Music used to fly away, there used to be a sky it went to, a cloud-less sky, where music went unless you owned it on a physical, on a tape, on a disc. A song was weightless unless weighted. Now there is a site where its names are, where you can always visit it. It was that the show, the voice, the picture, all had to be tracked, spotted, eaten on site, while on the air, through the air, while transmitting, while you were at the museum, or with the book in your hands.
What is in the air now? The cellular waves, all those cellular waves so I say to my sister, “Hang on a second,” and say to the laundress, “How are you?” and give her my phone number after she weighs my laundry, this is how meaninglessly cheap our thousand-miles phone time is.
I had a boyfriend who got and kept radio shows on palm-sized tapes and TV shows on tapes that needed two hands. They were labeled in his hand, often with the initials of the title, alphabet soup to anyone else.
He had to get home to press “REC,” what he had to REC was precious to him, to have, later.
Now it does not matter, there is never a reason to go home, there is no “REC” button to press. It doesn’t happen that I let the television go, even when I can hardly stand its story, its cadence, because that’s how much I need its stimulation to fill places in me that otherwise are echoing.
I had rented one movie, one tape, in the machine, pressed PLAY, not a triangle pointing right, and it made that movie play, no other movie, there were not three hundred or ten thousand choices, there was one, and the whole evening was different because watching a beautiful woman undress Brad Pitt. I guess the woman was beautiful, I don’t recall. He is having a rough time now, but has served us.
That was real, as was the ID I thought I didn’t have and they wouldn’t sell me a bottle of wine, but it had fallen next to my car seat, and I took it back in and bought the bottle of wine, and I think things that night went differently because I brought wine, too.
You used to have to hunt, catch, and capture, now you dip in and sift, now you must pull yourself out, it is much harder, it was easier to stop the infernal TELEVISION because it could get so awful, no matter how you wanted its support, it was too awful.
The internet is never too awful, all its serialized A/Vs are too many, and I can replay some of them. Serialized A/Vs will not be what we call it. I do think we’re well past having another word, though, I still say I spent hours and hours “watching television,” I did, yesterday, isn’t that what I did? I and the cat hours staring at laptop, images and sound to make stories playing, playing, playing for us. Television was this thing that was edifying, trash, and a great joy to John Lennon, who used it as one of his favorite drugs.
This is why people have loved food so much the last ten years, food must be consumed on site. The only art you can’t have, not at all, not in any even slightly satisfying way, at a distance, it must be in your mouth.
“Wait for the song to come on the radio, so you could record it, had the end of the DJ talking, waiting forever for the song to come on, ‘Diamonds and Pearls’ by Prince.”
What I do own is years and years of physical journals, in plastic boxes, tucked away. Maybe I own nothing more valuable than those?
I dropped things when I moved: all the CDs, all the tapes, all the DVDs, I left in a garage and someone else threw them out, I suppose.
Easier now to glide, not even flap your wings.
Image: “Airwave,” Sally Victor, Metropolitan Museum of Art.