Column: Mason pop-culture a little lacking – Web Exclusive

Thom Carter | Staff Writer

It may sound pretentious, but I like to expand my horizons. Whether it’s shuffling through entire compilations of music or flipping through my Netflix instant queue, I enjoy floating toward an ocean of art and culture.

This attitude leaves me lonesome in a town like Mason, a place where Half-Price Books and Spin It Again, two used media stores, are the most ideal place for music. Instead of eclectic, hole-in-the-wall stores, the city is plotted with a gargantuan Wal-Mart and strip malls that offer cheap fashions and useless knick-knacks.  Mason’s problem? Instead of an ocean, the city seems more like an ancient creek bed that has been dried up since Neanderthals roamed the planet.

Much of my fret stems from Regal Cinemas just down the road. A self-proclaimed movie buff, my friends often refer to me as a living, breathing IMDB, so I’m constantly leafing through upcoming films that may or may not reach Regal. A majority of them don’t reach the grandeur of that all-too-convenient cinema on Mason-Montgomery, a fact upsetting to me. It begs to be asked why films like The Hurt Locker, the most recent winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, didn’t even earn a screening. Surely, a film that relevant, one that justifies the realities of a much scrutinized Iraq War would earn viewership here in Mason. Unfortunately, the chance never came. Music, while similar, is better than film here. I’ve come across many in this school who have avid tastes in music, all the way from the best of hip-hop and R&B, some of the most senseless yet enjoyable techno, and the most prominent independent groups of the past and present. However, I can’t deny that stations like Q102 and KISS107 still dictate much of what our school listens to. When Ke$ha, an artist whose most profound lyrics include older men looking to score (listen to “Dinosaur”), is churning out smash radio hits, there’s a blatant problem. It’s at the point where NPR has become the first station I tune to, for fear that I may come across Taylor Swift or a certain J. Bieber.

Venturing outside Mason, traditional record stores and classic movie theaters are keeping my hope alive. In Clifton, you’ll find the Esquire Theater, the complete opposite of Regal. Instead of overblown mainstream films, you’ll find everything from critically acclaimed dramas to some of the wackiest foreign films you’d have to dare someone to see (my kind of thing). Just down the road from Kenwood mall is Everybody’s Records, a record store that even smells like it should. The instance you walk in, the wonderfully musty scent of aging vinyl woos any avid music fan to thousands of albums just waiting to be slid out of the package and placed on a deck. For me, it’s a soothing experience.

I’d like to think that these restrictions placed on Mason matter to many, but in all truth, the majority doesn’t have time to peek out through the keyhole that peers out past our perfect little bubble of a community. As a town, I know for a fact we’re missing on all the wonders that an eclectic record store or outlandish movie theater can provide. Will anyone in Mason have the guts to open such a place? Unfortunately no, but I’d like to see them try.