Sunday, December 26, 2010

Salad Days Vol:67: Dude, Where's my Jet Pack

''We are living in the future

Tell you how I know

I read it in the paper

15 years ago

W're all riding rocket ships

Talkin' with our mind

Wearing Turqoise jewelry

and standin' in soup lines...''

-John Prine

When I was a skinny lad, back in the 60's, roaming the mean streets of Mansfield Mass., me and my miscreant friends used to have a lot of fanciful notions of what the future might be like. It was, after all, the era of Kennedy, Johnson, Civil rights, Summers of Love and all that 60's jazz. Heady times, yes indeed. Of course, about that time, I was, after all, just a nipper, and I was focused on the more elemental things in life, namely TV. Shows like Star Trek and the Twilight Zone were popular and these shows gave us all sorts of misconceptions, as it turns out, about what things would be like in the future. In particular, there was this really cheesy show back then called "Space 1999. It was a show about how cool and futuristic the turn of the century was going to be. I got to thinking one day, and I calculated how old I was going to be in the year 2000. I was agast to discover I would be 37 whole years of age when the new millenium started. It seemed like such an incredibly old age. I could not imagine, at the time, being of such a disgustingly decrepit vintage. But, here I am, all these years later, not pushing 40 anymore but pullin it very very hard. I really would enjoy, right about now, waking up and having my back feel like it did when I was 37. It would be treat. And my kids would be a lot littler and cuter too. Anyway, it got me to thinking of all the incredible advances time has revealed to us, now that we live in the modern world known as the future. Some things I never would have imagined (cruise control for example), some I could easily live without("Glee" for example). To illustrate, for Christmas this last year, I received a Tom Tom GPS for my car. It is about the size of a deck of cards. It tells me how to navigate my car anywhere in the world without having to ask for directions. It has more computer technology in it than any of the Appolo Space missions to the moon and outer space in the 60's and 70's when I was a kid. It's cool alright, but it still can't get me through Boston at rushhour. Now that would be something. Another thing I have now that I live in the future is an MP3 player. Now when I was a young buck, back in the 80's, and I had to move from one appartment to another, the toughest part of the move was transporting my tunes with me. I had to pack all my LP's in my car, usually a 1974 Oldsmobile Cutlass, and tote my entire collection, which consisted of abnout 8 lobster crates full of albums that I may or may not have even listenned to. Plus I had to tote my big assed stereo, and my even bigger-assed speakers. Big meant better. Now with my MP3 player today, I can carry my entire collection of tunes in my jacket pocket, right next to my cell phone, both of which are about the size of a pack of basebal cards. Actually, that's the one thing we miscalculated about the "future" back then: the smallness of future technology. Back on Star Trek, computers were the sizes of cars, taking up whole rooms. Now, in actual practice, there are computers the size of walnuts, and cell phones the size of postage stamps, on which you can download and watch any movie you may want to watch any time anyplace. That same technolgy, however, cannot make the movie "Gigli" not suck. So, it's all relative, I guess.
The biggest dissapointment about the future, though, is that there are no "Jet Packs". Whe I was a kid,it was a common fantasy that, in the future, everyone would have their own personal jet pack. People would commute back and forth to work in their very own personal rocket powered vehicle...or at least a hovercraft. We really believd that. What a cruel dissapointment to discover that, now in 2011, I am still schlepping to work in a regular old internal combubstion engineered car. And for that matter, work itself, is a mjor bummer. It was supposed to be obsolete by the future. I thought Robots were supposed to do all the work for us.
Anyhow, I guess the future is not all bad. I do like not getting lost. I also like being able to call home from my car or from my favorite fly fishing stream. I enjoy being able to watch Ferris Beuller's Day Off on demand any time anywhere on a teeny tiny screen. I can pay for gas without even having to talk to the attendant. That's pretty cool. So, I guess all things considered, the future is about as cool as we thought it would be. But I'm still waiting for my damned Jet Pack. That'll be really cool.
Anyway, my Merlot is gone. Time for a refill. Whoever invented Merlot must have been a genius. Peace out.
Non illigitemi corrundum.

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