September 10, 2010

Influences & Ignorance: Generation WC (Who Cares?)


Pure colleague Geoff Renstrom loaned me a book, “Nothing Feels Good.” The title is a double meaning referencing the self-exploration and self-deprecation of music called “emo”—the theme is often loneliness and failure, yet that’s the preferred state of being.

No, I’m not currently crying over the keyboard. This is going in a different direction, don’t worry.

“Nothing Feels Good” shares great musical background, listing bands that have influenced the tunes I daily pump through headphones. And as I’ve scanned the pages I’ve shaken my head: Why haven’t I explored this before? It’s the skeleton beneath the skin of my MP3s.

I’ve jumped on Pandora, started cycling through these new-old artists, smiling at the connections I hear between then and now. But this has also sparked thoughts of predecessors in general.

At Pure we’re constantly using and chatting about all things digital: laptops, iPods, iPads, iPhones, social media, ad infinitum. Consider the dusty things in those evolutionary lines: typewriters, record players, Zack Morris cell phones, the many defunct magazines and newspapers.

Who in the rising generations will have the curiosity to explore this fresh wave of vintage? 

At the moment, vinyl is still cherished by many. It has a nice look, a nice feel. You set an album in its place, preciously place the needle, tweak the speed.

A stiff button opens a portable CD player, into which you loudly click in a texture-less disc and poke play.

One of those two experiences is more appealing. But if the CD player will be their record player, it’s tough to blame those rising generations for not caring.

Finding a Pac-Man arcade game or a pinball machine in someone’s basement is a thrill. To be vacuumed into that screen, that portal (and to have the machine suffer zero damage when punted in anger). Or have your eyes paw like a cat after a gleaming metallic ball.

While Sega Genesis was glorious, plugging in cartridges and dousing controllers with palm sweat robbed the act of some personality (and a kick could be fatal).

The youth slinging Wii remotes—and whatever’s beyond—may not care to meet Sonic the Hedgehog or Earthworm Jim, and they were cool dudes.

A person might be handed (or e-mailed) a “Nothing Feels Good” equivalent, but will they only nod at the words and think the past was wild? Does the investigation, the understanding, stop there? A lot of thrift store gear could be rather lonely down the road, and Nintendo Entertainment Systems weren’t designed to be emo.



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