Abilene & Southern Railroad's #20 Baldwin 2-8-2 Steam Locomotive: sitting on a turntable--both railroad, loco, and turntable true "things of the NOW very distant past"--though in my memory I can still hear one of these old locomotives chugging up a slight grade on the old Texas & Pacific Railroad (long gone) tracks that ran behind our house when I was a kid in Dallas, Texas, after WWII.
Gone Are the Days
My ex-New Orleans sidekick and friend for many moons now, a master of the Big Board who now lives a double-whipped smoothie life out in California, passed on to me this E-mail of this rather sad list of "passing fancies." It's from one of my friend's Internet friends. We don't think of these things as "obsolete," but they are, because it's now a Future Shock world where technology is rapidly advancing faster than we mortal human monkeys can control it or even keep up with it. With the advent and takeover of nanotechnology and now this new "Cloud" concept of computing, we will have to upgrade every 6 months or be left behind in a "Cloud of dust" or with a tombstone (surely soon to be a thing of the past along with cemeteries) over our heads.
Check It Out:
Generational Leap Frog
In Economics 101, students learn the Law of Diminishing Returns. The example given in teaching this concept is that of the milk shake and one's hunger or thirst for one. It's like you go into the ice cream store craving a chocolate milk shake (my preference). Sure enough, the first shake is absolutely gratifying. But then you order a second shake. But this time this second shake goes down fast at first but by the end of it, you are beginning to be first of all feeling FULL and second of all you're getting a little tired of chocolate milk shakes. Then a third one is brought to you and you begin attacking it. This time it's close to impossible to drink this milk shake with much speed, finishing it perhaps with a great struggle and maybe a wee bit of being sick at your stomach. And THEN you are brought a FOURTH chocolate milk shake, which you reject--even the sight of it makes you sick. You see the principle of this Law of Diminishing Returns? And this principle can be applied to anything you do--even like the owning of a new car. At first we are proud of it--keep it cleaned up--keep the interior sparkling. But say a year later--the car's newness has worn off--there is less pride in it; you don't keep it so clean anymore; etc. This principle can even be applied to thinking--favorite concepts, designs, art, etc.
Human beings themselves become obsolete. Each new generation of young people set the trends, the fashions, the entertainment levels, the avant garde. In my lifetime I've seen radio as the most powerful media give way to at first black and white television. While in the movies, color film had finally become the norm while the industry technical folks experimented with wide-screen concepts like CinemaScope and Todd-A-O and futuristic concepts like 3-D (by the way, the next trend in television will be 3-D--and I'm sure there are some Techies, now called Geeks, who are working on 4-dimensional viewing concepts (like the holodecks on imaginary spaceships like the Star Trek Enterprise)...or integrated 4-D viewing with surround sound tracked onto it--or virtual movies in which the viewer can actually become one of the actors).
I am so obsolete. I lay out big bucks for some electronic toy (I'm into computers and recording equipment) only to see after enjoying it for say 6 months the announcement of an upgrade to it, a better and faster edition. Since 1985, look how computer operating systems have changed. Look how many new versions of Windows have come down the electronic pike (from Windows 85 to Vista). Apple is up to the Snow Leopard in terms of their OSX progressions--leaving behind their sometimes, I think, better extinct operating systems: Leopard, Tiger, Panther, Jaguar, and a long string of Classic OSs--and I loved 9.1 and still use it in the Classic mode with my obsolete Power Mac G4 running obsolete Panther 10.3. With my current obsolete set up, when I go on the Internet, Firefox warns me that my obsolete Firefox can no longer protect me from attacks. I am quite sure that Snow Leopard (OS 10.6) is soon to be obsolete and need to be upgraded (to Cloud computing).
My Youth and Nonconformity (a Page Out of MY Hi Story)
I'm so obsolete. I've already been a "youth" several times over. I've already led adults around by their noses getting my way. I've already set trends and been hip and put down old fogies and moldy fig ways of thinking. Now, I am admittedly, way past being able to pose as being even spiritually close to anything "youth." As a result, my "new" ideas--meaning I'm still thinking "youthfully"--come out under false pretenses as young in intentions but old in approach. Though I can cover my ancient ass by relating myself to root beer. The best root beer is "old-fashioned" root beer--but now I squandering analogies.
I'm stuck in the ruts of the road of life I so immaturely and adolescently created when I was a road-building youth--that road that has led me now through several decades of, I'll admit it, smooth-sailing life. As a road builder, I am a nonconformist. I like twists and turns though I like making them at modern angles. I find the way the crow flies not my method of aviation. The fastest way--the shortest way--never impressed me.
I remember the first time I traversed the Salt River Canyon in Arizona. I was in my beat-up rather Beat Chevrolet that had once been owned by a rich girl who when she outgrew it, her daddy sold it to me for $300. And I was so impressed with that Salt River Canyon and the highway that scaled it and descended on it, that magnificent canyon, and then at that time that highway was narrow, stretches of it unpaved, full of runaway offshoots in case your brakes went out coming down.
Salt River Canyon, Arizona. From Travelog.com.
And I lived my life by jumping from coincidence to coincidence--because coincidentally, my mother's brother, the Filmmaker, had rigged up a movie camera mounted on a tripod mounted on a wood platform in the back seat of his 1921 Maxwell touring car and had taken his mother, my grandmother, and his new movie-star wife, my aunt Celebrity, off out west filming--and one of the places he filmed was in the Salt River Canyon--with my grandmother driving the Maxwell while my aunt that I never knew (she died of cancer shortly after this trip) rode shotgun recording the event in terms of directing and scripting the scenes. I'll never forget seeing those films one time when I was a mere tad in swaddling clothes--how scary those black and white canyon shots were to me--those shots off the rims of that snaking-river-cut-deep canyon and in those days the scary narrow winding looping unpaved road that led travelers headed out toward the Golden State from one side of that deep pit in the earth to the other side and escape up onto the flatlands that then lead through the desert over to Phoenix. And from there it was easy to slingshot oneself out across the borax-white Mojave desert to eventually tumble down into Los Angeles off the San Bernadinos.
My uncle's intention on that trip was to film his entrance into that new beckoning wonderland for those dabbling in this new art form called the cinema--his adventure from the flat prairies of his home in West Texas out into the wild lands of the west to open up new highways in New Mexico--the Red River Canyon highway (that I would later visit many times myself when I lived in New Mexico)--and then in Arizona--and finally going out across the wide desert to come glorifiedly rolling into Hollywood in that big Maxwell touring car with that big hand-cranked movie camera mounted on the back seat--mounted where it could be busted down and encased in case of a rain storm or snow storm or earthquake--my uncle was an early filmmaker, except he called himself a movie maker--EXCEPT on this trip, he failed to get further than just east of Phoenix when his money and film ran out and his wife and mother were by then driving him to cursing them to the point where in a pouting state, he turned that Maxwell around in Phoenix and drove it straight back to West Texas without saying a word and without filming a lick and without doing anything but driving as fast as he could back so he could dump the two haranguing uncomfortable women he'd brought along with him on his advent upon the Hollywood movie scene.
I am slothful. OK, I admit it. I move slow, though ironically I can move fast, too. It's not that I'm slow in the "he's slow" mental categorization--oh no, I'm quick when it comes to wit and punditry and sloganeering and correcting others. I would have made a great debater--except for my shyness. I suffer from a great timidity. And that is the explanation behind my slowness. I would have been a great teacher--except for this timidity--which I now discern as caused by my having no confidence in myself until I could prove myself perfect. The renaissance-man syndrome was a propellant I used to cruise through LEARNing as much KNOWLEDGE as I could gather and utilize. As a result, I became a little wiseass whizkid--though, here my timidity gave me my cool.
It's all so complicated due to our childhoods being so complicated. Many a writer has attempted a volume imagining what a society formed and ruled over by children would be like--Lord of the Flies is the ultimate effort in this genre, although I'd throw the Harry Potter books into this grave genre, too, though I shouldn't comment on Harry since I've never even read one word of a Harry Potter book. They are too British (Gothic) for me. Kiddy book writers, too, try and give kids mature powers through their respect of the rules of kings and queens, princes and princesses, and even in their anthropomorphic tales, it's the ruler types followers who are taught to follow European traditions if they want to succeed. Trouble with kids and rule--their form of rule is the cruel form--the natural form--the instinctual form of rule. I was not a kid ruler. I never read kiddy books as a kid. Nor have I ever read a kiddy book to a kid. Hell, I couldn't be a ruler because I was a natural-born disrespecter of RULE and rules.
The Golden Rule--hogwash. The ruler and yardstick to me were tools of punishment. "Grab the yardstick, Big Wolf, Wolfie's pissing me off in here with his obstinacy," thus spaketh my mother. Roberts' Rules of Order? I never knew them. Emily Post's book of etiquette?--fuck it, I was crude, interfering, annoying...timid out in public but a wrathful little wretched anarchist within the confines of my home ground. And I blamed the reason for rules and rulers on my parents.
The Pacific Electric Car to Watts (Los Angeles), 1944, foto by H. I. Kelso
for The Daily Growler
P.S.: Our latest "penis enlargement" spam is from "Governor Arnie."