Tuesday, April 21, 2020
Like every average middle-aged Gen-X member, I recall fondly sitting on my davinette when the door to door accordion salesman knocked on our door. This man was no ordinary accordion salesman; he sold the whole package, accordion, and accordion lessons. After he was allowed in the home, which is what you did in those days, he sat down and pulled out this amazing instrument that had chrome appliques and plastic parts that appeared to forged from a bowling ball. At this point, I wasn’t sure what to think of this man in a corduroy sport coat with a giant amalgamation of a musical instrument. Then he began to rip through the theme song to Superman and wow, just wow. His pitch continued, and after he left, I expressed my interest in being an accordion player like the great Lawrence Welk, who grandma watched religiously every Sunday night. A short time later, I would begin my journey at the Larry Pino Conservatory and would earn the Golden Accordion Pin for my hard work and effort. And yes, I did learn to play Superman and Starwars in addition to Camptown Races, Greensleeves, and a variety of polka music.
I do regret to inform you that Larry Pino of the Larry Pino Conservatory has since past away at the age of 97 in 2019. A veteran of World War II, a copper miner, and of course, the founder of eight music studios in Salt Lake City valley, which employed 38 teachers, he was a man who made a difference in many lives. The story in the opening paragraph wouldn’t play out in 2020, but a child of little means being able to learn to play a musical instrument, and play it well was genuinely freeing and taught me that nothing was out of my reach. The first lesson at the Larry Pino Conservatory taught me how far I was from playing Superman, but hours of practice and lessons paid off. At no time since do I recall such self-satisfaction with an accomplishment. Mr. Pino, you are missed!
After Accordion practice after school on a spring day, I would enjoy some gourmet food in the form of a Space Food Stick and grab my kite and head to the field between the barn and the church. If the wind was right, I could anticipate a direct launch of the venerable Gala Bat.
Mine had the yellow keel and wooden dowel to keep the delta wing spread. A good launch is what I found, and as if the Bat was a siren, Eric and Brent arrived before I had let out half the spool. The word satisfying litters young writing too much today, and I am tossing it out there again, this activity was satisfying. Until a lousy gust upended the Bat and drove it to the ground tip first, the concussion of the landing broke the wooden dowel and prompted the angst of a young kite less boy in Granger.
The only cure for a broken kite was an episode of Adam 12 because someone in the universe needed to go to jail as punishment for the death of my Gayla Bat. II hope you are enjoying my stories, and to keep the party going click on the episode below, or find the show Frequency 13 wherever fine podcasts are available.
Sunday, April 19, 2020
The Valley Fair Mall was the highlight of many Saturday mornings. My grandmother would have a hair appointment at a beauty college located in the back of the mall just past the entrance to the cinema. In the late 70s, on a Saturday morning in West Valley City, Utah was a pretty safe place to be. If I was lucky, there might $0.50, or 4 bits as my grandfather would tell me, for me to wander around the mall looking for a place to blow my wad.
There were only two places a kid with two bicentennial quarters might go to relieve himself of the burden of cash. The Keyhole was as the name implies a tiny little shop cut into the side of one of the spider legs found in shopping malls. It had space for about four customers and a window on the front with a display. Merchandise displayed above and around the back of the shop. None of the goods were costly, and a couple of shiny quarters returned a decent score. If one were to have folding money, they were royalty.
The second go-to spot was the vending machines in the drugstore on the other end of the mall—plenty of quality merchandise to be had in those glass and tin miracles. For a dime, a small rubber ball could be yours. That would, of course, require getting change for a quarter from the clerk, which mostly went without incident, only occasionally was a purchase required.
After procuring the ball, I
was obligated to test the bounce of the ball. I recall that the brighter the color, the higher the bounce. The cutaway between the parking lot and the mall entrance was a rectangular shape similar to a handball court, so I played a variety of rubber ball games. When the ball was either lost to the roof, or I would become bored, a survey of the cinema posters was in order so I could learn what Hollywood had in store for the well-heeled in Granger. The best I could hope for was the movie coupons from Pioneer Elementary, which would not include any of the feature films of the day.
Then, when my routine was complete, I would head back into the beauty college to inquire with grandma if she was close to being finished? I do not know what the hairdressers were doing to grandma's hair, but I can tell you it took forever! Often the children's bible would be at hand, and I would set myself to studying Scripture. I have to say that the imagery was fascinating to me, and was fuel for my already overactive imagination. The Noah story and the Babel story were my favorites. The Sunday School class in the 1st ward of our church never showed us pictures as I saw in the book; these pictures came to life.
Cartoon cutouts of lions and elephants smiling on a flannel board did little to stimulate wonder. I digress, eventually we would get into the old Ford Galaxie, and head home. Of course, getting home would only cause me to face the reality that my Skyro sat perched in the giant old cottonwood tree for all eternity.
Within a few moments, I would forget all about the Skyro, hop on my Huffy, and head for the hill to see who was around, and my Saturday adventure would continue well into the evening. Never a wasted minute in our little Granger neighborhood.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor. That is what I learned in Sunday school as a young lad. Did anyone understand what that meant? I can safely say I did not. I coveted David Hansen's LED Watch, both David and his brother Mike had one, and they were so damn cool! It was sci-fi level cool, something from the future, and it was on their wrist, talk about miniaturization. I coveted my neighbor in a big way, and Mrs. Philips would not have been happy with me, but hey, at least I can admit it today. I was a year away from getting my hands on my first digital watch, and it would be an LCD, which is better for a variety of reasons, and that style became ubiquitous among nerd watch lovers. It was the Casio F-10, an essential timepiece that Casio has reintroduced with a different module for modern retro types; the main difference is the display.
The F-10 day of the week indicator displayed on the watch case, and there was a small horizontal line that floated below the correct day. If you have that watch today, the perpetual calculator is defunct; it was only good until 2019. The new model F-91W a beautiful rendition, and at about $11.99US, you can't go wrong. The subtle difference is that the current version has the day of the week printed on the LCD in a two-digit Casio block font, and the day of the month displays along with the hours minutes and seconds. One last comment on the new retro version is that it keeps the microlight intact, which is cool. That little microlight was your companion after bedtime when lights were out; one could enjoy watching the seconds tick by under the covers as the sandman took over.
Mrs. Gilcrhrest didn't like me for some still unknown reason. A 4th-grade teacher is a human being; today, I grasp that idea at least at some level. As a 4th grade student, the teacher was more alien, and possibly dare I say evil? Mrs. Gilchrest may have been angry because she had her gallbladder removed and may not have had proper paid sick leave at the time those details, if ever known, are lost to time. It must have been sweet for a substitute teacher to land a long term assignment. I bet she was too busy running around the substitute pool with a smug look and confidence of a steady paycheck that would carry her through a long Utah winter to focus on discipline or education of her substitute class, again, the only speculation. Let's get to the meat of the issue when Mrs. Gilchrest came back and immediately began to show her disdain for whatever had or had not transpired she assigned a craft project. We could choose to do something with needle point on burlap, or latch hook piece that we would bring to school and work on from time to time. I decided the latch hook assignment but didn't follow directions very well and ridiculed by Mrs. Gilchrest, ok fine, so I deserved it, but still! I hope Mrs. Gilchrest is still alive and kicking and retired with that sweet teacher pension.
Can you imaging sitting in your kitchen, and some guy knocks on your window and asks for your input on a toy? A knock on a window was indeed what happened to footballer Fred Cox in 1972, and the rest, as they say, is history! The Nerf Football was born, and if you were a kid in the 1970s until today, you are familiar with the Nerf Football. That was such a quintessential piece of day to day life at Pioneer Elementary that the challenge was deciding whose football would be the game ball for the recess game. Every boy brought their football to school, mine was solid yellow, and Mrs. Philips I regret to inform you that I coveted Tom's Yellow and Black Nerf Football. I am unsure of my place in the universe, but my covetous nature will be to blame for any karma or other destiny that awaits.
Wednesday, April 8, 2020
The evolution of an idea to the final concept is paved with tears and anxiety. The road to Frequency 13 is no different. Last year when I started the Frequency 13 podcast, it was purely paranormal or other oddities from the West with my personal fictional spin. They were heavily scripted and highly produced. I realized that I might enjoy a listen to different paranormal podcasts, and was a huge Art Bell fan back in the day, I simply was not cut out to talk about those subjects. I find them entertaining, but one must attempt to share a "what if" kind of attitude to make it work. I think too rationally for that type of thing. What I really like is nostalgia, from the good old days as it were. I have a natural penchant for history, particularly social history and stories of individuals, normal humans that existed at different times. I don't care as much about Caesar as I do about the shop keep that sold the grain to his baker. There is a Great Course titled The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World By Robert Garland. Professor Garland goes into the lives of the ordinary people of the period, and the way life was for them. That book spoke to me because that is what I find interesting. When I think back the toys, cars, music, clothe,s and all the rest of the things that surrounded us is what delineates our time in the high human timeline, and I can't wait to share it with you!
Remember Stompers? Stompers by Schaeper? They were little 4x4 trucks that ran on a single AA battery. The commercials played during Saturday morning cartoons, and after school of course. They didn't steer and had only one speed. They did have a headlight, which was sometimes disconnected to eliminate parasitic voltage draw that would decrease horsepower, at the time, it was to "make it fast." The commercial was great because they actually showed you how to play with the toy. How to make a tunnel with a carpet remnant, and wouldn't ya know it I had some carpet remnants (read scrap from the next-door church remodel) available. The tires were absolutely knarly baby. I mean real shredders, and they were available in soft foam for extra grip and hard rubber for speed! They made you want to run them in the snow, but one had to be hyper careful as to not short circuit the little electric motor, and yes, Jeff was dumb enough to do it so I know first hand what slush can do to a Stomper.
I am as savvy as the next Gen-Xer when it comes to social media, I mean we invented it with dial-in BBS sites from our 300baud modems! I digress, the original social media was much more rudimentary and painless; of course, it wasn't a bed of roses either. People could be very mean in the social media forums of the day. Of course, we didn't use our real names, we used handles and generally were only exposed to minor trolls who would tell us how stupid we were or fix our grammar. That was always my favorite troll, the grammar police! They have mostly died off, so we have that going for us. Today's sprites don't bother to shield their identity with a smart handle, looking at you Facebook (Reddit a notable exception). All that said, are you familiar with the TikTok platform? It is a new site where people make short little videos to popular music, or whatever. The videos are bite-sized at 50 seconds. This is not a natively wrong site; on the surface, they are a billion-dollar concern, and some people make money on the platform. All good so far, until you read the Ugly Policy! (Take a look below). It is institutional body shaming, not like kids don't have enough to worry about when it comes to a self-image! The idea is that they will get less engagement when a person opens their app and is greeted with less than an idealized human. To the founders of TikTok, take off, eh!
Why are we here? Why are you here? Frequency 13 is my love child! A podcast about stuff that makes me smile, and I have discovered many of those nostalgic themes make others smile as well. Regardless of our modern thinking, political views, and values, or social standing, our collective origin story has some similarities in the popular culture world we all inhabited during the golden age of television and toys.
We are Generation X. Frankly, we are the forgotten generation. Our collective angst and apathetic view of the world coupled with a strong sense of cynicism born for the disillusion of the American dream being eroded and putting our mothers to work and our fathers fighting for jobs, incomes flattening, leaving us with little hope for the future. We were not the darlings that the media loves. Take a moment to consider our predecessors the Psychotropic Baby Boomers; they came of age during some exciting and yes sheltered times, giving them a sense of importance that drove the 60s counter culture and the free-loving world that born our generation. We raised the same darlings in the mold of the Baby Boomers, we wanted to give them the things that our self-help parents didn't bother with for us, all of the things we missed out on would be front and center for our progeny. We don't need to discuss how that turned out! We are living it baby, good, bad or indifferent our children have made an impression, some call entitled, some call helpless, but they are just a product of their environment.
Our generation was determined to make life easier, computers would lead us out of the darkness, the Internet promised knowledge, and it delivered (maybe too much!) I could wax on about why we are here, and our place in society. Alas, our journey to now is written, the future is unknown, and our site in time is perhaps the perfect place to be, quiet and unassuming. We are the Greatest Generation!!!
This podcast and blog celebrate us as a generation and all the cool shit we have seen, heard, and cared about, and maybe a bit of what society told us. The simple things not complicated. The enjoyment of a television show because it was fun, not because it had a "message" or a "philosophy". We wore clothes that looked cool, we didn't give a damn about the owner's philosophy, seriously when did that crap start? Let's have some fun, silly putty level fun, go outside and play fun, jumping our bikes fun, and watching Scooby Do on Saturday morning quite fun, so here we go, the journey has begun!
If you are particularly brandy, consider subscribing and leaving me a 5-star review wherever you get your podcasts. Karma Baby!!
Posted by Jason at 6:50 AM