Sunday, April 18, 2010
My hit parade
This is our iPod. It has vacuum tubes, and you can't stick it in your pocket.
But it does get nice and warm, and the hot tubes in the guts of the 1956 Zenith hi-fi console smell like the magic dust of a long-lost childhood.
There apparently is something out there called "the slow-media movement." This, in our living room, is the "slow-music movement."
Tonight, Mrs. Favog and I were listening to a stash of 1940s home recordings, from back when home recording meant putting a cutting stylus to a blank transcription disc, then carefully brushing away the shavings as the music made its way out of the radio and into the acetate.
I WONDER whether that long-ago Omaha recording enthusiast imagined -- as he (or she) plucked favored songs out of the ether and hid them away in homemade records -- that someday, someone in Future Omaha would listen to those recordings and, however briefly . . . however tenuously, rend the veil between our worlds.
I wonder whether they could grasp that, amazingly, Your Hit Parade would live on -- that the world the recorder knew in 1944 would again emerge, not from the ether but from a homemade record to touch a future world of atom bombs and television and space stations and a computer in every . . . lap.
DID THEY imagine that the youthful Frank Sinatra -- the star of the show who drove legions of bobby-soxers to squeals of ecstasy more than a decade before Elvis got in on the act -- someday would be the long-dead Chairman of the Board . . . and that those frenzied young girls would be great-grandmas?
Someone in 1944 put a heavy stylus down on an acetate-covered aluminum disc rotating at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute. The stylus cut tiny grooves into the acetate blank. Message met bottle, and that union was cast into the currents of time.
Ah, but I have a time machine. It's a 1956 Zenith.
It's April 2010. It's December 1944. Ol' Blue Eyes is dead; long live Ol' Blue Eyes.
The slow-music movement can zip you across time and space in just the time it takes needle to meet record.
Listen! Sinatra's singing the No. 1 song on Your Hit Parade. Oh my God, you barely can hear "The Trolley Song" through the screams of the bobby-soxers!
L.S./M.F.T! L.S./M.F.T! Lucky Strike means fine tobacco . . . and lung cancer just in time for the Space Age. This is the Columbia Broadcasting System.
Well, 1944, it was good to make your acquaintance. So long . . . for a while.