Saturday, February 24, 2007

"Empty, What?"

I had never seen one before except on television. I’m sorry, my grandfather always called it “television” all the time, I meant the “plasma-verse” or “PV” as we call it. I don’t even know why people call it a plasma-verse except for the fact that it reminds them of the old-time plasma screen in terms of picture quality.

My grandfather actually had a television, talk about primitive. It’s was Lascaux as can be. A two-dimensional cave painting if I ever saw one, though he did say that they cooked indoors back then and even had indoor plumbing.

I think he’s kidding…actually, I am. I know from historical mental projections that they had semi-modern conveniences, though no full sanitary suits or units. Can you imagine using toilet paper and showers? Ugh, sick knuckle-draggers!

I begged and begged my grandfather to show it to me, I was the only one in the family who hadn’t seen it. He kept coming up with excuses.

“It runs on electricity.”

“I don’t know if the stock is still intact.”
“It’s illegal, you know?

All kinds of piss-poor excuses. I know he could fashion a primitive generator to make electricity, he did it before when he showed “DVDs” to me.

After enough cajoling, he finally relented. We went into his basement and there was a generator that ran on petroleum.

“Oh my God, we really could get trouble. Petroleum, grandpa?”

“I have no choice, Melon quartz produces uncontrollable spikes with electronics that were made before the 21st Century.”

This heightened the experience, we could’ve gone to prison for five years for using a generator that ran petroleum. He took this gray, dusty object off of it that he called a “sheet.” Underneath that was an object almost five feet high. It was made of chrome, steel, and plastic. Parts of it had a mesh covering made of material not known to me. It had a small screen that reminded me of a small ‘move-ly‘ screen.”

“Is that a ‘jakebox?!”

“You mean a ‘jukebox?’ No. It’s a Scopitone.”

"Does it show move-lies?"

"You mean movies, not exactly."

“So what does it do?”

“It shows music videos.”

“Music’ what?”


“Oh, you mean like the ‘Empty Vee?”

“M-T-V, you mean. No this came out almost twenty-one years before it.”

He had it running after about two minutes. The fidelity of the audio was horrible, if you could call it “fidelity.” It was so full of hisses, pops and wheezes, that it was faithful to nothing. The picture of the small screen was slightly worse than a “move-ly” I saw that was shown on an old projector.

Yet I was transfixed, there were two women, twins. Their outfits were small and shiny, their hairstyles, vertical and unnatural. Their makeup was thicker and gaudier than that worn by any woman at a retro party. The song that they were singing was some horrid German song about the sound of a tuba. It was the personification of this word that my grandmother had tried to explain to me, but I never understood, because I had absolutely no reference until now...'kitsch."

The music? The little “video?” To contextualize it using one of my grandfather’s favorite words, it all “sucked.” But, I was in love…with the machine, the blonde twins and the smell of petroleum.

I asked my grandfather who they were and he said, “the Kessler twins.’ They did what the Kaiser and that evil man with the little mustache couldn‘t do…they conquered Europe for almost a decade.” He grinned and beamed, I imagined it was because at that moment, he believed that he passed down a legacy.

Well, my grandfather’s been gone some twenty years now and I miss him terribly. His legacy does live on, as does the Scopitone. Later, I went broke, after my job was to use an early century euphemism, “outsourced.” So I hold “Scopitone” parties for the extremely affluent.

Most of them come for the decadent aspect of using gas, but a few of them appreciate the music and an even more select portion of them, appreciate the nostalgia. Such an admirable quality in this antiseptic world.

Note: It's all about the scopitones, baby Not to mention, JJ wanted the following sentence...

"I had never seen one before except on television…"

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