Sunday, May 15, 2011


I was flipping through the television and came across one of those auction hunter shows, where they bid for an abandoned storage unit and its contents and then collect the items to resell. In this one I caught a piece of, they had found an old old Victrola with an original Thomas Edison seal on it. They put together, tested it out, and it played! Roughly a hundred years old, and they flipped an old switch on it, to find that it still worked.

Over a year ago I saw the Titanic exhibit at the Museum of Science Minnesota in Minneapolis. An expansive display of old artifacts retrieved from the wrecked ship looked pristine, solid. Toothbrushes, shoe polish containers. Fairly intact. And I was struck with how solid things appeared to be built back in the "old days" (minus the Titanic). In our current times things seem so cheap. My iPod from three years ago hardly works, nor does my old stereo system from 10 years ago. Yet a Victrola from the early 1900s long sitting in a dusty unheated storage room still operates.

It makes sense though. The businessmen who orchestrated the commercial work of engineers soon learned that it's good business to build things NOT to last. Keeps the customers coming back for another round.

On another note, Friday night I watched The Shining on VHS. I reckoned to myself for a moment how much I enjoyed the look and feel of an old VHS movie on an old TV. There is a grainy murkiness that in a way makes it all the more dream like. The fading of the quality is both distancing and narcotic for me. And the images start to sink in further to my subconscious in a trance-like manner. I sort of now prefer an old degraded VHS movie watching experience to a Blu Ray display on an HDTV. On such a high tech flicker the picture is almost too crisp for nostalgia to lurk. But the way they make things now, I'm curious to check out the picture quality on one of those flatscreen TVs in 15 years.

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