Why do you haunt me, MTV?

mtothetvWhen I lived in Temperance House (1205 Park St went by many names, even while I was at Grinnell, but that’s what it will always be to me) I had exactly two (2) transcendent experiences involving the television network Music TeleVision. Well, transcendent may not be the word, but these are vivid memories that I haven’t ever found any reference to anywhere on the great internet collaboration. And yet, millions of people (or at the very least, thousands) must have had these very same experiences. Am I crazy? Did they really happen? Does it even matter to me given the experience I lived?

The first (by memory and importance, but not chronology; the internet tells me that this was the early hours of April 26, 2002) seems the most hallucinatory. I was up at 2AM watching music videos. Please don’t judge me; anyone but the most novice knows that MTV only plays blocks of actual music videos from 2AM to 3:30AM. So, I was watching a video in a nonchalant way as usual, and text started scrolling across the screen. It said LISA LOPES IS STILL DEAD. I thought I might be in a zombie movie. I was confused and not but a little terrified. I hope it is 2AM when you are reading this, so that you might have the same inkling of fear. Is my television trying to send me a message? Has it finally achieved the sentience I always held out expectations for? I had no idea. I didn’t move an inch, but inside I was freaking out. Confused and alone, I tried to collect myself. When I finally did, text scrolled again. An announcement that Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes of TLC had died in a car accident in Mexico. I didn’t know who this was, but I was strangely relieved. The TV had not failed me or fooled me. It had been right all along. And yet.

The second was week-long. One specific week; it’s probably the only memory I have of Grinnell that I can place to a specific week on our Gregorian calendar without needing to look something up. September 12-16, 2001. MTV played only music videos 24 hours a day. And not just any videos were these, no. They were violence free. Loving, even. If this had gone on for an infinite period of time, it would have been the greatest television network ever produced by anyone in the past, present, or future. There were no commercials, only a news update at 50 past the hour. There must be other people in the world who agree with me that this happened, right? It feels so ephemeral and yet so real. Sometimes I dream about watching it, and when I wake up I am reminded that all there is is drek on MTV when there could be sublime hopeful bliss. And I am sad.

If anyone has memory of either of these occurrences, please let me know. Also, if you lived with me in Temperance House that year, I miss you. I miss you more than I miss that soothing collection of art and sound.

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3 Responses

  1. I SAW THE EXACT SAME THING! It was the middle of the night and “Lisa Lopes is still dead” scrolled across the screen during Shakira’s video for “Underneath Your Clothes.” It freaked me out. I told the story a few times but could never explain what it meant or why it freaked me out so much. Its a huge relief to know that it was real and that I’m not crazy.

  2. By the way, I’d really like to find out more details about what you remember about that night and what you saw. We seem to be the only two people on the planet who witnessed this. Feel free to e-mail me. I live in Northern Virginia, so maybe it was a local DC thing and that’s why no one else saw it. Who knows. I’ve had so many questions about that moment for 7 years. It would nice to get some answers finally.

  3. I sent you an e-mail.

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