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- Los Cuatro Tulipanes is Matt's apartment rentals in the historic district of Casco Viejo
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When I turn on the TV in Panama, I go directly to channel 211, which, is the originally-named American Network: concurrently the best and worst channel in the history of broadcasting. There are exactly two reasons why I watch the American Network and neither appeal to most people. First, it airs shows that I vaguely enjoyed in the United States.
You keep the concealer hidden where Oprah? Do you keep it inside your shoe?
Shows like Top Chef. I love that show. I could envision no better leisure activity than watching reruns of the episode where the black dude beats up Marcel. For the most part, my favorite shows don’t make it down here in Panama so in a sense, the American Network is my one morsel of nostalgia. Second, and far more importantly, I like the American Network for what it airs in between its shows: the TV space that is generally recognized as commercials. However, and here is the best part: that which you might term “commercials” on the American Network are totally fucked up iterations of the real thing.
To begin, I will admit that they are commercials in the traditional way that commercials are 15-30 second spans of television programming produced and paid for by an organization. But to screw things up, the American Network doesn’t show commercials from other companies. They piece together short bits of other programs on the American Network. This, in theory, doesn’t sound all that weird. One station using its advertising space to promote its own shows: sensible, obvious, maybe even admirable no?
No. Because what’s clear about the way that these bits are cobbled together is that the producers don’t fucking care. The way they are introduced, exited, and generally synched (or perhaps more specifically, non-synched) with one another is the key: to call this editing outrageously bizarre would be an understatement.
Most of the time, a byte is selected to be featured in American Network commercials because it’s funny or interesting. But roughly 80% of the time, these video bytes are cut off before the punch line. Oprah might come on and say, “so to sum things up, the best beauty tip I ever received was to always, always, always keep some concealer hidden inside my…” and then the station cuts the clip and switches to a new show like Dr. Phil. Not that I particularly love Oprah or beauty tips, but I’m always left confounded and yearning by these interruptions. You keep the concealer hidden where Oprah??? Do you keep it inside your shoe?
The first few times I saw the American Network, I figured this was a glitch. TV stations sometimes do this by accident and usually someone gets fine or fired. I realized this and determined the channel as poor. But with each time I saw the glitch phenomenon, I started to like the American Network a little bit more. I realized the station wasn’t just poor. It was horrendous. It had crossed that line from being bad in a bad sort of way to being bad good.
To admit that I like something because it constantly commits errors is only partially correct. I prefer things that constantly commit errors without caring enough to fix them. Things like Dennis Rodman. This is what makes the American Network great and intriguing. This is what makes them the most bad ass (and possibly insane) TV station in Panama.
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