I like listening to the radio. I like top 40, I like DJs, and I even like the commercials. So when it came time for my bi-monthly workout (everything in moderation, right?) I said to myself, "Self, what's gonna get you moving at a semi-acceptable pace around the park?" I took one look at my iPod and knew that Juanes, Kate Walsh, and The Police weren't good enough company to keep me motivated. As I searched my closet for that iPod accessory you use to take songs from iTunes and put them on your iPod, a dusty old yellow-looking box-y thing caught my eye on the very tip top shelf. What in the world...?
Go to the store, buy a hat, and get ready to hold onto it because sitting on the top shelf of my closet was a Sony WMFS499 Sports Walkman in canary yellow.
The discovery was shocking for two reasons: One, I've lived in four different apartments in New York City and I can't believe Walkman has made the journey with me to each new place, and that I'd never noticed it before. And two, Walkman, as you know, went extinct in the mid-nineties when Discman, with its high glamour and shiny CDs, came in and wiped virtually every Walkman off the planet. As I stood there holding this musical relic, I felt a rush of excitement and curiosity that I imagine other discoverers like Howard Carter and Magellan know something about. And yes, the batteries still worked.
So I pulled Walkman down, blew off a few years worth of dust, and fine-tuned the black adjustable rubber action grip. Although I was a little hesitant to digress two decades technologically, I knew my run needed some radio pop tunes, and I knew Walkman was my only answer.
Z100 came through beautifully on the digitally synthesized AM/FM tuner, and I quickly started setting the 20 presets to characteristic NYC stations. While doing so I couldn't help but notice its rugged, water-resistant sports series case, and I was quickly convinced that neither rain nor sweat could dampen its performance. I also couldn't ignore it's heft: I was sure the die-cast aluminum case weighs about 13 ounces. After a little bit of stretching and headphone cleaning, out the door Walkman and I headed hand in grip for the first time together in the twenty-first century.
The little part of me that was embarrassed by my audacious, bright yellow, out-of-style running partner quickly vanished when I noticed how great my run was going! I was on my fifth lap (and I usually stop at three) when a group of three young men with a combined weight of 145 pounds stopped me in my tracks. I thought it was the confident, effortless, approachable look I was giving off since I was feeling so great about my exercise, but turns out it was the beacon of musical sunshine shooting from my left hand that provoked them to get in my way. They demanded to know where I got Walkman. Some nearby thrift store? Ebay? Did I get him in some Meat Packing District boutique? Did I? Did I?
When I told them I just had Walkman laying around the house, they exchanged approving glances from under their fedora hats, then looked at me with wide, believing eyes and said "Whoa, cool."
And so marks the day, July 30th, 2008, when Walkman was welcomed back into our society. In keeping with his kind, unassuming manner, he didn't overthrow anyone else or upgrade versions to try and fit in. Walkman, still unapologetic for his rewind and fast-forward buttons that you can never tell apart, played his A and B sides back into our civilization. Welcome back, old buddy, welcome back.
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