Monday, July 15, 2013

Time Warp

I have touched upon this subject several times. Greasers are indeed enamored with a period of the 20th century that slipped through the sands of time long ago. We love cars that are hopelessly outdated, but the timeless beauty of old cars will never be dated and their ease of repair hearkens back to a simpler time. We love an obscure sub-genre of music that defined an era, yet only lasted two years. We appreciate the fact that even inexpensive clothing was of high quality in the fifties, yet have come to terms that it is difficult to find a 60 year old pair of pants that isn't completely tattered  (not to mention bombarded by decades of farts).

We love it, but let's face it, all of us have embraced modern technology. Flights to Vegas are booked online and 10,000 songs are listened to from a device half the size of a pop tart and we use phones that have 100 times more memory than the computers used to launch the first Moon missions.

Which brings me to the subject of old farts ( a whole category for a rant). I run into these guys once in a while. They take pride in being a Luddite, as if separating themselves from modern society somehow makes them morally superior. I recently met one ancient dude who proclaimed in no uncertain terms that he refused to buy anything from "the orient". It wasn't out of frustration about all the cheap crap from China that breaks immediately after purchase. This old fart proceeded to launch into some rambling tirade about world war II. I had no desire to hear this convoluted tale launched at me like one hundred pooping birds. I always promised myself that I would never be like that when I get to that age. If any of my friends have pistols, you certainly have my  permission to shoot me should I ever devolve into this state of semi-lunacy or suddenly develop the urge to grow a goatee and wear a Panama hat.

Time does indeed move on and we are living in a brave new world. We are living in an era that has seen more technological advances in 25 years than a few centuries combined that proceeded it. When I look around me however, I am struck by the fact that we are still surrounded by and using some forms of archaic technology.

1. The Phone Booth.

I wanted to include this one not so much because we are still using it, but because of the fact that they still actually exist. I saw a phone booth recently and kind of shocked me. It was like seeing a moose walking around downtown or showing up to work in a clown suit. It took a few minutes for it to make sense to me as I pondered its existence.

Surely only drug dealers and severely deranged crack heads use pay phones. Even little kids have cel phones these days (and I wanna smack the little fuckers as they text and walk...oops, old fart talk). It seems strange to stand in one spot with a phone attached to a cable and make an actual phone call. Even more disturbing is the fact that thousands of crack heads, bums, diseased retards and various unsavory characters have drooled on the mouthpiece that you are about to come in contact with. That's an outbreak of Ebola virus waiting to happen right there.

Speaking of phones, I am always perplexed when I see big piles of yellow pages stacked outside of office buildings. Like rotary phones, anyone one under ten years old has no idea how to use them or what they are even for. Used to make a handy substitute for toilet paper the day before payday.

Strangely enough 411 still exists. How do I know this you might ask?  I'm too cheap to buy a smart phone and pay for a data package so I got the crappiest cel phone that I could find. I was out and about (yes its true we do say oot and aboot here in Canada, also my igloo melted yesterday) and I needed to call someone immediately and was nowhere near a computer. I had a flashback to my childhood and remembered 411. I dialed it and a after a few stupid questions from a computer that could not even master the rudiments of voice recognition ( did you mean Tons of Carnage? NO stoopid fucking computer....Joe's Garage!!@#&) I was finally connected to an actual human being. It felt weird but at the same time I knew that I was being judged by the operator. He was probably thinking that I was some kind of stupid hillbilly too illiterate to look it up and so backwater that electricity reached my shack barely six months ago. An uncomfortable moment.

2. The Internal Combustion Engine.

For thousands of years humans got around by riding on top of some poor hapless critter. It could be oxes or zebras but humans eventually settled on horses. Maybe the horses did't notice that there was someone on their backs or maybe they thought it was a large insect and just didn't care.

If you have ever been next to one of those horse carriages that haul tourists around on a hot summer day, you might understand what our cities smelled like back in the day. Also cars don't stop in the middle of a busy intersection to take a massive piss (if you did the same you would go to jail).

Then Karl Benz invented the car in 1885 ( some sources credit Gottlieb Daimler)and  that contraption is relatively unchanged in terms of basic operation. 128 years later we are still drilling big holes in the ground to extract juice made from decomposing plants and rotting dinosaurs. It is refined and made into gas which we burn in our our car engines that blow shit up thousands of times per second.

I figured that by the 21 st century we would all have cars powered by little tiny warp engines, magical squirrels on treadmills or pulled by 200 enslaved leprechauns. Sure there are electric cars but they are weird and unpredictable. If you run out of juice in the middle of the Mojave desert you better hope that you have a 300 mile long extension cord. I once saw a '49 Mercury with a huge electric motor that had been attached to the transmission. That was just wrong.

I'm not sure what the future holds for personal transportation, but for a drinking man a bicycle still remains a logical choice for hazy booze-fuelled outings.

3. CRT's

CRT's are those big old style televisions and computer screens. My aforementioned cheapness precludes me from buying a flat screen and my archaic CRT television suits me just fine. Most people just don't want them and you see them strewn in alleys abandoned, looking like dejected and forlorn one-eyed monsters.

My flat screen computer monitor died recently, so I hauled my ancient Mac CRT out of the shed. It felt strange having this bulbous blue and white monstrosity sitting on my desk. It seemed as big as a Smart car or one those pictures of a 250 pound dog awkwardly sitting on his owner's lap. I felt like a caveman staring at a big blue rock while randomly hitting it with a stick, but it still worked. Turns out rocks are compatible with Mac computers.

4. Acoustic Guitars.

Acoustic guitars have been a around for a long while and they are a wondrous invention.The digital interface is your fingers, the operating system is your brain and the hard drive is when you play hammered and strum a little too enthusiastically ( my guitar has a bunch of gouges that can attest to this fact). The only aberration is the fact that I use an on line tuner to tune the guitar and I use Google to find chords for songs.

Guitars were invented because many people were sick of fucking clowns in jester hats playing lutes. Also cowboys in the Old West would have probably been shot if they whipped out a lute around the campfire. Sadly, there are still certain groups of people out there that attend medieval festivals, dress up funny, speak Shakespearean English and listen to fucking clowns in jester hats playing lutes. Begone foul trickster !

5. Pants.

Pants are still around and, except for disturbed hippies trying to prove a point by wearing a skirt, that's what dudes wear (OK, kilts. Kilts are cool). Pants were probably invented around the same time as guitars because as well as being sick of lutes, people were sick of dudes in skirts or puffy pantaloons. They also had nowhere to put their dubloons so they needed pockets as well. Belts were invented soon after when all those heavy dubloons cause the pants to fall down. Jeans were invented for cowboys, because if some buckaroo played a lute and wore a skirt around the campfire he would be shot in the face as well as in the bag.

6. Toothbrush.

A great invention that is still around and often used to mask the smell of booze before going to work in the morning. Before that, cavemen used rocks to clean their teeth.

7. Combs.

Any Rockabilly who has ever felt that sense of panic upon realizing he has left home without a comb understands the importance of this simple device. Before combs caveman also used rocks.

8. Paper Money.

Currency in some form or another has existed for a long time. Even the Romans used coins, although they have used other things for currency such as the eyeballs of their enemies, live chickens, dead lizards.....oh wait that's what hippies in communes use for currency. Romans used coins.

I like cash, it has a certain authority to it and creates a palpable sense of satisfaction.  No credit card can do that ( credit cards are known to incite guilt however). The thrill of finding some random twenty on the sidewalk is enjoyable. It's not the amount, it's just free cash and the visions of free booze that accompany it.

I can't really envision a cashless society, everybody likes cash. It is satisfying to know that some old bike you sold on craigslist is pure cash and the government can't tax one dime of it. Some people haven't quite grasped the difference between cash and credit cards. In a cashless society all those people holding up the line at the coffee shop and then putting their 2 dollar coffee on their Visa would cause society to come to a virtual standstill. In ancient Rome, they would have been immediately put to death.

Technology is advancing at an exponential rate, but if you take a look around you it can be surprising at how many tried and true technologies are still with us. Now if they could only come up with a hard drive that won't inevitably fry and seriously mess up your life. Now what the hell are you supposed to do with a pen and a pad of paper?

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