Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ali, The Man, The Moves, The Mouth, DVD

When I was a young fellow and got my first transistor radio, anybody with a set who was my age in the NY Metro area (and many who were older) listened to WABC-AM. It had lots of transmission clout so that even a cheap transistor radio in a valley like where we lived could pick up the signal clearly. And of course the station played top-20 hits then, over and over and over. But every half-hour there was five minutes of news and, in the late afternoon, there were other things, like Howard Cosell's sports show.

Back then Cassius Clay was making his first bid for the Heavyweight Championship and Cosell covered Clay's outspoken/poetic persona heavily during his show. I was fascinated with the attitude of the man, and how he expressed it. Of course I was one of many who began following the fighter, his pronouncements, his incredible moves, his conversion to Islam and renaming as Mohammad Ali, his stand against racism and the Vietnam War, imprisonment, release and his miraculous regaining of the championship title again and again before finally going down to defeat.

Ali was larger than life and a huge part of American culture. As a boomer I experienced Ali first-hand. Watching the clips of his fights now reaffirms that he was an amazing boxer, probably the greatest in modern times. We may never see his likes again.

All this is portrayed rather well in the 60 minute documentary DVD Ali: The Man, The Moves, The Mouth (MVD Visual 5396D). It has extensive documentary footage of his press conferences, interviews, fight highlights and a reasonably inclusive narrative spoken by Bert Sugar. Since I get DVDs for review I was sent this one and I am glad to have watched it. It recaptures a time from the vantage point of an important figure and does it informatively and entertainingly.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

When There's Nobody There to Talk to You

I once had a friend who one night told me she watched TV sometimes at night "because there was nobody to talk to and it was a voice." This was before i phones, the internet, cyberspace, video conferencing and all the things we have now.

And now we have all these things, so now we should never feel lonely, right? I don't know about you, but it seems to me there are less real voices in one's life than ever, so that that feeling if anything has increased, to my way of thinking. And this cyberspace with all its social media and endless variations on simulated sociality, to tell you the truth, sometimes seems a lot worse than the reality of being truly alone like in the days when there were four walls and either there were people or there weren't and that was it. Or some toothpaste jingle on the radio or TV to console you. There never was an illusion that it was going to work. A Saturday night spent alone was just that and no bones about it.

But of course the new generations coming up are so used to the virtual that they sometimes seem like face-to-face seems unreal to them. At least that's the impression I got sometimes when I was selling musical instruments and met up with a younger person.

So what does it all mean? We are as a society a conglomeration of people who are more and more isolated in a group sense, are less likely to congregate in groups than ever before, am I right? It's even seen, after 9-11, as a danger. Get a group together--well, you sure better search them, just in case.

I don't like the way things feel anymore, that lack of togetherness. I can measure the lack, at least in my life, and I find it unpleasant. But then I like people, generally speaking. And I have also spent an awful lot of time in the last few years in front of a computer as an occupation.

Have you noticed this sort of thing? Or is it just my life that has changed?