(Play above while reading below)
Post presidential election by a week and the nation is heating up hotter than it was before the election. I didn’t think it could get any hotter. I spend the days trying not to watch the news all the time. One of the distractions from the news is the MEA List or the Media Ecology Association List. Most on the list are academics gathered around the ideas of Marshall McLuhan spread into America by MEA members like Niel Postman whose famous Amusing Oursleves to Death is perhaps still the best observation ever made on the relationship of media to the decline of American democracy.
I’ve been a avid follower of the ideas of Marshall McLuhan since discovering him in high school and walking around with his book (in small paperback form) Understanding Media in my back pocket. Over the years, I’ve written and published much on the ideas of McLuhan about media. I was a good friend of McLuhan’s son Eric and we embarked on a few joint projects over the years. (Our longest was a novel about ancient Egypt entitled New Light in Ancient Egypt. We wrote it together in 2017 with Eric’s friend Lynn who was living on a south Pacific island. Lynn had a number of degrees from leading universities and the whole story was based around Lynn’s ideas for this period of Egyptian history. Fascinating. I learned so much. Never attempted to publish it after Eric’s sudden death in May of 2018 in Bogota, Columbia.)
Over the years, I’ve posted a number of things to the MEA List. Some were short articles published elsewhere. Some quick ideas. Some responses to the ideas on the MEA List. Sometimes, some agreement. Sometimes, disagreement. I often send members of the MEA List to this site to check out an article like this one. I’ll probably be doing the same when this post is completed.
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A battle was beginning to brew on the MEA List as members became much more political, or simply showed their politics by dropping pretenses of neutrality from before. I never thought the MEA political, other than the fact it was made up mostly of academics. They never pretended to be a political group. But politics within the group was becoming obvious in the heated posts to the MEA List. It was obvious after the election when debates were continuing out in long subject threads on the list. It was obvious the MEA List had members of both parties on it.
I thought of stepping into the old MEA List ring to go against some posts I strongly disagreed with. But an email friend stated most of my feelings on the list. He was attacked by a number of people for his comments.
Things continued to heat up in the various discussion threads of the MEA List. The main theories of McLuhan were put through the political tests by posts as list members argued McLuhan would have seen things this or that way today. There was little agreement on this.
A little over a week into the MEA List battles, there was a post offering the above song to the group to cool things down a little. It was offered up by Shelley Postman, the widow of America’s most famous media scholar, Neil Postman. It was a link to the magnificent rendition of the Gershwin song “I’m Bidin’ My Time” sung by Nat King Cole at the top of his game. (“Thanks so much for sending this Shelley. I did post a note to the MEA List saying that your note and link was the most important thing on the MEA List in the entire week. It was for me.”)
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The song was meant to relate to the debates on the MEA List after the election. But itmeant more than this to me. It represented the entire pandemic year of 2020 for me. 2020 was the years that I was A bidin’ my time it seems now, looking back on it.
The song is gorgeous and filled with the powerful elegance of Nat King Cole. One of the greatest voices of song in American history. There is a surety and hope to the song. Not a desperation. A grand positivity to it.
I listen to it over and over. And then, I began humming it as I go about the days of the vicious political battles over media each day. The song hovers over the days now. The best way to exporess my feelings today. With this song. A piece of elegance in our unelegant world today.
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I’m creating a short film of photos to match the song above. The photos in the film are meant to express the theme of bidin’ time in 2020. The future and plans for the future were placed on hold for a year. Send me any photos for consideration as part of this 2020 film collage. All photos in the collage will receive a credit in the film. A great song might continue to live on with a set of images from a short film. We will post the completed film to YouTube and Vimeo. Something positive to start the new year? Something that might have unified both political parties? The state of bidin’ ones time. Somewhat like one of those photo spreads in Life Magazine summarizing the past year.
The images express the strange year 2020. Year of the pandemic. Personal images yet with a collective identification. A type of collective collage of 2020.
And who knows what art will do after “bidin’ it’s time” in 2020? Will it find new topics? Or, new ways of collaborating (like this project) in creating topics? Which one is the true/real artform? Content or process? Message or medium, as Marshall McLuhan might say.
Send images in JPEG form to firstname.lastname@example.org.