Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spining round

The three Huffman girls have always pined for the latest Apple gadget — iPods, iPhones, iTouches… If it starts with an “i,” “iWant” it, they’d say.
But last week one Huffman announced she was saving her money for something a little different.
I want a turntable, she said.
You mean a record player, I said.
Yeah, she said, as if she hadn’t been begging for an iPad just three days before.
Was this a trick? Was she trying to lull me into reliving the 1980s, a decade I couldn’t wait to escape at the time but now look back on with the kind of nostalgia that only 30 years and three teenagers can bring?
Did she really want a RECORD PLAYER — one with a needle and arm? The kind that you plug in with a cord, and turn on with the click of a dial, not the tap of a touchscreen?
Yeah, she said. They’re cool.
So a record player is cool now?
This is it, I said to myself. My generation is so old that we’re new again. We’re so old that companies are reinventing our old technology into “new” technology. They’re reproducing our era, only this time with Wi-Fi, USB ports and iPhone apps.
What’s next? Eight-track players? Gramophones with those cone-shaped speakers? Morse code jam sessions?
A friend has a record player, our daughter informed me. She has fun. on vinyl.
Fun? I knew enough to recognize the name of the newish band I’d heard on the radio. But what band in 2013 is releasing music on actual vinyl? It turns out more than you’d think. Our daughter rattled off a bunch of other current bands that had done the same.
She showed me a photo online (naturally) of a record player. It looked a lot like something you might have seen in my bedroom in about 1978, only it comes in her choice of a blue, green, orange, pink or turquoise case.
This got me reminiscing about my early record purchases. First there was the recorded book “Black Beauty,” complete with illustrated pages, then 45s by Bobby Sherman, and the “Grease” soundtrack, eventually followed by the Police’s “Synchronicity” album and “Whammy” by the B-52s.
I probably would have kept on buying vinyl, but then I upgraded to the latest and greatest technology: a Realistic brand cassette tape recorder bought at the local Radio Shack. It had not one, but two cassette tape players, which the Jennifer of 1983 referred to as “totally rad.”
My daughter told me that her friend has even been going to the thrift store and buying old records to play on her turntable.
Like what?, I said dubiously.
Led Zeppelin. The Eagles, she said.
Hmm … it was hard to argue with classic rock.
I considered the possible upsides to a record player. If she got the turntable, she could start visiting Goodwill looking for old vinyl records. Who knows, maybe she could even run across an old dual-track cassette player. I could teach our girl how to make a mixtape.

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