Brave (weird) New World: of cellphones and wireless
February 02, 2007
I see the point of cellphones. Some people have to be able to communicate when they're out and about. Who knows why, but I can see that far.
I've seen the nuttiness of it, too.
But I'm only now starting to get a bigger sense of the wackiness of the whole scene.
Why? Because I finally went and dropped $20 on a wireless card for my old laptop and the darn thing works. So here I am, forging on the anvil of my website AT A CAFE. It's freaking me out.
In all, I'm guessing that this stuff has to have a major impact on art from here on out. But I can't see how.
First, we have the public office syndrome. At this cafe it's like I've joined a loosely cubicle-ized corporate office.
I've been working on my own for a couple decades now. It's quite a change!
I've done editing and sales in weird places before.
I remember selling books with a big heavy black old rotary phone. With cord. On a patio in the Hollywood Hills. I sold books from the payphone on a dock in LA Harbor.
I did wax-paper and light-table paste-up of my first big book project in the living room of the housing co-op I lived in. Then out in the front yard on a card table.
I input the edits of the recumbent bike book with a laptop on a Lake Superior beach for 2 weeks, living in our little vintage travel trailer, with the kiddies playing in the sand.
It all worked.
But I've never done this wireless stuff. Or felt it.
I've never had a cellphone.
But I've been impacted. I've noticed a few things. How all the young people walk along wherever they go with phone to head. I overhead dozens of them in the grocery store parking lot: "I'm getting in the car. I'm closing my door."
...Think of the millions of times those same words fill the aether every day. Literally millions of people using millions of phones millions of times every day to say: "I'm opening my car door."
So there's that.
I don't travel often. When I do I stare like a deer. On the Amtrak I notice that everyone around me is plugged in, is in a screen. They're on phones, devices, checking their ringtones. At full volume. It's very loud. It seems insane.
In airports it's the same. Until you get on the plane. Then it's deathly quiet. I twist around in alarm. Why so quiet? The devices have to be turned off. The people stare. The last time I flew, years ago, people chatted. Now they stare silently. No plug-in's. They're unplugged. Instantly upon landing a hundred phones spark up and the air fills with the mutterings of "We're on the ground now. I'm getting up from my seat. I'm crushing my water cup..."
We lost our dog once up north. Our friends had a cell. The people who found our dog had a cell. We hooked up. Rescue!
When I go biking with friends they'll sometimes get a call. I could sell books while riding my bike...
Back in the day I worked for Gene Dayton at his Breckenridge Nordic Center in Colorado. He's a dynamo. No cellphones back then but if you wanted to talk to him you kept trotting coz he didn't stop. I called him recently and was laughing as I dialed. Cells were invented for him. He picked up. He was at the bench waxing skis for his highschool team. I know he's on the phone when he's descending at 30mph on his XC skis.
It's all weird, very weird. How will it get included in the next big art?
I think that both sides need to be there. All this direct indirectness.
I want one of them cellphones. I'll go up to the trailer up north and spark it up. See what happens.
The next time I travel I'll take this sparky laptop.
So, over'n'out. Reporting live from this cafe.
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