Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sticking it in My Ear

Now that Sony has announced the Death of the Walkman (though there are some Holy Grailers out there moaning that it's not dead yet), it's official that an era has passed.   Now, we await the imminent death notice of the iPod in the coming decade or so to be replaced by.....???  Implants is the only possible step with Wi-Fi Frankenstein posts.

A couple of articles from the Guardian made me feel not so much nostalgic as old.   I received my first Walkman back in 1980 as a parting gift from some of my work friends prior to heading up to Montreal for a year of fun, frustration, and changing career plans.  It was one of the most thoughtful gifts I ever received and, at least at that time, one of the most expensive.  $179!!  And that was in 1980 US dollars which, these days, translates to enough to buy one of those mortgage loan cast-off houses.

Recording one's music for the playlists of those days took days, not minutes like the wet-behind-the-ears MP3ers.  Yeah...and we walked uphill through 5 feet of snow in May to school as well.  Those were the days when women were women and men wore mullets...which meant we were almost women.  A selection of Guardian's reader's inclusions on their playlists had not one band I'd put on my cassettes.  On the list I saw not one mention of Little Feat (w/ Lowell George), Springsteen, Hound Dog Taylor, or ZZ Top.   Most of the dates listed were when I'd abandoned the Walkman and gone on to the Discman.  I kept the Walkman around for a while, almost like a museum piece or a faded baseball card.  It had worked when I packed it in some old socks in a drawer.  A few years later, when I pulled it out just to test out the sound, like a rejected girlfriend, it chewed up a few tapes before buying the ghost.

More so than the innumerable eardrum shaking concerts I'd gone to, I'm sure the Walkman and then the Discman helped me down the road to (eventual, I'm sure) deafness.  Both almost got me killed when I went skiing with them, as I took too well to the combination of sound and schuss and ignored Black Diamond signs, or worse, Black Diamond skiers.   But I do not miss those black buds riding on and in my ear disintegrating my hearing while disintegrating themselves into their baser elements, leaving my ears coated with coal dust.

Nowadays, I protest vaguely at the iPod/MP3 sound quality and the long term damage of short term musical attention all the time wondering if all of this started going downhill with Mr. Sony's introduction of his clicky Walkman.

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Comments:
Joel astonished me when he admitted to still using his Walkman as recently as last year. When he entered graduate studies a few months later, however, he had finally switched to that digital device with which we all have a complicated relationship. It seems the only place he could obtain the necessary files for his studies was iTunes. Apple may claim they've eliminated the DMS from their product, but that now seems to be a moot point.
 
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