NYC: The City You Forgot You Knew

I’m a bit of a pop culture groupie. And New York City—with it’s starring role in so many movies and TV shows—is a popular culture lover’s dream. Forever a fan of both the small and large screen, I’ve been able to enjoy countless portrayals of life as I will never know it thanks to the magic of television and cinema throughout the years. 

I had not been to New York prior to this visit and yet I was amazed at how familiar it was to me once I arrived. Rounding every corner provided the strongest sense of deja vu I’ve ever experienced. And taking in many of the sights was like looking into the face of a dear, old friend. Whether you’ve been to the city or not, take a look at some of these famous places. Perhaps you will find them to be as familiar as I did…

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So… That Happened

I am fascinated by language. I think it’s a safe bet to say that most writers are. Language is a living, ever changing thing that reflects the constant evolution of our culture. Recently, a new phrase has entered our collective vocabulary with which I have become quite taken. I have heard friends and co-workers use it, made note of it popping up on television as part of a scripted dialogue, read it on Facebook (naturally) and overheard it being used on the street.

I get it. I think it’s funny and at times the perfect thing to say… almost like putting a period at the end of a sentence after something has… well… happened. I am confident that I could use it appropriately in a situation and maybe even garner a few laughs. But, given my affinity for words, I was still curious about its true, intended meaning. Therefore, I consulted with what else but the Urban Dictionary to see if it could shed any more light on this new addition to our current pop-culture vernacular.

The Urban Dictionary defines “Well, That Happened” as: A phrase used when something random and/or inexplicable has occurred. It serves as both an invitation to discuss the recent incident or a way to cut off a possible conversation about the incident.

You witness your naked neighbor being chased by a dog. Suddenly he is hit by a car, leaving him sprawled in the intersection while the dog licks him.

You: “Well that happened.”

Your Friend: “Yup.”

There are also some variations of this form of language that I wish to explore with some examples of my own such as: “This happened”  if you are standing in the immediate presence of something interesting, peculiar or random.

Out of sheer anger and frustration you take a hammer and smash your wireless mouse to bits, scattering shards of grey plastic and particles of circuitry all over the crime scene. See Of Mice and Hammers for more details on this specific example.

You: “So… This happened.”

Your Friend: “Yup.”

Or… “There’s this” as a way of showing someone something that you find cannot be explained any other way or you just don’t feel like saying any more about it.

Your friend discovers a photo taken of you during middle school and posts it on Facebook for the world to see. You’re standing with about 3 other friends sporting giant 90’s hair, oversized bomber (or denim) jackets worn atop horrid cable-knit sweaters, turtlenecks and acid-washed-mom-jeans… New Kids On The Block concert tickets in hand.

Photo caption: “And… There’s this.”

All Your Facebook Friends: “Uproarious laughter and comments galore”

There's This.

Addicted to Drama

At the advent of reality TV, I thought myself better than everyone else because I refused to watch shows like The Bachelor, The Bachelorette or any of those other programs showcasing cheesy, forced romance and contrived drama.

I did not count my personal favorites—Survivor and The Amazing Race—in the ridiculously-fake-reality-TV category. I told myself (and everyone else) that I enjoyed those shows because they highlighted adventure in exotic, faraway lands.

Was I at all addicted to the “drama” that took place on beaches and jungles on the opposite side of the globe? Maybe. Because now there is a wee bit of evidence supporting the theory that I, just like everyone else, most likely was.

I have recently developed a slight addiction to a certain show that has made me question my self-proclaimed exemption from the desire for drama-on-display. The show is Hoarders. And I am actually rather obsessed with it. Like a horrific car crash by the side of the road or gruesome crime scene photos shown on Dateline, I cannot seem to look away. I find myself consistently drawn in by the ewwww-factor and the UGH-factor and the oh-this-is-so-absolutely-sad-and-disgusting-and-unbelievable factor.

I have long been fascinated by the inner workings of the human psyche. And based on ratings alone, I am not the only one. Let’s be honest… you’re Norman Rockwell neighbors, working 8 to 5 and grilling out on the weekends don’t exactly make for an interesting case study. But your crazy lady-next-door-with-a-million-cats-and-60-tons-of-trash-on-her-front-lawn kinda does.

Questions spring to mind such as: Why is he or she like that? What is wrong with them that they feel the need to cling to dead squirrels, pre-WWII cans of tuna or rotted jars of peanut butter? When are they going to tire of climbing over laundry, furniture and pizza boxes to get to their toothbrush? How are they OK with rats and roaches running rampant over heaps and piles of junk collecting in every nook and cranny of their living spaces?

I’m not sure if it is a form of escapism, or a way for us to affirm our own “normalness” as we watch others so tragically struggle just to keep both feet on the ground. Perhaps it is nothing more than our innate voyeuristic nature at work. But one thing is for sure… As long as there are humans on this planet and television cameras rolling, we will tune in and watch other people’s drama (be it real or fabricated) while it unfolds before us in our living rooms, with the curtains drawn and a bowl of popcorn in our lap.