February 10th, 2012
by Hilary Price
Three things to share in this blog post:
I recorded this essay yesterday at NEPR— New England Public Radio. It will air a couple of Fridays from now, but wanted to give a sneak peek. This is my third humor commentary with them.
My senior year of college, my boom box fell off the counter for the fortieth and final time, and we were without music.
Or so I thought. My roommate put down her beer, took the cassette tape out of the boom box, and stuck it in the wood paneled answering machine. She pressed “Listen to Messages,” and The Steve Miller Band was back, though with a much smaller, tinnier sound than we’d enjoyed moments ago.
That’s how we listened to music for the rest of the year.
I remembered that this fall when I came back to campus for my 20th reunion. I went to Stanford, up the street from Silicon Valley, and one of the things that people talked about that weekend was the recent death of Steve Jobs, founder and CEO of Apple Computers.
Since my college days, the requisite tape deck in every dorm room had evolved into the CD player, which had then evolved into the iPod. Steve Job’s iPod.
Every article I’ve read on Steve Jobs since his death speaks of his maniacal insistence on elegant design. Think of the iconic white headphones. Those headphones are a status symbol of youth and coolness akin to a pair of Nikes.
No one understands the social significance of those headphones better than my cat, who’s bent on taking me down a notch at every opportunity. After I returned from the reunion, he chewed up my iconic white headphones. And, to make sure that I knew that he knew how cool they were, he then chewed the replacement pair I’d just bought and foolishly left on the counter. I walked in to find him biting the tender single spaghetti strands that led to the ear bud. When he got to the copper wire, the al dente treat was over. He spit it out and sauntered away.
I went over to the pile of wet white wire. He had maimed the right side, but the left side was untouched. I tested it on my iPhone, which now served as both phone and music player. The left headphone still worked. I fished out the other chewed-up pair from the junk drawer. On that set, the left side was chewed but the right headphone still worked.
Then I remembered what was at the very back of the drawer—a splitter, one of those head phone jacks with two headphone jacks coming off of it, so you and another person could both listen to a movie on a laptop if you were on an airplane.
I used the splitter to plug both mangled headphone sets into my iPhone, with the non-working sides of each tied into a messy ball that hung like a kindergarten art project on my chest. I pressed play.
Steve Jobs, the design guru, would have died a second time if he’d seen me like that. So I drowned out his fury with the sounds of another Steve, Steve Miller.
I want to fly like an eagle….
Juana Medina: Former Intern, Huge Talent
Juana Medina is my former intern at Rhymes With Orange, and she’s been up to great things. Today’s is an animation she did for PBS about the kidnapping of a congresswoman in her native home of Columbia, and how there are radio shows down there that broadcast messages to the victims from their families. There was a very memorable This American Life episode about this kind of Columbian radio show. I recommend you check out both. Juana has taught at both RISD and The Corcoran School of Art & Design.
Check out Juana’s website for a real visual treat.
Cartoonist Showcase: Mitra Farmand
I found Mitra at The Center For Cartoon Studies and was immediately drawn to her cartoons. (Pardon the pun.) She is a first year student there and offered her time, good humor and organizational skills for the tagging party. Her site is fuffernutter.com
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