Blog Post

TechNostalgia (or VHS Forever, Man)

I always laugh when people predict what old technologies will becomeobsolete because of new ones. Often times, the old ones are morevalued because of the new . . . and then sometimes they disappear orreappear as cult classics. All the predictions about the End of the Book are ridiculous. First, people have been making those predictions at least since the mid-nineteenth century, and certainly with radio and tv. Second, people who read books will continue to read books. (The same day that I was working on the Digital Media and Learning Call for Entries I read with excitement and admiration the new catalogue from a lovely, almost artisinal small publisher I'd never heard of before, Unbridled Books; I realized I'd read at least one of their authors before and immediately ordered some of the other books offered here in a catalogue "Promising that rarest of pleasures, a good read"). Rare, but not forgotten. Yeah. Well, I thought about this last night as Ken and I were making dinner (by the way, I love Mark Bittman---barbecued Thai chicken with peanut sauce, easy and delicious), another lovely analogue activity, and Ken put on a cd that our friends Tiffany and Greg had given us for some holiday a while ago. He'd heard it but I hadn't. It's a cult classic, from the Seventies, of a high school chorus singing all of these Classic Rock songs that, at the time, were brand new. (Talk about the coolest high school chorus teacher ever!) Here's the url where you can buy this amazing album, way too dorkily titled "Innocence and Despair." Apparently, an "itinerant music teacher" named Hans Fenger went around rural schools in western Canada and trained huge chorus to sing the Beach Boys, Paul McCartney, David Bowie, the Bay City Rollers, Fleetwood Mac, the Teddy Bears, and many others, while playing various band instruments (my heart broke over the earnest percussionist on some of the tracks), including the gamelon. Fenger then recorded it on a 2-track tape deck in the Langley school gynmasium in 1976-77. The recording has been reissued, remastered, with blurbs from none other than David Bowie and others. It's a music-lovers classic. You don't have to be hiply ironic to love it. But you have to be into TechNostalgia. Without the 2-track tape deck acoustics, it would be nothing. You need the lowfi, lowtech. The Thai Chicken tasted so much better with the wavering teen solo of "Desperado" pealing, in 2-track, in the background.


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