Saturday, February 9, 2013

How To Operate A Television Set

I just read the inimitable @dboshea's post "You aren't a 'pirate', you're a thief. asshole", which I applauded most wildly. You will see, in doing so yourself (reading the post, not applauding), why I was reminded of this bit in my project *"Mercury":

I learned, along with millions of other kids born in the throes of Generation X, to wake up at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday mornings.  I skated down the stairs to the main floor, whirled around to the next flight and scampered to the basement.  I turned on the television.  Back in those days, you had to physically walk up to the television in order to perform this operation.  So far as I can recall, a “knob” was involved. This was a thing not entirely unlike a button in that it protruded from the set, but – and stay with me, here – you would have to grasp it, with your index finger and thumb, and twist it slightly until you felt a snap.  A glowing white dot would then appear at the center of the screen, and after a few moments, the techy, ghostly thing would expand miraculously into an already moving image.  You did not break contact with the knob at this point, no; you would then continue twisting it slowly to the right until you heard sound emit from the speaker of the television.  Continue twisting, and when the desired volume was reached, you were finished.  Unless of course the image was of some dumb balding guy in a maroon polyester blazer, an unnatural void at his back, brow knit, voice weighted just so, head cocked professionally to one side and hands sloughing a sheaf of papers perhaps a bit too ceremoniously onto a particle board desk or tabletop.  In that case, you would turn your focus to a second, larger knob, this one marked out with numbers, 2 through 13. You grasped the dial and snapped a little arrow from one number to the next, until you found Looney Tunes.  Then, you were finished.

I feel grateful, Dan: This is a project that I've been having hard time facing, like a past due bill or an awkward acquaintance. Your words had me unearthing the file, opening it up and looking it square in the i's (dotted, the lot of them) and t's (crossed). I'm now drawn entirely back in. Thank you for that.