Monday, April 27, 2009

Well, Back in the Old Days...

I remember watching TV on our old Zenith television. It was summer, and channel 7 out of Wheeling carried the Pittsburgh Pirates games. I would learn to love the Indians a bit later, but when I was 10 or 11 years old, the Pirates were my team. One of my favorite players during that era was Al Oliver. I thought Al Oliver was the greatest thing since, well, since Zenith televisions. And Bob Prince. After Oliver hit a particularly long home run against the Phillies, I turned to my father and said, "Al Oliver is really good". My father took a mighty swig from his Strohs beer ("fire-brewed", mind you) and retorted, "Al Oliver couldn't carry Ted Williams' jock strap".

My father would share a number of these profundities with me over the years, most of them having to do with sports. "Nobody hits as hard as Ray Nitschke" and "Nobody threw a punch like Rocky Marciano" and "Nobody could throw as hard as Bob Feller", and on it went. (although he had to concede, at least a little, on the "nobody can shoot a ball like Jerry West" statement when it later came to Michael Jordan.) Of course, at the time, I vehemently disagreed with him. But, if I was to continue to enjoy the occasional sip of his fire-brewed Strohs beer from time to time, I kept my mouth shut.

Lately, I find myself...acting a good deal more like my father. And, I find that this behavior moves into areas far beyond sports. I'm not sure if that's cause for concern, or it's just a natural pitfall of getting old. I've always prided myself on not being too close-minded, of trying new things occasionally, and of being "up" on current trends. However, in conversation and in emails to various friends, I seem to be, for want of a better word, "pining" for a few of the things that, like my father, I feel are just...better. And, if I'm to be completely honest...and I know this is really going to fall, seemingly, into the Fuddy-Duddy Hall of Fame... even with all the technology at our disposal, I find the ebb and flow of it all....to be quite boring, actually.

I own an iPod and use it quite often during my workouts. However, the sound quality pales in comparison to vinyl. (as do CD's) "Hit" radio is horrible, filled with one-hit wonders who use pitch-changing plug-ins to correct the fact that they can't sing. (No, Neil Young didn't have a superb voice, but he had, as Simon Cowell likes to say, one that "was memorable"). Rock bands? There aren't any. There are no landmark "guitar solos". There are no "frontmen" any more. The biggest selling artists and highest-grossing tours are filled with fake Country artists(Taylor Swift) and bands that are still touring after 40 years. (Aerosmith) Great radio stations? Don't even get me started.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

Yes, it's me. Dad. And I could go on and on. Is there any monumental literature today? I mean, truly great writers? No. J.K. Rowling? Great stories, but not John Updike-type writing. How about movies? When a wiseacre like Judd Apatow is producing the best films coming out of Hollywood (and I'm a big fan!) then you know Hollywood has taken a back seat to its Coppola/Spielberg/Lucas past. How about beer? Well, there I have to concede. The sheer quality and ingenuity from American brewers today is unlike anything we've seen. And, interestingly, none of it "fire-brewed". Hmmmm....

Then there's Facebook. Here's what I learned on Facebook today: a "friend" just ate some bean casserole. Another "friend" posted her "5 Favorite 1980's Sitcoms". Another "friend" invited me to find out "What Breed of Dog am I". Even my sister felt it necessary to let me know that she's "just chilling". So, this is "social networking". And this is better than getting one of those pink "While You Were Out" message-slips in your mailbox....how, again?

So, while I'm wired in 9,236 different directions with my Blackberry, iPod, Facebook, LinkedIn, all of it on phones and laptops and hand-held "devices"...I wonder: is it truly...better? I'm not sure. Is everything too available? Is everyone on "overload", or is it just me, and perhaps I need to be "re-booted"? I find myself walking a thin line. I need to "be up on things" so that clients know that they're dealing with a connected, modern business-person; yet, there's a kind of "false soul" to it all, as if they're might be something genuinely wrong with me if I don't, at some point today, post the "5 Kinds of Trees I'd like to Be" on Facebook. Last month, out of the blue, I called a client station of mine. (Yes, I called them, like, on the phone!) The PD's response was, "Hey, good to hear from you, but.....email me, ok? Gotta run."

So, last evening as I downed the remainder of my growler of Square One Brewing's I.P.A. (a delicious libation from a local micro-brewery here!), I pondered where I was on the timeline of being compared to my father. Should I Facebook tonight, or should I toss Quadrophenia on the turntable and crack open a Strohs? It's all so confusing. One thing I can say, though, after watching Albert Pujols hit a monstrous grand slam: Al Oliver couldn't carry El Hombre's jockstrap!

-30-

* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com