Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hi-Tech vs. Redneck. Living Rockabilly in the 21st Century.

Not being a Luddite by any means, or being maudlin about the past, I have to admit that the overwhelming onslaught of technology has made our lives more complicated. It has forced us to acquire new skills that require the use of way more brain cells that should ever be necessary. Brain cells that used to be reserved for being burnt out by drinking.

A computer used to be some large machine housed somewhere on the Enterprise. With that stentorian and monotone female voice, it seemed to get annoyed if you asked dumb questions. It had all the answers and could even make you a sandwich.

When I first heard of a TRS-80, I asked, " what the the hell do you do with a computer?". The evasive answer was always "anything". What the hell did that mean? 30 years later I still don't have an answer, and I can safely assume that no self respecting Greaser or Redneck ever pictured his or herself whiling away hours of their time "surfing the net".

When stereos were analog and they only had 2 speakers, you would hit a button or twist a knob and shit would happen. How many people out there have spent hours randomly hitting keys on the computer while the frozen screen would stare back at you blankly like a retarded cat. I don't recall ever screaming at my turntable. There were no fits of rage induced by a recalcitrant hard drive, The records would spin round and round and you had to run when the record was over so you wouldn't ruin your needle. That's OK , because you could always change your needle or cartridge and all you needed was really tiny screwdriver.

I used to go a record store that specialized in roots music. You could actually buy tons of Rockabilly on vinyl (cheap) and there were tons of re-issues of 50's Rockabilly, Rhythm 'n' Blues and anything else you wanted. Downloading? That was what you did on the toilet bowl every morning.

One day, in one the large chain record stores , I noticed a section that had all little plastic containers. They were called compact discs and were mainly Classical music. I used to think to myself " what kind of freakin' weirdo would buy those things?".

Not long after that, turns out I was the weirdo. I walked into my favorite roots record shop, and a after a brief look around, noticed that there weren't anymore records, only CD's. In yet another technology-induced fit of rage, I ranted and raved, cussing out the employees, calling them retards and generally making a scene.

Five beers later at the local bar, I realized that everyone in that store had been looking at me like I was a psycho. The stereotypical roots-rock weirdo. All I could think after that was " where the hell do get a CD player?'. I remembered seeing them at the college radio station where I had a weekly Rockabilly show, but I wouldn't touch them.

I think that my very first techno-freak-out was when I had my first encounter with an ATM. It was Friday afternoon and I needed cash. Easy. 1. go to bank. 2. get money.
I put that piece of plastic into the belly of the beast. Nuthin'. That soulless demon wouldn't regurgitate my money from it's bowels. The bank dude had just locked the door. Sorry, closed. I felt the adrenaline rise, and right there: techno-flipout. Needless to say it was might slim pickins that weekend.

Ever pop the hood on a new car? What is all that crap? Is there a motor in there? I used to be able to change my own carburators and adjust the float. I don't my ass from a hole in the ground now when it comes to cars and what the hell is a diagnostic port?

There is a loose bolt that needs to be tightened. Oh, hang on my tool won't fit. It's metric. Metric tools? WTF? I gotta go out and buy all new tools. Stoopid freakin' millimetres.

Ever feel like kilograming someone? Feel like having a few liters of beer? How many liters per kilometers does your car get? How many googlplex per kilopascal......blblbllbl.......

Dropping a call used to mean that you were probably drunk and dropped the phone on the floor. You would dial a bunch of numbers on a rotary dial, and provided you hadn't used your booger finger, it was fairly fast. If the phone rang past 9 pm; somebody was dead.
Man, you could slam those old phones good! If you were pissed at somebody, you could really hang up on them. You could also potentially hurt yourself by answering to quickly. Those receivers were heavy.

Cel phones have created an entirely new cultural phenomenon. A very convenient piece of technology has mutated into a invasive and ubiquitous force in modern society. It has made society that much ruder. The infamous " cell-yell" is all around us at all times. Already bad and selfish driving habits have been made much worse with statistics proving a direct correlation between cel phone use and increases in traffic accidents.

It transcends social classes and is pervasive. From the downtown realtor with a power suit and funny shoes to the Saturday night skanks, regardless of the content, all conversations are equally annoying .

To elevate stress levels one more notch, the endless array of ring-tones just adds to the cacophony of urban living.

I still haven't gotten used to my cel phone. Every time it rings, it scares the shit out of me, and the vibrating mode makes me think that I'm having a heart attack or that burrito I had is backing up.
Anybody home? Heeelllooo?

Just a few random observations about the past. I think that this part of the reason that Greasers enjoy the Rockin' lifestyle so much. It hearkens back to a simpler time. The pace was slower, gender roles were clearly defined , everything seemed to work, and if it didn't , you could fix it.

Rockabilly was the first rock 'n' roll , and the coolest. The style parameters , though considered outrageous in the day, have withstood the test of time. The hair, clothes, cars and general 50's design have become American classics and will remain so for years to come.

It makes people feel grounded, connects them to the past and their roots and is a great way to escape all that pesky technology and it's beeps, tinkly sounds ,mind boggling techno babble and sheer addiction.

Greasy, Rockabilly and analog: A good way to live.

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