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The toys have changed but the game’s the same

Submitted by on Friday, 18 June 2010 3 Comments

These kids  just don’t know how easy they have it.

Back in the day when I was walking four miles to the bus stop, up hill both ways, I needed a radio, a tape recorder, cassettes, a television and a ton of patience to pirate music. For the guys, it’s as simple as one piece of equipment roughly half the size of a deck of cards. Talk about a cushy deal.

Big Guy’s been living the life since Monday when, basking in the glow of his angelic behavior and turbo tough guy performance during two rounds of painful allergy testing, I bought him an mp3 player.

It’s not an iPod – we barely have trees here in the desert, so money couldn’t possibly sprout in our yards. I also refuse to buy expensive gear for a kid who can’t find his backpack when he’s standing in front of it. But the cheapy player does have an FM radio and a recorder. It will play music, videos and ebooks. Sheesh, does he realize the amount of equipment I would have needed to replicate that when I was a kid? It holds up to 1,000 songs – I would have pulled muscles trying to cart around that many cassettes back in the day.

Technological differences aside, his mission is the same as mine as a kid:  “Now I can listen to my music. My own rockin’ music,” Big Guy said.

Ah, I recall that feeling as vividly as I recall my first radio, a Raggedy Ann transistor that “Santa” brought when I was 9. Not that I believed in Santa at that point. The parents had summoned the three of us about a year earlier for the only family meeting I ever recall to disavow us of that notion. For some reason, though, they kept up the pretense of Santa lists and early-morning wakeups.

Ann got me through a lot of music and baseball over the years, including the World Series in 1975 and 76. Both ended long after my alleged bedtime, but thanks to Ann’s handy dandy ear phone, I kept a covert listening post. Or tried to. I remember waking up in a panic well after the final pitch in ’76 to the tune of Diana Ross’s “Love Hangover.” Crap! I’d fallen asleep. Had the Reds won? I twirled the dial frantically.

Shortly after Ann came my first recorder – a cassette model straight out of the Sears and Roebuck catalog. I’d sit with it in front of Ann, patiently waiting for the DJ to play my request. Later, I’d wait in front of the TV, tape cued to capture the musical portions of “Donny and Marie.”

Tape a TV show? Isn’t that what the DVR is for?

For a few days, Big Guy was giddy just to be able to crank up the volume on the radio without hearing me complain, but then he got tired of the one radio station we’re able to pick up on post. Apparently the music isn’t rockin’ enough. I offered to load the player with some of his Dad’s CDs – except for one Pat Benatar album, mine fail the rockin’ test – but he was about as interested in that as I was in the Loretta Lynn eight-track that looped incessantly during family drives when I was a kid.

So what’s a kid of the 21st Century stuck in the middle of radio no-man’s land to do?

Record from YouTube. So far he’s captured “Kryptonite,” “We Will Rock You” and numerous Korn selections that Mom cannot abide. Listening to his rockin’ music has replaced TV just before bedtime. I feared at first that it would keep him awake, but not so far.

And in the dark of the night after Big Guy falls asleep with ear buds still attached, I swear I can hear the long-ago strains of Marty Brennaman crying “and this one belongs to the Reds.” Or maybe it’s Donny crooning, “She’s a little bit country.”

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • My first Tape Recorder said:

    was an incredible gift. I took it to school and recorded friends as I ‘interviewed’ them – including Kevin Carrigan who got in trouble for saying “boobs” into the microphone and then running away.

  • Leslie K. said:

    oops…I made a new name for myself on that last post, sorry.

  • Debra said:

    We used to use mine at school to do radio “broadcasts.” I did the scripting, but Richard – AKA Rich the Rat on air – was the voice talent because he was way more popular.