RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#378: “Kick it Kevin, do something Kevin!”*
If you’re like me, then you absolutely hate it when a piece of your valued technology goes on the fritz. It happens frequently enough. Something stops working, and you try to get it functioning again. For men at least, our first reaction is usually to give the malfunctioning piece of tech a good whack. You might give it a swift kick, cross fingers, and sometimes that’s all it takes! Kick it, and it’s suddenly back to life. A loose connection, perhaps. Or maybe there’s something mystical about the art of kicking something to make it work again. Whatever the case may be, fixing one of our modern tech items by ourselves is becoming increasingly more difficult today. Certainly, a kick rarely works anymore. All of us will have to replace at least one tech item in our households this year. Be it your audio device, stereo component, TV, gaming system, computer, or even just your microwave, everything we buy today has a built-in short-term lifespan.
When I was working at the Record Store, it seemed that at least two of our seven CD players were always broken at all times. When the main store player broke, we’d swap it out with one of the customer listening station players. Disc players don’t seem durable anymore. Yet somehow I still own my mom’s original 5 disc CD changer from 1991 (a Sony about the size of a battleship), and it’s the most reliable player in my home. It’s probably also the oldest piece of tech in the house. That old Sony keeps on ticking, no kicking required. Every once in a while it needs a good cleaning, but then it’s good to go once more.
Here’s another interesting fact about my Sony. It’ll play anything. Be it a DualDisc or an old cheap Canadian independent CD from the early 90’s, it can play it. Neither my PC nor laptop will play those things without an annoying amount of artificial digital noise. My 24 year old Sony will.
That one CD player aside, everything else here seems to constantly be on the verge of collapse! I had to buy a new blu-ray player last spring. The old one refused to boot up anymore. The original wasn’t a cheap player: I paid almost $500 for it, in 2010! I was beyond upset when I had to replace it (with a $120 Samsung from Walmart) but the new player has all sorts of bells and whistles built in that the old one didn’t! The ability to play Netflix, Youtube, or video files off a flash drive were all new to me when I bought it; the old player couldn’t do those things. (I almost feel like I should have waited before making the switch to Blu.)
More than just the Blu-ray player, everything else here busts eventually. Both Jen and I have owned Hipstreet brand mp3 players that broke within mere weeks. I had to replace my car stereo two years ago (I drive a 2010). Speaking of car stereos, two weekss ago my left door side speaker started cutting in and out! The following week, it died altogether. I gave it several good solid boot kicks, but it did not help and I had to have it fixed to the tune of $200. A similar problem happened in my old Plymouth Sundance. The left door speaker blew but the car was on its last legs and it wasn’t worth spending money on. T-Rev came over one night to help me pry the door panel off; we were hoping it was just a wire that came loose. We never figured it out, but we did damage the door panel in the process. I never want to pry off another door panel.
Let’s not even talk about computers! I’ve had to replace more power supplies, fans, cards, routers, monitors…hell, just last week, one of the ethernet ports on my router died. No idea why, it’s just one of those things that happens, isn’t it? The nice thing though, about being forced to replace something like that, is that you are almost certain to be upgrading every time. Since the technology becomes fancier over the years, if you blow a hard drive you’ll most likely be replacing it with a bigger and faster one.
Faster, sleeker, tricked out…technology keeps getting more exciting, but more disposable. When I was a kid, it didn’t seem that way. Each family had a VCR…that was their VCR. They didn’t go and buy a new and better one every two years. Each kid had a ghetto blaster. That was their ghetto blaster…it was expected to last many years. If it broke, you fixed it or got it fixed. That’s how it went. Today, we go buy a new one, and pay a recyling fee to throw out the old. Seems to me like it’s not the technology that’s broken, it’s this disposable culture we live in.
* The title refers to an on-stage meltdown by the band Extreme last year. Their own technology went sour and they were having sound issues all night. Nuno walked off stage…Pat walked off stage…leaving singer Gary Cherone and drummer Kevin Figueiredo up there trying to play “Get the Funk Out” by themselves. After Cherone begging “Kick it Kevin, do something Kevin!” the drummer too left the stage, leaving everyone in puzzlement.