The Analog Way
It’s true. I miss buttons that lock into position, volume dials that go from silent to ear-splitting loud. I miss big beast cars with loud hemis and stick shifts and without a trace of a menu screen anywhere. I miss TVs in wood cabinets with rabbit ears and UHF and VHF possibilities. I even almost miss the days when I had an 8-track cassette player and Charlie Rich used to sing “And when we get behind”…..and then it would choke and gurgle, only to finish up with “closed doors” once the song changed in the middle of the track.
Billy Sprague, owner of Sanity Muffin in Oakland, CA says cassette tapes are poised to make a comeback! The hiss and flat tones are part of the “auditory experience” that makes cassettes a superior source of acoustical sound. Well A to the Men brother!
Yes, those of us over 40 remember the thrill of “just push PLAY”, a delightful little analog button with its accompanying crisp click-lock when pressed. We didn’t just hear music; we felt it with our fingers. Sometimes we even untangled it with our pencils and our fingers, as if vengeful car stereos could scold us for our choice in boyfriends. If and when the music sucked, well we obliviously chucked it out into the pristine environment from our stick shift cars allowing some other sucker the possibility of finding an abandoned treasure.
Another musician just released a demo cassette that his band recorded in a yurt in Big Sur. With that revelation, I immediately Google Image-searched “Big Sur Yurts”. If you don’t know what a yurt is, well Google it now, because this is where we will all live, if America really does become a Socialist “utopia” or when we all have a collective “nervy B” from all this technology, but I digress.
I’m almost 50; I’m in the middle of the road, in the middle of my life. I use all things digital and it eats up more of my time than I actually even possess. Which actually begs the question, well how does she even do it? I don’t know. Same way everyone else does it. Only everyone else it seems, does even more, even faster than I do.
Why nearly everyone knows how to use Macs, PCs, IPAD, IPODS, laptops, smartphones, DVRs, GPS, programmable appliances, and a variety of even more devices they can control, all from apps on their smartphones. We can secure our home, monitor our dog at day camp, balance our stock portfolios, digitally enhance our pictures via Instagram to make it look Polaroid Retro, blog our opinions, post endless selfies, and stack our digital lives in neat little terabytes both in the cloud and on terra firma here on earth.
But something is missing. We communicate our every thought, opinion, and question with our fingers– tap tap tap– a million times a day. We’re too busy and too shy to talk in person now. We digitize our experience, but do we remember it? And what about the contents of our digital lives? What’s going to happen when we die?
If you think you’ve got it bad because you have yet to organize your parents’ shoe boxes full of Polaroid pictures and yellow-green fading pictures of your childhood, how much more complex will it be for our kids who will receive…..
What exactly? Our 19th and 20th generation phones? Memory cards? DVDs? Thumb drives? Hard drives? Our last used laptop? Our Facebook account? Ancient VHS tapes chock full of family memories?
What if their current operating system is incompatible?
What if our video tapes and DVDs have a close encounter with magnets, or extreme thermal instability?
What if our password changes 456 times since originally revealing it to your children, if you even did at all.
What if an EMP blows up our entire digital existence before we get a chance to get digitally organized?
Ah! The joys of too many choices. If only our lives resembled the sleek, crisp, minimalist organization of a Macbook Pro. If our homes could actually look like an Apple store. If only we had a time capsule in our own life, where we could just go back to any moment in time, freeze it, and leave it there. But no, as Steve Miller so adequately prophesied to the mellow stoners of the 1970s, “time keeps on slipping into the future.”
In an attempt to streamline, we’re given more choices than we have time to implement.
Something has to give. We’re not going to be able to learn it all, do it all, save it all, and organize it all. If all we leave are digital remains and memories, then we’re not leaving much at all. We may as well leave nothing. And besides, one little glitch, well, that’s what we’ll be leaving anyway.
As for me? Perhaps I’ll leave my digital remains in a yurt in Big Sur for a really smart future geek to discover and decode.
I think the Sanity Muffin dude and his friends have it right. We need to cozy up in our yurts with our groovy loved ones, pop in a favorite cassette, turn on the lava lamp, light some incense, and just be with each other. No pictures. No phones. Just two people staring up on a starry starry night, thoughts lost in a semi-ignorant haze, as we dream about, but skip the obsessing part about our unknown futures.
For info. on cassette comebacks see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9TccPAgvU0
For info. on Billy Sprague of Sanity Muffin: http://www.sanitymuffin.com/
For info. on Yurts of Big Sur: http://www.treebonesresort.com/