First posted on June 1st, 2011 on The Retroist Retro Blog and Podcast - CW post link
In this fast paced world of TV on demand, social networking, and the internet at your fingertips, it seems like we are all constantly chasing the nest great fad. And while hot trends may change as fast as the technology that delivers them, It keeps us all constantly trying to keep up. There is, however, an emerging group of people who have a very different outlook. National Puppet Radio’s own Rhett Kahn spoke with one such young person.
I caught up to Bert Wilson in a small diner next to a place called Hooper‘s Store. Bert is a tall, thin guy in his early 30’s with a small shock of black hair on top of his head. Wearing what I have to admit is one of the ugliest striped shirts I have ever seen.
Bert: “oh, you like the shirt huh? I saw it in a store and it was so delightfully plain, I had to have it!”
See, Bert has one thing that sets him apart from most people these days, he likes boring things. Our Mr. Wilson is a part of a small but growing group of people who love the mundane.
Bert: “For me it was never really a conscious decision, for as long as I can remember I have always been drawn to the drab, while other kids were buying video games and the coolest action figures I was starting to really get into rubber stamp carving, and Bottle Cap collecting.”
He chuckles to himself then.
“Yeah the Bottle Caps, I guess there are some things you never really outgrow.”
This is no exaggeration, Bert has brought along 5 binders completely full of bottle caps.
“This is just a small portion of my collection, sigh, I could just look at them for hours! There are blue ones, some really great green ones and a few with orange and pink stripes, overall though this one has to be my favorite.”
He opens a page that contains, at its center a single bottle cap. The cap is a non-descript grey, with the simple word “soda” across the middle.
“Is this not the most generic bottle cap you have ever seen in your life. A cap like this comes along once in a lifetime. I had to trade my entire ceramic turtle collection for this baby!”
With all of these eccentricities its hard to picture anyone quite like Burt Wilson, but they are out there. And there are more of them every day!
“I first started meeting other Mundaners through my love of pigeons. I saw a flyer at our local Dry Cleaners for a meeting of pigeon enthusiasts. At first I didn’t want to go, but in the end temptation got the better of me. The first time Bernice (Burt’s pet pigeon) and I walked into that meeting we were in heaven. All those people, all those pigeons. And from there the sky was the limit through pigeon friends I met all sorts of other groups. There is Linoleum Lovers on Thursday nights and we exchange polaroids of really great countertops go on linoleum scavenger hunts and what not… it’s the new Train Spotting! Last month I even met a girl… She makes the best oatmeal I’ve ever had. Just the right about of lumps Connie is a real keeper. Believe me it’s not as easy as it sounds to really connect with somebody. A lot of things could go wrong. What if she doesn’t like the letter W…what if she’s not into the number 11. You are really rolling the dice with the singles scene these days.
The forming of these groups would be much easier if any of them actually used the internet. But this movement seems to have shunned things like twitter and facebook for more old fashioned style communication. Flyers, newsletters and even HAM radio connect these folks.
It may not be as fast as most people would like but I think there is more than enough “fast” out there.”
When I ask if he gets irritated by people that do things the more accepted way he says he isn’t.
“I happen to live with someone who is the embodiment of the modern trendy life. My roommate Ernie loves all this stuff, electronics pop culture TV and music. ESPECIALLY music. Ernie never lets up, he isn’t just a music fan he is a songwriter too and he doesn’t ever stop singing. Most of the time he even sings in the bath. No, not the shower he actually sings while he takes baths. Worse still he is constantly trying to get me to sing along with him!”
I ask if he ever does sing along with Ernie, and he hesitates.
“That’s not important. What is important is that just because we don’t enjoy the same things as the “cool people” doesn’t mean were unhappy, we boring people like the way we live! Ernie is my best friend and I love spending time with him and sure, I may Occasionally get drawn into one of his ridiculous hair-brained conversations, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t also want to have some alone time too! You know, to do what guys do; organize your driftwood dust your stamp collection, that sort of thing. I mean how often can you listen to the Banana in the Ear Joke?”
“I’m not a total weirdo. I’m made of the same felt and foam as everyone else, and I even watch TV, there are some really great programs out there. I saw a really great documentary about drywall the other day. And of course, I never miss the Lawrence Welk Show, it’s still as relevant as ever, and really good polka helps you know your alive.”
Bert looks down suddenly at two tiny wires that seem to be holding up and controlling his arms, he seems to be distracted for a moment but quickly gets back on track. We spoke for a little while longer and I was on my way.
And as I left I began to appreciate the simpler things in life. It was a sunny day, the air was sweet and everything in general seemed A-Okay. As for me I cant tell you how to get to the place in life where you can appreciate things like toasters and paper-clips, but I can tell you this. I gotta get myself a pigeon!
For National Puppet Radio, I’m Rhett Kahn.