstream as Elvis, and there’s no way they belong in a Publix in Palm Beach County (I keep telling myself the same is true about me).

But tonight things got even worse for someone trying desperately to prop up what increasingly appears to be a fairly distorted view of himself. Because tonight, while I was at Publix picking up a few things for some meat sauce, the unthinkable happened. The Ramones came on. To be specific: “I Wanna Be Sedated.”

“How very apropos,” I thought as I reached for a few Vicodin and watched the last vestiges of my shattered self-image get mopped up by the middle-aged, mentally challenged guy who worked there.

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About Bradford Schmidt