Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Apple Grew On Me

Christmas, 1984.

Rubber moon boots, Pee Chee folders, schoolbooks covered with repurposed grocery bags. Metal lunch pails adorned with The Hardy Boys and rock bands. That summer, the film "Beat Street" had introduced our small town to "parachute pants", popped collars, and breakdancing.

It was also the year the first Apple II's showed at my elementary school - weird beige boxes with brown keys that seemed completely foreign. They didn't have much software, and at first glance, a word processor looked like the computer had stopped working correctly. In 6th grade, I didn't have much to say yet, anyway.

A couple years later, the Apple IIc showed up in my 8th grade science class. This time it was bundled with some more software - Oregon Trail, some pinball game, a programming language called "LOGO", and  Br0derbund's "Print Shop."

Talk about a disruptive technology....

Print Shop allowed us (students) to co-opt the forms of the common daily newspaper and press our own views. (The only person who ever really mentioned the idea of being truthful and checking facts was our science teacher.) We'd write hilarious (to us) accounts of the school's principle abusing students, blissfully unaware of the potency of both the claims and the form they took - before "The Onion", there was my 8th grade school newsletter.

Got distracted... back to Christmas 1984.

I come home to see some large boxes gift-wrapped on our table (yes, we had one.) We tear open the gift wrap to reveal an Apple IIe computer. Zero day.

The next year is a blur - I can't imagine how many hours I sat in front of that thing, transcribing BASIC code from issues of Family Computing Magazine to figure out how to make basic games and graphics. I remember one record-breaking 14 hours playing "Akalabeth", (the precursor game to "ULTIMA") because there was no way to save your game. And those damn gelatinous cubes....

Somewhere along the line, an IBM XT clone shows up in the house, running the GEM operating system. I use this ugly thing begrudgingly. I'm sent to computer camp to learn to do 'computer stuff.' I learn the basics of AutoCAD, Pascal, and DBase. I learn basic animation techniques on the Apple II's using Dazzle Draw, and get exposed to Mac's HyperCard.

Then one day a computer store needs help assembling computers. I went to 'computer camp.' My god, I'm practically OVER-qualified for this job, sing my parents. This is how I escape food-service, the go-to path for high-school students in my district. Then it's how I pay for my AA degree. Then...

To this day, I've never owned another Apple product. Not that I didn't want to; circumstance made other choices for me.

But those formative years when by some miracle those weird beige boxes with the brown keys found their way to my 6th grade classroom - and eventually to the spare desk in our kitchen - those years changed every probability in my life.

Thank you, Dad.

Godspeed, Steve.

A Silent Solidarity

Fellow musicians, I have some bad news for you: We're complicit. We're on the wrong side right now.

I thought we were getting a free pass for a while because so much had changed in our world - our footing had been lost and everyone was trying to figure out how to sustain.

Sustainable -that's what everyone wants to know. "How long will this really last?"

Seen car sales lately? A few trucks, a few utility, and then an alluvial fan of 'smart' low-mileage compacts with excellent quality ratings. Don't believe me? Try and get a deal on a Honda right now. Dealers are holding out - they know they've got the best and they're demanding top dollar. And they're getting it.

We're all aware of the sit-in's near Wall St, and the smattering of supportive cities that are hosting their own #Occupy events. As this movement coheses into something more focused, artists are on the sidelines. We're not the main attraction right now - we're not changing the world.

Lefsetz thinks we should all pick up our instruments and rush to #OWS for all the "free ink." Wow, talk about missing the point entirely.

Want to show solidarity? Show up and STFU. Don't sing.

In fact, here's my challenge: put down our instruments. Stop playing and recording music until a load of banksters are frog-marched into a parade of paddywagons.

How many of us are using YouTube, Amazon, iTunes, etc to get our music out? We're part of the problem - these are the same major corporations that are in bed with the very banks robbing us blind, and we've been giving them our music for free.... in hopes that doing so would make us stars.

Who was smarter here?

If we musicians were remotely serious about showing solidarity with #OWS, then we should remove/disable all our material on YouTube, iTunes, Amazon, etc. Don't let these companies profit one more dime. Take ourselves out of the equation.

You want to be a star at #OWS? Then you have entirely missed what #OWS is about - it's about solidarity, not asserting yourself for promotion.


Just a thought - what if the #OWS protestors did the same? Instead of chanting/screaming, etc, just dead quiet while they march? A Silent Solidarity?