Watching community-access cable is like listening to a preacher howling fire-and-damnation across the short wave. Strange, even dislocating, but also hypnotic. That's the thing about MTN. Sometimes you'll be flipping around the dial and you'll come across something so mesmerizingly weird that you just can't shake it: a grainy video of a transvestite dancing in a silver spaghetti-strap dress, or an elementary school Christmas pageant with no audio, or maybe just some middle-aged guy sitting in front of the camera with eyes burning, pouring out whatever beef he's got with the world. Not that everything on MTN is necessarily so oddly affecting. There are also the no-budget talk shows (yawn); the Somali music videos; and, of course, the preachers. Especially late at night, though, MTN makes you feel plugged into some manic, grungy, 3:00 a.m. collective unconscious, where the obsessed and the exhibitionists, the damned and the sleepless, surf along on the hum of static.


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