Miss(ed) Manners

October 21, 2005

Miss(ed) Manners: What’s Old is New

Filed under: Column — missedmanners @ 4:57 pm

When most people talk about “The Day the Music Died” they’re referring to that movie with Lou Diamond Phillips where he was that hitman with the guns in his guitar. Not me. The day my music died was about two months ago, it was the day my iPod decided to take an Oscar worthy dive and perished amongst much sputtering and crying. I was doing the sputtering and crying. All the iPod did was go blank and refuse to play anything but a block of the lamest Deep House MP3’s I’d garnered from a relationship gone bad ages ago. They were dark times.

Eventually I worked up the nerve to go to the ironically named “Genius Bar” at my local Apple chapter house. Amidst the throng of gauze colored acolytes and the faint green glow of their holy Macintosh relics I waited for an appointment with Steve, the resident Ipod Inquisitor.

Three hours I waited for Steve as he worked furiously behind black rimmed glasses to breathe musical life back into the damned gadgets brought to him. I think I saw someone kiss his kitsch mood ring and offer a bushel of snarkily designed print advertisements for his miracles.

Three hours and I never got to see the Holy Steve, instead, some stock boy named Aemon or something (you know, one of those names that when you hear it you think to yourself, “oh, that’s a total Mac user right there.”) came out and took my ailing precious for a check up.

I told him I used a PC and he giggled.

Five minutes later he came out and said there was nothing he could do, the hard drive had decided to die. That’s it. That’s all he said.

And since the holy Mac operates on a completely different level of consciousness than your or I, it is not up to us mortals to decide if that decision is right or wrong. It’s best just to accept blindly.

The iPod was supposed to be my bridge into the brave new world of Mac. My boss, who’s an avid Jobsophile was a staunch supporter of my musical expedition. The stringy white headphones were for a while a badge of my decision to accept Macintosh as my personal technological savior. For I so loved the music that I gave five hundred bucks just to watch it die.

Needless to say I’m a recovering Macolic now.

The two months that followed, well, for lack of a better word, sucked. There’s no easy way to take a music filled 40 minute commute and be comfortable with none. There’s no shuffle button for too-loud conversations, no playlist for life from which you can remove FatBabyCries.mp3.

I didn’t rush out to buy another MP3 player for many reasons. Chief among these being that I couldn’t afford it, instead I took to telling myself that I’d be listening to the music of the city or some shit I heard once in a Gregory Heines movie. *tap tappity* *chugga chugga* *SIREN* That’s soul, baby!

This morning it all became just a little too much to bear. Gray mornings and packed subway cars are no place to be silent. So I went digging through my belongings for a relic I’d bought some five years ago, a Discman.

Buried under boxes, construction materials and years of dust I found it. I’d bought this little beauty for $29.99 at the Wiz with a part time college job pay check and used it every day until I upgraded to a 40 gigabyte, ten thousand song holding iPod. It was dented, scratched and dirty and the batteries needed replacing. Fortunately, it’s not an iPod so I had it running after a quick trip to the fridge.

I looked around for a CD and found one I’d gotten the past weekend, one my friend Oli had cut, eight songs of the best songwriting and music around. I popped it in and headed off to work.

When my iPod had been working, I would just download, rip or steal all the music I could get my hands on. I have the space, I said, I’ll listen to it eventually. Now, with just forty minutes of music at hand, I actually had to listen. Before, I’d skip around at random until I heard something that was good, now I actually had to think about what album I should bring along.

The situation reminded me of a teacher I’d had in college, Neil Postman, who used to go on and on about how all this new technology hadn’t made any students any smarter. That we were in the grips of a Technopoly, he called it, and that we were followers of technology being made for technology’s sake, lapping it up without ever asking why.

He was right, I guess. No matter how much storage you can have, it will never, ever, make Stryper a good band. Just because you have all of Tool’s live sets on a disk the size of your pinky doesn’t make them talented. Having a picture of Scott Biao pop up in your palm won’t make the theme song from Joanie Loves Chachi bearable.

Maybe in the future I’ll break down again and get another digital player. I’ll mark it up then to laziness of the fingers, wanting a break from flipping through towers of discs. For now I’m comfortable using my old Discman. I’ve even remembered where the buttons are so I can play, stop and raise or lower the volume while it’s in my bag, it’s a nostalgic kind of comfort.

I’m guessing I’ll keep being comfortable as long as I don’t get lazy in the head and stop looking for good albums. Until then, I’ve got a library of plastic B-sides that I’ve been skipping over for a long long time to check out again.

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