Montreal's senior monthly since 1986

Feb '10

Columns

Go stuff your new model

It’s hard to go through a long Montreal winter without a break. The short days, lack of sunlight, traffic congestion, and alternating snow storms and ice storms have turned me into a bad-tempered monster.

The never-ending news of a devastated economy, steadily rising unemployment and scary wars hasn’t helped. To keep this winter of discontent from getting the better of me I treated myself to a new turntable and immersed myself in my beautiful collection of LPs, CDs and hardcover books.

What a difference there is between a CD and an LP! A CD, sophisticated and perfect as it may be, is a cold and impersonal object. An LP on the other hand emanates warmth – just taking it out of its jacket, placing it and watching the needle move to the first track is more pleasing than shoving a CD into its slot. It’s fun to catch what’s written on the label while it turns. The imperfections on my LPs do not bother me because I remember where to expect them.

An early recording of Pavarotti and Freni performing in La Bohème conducted by Herbert von Karajan is a gem. Pavarotti had just sprung onto the scene with that magic voice. Among my opera LPs are many that include beautifully illustrated libretti by famous artists.

Some chamber music and symphony recordings contain scores and histories, comments and critiques by musicologists. Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro is another one of my cherished treasures – and my favourite opera. But there is also Edith Piaf, Frank Sinatra, Marlene Dietrich, Glenn Miller, Louis, Ella and others to revive the “good old days” when popular music was less noisy and more romantic.

The first supposed innovation after the LP was the cassette tape, not much of an improvement, for one thing because tapes have a tendency to stretch and slacken. The CD, I was recently informed, is already outdated – downloading on iPods is the in thing now. I once held one in my hand and knew I’d never manage to handle it, nor do I want to. If I understand it correctly it means that everything now happens in cyberspace: Just plug in and that’s it! Objects plugged into my ears irritateme, even earrings. I have enough trouble with those gadgets on airplanes and get them regularly entangled in the crevices of my narrow seat.

My LPs are as precious to me as are my hardcover books. The print is better and larger than in paperbacks. I like to handle a hardcover book and feel the superior paper it’s written on, even if it takes up more space on my shelves.

My grandsons can fix my gadget problems in two minutes flat. I hate to ask them because it makes me feel foolish. Before they leave my house they ask “are there any technological problems to be solved before we leave?”

I hope to get away without having to study further technological improvements that only seem to frustrate me and waste my time and energy. I want to sit back and relax, enjoy myself, and not complicate my life with the latest models of anything, including the phone!

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