Sunday, May 30, 2010

Vol #1, Col #9: Rec Daze

I don’t know if it’s just me, this city, the schizophrenic weather as of late, or maybe for once I’m on to something, but in the limited free time that I do have, it really seems like there’s a lack of genuinely interesting things to do! I mean if you don’t get wasted, and aren’t looking to pick up some tail, what sort of activities are left for a gal to choose from?

The mall as a hangout? Well, that went out of style once I surpassed my designation as a “teen” (or really a “tween” by today’s standards). A movie? Frankly, with the exorbitant amount of cash they charge to watch something on the big screen, I’d rather sit in the comfort of my own home, rocking my flannels with vegan-friendly and healthful foods at hand to munch on, while viewing a flick. A concert? Don’t even get me started on the limited musical revues one can attend these days. Dinner? See the above vegan comments (we don’t have many restaurants appealing to picky eaters such as myself, and the ones we do have, well been there, done that). Perhaps the theatre? If it ain’t off-broadway in NYC, or at the very least a Stratford Shakespearean production, you can count me out. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – they just don’t make em (and by that I mean really anything AND everything) like they used to.

Long ago are the days where communities hosted large-scale dances, meet and greets, and community-oriented affairs just so their youth could have something to do (and well, to keep em out of trouble... It’s easier to police for juvenile delinquency when everyone’s gathered in the same place!). Even when London does get a festival going down in Vic Park, let’s be honest, there’s a pretty limited demographic that said events typically appeal to (and are INTENDED to appeal to). YET, you’ll notice pretty much everyone in the city comes out of their hovels to gather downtown because it’s SOMETHING (who cares what?! We’re so desperate for entertainment) to temporarily fill us with amusement.

I guess I’d just really like the opportunity to be able to attend a Beat poetry reading, a meditation/drum circle, a magic show, a philosophical debate and/or consciousness-raising seminar, a really emotional jazz performance, or a jump, jive, and wailing dance-off, if I felt so inclined ANY day of the week, not just as part of a special limited time offer sort of deal. A little maypole twirling never hurt anyone either! I’m not saying these things don’t exist altogether, but they are few and far between, and typically they tend to remain on the down-lo (read as: they’re poorly attended beyond the host’s family members, if at all). I mean even just having a genuine old-school 50s diner with a dance-floor, jukeboxes, roller-skating waitresses and all, (Why they ever closed down The Five & Dime is beyond me, it was ALWAYS busy!?) to congregate at with some of my closest pals would be an improvement. There are only so many times I can go out and sing karaoke.

What I’m trying to get at here is that (at least for kids my age) it’s not just the lack of venues offering such forms of entertainment, it’s also the people. We’ve changed. As my anti-technology discussion alluded to last week, it seemsthat there are really only two extremes:

1) you’re a shut-in who’d rather establish online penpal relationships than step out into the real world (god forbid! I know it can be a scary place, but come on people)


2) you’re a sex-crazed party animal which is equally non-conducive to the aforementioned activities in which I’d like to partake.

Is it wrong that I fantasize sometimes about being swept away into a 1950s highschool romcom where all the girls get ready collectively in their Sunday’s Best to wow the boys at the Sadie Hawkins’ dance? Is it weird that I crave attending dress-up theme parties in the vein of full-on masquerades where everyone actually dresses up (and enjoys doing so, I might add)? What about storming off with a gang of 20 compadres to take over the local drive-in movie theatre, go on a crazy road-trip wherein you only make left-hand turns, or spend a day playing beach volleyball? Even hippie festivals like Woodstock far outdo the ones we try to host these days in terms of music, connectivity with others, the overall atmosphere, and quite plainly, as recreational pursuits.

Not to sound like a broken record, but again I really think the changes in what we value, then versus now, have played a considerable role. To think many people don’t actually celebrate their honeymoons or that foreign business dealings are often akin to vacations – I don’t know, it seems rather weird, moreover sad, to me. You work hard. You earn your money. Hopefully you achieve both doing what you love. But if you don’t, it’s even more essential that you value and get all that you can out of your much deserved R&R time. I mean money? You can’t take that to the grave with you. Memories? You and those involved most certainly will.

But no, instead the all-too-commonly embraced form of entertainment/social engagement is getting trashed to the point of temporary amnesia. Given what I’ve just said, don’t you see how this is rather counterproductive? But again, we gotta ask ourselves, what is it that is so wrong with our contemporary world that it causes people to want to engage in mind-numbing and mind-erasing activities as a form of leisure? Substance abuse, admittedly, is as old as humankind itself, but at one point it was primarily associated with religious rites and spirituality, as opposed to constituting the ideal form of escapism and social revelry.

While I would never opt for reviving the days of the Middle Ages where the ‘thing to do’ was watch criminals get tried, and tortured, I would like to see a bit more variety (not to mention more of a focus on “cultural and perceptual expansion”) in the typical recreational itinerary of us future leaders. Medieval Revival Fayre anyone? Come on, there’s gotta be someone out there too who believes that fun can be had without alcohol, stingy nightclubs, and clothing (if you can even call it that) that I affectionately term “slutwear” and “napkins”.