It occurs to me that, when civilization finally ends, we will learn of it first on television's "Entertainment Tonight."
You see, I actually did witness the end of civilization, and I did so watching "Entertainment Tonight."
By "the end of civilization," I am referring to what was billed as a hot new dance craze known as the "mosh," or more properly (though there's nothing very proper about it), "moshing," as in "to mosh," or in past tense (particularly as concerns its practitioner/victims), "moshed," as in "mashed."
How do I describe something so foreign to civilized ken? The simplest way would be to ask you to imagine a British soccer riot, to which hard rock music is added. Ambulance sirens, apparently, are optional and probably couldn't be heard anyway.
There are no formal dance steps involved in moshing at least not that I can perceive. Moshing is done principally at rock concerts. Those who wish to mosh gather at the front of the stage an area described as the "dance pit."
When the music (?) reaches the height of its frenzy, the mob proceeds to throw various of its members into the air, pull at their limbs, roll on top of them, tumble about, gyrate and shudder like poison gas victims and, when the music (?) stops (which it never seems to), crawl away in search of unencumbered air as fast as they can manage over a floor probably slippery with blood.
Except for the fact that the dancers (?), for the most part, retain their clothing, moshing seems to fulfill every prophecy made about rock by the bluenoses back in the 1950s.
Really, they'd need only add a guillotine or two to have a pretty fair replication of the French Revolution though I doubt most moshers have ever heard of a guillotine, or even of France.
"Entertainment Tonight's" Mary Hart and John Tesh not to speak of my two adolescent sons will, of course, dismiss this commentary as predictable harrumphing by a stuffy old un-hip curmudgeon.
But this is not fair. I am no stranger to dance crazes. I have on one occasion or another in quite public places danced the turkey trot, the Charleston, the tango and cakewalk once upon a time, dance fads all.
I've even done the twist on the stage of Washington's Ford's Theatre, and did an actual mambo at New York's Roseland Ballroom, no less once though my companion, fashion model and former Miss Rheingold Beer Donna Lee Hawkins, looked at me as though I was really doing the turkey trot.
I'll add a better credential. When I was a teenage television executive at San Jose, California's KNTV-Channel 11 back in the early 1960s, I was actually backup producer of the "Record Hop" afternoon TV rock 'n' roll show and our host Frank Darien, mind, WAS DICK CLARK'S ACTUAL SUMMER VACATION REPLACEMENT ON "AMERICAN BANDSTAND"!
So I know my rock, sort of though I must admit that our dance crazes in those pre-Beatles days ran to the twist, the pony and a kind of revved-up Lindy hop.
Though occasionally we did play "The Monster Mash," we never had anything like moshing, not even at the weekend "Record Hop" rock concerts we used to hold in various auditoriums and shopping centers in the area.
As I think upon it, I don't suppose many of today's teens would be terribly interested in attending a rock concert titled "Record Hop." Some nights, not many did back then.
I recall one evening when we were featuring the Downbeats (or was it the Deadbeats?) that Darien came up to me and complained that the kids were unlocking the side doors of the auditorium.
"Are they sneaking in without paying?" I asked.
"No," he said, "they're sneaking out!"
In any event, as a genuine Rock Pioneer, I just want to say I disapprove mightily of moshing. I'd like civilization to hang around long enough for me to become an old, as opposed to merely middle-age, curmudgeon.
What's to be done about moshing? There is, of course, the laissez-faire solution once suggested by H.L. Mencken concerning chiropractors, of whom Mencken vigorously disapproved (his views are not necessarily those of this column).
As only the feeble-brained and crazed would attempt to have all their ills cured through chiropractic, Mencken asserted, the feeble-brained and crazed would in due course succumb to their ills and vanish, taking chiropractic with them.
If we let moshing run its course, there eventually will be no moshers left alive to worry about.
Actually, we may not have to wait for that. Wanting to speak with some authority on this subject, at least to the extent of knowing how to spell the word, I consulted a genuine and charming Young Person about moshing.
"It's not a hot, new dance craze," she protested, with some vehemence. "It's outta the punk dance and slam dance of the '80s. It's heavy metal. I mean, give me a break. What's happening is that it's going mainstream. Ugh!"
Aha! If moshing is being taken up by actual post-teen adults, or at least is being tolerated by them as just more "let the kids have their fun," then moshing is doomed. Teens will flee from it as swiftly as they would from suggestions that they become Young Republicans.
In fact, I know how to kill it in my household with just 11 little words: "Boys, your mother and I have decided to take mosh lessons."