Monday, July 10, 2006

I don't know, R.E.M

It was a sultry saturday evening. Bombay had been battered by rains that afternoon. We (a couple of friends and i) had finished watching a German movie(!) - Goodbye Lenin (Was a good watch. The movie is about a staunch Communist lady who is in a coma when the wall is brought down and how her family, her son in particular, takes extreme and hilarious measures to shield her from the fact that her beloved country DDR, Deutsche Demokratische Republik, is no more). We finished with the movie and sat around chatting. The topic of blogs somehow sprang up. Both of them had been, still were regular bloggers and were pretty surprised to know that I didnt have a blog (reasons why I never wanted to start a blog shall be addressed sometime else). I hadn't had a look at their blogs before. One of them said that he has some interesting photos and digital pictures put up. We deciding that there was a lot of time to kill had a look. As we were going through my pal's blog I somehow felt what I had assumed I would never ever feel - I felt that I should have a blog too. It would be a cool thing to have if not anything else. Maybe it would also feel like I have a private place of my own (that everyone else can see!) on the vast and intimidating net. Atleast create a blog, there's absolutely no need to post - my thoughts went.

The name was the key. My friends blog is called Froogy simply because he couldnt find something he liked that wasnt taken by someone else. I was certain I would have to do some considerable thinking to come up with a good name. And considerable thinking is something of a habit not very much like cycling. It's not as if you get on a bike after five years and lo - pedalling and balancing follow automatically. Nevertheless I decided I would do some thinking.

The next day I was watching VH1 classic and the song Whats the Frequency, Kenneth came on. Its a song by R.E.M (from the album Monster, 1994). I have always wondered what R.E.M was singing about - the lyrics aren't particularly easy to comprehend but the title set me thinking - Who's Kenneth and whats the frequency that this Kenneth is supposed to know. Maybe R.E.M was asking all the Kenneths in the world about the elusive frequency in which case it was also directed at me. So I categorically wanted to tell R.E.M that I haven't the faintest idea about the frequency. Maybe then he will take my name off the list of Kenneths who might know it and narrow down on the Kenneth who has the right answer. So the title of the blog - "I dont know, R.E.M".

Initially I thought it was a cunning idea but I am not so sure anymore (Its not R.E.M who wants to know. Its a not so normal guy called William Tager whos looking for the frequency and he's not singing a song to find out. He prefers a different and not so subtle approach - he follows the Tell Me Or I Smash Your Head In approach. More details at the end). So it is even more imperative that I make myself clear that I have absolutely nothing to do with the dang frequency. So there.

Anyways I dont think I can come up with anything smarter (not without a lot more of considerable thinking) so I am sticking to it. I dont know, R.E.M sounds a wee bit better than I dont know, William.

Heres the story behind the song.

One night in October 1986, CBS News anchor Dan Rather was walking down a Manhattan street when he was punched from behind and thrown to the ground. His assailant kicked and beat him while repeating, "Kenneth, what is the frequency?"

No one could explain the event, and the rumors flew fast and wide. Some speculated the assailant was a KGB agent, while others claimed the attack was the work of a jealous husband. Rather himself couldn't shed any light on the subject. His explanation at the time?

"I got mugged. Who understands these things? I didn't and I don't now. I didn't make a lot of it at the time and I don't now. I wish I knew who did it and why, but I have no idea."

Apparently the strange event moved R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe, who said of the incident:

"It remains the premier unsolved American surrealist act of the 20th century. It's a misunderstanding that was scarily random, media hyped and just plain bizarre."

The attack inspired the 1994 hit "What's the Frequency, Kenneth." Being a good sport, Dan Rather even accompanied the band when they performed the song on a Late Show with David Letterman appearance.

In 1997, based on a tip from a psychiatrist, Rather's attacker was identified as William Tager. According to the psychiatrist, Tager, who was currently serving time for killing an NBC stagehand, blamed news media for beaming signals into his head, and thought if he could just find out the correct frequency, he could block those signals that were constantly assailing him. Hence the enigmatic inquiry.

Rather wierd eh?!

Here's the lyrics of the song

"What's the frequency, Kenneth?" is your Benzedrine, uh-huh
I was brain-dead, locked out, numb, not up to speed
I thought I'd pegged you an idiot's dream
Tunnel vision from the outsider's screen
I never understood the frequency, uh-huh
You wore our expectations like an armored suit, uh-huh

I'd studied your cartoons, radio, music, TV, movies, magazines
Richard said, "Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy"
A smile like the cartoon, tooth for a tooth
You said that irony was the shackles of youth
You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
I never understood the frequency, uh-huh

"What's the frequency, Kenneth?" is your Benzedrine, uh-huh
Butterfly decal, rear-view mirror, dogging the scene
You smile like the cartoon, tooth for a tooth
You said that irony was the shackles of youth
You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
I never understood the frequency, uh-huh
You wore our expectations like an armored suit, uh-huh
I couldn't understand
You said that irony was the shackles of youth, uh-huh
I couldn't understand
You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
I couldn't understand
I never understood, don't f**k with me, uh-huh

[Amphetamine (Benzedrine is one) also known as speed, is a synthetic stimulant used to suppress the appetite, control weight, and treat disorders including narcolepsy and Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. ]


I had assumed that the Blog creation would be a piece of cake. The tough part would be choosing a name for the blog and that I was ready with. That was not to be. I had to spent a lot of time on procuring a username (more of that sometime else). Anyways that hurdle was overcome as well with patience and some perserverence. The rest was easy. Clicking nexts, copying funnily written alphabets into a textbox, reading lengthy service level agreements (or at least agreeing that I did) and so on and so forth. So here I am, with a blog to my name and a sufficiently witty title (or so I hope) - all I need now are posts. I do hope they follow.

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