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I recently completed a one-month personal experiment where I avoided forms of entertainment that were created after 1945—that benchmark year when our nervous, frenetic world was born in a mushroom cloud. I came up with the idea after reading a 1950s essay by E.B. White (Stuart Little) decrying modern media and entertainment. (Ironically, Sid Vicious of The Sex Pistols had just been born.)

Abandoning Rock & Roll, I embraced Classical music, both Western and Indian. (Pandit Shivkumar Sharma’s The Valley Recalls was mygo-to Indian classical piece.) I watched little TV, reading books instead. I dusted off my copy of The Complete Sherlock Holmes and rooted for Holmes and Watson as they battled the villainous Dr. Moriarty in 1890s London. Speaking of villains, I sat on the edge of my easy chair as Dr. Petrie and Nayland Smith matched wits against Dr. Fu-Manchu. Fu-Manchu! There’s an evil genius to haunt your dreams. I also sailed on a schooner to Treasure Island with young Jim Hawley and Long John Silver in search of buried pirate treasure. Shiver me timbers, indeed!

I cheated a little. I watched some Dodgers games, turning off the TV during commercials, and I listened to Friday Night Blues on Big Bear’s radio station, KBHR. DJ Rick tells good stories and a little bit of Blues never hurt anyone.

Result: I felt more relaxed during my pre-atomic month; I went to bed in a calm state of mind and slept well. Also, I had more patience with tedious activities, like yoga. Normally I hate doing yoga, but it at least it became more tolerable. Did I have more energy? I didn’t notice, but when the month ended, I listened to Social Distortion’s hard-rocking White Light, White Heat, White Trash and when the last track came to a crashing finale, I felt exhausted. Conclusion: Rock music doesn’t give energy, but rather drains it. Have a calm week, everyone, secure in the knowledge that the fiendish Dr. Fu-Manchu is finally vanquished forever. (Though The Bomb lives on.)

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