Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Thanks, Steve.

Technology is like infatuating love.  One moment we are enamored, amazed, confused, and totally enveloped in its charms.  Our thoughts and desires are irrationally lured to it.  But, like a childhood crush, the feeling is fleeting: all too soon the pedestal is upturned and we are reminded again that we are unsophisticated rubes in a manipulative game we cannot hope to win. 

Best Buy knows this.  Damn them.

I spent gads of money at Best Buy this year and remain a technological infant.  My sons play games on systems that I suspect they may be using to infect the Iranian nuclear program while I type on a keyboard where the control button has long since disappeared.  There are sugary fingerprints obscuring my monitor and the number lock button sticks from the time Teresa spilled apple juice on it.  My parents watch Chumlee of "Pawn Stars" on their 52" flat screen high-definition television while I gaze on Giada DeLaurentis on a six-thousand pound 27" monstrosity that is shaded pink on the left side of the screen.  That's the side my father dropped it on while getting it ready for donation to me.  He didn't need it after getting that big ol' flat screen. 

Please don't misinterpret my lament; I don't fashion myself a technological "Job" scraping my running sores with pot shards as I wallow in ashes.  No, I am not some ways, I feel a sense of freedom from an endless cycle of "new and obsolete".  I am quite pleased at my ability to save pictures, surf, and type my silly essays whether in the kitchen, the den, or hiding from the kids behind the garage.  I have a router that is far too large for my needs and am not entirely sure that I don't provide internet service for several blocks.  And most of all, I have my favorite toy, my piece de resistance, my equivalent to Gollum's "precioussss":  my little iPod. 

Oh, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways...

Ella Fitzgerald.  Chet Baker.  Miles Davis.  Billie Holiday.  Mel Torme.  Duke Ellington.  Nancy Wilson.  Sonny Rollins.  Frank Sinatra.  Dinah Washington.  Sarah Vaughn.  The list goes on.  They did not exist in my childhood; they were hidden away on vinyl, gathering dust in someone's collection, sleeping in a record label's vault.  While we bought Barry Manilow and Twisted Sister and got physical with Olivia Newton John the legends slipped into obscurity.  They waited, quietly while my tastes matured.  I threw off childish ways (Kiss, Madonna, and yes, Tears for Fears) and searched for music to match my "adult" taste - and found none.  Rap and Hip Hop give me a rash.  Country (especially the modern hip country) makes me burp bile.  Pop music is like Bounty paper towels - good for the moment but quickly thrown away. 

Steve Jobs, Apple and iTunes changed all that.  An entire universe of music was suddenly mine (mostly for 99 cents, too).  I "discovered" jazz much like Columbus discovered America.  It was already there, already loved by the people who lived there, but new and exciting and wonderful to a boy who suffered Boy George and Rick Astley. 

This past summer I was sitting at a little club in San Antonio along the river, and a trio of old men played jazz standards as we drank in our cocktails and the warm, humid night.  They were taking requests; I asked for Coltrane and Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood".  He smiled, lifted his sax, and played a song that clearly was an old friend.  Now it was my friend, too. 

Ain't technology grand?

1 comment:

  1. Grownup music is the best! And ya can't beat 99 a pop.

    BTW, lots of these people have videos on YouTube; that's a good place to browse.


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