Monday, April 19, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen, Rock and Roll

As bloggers go, I'm a Model T auto.  I sputter along, occasionally I pick up a little cantering, not-quite-galloping speed for brief intervals, but then I conk out and have to be re-cranked.  I do so admire you sleek, Maserati-style bloggers whose words of wit, wisdom and fashion advice appear freshly and dependably on my Dashboard every day.  And this post, sadly, will do nothing to enhance my reputation in the universe of great, fun fashion bloggers.  Fashion's not on my mind today.  (Well, not much -- I'm sure I'll do some ritualistic J. Crew Weekly Exchange and Spring Sale Section browsing later.)

Nope, what's got me cranked and cantering happily today has to do with August 1, 1981.  And MTV.  Stick with me here, I promise I'll connect the dots.

It turns out that August 1, 1981 (8-1-81 -- this had to mean something in the world of numerology, right?) was an auspicious day in the unfolding life plan of one young Atlanta lawyer who would grow up to be JCAUNCMom.  I didn't know that, of course, and I don't remember the day at all, truthfully.  (Heck, I don't remember last MONTH, truthfully.  Menopause sucks.) 

But I'm sure that it was hot as blazes, that you could cut the air with a knife, and that I had arrived at work sometime around 7:45 a.m. faithfully dressed in my earnest little John T. Molloy Dress for Success uniform:  a stiff, starchy, button-up-the-back cotton blouse, a string of pearls, a navy/gray/black conservative suit (pencil skirt just above the knee, no pants -- not allowed for young lady lawyers for a loooooong time), L'Eggs suntan-colored pantyhose and Etienne Aigner closed-toe pumps in black, navy or burgundy.  I was one year out of UVa Law School and had been a junior trial law associate at a giant downtown law firm for almost one year to the day.  I had just turned 26 years old.

Dot number one.  (Huge dot.)  On August 1, 1981, my husband-to-be came to work in the same department at my firm.  I could tell you that bells rang, birds chirped and choirs sang when we met each other, but that would be taking just a smidge of artistic license.  The truth is that I don't remember the day we met.  I can tell you that I thought he was adorable and that within weeks we were buddies -- we had lunch together a lot and compared dating tales of woe, and by late November we'd tiptoed sideways into our first date, both of us petrified that this would ruin our friendship.  But see how wrong we were?  And the rest, as they say, is history.

Dot number two.  At 12:01 a.m. on August 1, 1981 on one lone Northern New Jersey cable system, a brand new television channel rather quietly made its broadcast debut.  It was MTV -- Music Television.  What you see above is the original, iconic MTV logo, which changed colors often but otherwise stayed much the same for nearly 30 years. (*** See footnote.  Seriously, I wrote one, lawyer-style.)  Another weird my-life coincidence:  Among the few thousand lucky cable customers who could see MTV that first midnight was my future brother-in-law, then a night-owl and music aficionado college student.  I'd betcha $20 that he actually saw Music Television go live.  Remind me to ask him.

Check out this link on YouTube, dear readers.  It's the debut of MTV and the very first-ever music video broadcast ("Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles -- save that one for trivia night for sure).  For those of you who are anywhere near my age (shout out, Meno-'Mazing Girls!), I'm sure that watching this will jar loose a visceral memory of the original MTV logo (man stepping onto the moon), the fantastic original MTV guitar-riff theme music, and those six simple words that would forever change music for us all, from an audio-only event to an audio-visual event:  

"Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll."  



The guy who posted this on YouTube also posted many other links to hours and hours of that first day of MTV.  You will not, will NOT, believe these archaic videos.  Laughable now, but to us -- my gosh, BANDS SINGING THEIR SONGS ON TV!! I highly recommend spending a little time with a cup of coffee browsing and smiling and watching history unfold. 

Because it really was history, on a scale much grander than the my-husband-to-be-entered-my-small-world kind.  For you youngsters out there who only know MTV as it is today -- mostly non-music programming filled with reality TV shows -- I can only tell you that the original MTV truly was revolutionary stuff on an order of magnitude of, say, "I Love Lucy".  It was modeled after broadcast radio, so the format was simple: 24/7 music videos, a few commercials, and, anchoring it all, a team of young, hip, oh-so-cool "veejays" (and yeah, MTV coined that term) who introduced the videos.  To those of us who were young adults in the early 80's, the original MTV VJ's were rock stars in their own right.  Who, amongst my age group, doesn't remember Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, J.J. Jackson and Martha Quinn??

Today, MTV is just one of a veritable battalion of "child" and "sister/brother" channels owned by Viacom, including MTV2, MTV Hits, MTVu (aimed squarely at college students), MTVTr3's (in Spanish -- as in 'uno, dos, tres', get it?), VH1, Comedy Central, Palladia, Nickelodeon -- the list is long.  To watch music videos in the old-school MTV wall-to-wall style, you have to be lucky enough either to get MTV Hits on your cable/satellite system or to tune in to one of the other sibling channels during a "block" of music videos.  And even then, there's no J.J., no Martha, no Mark, no Alan, no Nina freakin' Blackwood.  Oh sure, there's good stuff to watch, but today's sophisticated videos cannot remotely compare to the original MTV programming in plain old sheer titanic value -- it's like comparing the pebble-sized impact of today's fine "Saturday Night Live" cast with the asteroid-sized impact of the original SNL Not Ready For Prime Time Players.

Yes, 8-1-81 was a very cool day indeed.  And who knew.

Now you're thinking "Fascinating little history lesson, honey, and so glad you were an MTV fan, but, um, today's not August 1st so whazzup with this post?"

Glad you asked, since that gives me the opportunity to connect the dots for you, and grin,  and brag.

My darling boy with his cousin (visiting from U-Delaware, go Blue Hens) in Chapel Hill last fall.

Dot number three.  (Also huge.)  I am thrilled to share breaking news:  My DS#2, a/k/a Blues Boy, child who owns half my mama heart, distinguished UNC-Chapel Hill Communications Studies/Media Production/Electronic Journalism/Creative Writing student and all-round fabulous fellow, is going to be...

...interning this summer for the Production Department at MTV Networks in New York City. 

!!!!!!!!! I know, right???? We are so excited for him!!!  He will be one of the busy go-to, go-fer guys assisting the squadron of ridiculously young MTV staffers who write, plan, produce, edit and air the content -- including original music videos -- for several of the MTV family of channels.  He'll be living in the NYU dorms, he'll be riding the subway to work like a real-live New Yorker, and he will be having, I know, the time of his life.  And making contacts that will be invaluable in launching his own young career.  Who knows -- maybe we're witnessing the "birth" of a future J.J. or Mark or Alan.  Or Chevy Chase or Dan Aykroyd.  Or Jon Stewart.

Dot number four.  I love this one.  Guess when Blues Boy will have his last Friday at work, his last weekend hurrah with his new friends and colleagues, and move out of his dorm to come home?  You guessed it.  It's the weekend of Friday, July 30th... Saturday, July 31st... and Sunday, August 1st. 

Now you tell me that's not cosmic dot-connecting. :-)


*** Footnote, lawyer-style: 
In February, 2010, in recognition of how much the content of its flagship channel had changed, MTV retired the words "Music Television" from its logo.  This news created barely a ripple in the media.  But speaking on behalf of my generation, I say let's have a moment of silence.  In honor of Music Television, and those cheesy videos, and that kickin' theme music, and J.J., Alan, Mark, Martha, and Nina freakin' Blackwood.  Rock on.

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5 comments:

  1. How exciting for you son! That is a high profile internship!

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  2. Thanks Kathy! I know, I know! He had two rounds of interviews and honestly he was thrilled even to get the FIRST interview, let alone the call-back. Needless to say, he is beside himself over getting the job, and his friends are all being just adorably excited for him. :-)

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  3. Well, I remember the MTV you remember and I also so very thrilled for your son! How exciting. A routine Sunday morning ritual was eating blueberry bagels with several cups of coffee while watching the countdown on MTV. No comment on our stay of hung-over-ness. ha.

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  4. Jillian, thanks so much for visiting and cheering on our boy -- we are really thrilled for him! I LOVE your blog and you're one of the Maserati bloggers I aspire to be. :-) Can I tell you, your comment really made me laugh because you reminded me of another MTV fixture I hadn't thought of in years -- THE COUNTDOWN! Love your MTV Sunday morning routine!!! :-)

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  5. Aw, what a great post. I love it! Congrats to your son.

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