Tuesday, April 24, 2012

1984 and 2012

Kath’s mother Pauline circa 1984: 
“So what is it you’re saving your babysitting money up for, again?”

Kath (patiently)
“To buy a ghetto blaster.”

“That’s a tape player, right?”

Kath (taking a deep breath).
“Yes. But it needs to have detachable speakers so that I can really enjoy the full on sound and must have a double tape deck so that I can tape tapes.”

“To tape tapes?”

Kath (sighing)
“Yes. Not like how you did it in 1979 by putting your reading-for-the-blind cassette machine flat on the carpet next to the radio gram – in glorious mono – and then pressing down the play and record buttons.”

Pauline (bristling slightly)
“Well, we all managed to hear Neil Diamond and Roger Whittaker clearly enough on our Queensland holiday and you used to sing the entire Sesame Street cassette tape soundtrack word for word....”

Kath (interrupting)
“True Mum, sorry about that. What I meant was that I really love listening to music but Robert has other tapes that I’d like to tape and I just realised that the public library has heaps of cassettes that we can borrow and copy and----“

Pauline (interrupting)
“----Cassettes are tapes, aren't they, not records?”

“NO, not records, Mum – records are so out of it, they scratch and they’re really big and you can’t put them in a walkman, can you?  Tapes are IN, Mum and they're here to stay.”

“Oh. So when are you going to buy your (pauses to align fingers into the newly-learned quotation mark gesture) ‘ghetto blaster’?”

"Grandpa’s going to get it for me."


"He and Nanna are off to Seoul next month and he said if I wrote down all the specifications, he’d take it into the Duty Free and get me one. I trust him.”

And I did.

AND he bought me back a gold Sanyo ghetto blaster with double tape-to-tape dubbing with variable speeds, detachable speakers, bass and treble knobs, FM tuner and – as an extra cool bonus – a graphic equalizer. I loved that beast! (and Grandpa too.)


“Mum, you know how my birthday is coming up really soon?”

“In around two months, you mean?”

“Er, yeah. Anyhow, I’d really like Spotify.”

“What’s that, a stain remover?”  (Put hands on hips to laugh at own joke).

“Oh Mum, you’re hilarious. No, it’s an online music system that’s better than i-tunes because you can listen to entire songs not just snippets, create playlists, send them to your friends who are on it and find everything ever. And my iPod has somehow gone weird and the only music left on it is Enya and Katy Perry for some reason and it goes flat if I take it out of the docking station for longer than five minutes.”

“Oh. Can’t you get Dad to put it on your iPad as one of those app thingies?”

“No, Mum, because we don’t live in Australia any more, everything defaults to Switzerland and denies us access to lots of really cool apps. It has to be set up as a new and separate paid account which will then mean I can use it on my iPad and not just sit at the desktop all the time as the only place I can listen to music.”

“Oh, OK. So you want this account for your birthday?”

Sapphire, brightening in relief that her meat-headed mother finally understands.
“Yes, Mum! It costs about the same as it does to get Dolly magazine every month but I’ll also be able to create an account for you and for Dad and recommend you songs and you’ll get to see what I’m listening to and you can ask me for playlists that I can set up on your treadmill by plugging in my iPad to the control panel and----“

Kath (overwhelmed with techno-talk).
“Fine, fine. Chat to Dad when he gets home.”

Later, on Sapphire’s facebook.

Kath, sticking her head into Sapphire's room.
"Er hey, grateful girl, I just read your status update.  Remember it was me that spoke to him about Spotify."

"Er no, Mum, au contraire, tu vache.  I could see that you had no idea so I showed him the site, we searched for the app together and he did the downloading and registration."


Sapphire, seeing her mother's transparently crestfallen face
"But Mum, there is something else I need..."

"Yes?  Those Hungry Games books?  No Direction album?  'I love blocks' Minecraft t-shirt?"

Sapphire thinks about mocking the glaringly obvious ignorance for a moment, but decides against it.
"No, but some headphones that are more than just foam circles and fly wire would be nice."

"Yeah, I could think about that. What sort are you talking about?"

"'Beats' ones by Dr Dre."

"NO WAY Jose. I know what they are. They cost three hundred francs and everyone walks around looking like they've got cheeseburgers on their ears!"

"But my friends have them and the sound quality is really, really good. Plus they eliminate all external sounds and you can select white or brown noise when flying and..."

"How about Sony ones, for one sixth of the price, and I'll give you my own version of brown noise for free?"

Sapphire pauses, torn between mocking her mother's naked uncoolness and bad sense of humour and considering the reality of getting some still-good headphones.

Eventually, she utters what Kath knew - deep in her muddled mother's heart - she was going to say.   

"I'll talk about it with Dad."


River said...

I remember those big ghetto blasters. I had one, but a smallish one. The double tape deck was absolutely essential! Later a unit with double tape deck and cd player was needed to play my K's cds and record them to tape for my walkman. Then came the computer to play and save her cds and burn off my own. Now I have the ipod and I think that's it for me. I'll leave the newer technology for the younger generation like Sapphire with her Spotify, although it does sound like a pretty cool thing to have.

The Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Kath,

Yup - I had a dual tape ghetto blaster too - and a Walkman.

And now my kids laugh when I mention cassette tapes. And they think I';m some sort of dinosaur when it comes to modern technology - even though I am very familiar with it.

I feel a similar blog post coming on ...




Kath said...

I couldn't even start contemplating the wonders of compact discs in 1984 - the (useless) graphic equalizer was The Business!

Walkman came in 1985 and ate up batteries quicker than I did Kitkats.

Andrew said...

I remember how sweet the victory over parents felt when I was a teenager. That is the moment when they realise what their teenager is saying and needs makes perfect sense.

Hannah said...

It was a huge problem in my teenage years that Mum wouldn't let my brother (I didn't care) have a discman or walkman. Huge clunky things; it's hilarious how things change.

Oh, just so you know, I'm 24 and that description of spotify made my brain hurt and then shut down. So I still have no idea what it's about. WHY IS LIFE SO COMPLICATED NOW AAAAAAAAAH.

Kath said...

I was nearly sixteen in 1984 and that's when I felt the tables turning, Andrew. With what I perceived as 'real' money to spend, earned by my own efforts and parents who were just happy that I wasn't a total idiot.

Hannah, the actual conversation was a LOT more complicated but there was no way that my old brain could remember all of the specific techno details spoken of.

The Elephant's Child said...

May I be excused? My brain is full.

Kath said...

E-Child, wait until she talks about Wikis.....

nuttynoton said...

I am showing my age now but was given my first tape recorder for Christmas 1973, and still have a tape with my younger brother and me singing bridge over troubled water! oh the memories, still if you want good head phones Which recommend sennheiser for the best sound they may not be cool though as I have been told!
Brilliant blog thanks!

River said...

Kath, I have an award for you over at my place. Pop on over and collect it any time you're ready.

River said...

@nuttynoton; I ditched the earbuds that came with my ipod shuffle and use my Sennheiser ones, they're so much better.

B Smith said...

A friend gave me a Walkman for my birthday in 1998, and I still use it every day.

You might identify with this...


(an ancient clip from the prehistoric Not The Nine O'Clock News show)

drwife said...

Oh no! My boys still think I am cool and wonderful. This is really going to be horrible isn't it. And, to make it much worse, I am not technologically gifted so I won't be able to keep up or make them happy.

I still have a Discman...somewhere in this house. We could offer it up to Sapphire just for fun. :)

I still don't really know how to use iTunes and now there is something else. Ah, help me!!

Jackie K said...

So funny! Brings it all back. I got a "ghetto blaster" from my parents for my 16th birthday. It was so exciting - double tape deck of course.
I wanted a walkman for Christmas when I was 12, and my parents intended to get me and my sister one each, but on Christmas Day they apologetically explained Walkmans were really expensive, and instead they got us each a little tape deck that had headphones and a carry strap so you could sling it over your shoulder like a handbag. We still loved them!

So funny, I had completely forgotten the phrase "graphic equaliser" until I read this post, and yet it was so HUGE and IMPORTANT back then. That and "soft eject".

Helen Balcony said...

Coincidentally, son just asked me to explain what a telegram was!

Remember the bit in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which I can't find, but it's something like: All technology is getting smaller and smaller, except for radios which are getting bigger and bigger.

Ah the 80s. Of course Apple put an end to the big radio thing. Now it's just the bloody cars which are getting bigger and bigger.

Here's another Douglas Adams quote: “I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”

Kath said...

Thanks, River!

I too ditched my ear buds and now have some worn out Sonys that wrap around the back of my head. Not particularly good for listening to in bed, but perfect for running.

Nutty, I'd love some Sennheiser ones - maybe for my birthday. Was your 1973 tape player one of those black ones that lay down like a brick on the table??

Thanks BSmith - I remember this sketch very, very clearly!

Drwife, I had a discman in the mid-1990s but it was useless for actually walking around in, let alone running...

Soft eject, Jackie K, of course! Don't forget the ones that had 'double speed' for taping off tapes.

Helen Balcony, Douglas Adams was spot on - it still pains me to realise just how out of it I am so that even my not-quite-thirteen year old is full of both fatigue and scorn. :)

franzy said...

I bought a double-tape stereo in 2000!!
AND it had a digital out for my next-big-thing Minidisc player.
Oops mp3s bup-bow.

Get Sennheiser headphones. Big fluffy ones. HD series - 212s is my current ear gogle set up. I had THREE sound-tech-nerds tell me they were the flicking BOSS in one day when I wore them in public.
Plus I feel her pain on the fartastic music tube front. I love music because I dropped so much dosh on headphones.

(Googles Beats headphone)

Oh dear. They are quite a drop in the bucket, aren't they?

(Googles Sennheiser 212s)

WTF? I paid like four times this much! ... Well, garrumph.

Go, Sapphire. Good headphones.

Kath said...

Sennheisers it is, Franzy. The fashion victims at school (who she doesn't like anyway) won't know what they are, but real techies will....

franzy said...

Better check on the coolness level first. Nothing worse than a smiling parent and headphones which make you feel like a total lepper.

I know, I know, you'd imagine that ALL headphones that big would make you feel like that. But yeah KTD etc

Kath said...

True, Franzy. Nothing worse than being a teenage 'lepper' or leper, in fact.

Since writing this, Love Chunks and Sapphire found the right pair. Ear buds, which surprised me, but she loves them.