I want magazines, glorious shiny magazines, and newspapers, expensive, dying newspapers, and I will have them. I will order subscriptions of magazines and newspapers while I still can, and I will receive them, and I will read them and I will recycle them, as I always have. I will not take the printed word on paper for granted. I long for the newspaper's tactile feel, and seductive look on the table, urging, read me, read me. Pick me up and read me. Absent of keyboard, e-mail notification, or that haunting, low glow screen drawing your psyche into the pool of infinitely changing stuff -- trending info, shopping opps, stock directions, cutest kitten videos, Facebook notifications, Twitter feeds. Possibly irrational, my demand of tactile reading material echoes a time in my own history I fear to repeat. Unreasonable? Perhaps. The dwindling of basic old school lifestyle options dovetails my concept that too much computer in the home is not a happy home.
I do not deny the magnificence of our www age and global connectedness. I marvel with my children and partner the on-line expertise available at our fingertips: master guitar lessons, Cliffsnotes on everything, answers to silly math jumbles, Hello Kitty wallpaper, vintage Barbie websites, NY Times, SF Gate, Huffington Post, and anything, no everything, else you could imagine is there. Bravo to we the people for the brilliant creation of our hallowed digitized age and how we receive critical and non critical data in the 21st century; so exalted an effort, in connecting us all succinctly, cohesively, and downright addictively on this tiny blue planet. It's just its all so solitary, individualistic, physically isolating, each one staring into a screen, tapped in, tuned on.
I am a chef and a mother and before that, I was an avid art kid who threw a shit fit the day I walked into Tower Records on Columbus and Bay Streets and could not buy vinyl after 13 years of buying vinyl, the only music medium besides cassette tapes. An unforgettable day, the store had been squishing the vinyl sections for weeks and months until finally one day in 1990, the CD selection outweighed vinyl in every physical way imaginable. There was no vinyl. I was off-the-hook pissed. It marked the end of how I "did business" as an artist, listening to music. The damned mirrored discs didn't even sound right, let alone possess the luxury of visual and physical space I had taken for granted until they were gone. Everything was compressed, including the sound.
My Tower Records pilgrimages began in 1977 when at age 13, the act of purchasing music was fully loaded, a cultural moment, a rite of passage, a major activity that required a bus ride, or long walk in the City. It was truly a physical act. The palpable vibe of our Tower Records was equal to and on point with going to an actual club. Information was exchanged. That is where I saw the nude John & Yoko album cover. Shocking, yes. Tower was where I learned Ian Curtis of Joy Division killed himself. Tack on the hand drawn ever changing acrylic album cover paintings on the long stucco exterior wall to stimulate your senses, and the small parking lot marquee listing what band was showing up when to promote their new LP, plus musical PR collateral -- posters, cut outs, bullshit, all could be yours if you knew someone at the sales counter. At first I mourned vinyl, then, in time, I mourned Tower Records.
The happy B side is vinyl DID return, and was always gonna make its return, in my city mouse mind. The return just needed time. Yes, I was forced to buy CDs, the CD player, et al. I blamed it on some kind of "the man" conspiracy. I was there for the ATM revolution. I lived through it, so I am old enough yet young enough to know this advanced nano fast technology explosion with equal wonder and dread. The possibilities are divine yet scary. But I do not need to receive all my information from the computer. The computer is already ubiquitous in the nuclear family. Our digital devices and computers are addictive mother@!#$%!'s and it nukes the family center when all members are tethered to their motherboards in lieu of their family members. Remember reading cereal boxes, comics, newspapers, anything, at the breakfast table? One thing for sure, that act did not thrust some boys and girls into vortexes of social dysfunction. There were human issues, to be sure, each sub generation tackles the economic and social pressures of the moment, simply growing up, learning how to be. But the home needs to be its own earnest community, engaged in one another, and shared meals, the binder of what civilizes us as people.
As the children grow, where we need to exercise more caution is managing the vast medium, as with all wonderful and potentially menacing factors. To be more sensitive about content, accessibility and virtual isolation. To know what your child's Facebook profile photo is, to understand the thrust of their content, discuss the possibility of predators and privacy issues, to stay tuned in to them. How can you tell your child to get off the computer when you are on one yourself? Leading through example is the ultimate parental power tool. Our young humans, need real beings, in the real world getting involved and staying there until they are old enough to go it on their own in both the real and virtual worlds.
I will close the laptop more and more; disengage from the e-world addictions, and I will make a choice to read a glossy magazine, over an on-line magazine, and I will have a newspaper around for myself and the children to read communally, perhaps, share horoscopes over breakfast. It is a very small act and perhaps viewed as meaningless, misinformed, and unsustainable. However to choose spending less time on the computer is a statement of personal choice, perhaps the times will not permit this act for long. However, I can't help but to believe that history is repeating itself here. My read on the intense computer driven anti-socialization is also a cautionary tale about hanging on to what you believe to be good and vital, and not taking anything for granted, like records. I fear the day when all reading material will only be "online". Is it only a matter of time?