The Thinking 

Less than Fun

September 25, 2017


THE audio system in the operating room was playing “Build Me Up, Buttercup” when I was wheeled in on Friday to have my broken wrist repaired.

I’m sure you have encountered this song, which was a big hit in that fateful year of 1968. If you have forgotten how supremely annoying it is, the video above will remind you. But be careful. Once you hear it, it may be difficult to get rid of it for the rest of the day, like bubblegum stuck on the bottom of your shoe. This is the kind of song that interrogators should play over and over when they are trying to get someone to divulge secret information. Torture should be unnecessary.

Fortunately, I fell asleep and the operation went well.

But it made me realize anew how bad the compulsory noise has gotten. The ugly music we hear everywhere has now invaded operating rooms too. We are a captive audience. We cannot close our ears. Many of the quasi-lewd rock songs in stores and offices feature a man or woman expressing resentment that he or she is not getting enough action. They all serve as advertising jingles. They are meant to get your juices flowing, so that you literally lose your reason and buy things you don’t need, but I also believe in a higher sinister plan to overwhelm the human mind with so much junk that it barely exists anymore. Perhaps the point of this music at a surgery center is to prevent you from, God forbid, feeling anxious or momentarily serious, but the point — by some crafty agents somewhere — is also to continue the ongoing demolition of the mind and soul.

The devil is fond of noise and sells these soundtracks by the millions. He is a big fan of The Foundations. That God created something so sweet and profound as silence truly ticks him off, but we can always celebrate its existence, even when we are prisoners to noise pollution.

Thank you to those who sent me get-well notes the last few days. I appreciate your concern. The recovery has been tough, with pain, swelling, weakness and grogginess, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary.

The surgery center did its best to make it a “fun” experience.

— Comments —

Alan writes:

I am appalled by your impertinence. I have spent 50 years trying to forget the indescribably inane, insipid, idiotic, imbecilic, anti-esthetic twaddle of “Build Me Up, Buttercup”, and now you have reminded me of it. When I heard it at the time it was popular on radio, I had to get up and leave the room before I got sick. You have reversed that: First you got sick with a broken wrist—and then you had to endure insult to injury by listening to that twaddle.

Please don’t ever mention “Hang On, Sloopy” from 1964. Which of those two is more insufferable would be a toss-up.

But all seriousness aside (as Steve Allen would say [and did say, many times]), I hope your recovery is fast and uneventful. You are a key player in The Counterrevolution. Thank you for standing firm all these years. Very few have the integrity to do that.

Laura writes:

Thank you very much.

Actually there is one circumstance in which “Buttercup” does belong in an operating room.

That is when a doctor is performing a non-surgical lobotomy, or “Build-Me-Up” procedure. He plays the song ten times to a patient strapped on a gurney, and the brain dramatically shrinks.

That was my initial thought when they wheeled me in and I heard the music: “Hey, wait a minute, you were going to operate on my wrist.”

Tim writes:

The music is obviously a per-anesthesia before the real thing, much like the lidocaine gel a dentist swabs on your gums to deaden the pain of the needle that soon follows to fully numb your jaw to the point drooling in incoherency. You were cared for very well.

Speaking of dentists and the incessant need for distraction, when I lean my head back into the two rests that steady your head so you cannot move during the upcoming torture procedures, as you look to the ceiling, there is a television monitor and a remote to choose the distraction of your choice. I always ask to have it turned off. Not that I have a high threshold for pain, but rather, I have a low threshold for stupidity.

BTW, was it your right or left wrist that was injured? Considering your political and moral leanings, the appendage that is temporarily crippled says much either about your work, or your enemies.

Heal soon.

Laura writes:



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