On Second Thought

A surge in mugging crimes

By Kevin Paul Dupont
Globe Staff / April 15, 2012
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Really, people, get a mirror, and do what you gotta do at home.

I’m sure it’s not exclusively Boston, because ridiculousness and vanity are not purely a Hub thing, but what’s with falling in love with the screen every time there’s a chance to see ourselves LIVE! on the big video board at the Garden?

Thankfully, and I checked, this is not only the hockey crowd. Celtics fans have followed in line, flashing big smiles and often other oversized body parts (puleez!) every time the house camera swings their way.

I was dumbstruck to learn that Mr. Mustache, the “Saturday Night Fever’’ version of Alan Dershowitz who so totally loves to see himself on the big board, actually is a two-timin’ exhibitionist, boogeying to the beat during every break at both Bruins and Celtics games.

I know this guy with the feet that just can’t stop dancin’ will turn out to be a multimillionaire hedge fund manager, good to kids, stray animals, and all religious charities. But all I really care to know of him is what I see of him, and the term that comes to mind is “Looney Tunes,’’ as opposed to, say, “Juilliard.’’

“Come on, fans get into it, they love it,’’ said Amy Latimer, a Garden vice president who wears many hats in advertising and marketing, including overseeing the show within the show on the building’s humongous “HDX.’’

“It’s pretty much all over the country, but I think it’s probably more a Boston thing. Heck, I’ve seen a 90-year-old woman on there giving it the fist pump because she wants to see the Bruins fight. I’m pretty sure you won’t see that in every town.’’

Uh, nope. AARP goes wild, right here on Causeway Street.

I don’t recall seeing these folks for a while, but there was a stretch last season when the camera routinely zoomed in on a bunch of golden oldies having themselves a super swell night in a luxury suite.

Like a million adolescents before them, they mugged it up big-time for the camera, and I’ll admit, there was something very endearing about them. I wondered if they were really enjoying the attention, or if they were spoofing the 17,553 younger people in the sellout crowd of 17,565. I hope it was the latter.

“A deadly cocktail of idiocy,’’ said Bryant McBride, a local entrepreneur who spent 10 years with the National Hockey League as a vice president of business development. “I think these arenas have forgotten that people pay to come to watch the best athletes in the world.

“But when the play stops, or there’s an intermission, arena managers think they have to fill every second of dead air with all sorts of nonsense on the board, or blasting bad music until your eardrums ache.

“Whatever happened to just watching the game, maybe talking to the guy next to you?’’

Not here. Not now. It’s all about in-game entertainment, which often is as annoying as it is redundant.

We live in an age of countless windows open, our attention fragmented into dozens, if not millions, of digital shards. Our PCs or laptops are rarely powered down. We are in perpetual contact with everyone via e-mail and/or text.

It all began when call-waiting was introduced on our telephones in the mid-1970s (anyone else remember the sound of a busy signal?) and it has been warp speed ahead to the Land of the Living Distracted ever since. Admittedly, I am as guilty as everyone else, texting and Tweeting and e-mailing and living for the next buzz, chirp, or ring of the iPhone.

Oddly, it’s these huge arena video boards that stop the clock, seize our attention, like nothing else in our lives, save perhaps a State Trooper waving us over as we push 80 on the Mass. Pike.

It’s astounding how the in-house camera at the Garden gets fans to drop everything, including popcorn, beer, and hand-held devices (even in mid-text), once it candidly catches them.

“I think it’s as simple as the Andy Warhol 15-minutes-of-fame thing,’’ said Rich Krezwick, who spent 10 years as president of the Garden and these days is president of Devils Arena Entertainment and Business Operations at the Prudential Center in Newark. “Only it’s what, maybe 15 seconds, or maybe only 1.5 seconds?

“People just like being on TV. It’s their moment. They’ll even take out their iPhone to get the picture of the picture of themselves on the board. It’s their proof, to show at the water cooler the next day.’’

Under Krezwick’s direction, the ancillary entertainment at the Rock is a bit more subtle than the Garden variety. Krezwick credits his years with Harry Sinden, the Bruins ex-general manager and president, for convincing him that less is more when it comes to serving fans their non-game experience. Give-em-hell Harry advocated a softer, gentler approach, one centered on hockey being the fan’s raison d’etre of coming to a hockey game.

The Rock still has plenty of loud music and crowd shots on the big center-ice video board, but it also has ample moments of the house lights being turned down low and mellifluent organ music filling the building. Random moments of idle chatter often fill the idle moment.

“Good game presentation,’’ offered Krezwick, “needs ebb and flow.’’

Here in the Hub, be it for Celtics or Bruins, we live with a sensory tsunami, with the music cranked up to shake the walls and our lives captured by the roving camera, streamed on the Big Vid for everyone to see. It is new age, all-encompassing, the floodlight shining in the dark, drawing us to it like moths on a hot August night.

We are Boston, where we love dirty water, the camera lens, ourselves.

Kevin Paul Dupont’s “On Second Thought’’ appears on Page 2 of the Sunday Globe Sports section. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeKPD.

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