Upstate New York’s Catskill Mountain Range is a bucolic place near and dear to my heart. It’s where storybook character Rip Van Winkle enjoyed his legendary slumber, and its scenery hasn’t changed much since he was born of Washington Irving’s fertile imagination. Yet, like Van Winkle, if I’d fallen asleep for 20 years when first arriving in that verdant heaven, I, too, would have noticed some profound changes upon awakening.
About two decades ago, many rural Catskill teens — sons of farmers and hunters and fishermen — suddenly started donning baggy pants and reflecting “gangsta’” counter-culture despite living nowhere near any large urban center. The following generation of teens experienced today’s recent cultural evolution and often sport multiple tattoos and body piercings despite living nowhere near NYC’s grungy East Village. Yet I’m wrong in a sense: those places were actually very close — a television set away.