Sunday, June 14, 2009

Digital Conversion Blues

I've got to confess, we are having trouble with the digital conversion. We, my family, are not tuning in to the stuff on offer. Ironically we were among the first to acquire the digital converter, clipping the government coupons back in the fall and cashing them in at Best Buy one rainy weekend. And we had great hopes for a miraculous and free immediate conversion to the fast lane, or at least my son and I did, visions of the Cartoon Network and Disney and for me the History Channel and ESPN. My wife is the television czar and I know she's right; we're better off without it, more family time, better engagement with each other and our imaginations, more motivation to read, but still we hoped. The thing is, it's not happening. We live in an old farmhouse with an old school antennae on the roof that has been whacked what with retiling the roof and several recent massive storms. The message on the screen says we need a new HDTV antennae and cable. All we're getting is ABC and NPR from Concord, not even the Boston NPR station which is a good one. So not even the fuzzy signal we were getting from the CBS and NBC affiliates, which means flicking through the crime shows and basketball games on slow winter nights is gone unless we do something. How likely is it that we will do something? I ask myself rhetorically. Again we face a crossroads where our determination to forge our own independent sense of identity, I'm talking my wife and I, runs smack into the children's - namely my oldest son Michael's - need for melding with the mainstream American sense of culture, which has everything to do with soaking up as much media as possible. I've got to say, he does all right for himself with his Ipod, downloading from the computer. He can tell me things I didn't know about what type of switchblades were used in the Godfather movies, essential stuff to know at any age. He is light years ahead of where I was at his age, growing up overseas in a veritable wasteland of media and consequently in the absence of any ability to claim an American identity. It may seem superficial, but it is the currency of brotherhood in our times, references to Bonanza and the Gong Show for those of a certain age, Star Trek and Monty Python for others.
My wife and I, living all over the place for the first decade of our married lives, seeing a movie was a big deal. For awhile in St. Johnsbury we frequented the art movie house there, the Star Theater, and saw some stuff we thought was poignant and alive. And then the night she went into labor we were watching Manon of the Springs, which I'd seen in New York in the eighties. But we missed the entire run of Seinfeld, for instance, and there is no way we can get that back. We are the people who are not good at making small talk summertimes at the lake when the grownups are barbecuing and drinking beer around the picnic tables and trying to find the sense of connection with each other they haven't felt since college and the kids are running around and diving in the water or making sand castles and pretending. It's a pretty painful confession, but it is a fact. We are not connected. We need a better antennae. Or maybe not. Maybe we're just fine without it.
Post a Comment