In my youth, homeless men (and they all seemed to be men) were called "bums," nuns wore long habits, and giant theaters charged 75 cents for a triple feature. I owned the 45 single of the Beatles' "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" and paid only $1.50 to see Aerosmith in concert at Central Park. I remember egg creams from the fountain, doctors making house calls, putting our garbage on a dumbwaiter, and banging on steam pipes to get more heat. Nehru jackets and bell bottoms were not retro when I was kid. We listened to 8-track tapes and played with a spaldeen. I marveled at the 1969 Mets, sat in Yankee Stadium for Mickey Mantle's last home run, and watched Dr. J play for the New York Nets in the old ABA.
Life was just fine without microwave ovens, cell phones, beepers, fax machines, computers, and cable TV (even color TV wasn't universal). We had no palm pilots, one-hour photo shops, and everything wasn't available via drive-thru. If you had a car, chances are it didn't come with AC, power steering, power brakes, power windows, or power doors. It definitely did not talk back to you. I don't recall having an air conditioner in my apartment until I was at least 9 or 10. No HBO, HMO, SUV, MTV, VCR, DVD...not even a remote control. Yeah, we actually got up off our asses to change the channel or the volume. Considering that the average post-modern American couch potato watches three hours and 46 minutes of television every day (the equivalent of 52 consecutive, non-stop TV-watching days a year), I'm proposing a hot new ironic trend for 2007: the remote-less life.
By the time your typical kid in America graduates high school, he or she has sat through 360,000 television commercials and by age 70, they will have spent 10 years watching TV. It took a long time-and an awful lot of marketing-to make this a reality and reversing such a trend requires time and stamina. But, like any journey, it starts with a first step: Throw away your remote.
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net