Perth-Andover — At 58, divorced auto mechanic Carey Newsome wasn’t expecting to join the cutting-edge of cool in the Upper Saint John River Valley, but that’s exactly what happened last Wednesday during a syndicated re-airing of an episode of the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation.
“I was just taking [it] easy after a long day of working in the shop — [fellow mechanic] Paul [Demerchant] got sick so I had to cover all his appointments too, the ones that couldn’t reschedule,” explained Newsome. “So I was just getting ready to put on a show and eat a can of beans and have a couple of Labatts before bed.”
Before a few months ago, Newsome’s favourite shows were game shows such as Wheel of Fortune and Let’s Make a Deal and procedural crime dramas including NCIS and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. “I used to watch Two and a Half Men back when it was on,” said Newsome. “I like that Charlie Sheen — he’s a hoot, eh?”
But in recent months, convenient cable TV scheduling has led Newsome to find a “new” series he’s passionate about. “Parks and Recreation‘s a pretty good one. And it’s on right after the news. I like the one girl, the one who never smiles. And the Indian guy or whatever-he-is,” Newsome said, cracking a smile.
“‘Treat Yo’self!'” he said, quoting Tom Haverford’s (played by Aziz Ansari) catchphrase from the sitcom, which aired its last new episode in February 2015. “I guess I like it because it takes place in a small town kinda like this here, except they’re always saying jokes about movies and singers I never heard of. I guess Pawnee, Indiana’s a lot ‘cooler’ than Perth-Andover.”
That was until recently. During the re-broadcast of the 2011 episode “Road Trip” in which Aubrey Plaza’s character (April Ludgate) referred to 1990s indie psych-folk group Neutral Milk Hotel as being her favourite band, a smile of recognition crept across Newsome’s face.
“Ha,” said Newsome, remembering that the band had come up during an October 2009 argument with his daughter Taylor about their wildly differing musical tastes as he drove her back to Mount St. Vincent University in Halifax following the Thanksgiving holiday. “‘That’s a hell of a name for a band,'” Newsome recalls saying. “They must have been smoking the wacky-tobaccy.’”
Since laughing at the reference, word has spread to the extent that Newsome has become something of a cultural guru in the close-knit community, with fellow television lovers asking him to explain references from all types of TV shows, from a mention of the 2009 Batman comic book crossover Battle for the Cowl on an episode of The Big Bang Theory, to being asked if he can explain what a podcast is after a Jeopardy! answer made mention of Serial.
“Some of this stuff I have to Google,” Newsome told The Manatee while drinking a bottle of Labatt Blue on his patio, “but it’s nice to have a reputation of being a little more ‘hipster’ than some other folks I know.”
At press time, Newsome had no immediate plans to listen to Neutral Milk Hotel’s music, nor any other members of the Elephant 6 Recording Company collective.