I was killing a little time before the gig, admiring the spectacular view of Chicago from our hotel’s 20th floor lobby when it occurred to me that I was born into a very narrow window (historically speaking) giving an unprecedented opportunity to truly appreciate the digital revolution.
Wha…. You say?... I say, let’s use video games as an example.
Say… you were born ten years before me- you would never experience the total awesomeness of the Atari video game “Pitfall” sweeping through your 4th grade class faster than a copy of KISS Love Gun. After being exposed to “Combat” and “Warlords”, “Pitfall” was a dream realized and a glimpse of the future…(if you were in 4th grade in 1979)
Conversely- if you happened to be born ten years after me, you most likely wouldn’t be capable of first being repulsed by the game “Grand Theft Auto” and then subsequently becoming addicted to it. To someone born around 1980, that sort of gratuitous violence would be old hat.
I mean, every single time Owen (my 6 year old son) and I play NCAA College Football 2006, I say “this is sooo awesome”. And it is. Every..single..time. Sure, I bet NCAA Football 2010 crushes the 2006 version, but how much better can it be? Might as well be comparing different supersonic jets to someone who has only been in a hot air balloon.
I remember playing the electronic football game where the field would vibrate and the little plastic guys would move randomly all over the field trying to score. It was kind of cool.
I remember playing Atari Football with three blinking computer dudes on a field with no yard lines, no passing and that was pretty cool.
I remember playing techmobowl against my roommates in college. It was 4 x 4 with about 10 plays to choose from and it was really cool.
Now NCAA 2006?? Pick the stadiums? Announcers? The Weather?
Mindblowing. For now. And for ever. If… you were born around 1970.
Wait. Wait. What’s This? Smart people have actually made my life better?
I know, I know, it does seem unlikely that some egghead, flat-earth hating scientologists armed with only “facts”, fancy book learning degrees and wacky theories of “gravity” and “evolution”, have somehow benefitted both Joe 12 pack, Sally Aderall and the rest of us. Still, the evidence is mounting.
Oh Science, how have you made my life as a touring musician better? Let’s count thy ways.
Old way: would pack boxes of cassette tapes for long van trips.
Middle Way: hundreds of CDs which would inevitably get stolen or ruined by spilt beer /Biggie’s dip cup.
New way: multiple I-pods and Satellite radio. (Some I-pods do get stolen or succumb to spilt beer/dip cup)
Old way: write down directions before trip from drunken bartender. Find pay phone when close to city and call club again for new directions from same drunk bartender
Middle way: call drunk bartender from cell phone
New way: GPS. Arrive to gig on time and direct bartender to serve us a beer.
Old Way: hand collect names for mailing list, lick every single stamp and apply, pay postage, hang thousands of posters up.
Middle Way: Have rarely updated, hard to find webpage with nothing but text. Hang up thousands of handbills.
New Way: Facebook and MySpace friends linked into kick ass website with tunes and YouTube videos so rare that I have no memory of being in them
Old Way- pay for expensive 2 inch tape and then press expensive, cool sounding vinyl singles and tinny cassettes.
Middle way: pay for expensive 2 inch tape and press expensive, crappy sounding CDs
New Way: use no tape, have pro tools fix all your bad notes and print great sounding CDs and downloads for cheap.
Note: it’s better to actually play well than to fix bad notes and computers do not write good songs. (Yet)
Old Way: beg local record store to sell you record/CD. Never get paid
Middle Way: have distributor/label put your CDs all over the country. When one sold, stoned store manager would forget to reorder. Never Get Paid
New Way: music available I-tunes and everywhere. Sometimes you actually get paid (a little)
Old Way: band gear used to get stolen all of the time. It was very stressful. We used to have a chain that would run around the inside of our van securing all the doors for protection. Sometimes in NYC we would just have someone always drive the van so it was never parked.
New way: criminals don’t want to steal heavy things like amplifiers and drums when they can snag I-pads and cell phones. Additionally, heavy theft leads to back problems and an increase in their health insurance premiums.
And .. Last, but not remotely the leastest..
HOTELS!! Aka “Let’s Spend the Night Together” (for under $80)
Old Way: When we used to play Chicago, we would stay at a Red Roof Inn in Merrillville, Ind, a cheapie by O’Hare, or any place a room was $60. Unless you were in Des Moines, downtown was way out of our price range. The bitch of it all is that best cities are always the most expensive so after hours of travel we would end up at a hotel 15 miles outside of New Orleans where the stairs were a fire escape and the room door had a bloody hand print smeared across it. (Ok-that was actually Savannah, but you get the point)
New way: now I “hotwire” a room and expect to being staying at a 4 star hotel with prime location for less that $100. It has been this way for about 5 years now and I never, ever, never, ever get over it because I remember the old way. In this case we stayed at the 4 star Holiday Inn at the Mart which had a lobby and a bar on the 20th floor overlooking the Chicago River. Got the room for $79, but it lists for $199.
I just sat in the lobby with my mouth open thinking my Dad was born to early to benefit from all these changes and young Owen will take all these advantages for granted. I however, through dumb luck, lived at precisely the right moment to remain in awe for the rest of my days.
Random Notes: The set- See You Tonight/Words We Say/Sad Drive/Small Doses/Superior/; were going to play Black C T but Herb’s kick drum broke. Gig was packed. Good times. Great pizza after. Rainy & windy weather. Steel Panther on ride to and fro. “You oughta know”