Let me begin this week by saying that I decided to read my two-part column from the last two weeks – which is uncharacteristic of me to read my own stuff – and something about it caught my attention and reminded me of a disturbing and growing trend. In my story, on more than one occasion I used the word “epic” to describe my sandwich. I won’t apologize for that, because this sandwich was, in fact epic. If you haven’t already read the piece, go do it now and comeback, I’m confident you’ll agree. If there were a sandwich hall of fame, or Smithsonian exhibit, it would have its own room. It would be encased in bulletproof glass, surrounded by velvet ropes and a pair of armed guards. It was pretty much the Hope diamond of greasy lunches.

As I read though, I started thinking about how ‘epic’ was once, not so long ago, a seldom-used, terrific word that I would periodically extract from my quiver of linguistic arrows. I’ve noticed in recent months however that the use of this word, particularly amongst younger folk, is starting to spin out of control. Its being grossly overused and is losing its value and diminishing its meaning. I actually feel sorry for my old friend Epic, and I almost feel partially to blame for its imminent demise. It seems that everything now has ‘epic’ attached to it. I believe that ‘epic’ to this generation is becoming what ‘awesome’ was to mine. It’s just a matter of time until I find myself driving by a skateboard park one afternoon and hear an underachieving teenaged toolbag wearing brick red skinny jeans say, “broooo, that was epic!”

I know it’s inevitable, and when it happens I’m sure a brief wave of sadness will wash over me. I may even shed a single tear like a Native American staring at some litter alongside an interstate. I won’t however take responsibility for the ever-growing abuse of the word. I’m pretty certain that the demographic committing these crimes against vocabulary are not my regular readers.

As much as it pains me to say this, it seems that heretofore, whenever you see or hear the word ‘epic’ it will more than likely be engulfed in a hashtag regarding the amount of vomit that spewed from the face of a sorority girl. It’s a sad day indeed my friends. I’m now actually longing for the day, not so long ago when we only heard the word epic when associated with a film featuring a pre-psychotic, anti-Semitic, drunken, paranoid Mel Gibson on both sides of the camera.

And now that we’ve touched on it, what the heck is a ‘hashtag’?! Now granted, I’m admittedly a little behind the times, but every time I hear the word ‘hashtag,’ I have this uncontrollable urge to punch someone in the face. I don’t even know what it means. When I think ‘hash,’ I think either of a breakfast food that I don’t eat nearly as often as I’d like to, or something I smoked once in the 80’s that briefly turned me into an amoeba. When I think ‘tag,’ I think either of a fun children’s game played outdoors, or something inside the collar of my shirt that’s irritating the back of my neck. I don’t do, nor do I get the whole Twitter thing. And despite the urging of some friends and readers, I probably never will.

If for no other reason than the fact that I think the word Twitter is just stupid. It’s not even fun to say. I think ‘twitter’, and I think either of a hummingbird at sunrise by a pond with piccolo music in the background, or something an adolescent boy is hiding in the basement doing, desperately hoping that his grandma doesn’t catch him. Another reason I could never have a Twitter account is that the whole concept is that you have only 140 characters to convey your thought or message. It took me two freaking weeks to tell you guys about a sandwich, and that’s with about 600 words edited out. How far into a rant do you think I would get before the Twitter Gods cut me off. I have nothing against those of you who ‘Tweet;’ it’s just not for me. I’m far too long winded, but you already knew that.

The words, ‘Twitter’, and ‘hashtag’, have only existed for a few years to the best of my knowledge. This leads me to believe that the person who created them is more than likely still alive, which means that this person has climbed into my Top 20 List of people to hate. Please don’t take it personally. There are people in the Top 10 who have seemingly done much less to anger me. You’re nowhere near as high on the list as the pitchman for Shamwow, for example.

Well, now that I realize that this piece is going to be a rant about some of my recent observations, I may as well stick with the theme. There are a few things I’ve noticed recently that society, and the powers that be, are slowly inserting into our collective lives without us even being cognizant of. One is in the world of music and leaves me wondering… when did the banjo become the new electric guitar? Has anyone else picked up on this? I had this epiphany recently while driving around running errands. I was sort of channel surfing on my car stereo and the recurring theme I kept happening upon was a banjo lead, and the same lyric being repeated to the point of almost making one homicidal. It then occurred to me that the stations I was stopping on were all mainstream pop and rock stations. What I was hearing first hand was the kind of crap I was going to hear if, in the unlikely event, I found myself watching the Grammy’s this year. Which essentially would only happen if I had fallen asleep on the couch watching football and woke up several hours later to my TV still on the same channel and the remote was out of my reach. (To my plethora of friends who are musicians, I hope you are taking this humorously and not personally.)

I stopped on each channel expecting to hear mainstream rock or pop and my ears were filled with the same Deliverance-like tune. I went from jamming to thinking I was at a hoedown. So now that I’d fallen into this conspiracy rabbit hole, I had to grossly OVER think it and come away with a theory of some sort. My theory was this: I believe that all of the members of the Bluegrass community got together and had a meeting. They were essentially tired of being swept under the rug and having to appeal to a very limited demographic and playing on stages constructed upon hay bales. (And rightfully so.) These were some infinitely talented musicians who were just plain fed up. Having combined forces, they then broke into all of the mainstream pop and rock radio stations nationwide overnight, loaded them up with all of their music, leaving the DJ’s with nothing else to play. This takeover continued to the coffee shops, frat houses, and other places of camaraderie and revelry, and the coup was complete. If Roy Clark were still alive, this would be an excellent time for a comeback. Emmett Otters Jug band Christmas is now officially a Rockumentary. Any original members of Mungo Jerry, or the Stampeders… this is your chance to break away from playing elementary school fundraisers. Now is your time to shine! Well, thanks for playing along my friends.

Until next week,

Syd Nichols