I like to research things on the internet. I also get distracted a lot. It seems that I am not able to watch a whole movie all the way through or enjoy a book without coming across things throughout that I just have to research. Some might say these are obsessive compulsive tendencies but I can’t wait till the show or the book is finished. I need to know right now.
I’ll give you an example. I’d just finished both seasons of Designated Survivor on Netflix and was scrolling for something new to watch. I came across a 2011 documentary called Magic Trip on Amazon Prime. This one hour and 47 minute documentary is an edited version of the hours and hours of filming the Merry Pranksters shot while taking that famous Ken Kesey-led bus trip across the USA. The documentary took me two days, maybe three, to complete because I kept wanting to know more about people and ideas that were referenced throughout.
This epic, although rather haphazard, journey took place just a year before the Beatle’s movie Help came out. And although I do remember seeing the Beatles, I certainly do not remember Ken Kesey or his bad of merry men (and women). So, once again, my friend, Google, satisfied my curiosity.
I had seen the movie One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest but had never read this book or anything else written by Ken Kesey. I googled Ken Kesey so I could see what else he’s done. I virtually borrowed “Sometimes a Great Notion” from the free Internet library (Archive.org) but then I didn’t want to read it until I knew what it was about. I don’t like surprises. My other friend, Wikipedia, told me it was about a logging family in Oregon so I passed on reading it. Not really my cup of tea.
Of course, Jack Kerouac was mentioned during Magic Trip, as well as Alan Ginsberg. Yes, I know who they are. No, I’ve never read their work. Another distraction from the documentary because I felt like I might not “get” it as well if I wasn’t versed in what the Beatniks, who were a huge influence on Ken Kesey, had to say. Back to the internet archives to do some reading. I got to about page twenty in “On The Road” and through the first section on “Howl.” Again, couldn’t get into either enough to make me want to read more.
Watched some more of the documentary. Tried to remember if I’d seen it before because it seemed like the kind of thing I would have watched. Also, I hate not knowing what’s going to happen. About three-quarters through the movie, when the Merry Pranksters have returned back to the left coast, Kesey goes into his philosophy, such as it was, and raison d’être for their next venture, the Acid Test Parties. Not five minutes into this section of the documentary and I was once again Googling. Turns out that Tom Wolfe, who I’d heard of, had written a book called the “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” which is a new journalism take on this whole San Francisco experience.
Borrowed said book from Internet archives. Started reading. I must admit Wolfe is a genius with description. He made the Haight and skid row more real than I could ever have with words and I was there in the mid 70s. Again, though, I only got through about ten or eleven pages and gave up. I do feel like I embrace new journalism, I spent a good portion of my high school years writing music reviews, but maybe Tom Wolfe was a little too “new” for me.
So now you know. When I watch a movie or read an article or hear a reference, I spend just as much time learning about it as just experiencing it. What in the world did we do before the Internet?