Saturday, March 25, 2006


While listening today to This American Life on NPR Radio (broadcast weekend afternoons), I heard that they were doing a rebroadcast of a previous program, which I had already heard and was extremely good, as the program always is: small slices of American life. This one was about pulling one over on people, perhaps your friends, or just the public at large. In the first segment, a small rock band, The Ghosts of Pasha, which had only been together for a few months I believe at the time, gets it first New York City gig at some small bar. Now this group had just been formed, a true garage band, and it was typical that maybe 4-5 unknowns would show up at their gigs, along with a few friends. And they really had done only a couple of gigs. Now, the big break, a shot in New York City. Well, a "performance art" group, thought, what if we gave some unknown band the experience of a lifetime. And so they did. When Ghosts of Pasha showed up at the bar, the crowd began to steadily trickle in, and soon enough maybe around 100 people were packed in the small space. As the band began to perform, the crowd roared; masses of people were at the stage swaying back and forth, singing every word to their songs (in reality, nobody knew the words to their songs), lighters were held up, flames flickering in support of this great band, near the stage on an end corner a guy had taken his shirt off, and, while drowning in sweat, was swinging his shirt around his head, rockin' out. Remember, that this is about a 3 month old group, whose typical performance was in front of maybe 10 people, if they were that lucky. Between songs, band members were looking at each other, trying to figure this out, "what's going on here?" Has word of us really spread around, are we really this good? They decided just to just ride the wave that night, not knowing why this was happening, but going with it. Then, after the last song, the crowd then seemed to just kind of pack up, and exit fairly quietly. The band members went out to the curb to sit and wait for their van after packing away their equipment, sitting outside smoking cigarettes. They looked at each other, saying "Do you know what just happened?", "No, do you?" They just sat there, quietly, and smoked.

Several months later, the group received a call letting them know that they had been part of an "experiment", let's say. Some were very angry; some with the passing of a few months, were not as upset, maybe at least grateful to finally understand just what had happened on that very strange night in New York City.

In another segment, a guy invited a friend to a bar to celebrate said friend's birthday. Well, soon enough, people start to trickle in, congratulating "Ted" on his birthday, remarking how good he looked, rehashing memories of college and old times, in great, extensive detail. This guy's name in fact was not "Ted", which he told several of the arrivals, but no one was taking him seriously. "Ted, always the jokester, huh?". This guy's thinking, "am I going mad?". I'm not Ted, I don't know who Ted is, but everyone here thinks I'm Ted. As the hours went by, "Ted" stopped resisting, he could not understand what was happening, but as it was fruitless now to explain anything to these people, he decided to just become "Ted", going along with the stories, shaking hands and drinking with his old "friends".

Down the road (I think like a year later), this guy was told that he too was part of an "experiment". "Ted" was almost psychologically damaged by the experience; he could never explain it, other than something must be very, very wrong with him. He even had told his friend the following year, that whatever he did, DO NOT invite all of those people over to celebrate his birthday again; he could not go through such an experience again. He never quite got over the experience.

Can you imagine if your life was just turned upside down like this? Where everyone seems to know "what's going on", but you are completely out of the loop, in ways that seem to be just not possible, not merely only small misunderstandings?

I'm watching out now, for any sort of "unusual" events. They're not going to get me, that's for sure.

Or, are they?


Blogger GC (God's Child) said...

why didn't "ted" leave the party?

7:55 PM  
Blogger willowtree said...

Of course they arent going to get you Ted. I think. :p
So what were they testing exactly? Was it just a prank, plain and simple?
Hmm, that's just crazy Ted. Don't people have things to do? Did the 'extras' get paid to experiment?
The world is just full of questions Ted, some of them arent meant to be answered.

9:43 PM  
Blogger Frank said...

Hey, I'm not Ted. Why are people calling me Ted now? What's going on here? Who's Ted? I knew this was going to happen one day!!!! :p:p

I think Ted didn't leave because he was so truly perplexed by the whole thing, that he felt the "problem" had to lie with him in some way; everyone else seemed to know him so well. So, he thought, until I figure this out, or find out what's wrong with me, I'll just have to give in, and become "Ted".

Apparently, people do have time in the world to set up such things; these were "performance artist" people from the NYC area. The extras were probably your typical out of work actors, paid to play their roles. I can only guess, that this is all funded by some wealthy, "crazy nut", a crazy nut with a flair for expressing art out in the world. Some performance art types think that this is a form of "art", as expressed out "there", in the world. I found it entertaining and provoking; as long as they don't do it to me! I'll gladly watch someone else question their sanity, though (hee hee hee).

10:49 PM  
Blogger Homer said...

i like this rock thing. maybe someone should document it... if they're not doing that yet.

11:33 PM  
Blogger Jocelyn said...

this is honestly the most fascinating thing i've read in awhile. and i think there may be something wrong with me believing that messing with people's minds is intriguing. not that i'd ever do it, ted.

8:10 AM  
Blogger Frank said...

...Just gonna be calm here...until I figure this out...

"Yeah uh, sure, I'm Ted, yes I remember that skiing trip, what? Jennifer moved to Wisconsin? That's crazy."

These clothes though, these aren't my Ted clothes...

11:21 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

9:03 PM  

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