"Television is the opium of the people...." Groucho Marx.
http://vimeo.com/10857606 (strictly fiction)
I saw my first color T.V. when I was on a greyhound bus coming up to Canada from California. That would have been in 1960 or early '61.
I had been all my life in Australia until a few months before. Stowing away in a cargo ship from Sydney and my voyage across the Pacific, I am sure I documented in an earlier blog.
As already told, I got ashore undetected to the North American mainland at Vera Cruz Mexico. Some months later after a fairly difficult time in Mexico (I had little money and no papers) I got across the border into the United States, paused at Berkeley briefly and then went north to Canada
Somewhere around Everett,Washington state, I looked out of the bus and into some one's living room. I saw a bright, moving picture of the color T.V. Enthralled the idea of buying one entered the foreground of my mind.
After the inevitable meanderings from province to province and then staying for some time with a found job in Toronto, I finally acquired a car and a color T.V. in that order.
Soon addicted I stayed with color for many years.
Gradually though, I tired of the banalities of the box and the increasing lengths of time devoted to ads.
I think that maybe the content dropped in quality and the ads became extreme and forceful.
Anyway, once when I had to renew cable and noticing how damned expensive it was getting for me to watch the few shows I really liked, I just did not renew. I was weaned off though. It was not a complete cure from my addiction. The company just forgot to cut off cable and I had it free for another year. After that a resourceful teenager (related to me) and without my tacit knowledge, spent some time in the basement with a pair of pliers and I found I had cable for most of another year (to my surprise)..I admit I did not ask much about how that came about. In a few months my son departed to shared basement and shared girl friends and shared funny-smelling cigarettes.
The cable I was receiving was specialised though . There were channels devoted to women's physical fitness, beauty treatments and flower arrangement.
One one occasion when my T.V. was on, a next door neighbour paid me a rare social visit.
After the usual complaints about her ex-husband and other chit-chat, she glanced at the program on the set. "How interesting, Ric. You get the same shows I do. You must like women's stuff, too, do you? Turns you on? I don't want to pry.....and I know you are not gay, or am I wrong?"
"Thank you Mrs Montgomery I will see my grapevine does not grow into your yard again. I'll train it not to..." She left soon afterwards..
In five minutes I had located the join in the basement and I was cable- free. The umbilical cord to popular pap was finally severed. Hoorah!
Twenty minutes later the phone rang. It was my now worried neighbor. "Something has happened to my television. All I get is static. How is yours"
I tried this and found I could get 8 stations of the basics. Not my favourite ones though, but there were enough to keep me watching several hours a day, even if one or two of the stations were a little blurred. I was still addicted.
Recently the piece of wire no longer works. I heard that all emissions are now digital and nothing comes free from the air. Too bad.
My neighbour across the back fence has cable with a lot of speciality channels. He mentioned he pays about $100 a month for the service and also gets lots of paid movies.
During the summer he leaves his window open and I can get it all free with my binoculars. I have to guess the sound but I am learning to read lips. Mr Romero is a bit hard of hearing and uses subtitles.
My Spanish is improving also because the subtitles are in Spanish, as he is from El Salvador.
Summer has just about ended and fall brings closed steamy windows which are hard to see through. Winter is worse with its frosty sometimes snowy windows. Maybe I could cure my T.V. addiction this winter.
John, a friend visited me. I told him my problem. "There are two simple solutions." He advised.
"Get dvds from the library and download free movies from your computer."
and came straight to the point, with a disapproving stare.
"Mrs Montgomery has lodged a complaint with the resident's committee that you are watching her take a shower."
There are no young twenty-year-old chicks in any of the other apartments , so I could plead innocent with no bad conscience.)
"Absolute nonsense." I answered righteously"I do a bit of bird-watching that is all."
The manager seemed unconvinced "At nine P.M. every evening?"
(There was a rerun of Sopranos at that time.)
"Haven't you heard of owls and bats?" I asked.
"I believe bats are not birds."
"Well bats are interesting too."
"I am sorry Ric. You have to face the committee next Tuesday at 8 P.M."
(Damn, there is a Netflix movie at that time!)
We will see what happens. I am working on my explanation constantly.
I'm not too worried, really I am not. Ric Williams.
"I personally vouch for Ric's character. I know he has good taste for shapely girls. He would never be a peeping tom when he can see it all hang out at my joint the Bada Boom." Tony S."
Of course the opposite was true, he hardly ever did anything but watch the "idiot box." The idiot box is what the American general public labeled the TV when it first appeared in the early 1950's.