kiev4am: (Default)
I'm just throwing this out here for anyone to see because it's so awesome: Retronaut. If you like abandoned buildings, old photographs, weird memorabilia, vintage or retro, history's junkpiles, haunting or poignant figments of the past of any kind, this is the site for you. Just don't come crying to me when you find it's done a TVTropes on you and sucked up your whole afternoon, that's all :)


Oct. 30th, 2011 11:53 am
kiev4am: (Default)
Watched this documentary on Creation Records the other night, followed by a bunch of 'Creation at the BBC'-type live music clips. The Jesus & Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, Television Personalities, Teenage Fanclub... major nostalgia trip back to the late 80s/early 90s UK music scene, halycon days of hellhole flats, charity shop cardigans, Doc Martins, cheap beer, ten-Silk-Cut-and-a-box-of-matches-please and all the fuzzy-haired clueless intensity of my early twenties. And then we sat up way too late dragging all our old records out of the cupboard and playing them on the turntable, and it was awesome. You just can't make a CD or an MP3 sound that way; there's a boom and a depth to the sound of vinyl, a sense of real space and solid objects, instruments and crowds, that can't be imitated. And sleeve artwork, back when it meant something because it was aimed at a 12" square canvas that people might conceivably pin on their wall or have lasered onto a t-shirt. I'm so glad we kept all those ratty, dog-eared albums.
kiev4am: (Default)
I was thinking about photonovels today.

In the late 70s and early 80s, before VHS was widely accessible, the closest thing you could get to a home copy of a movie was a paperback book of film stills, not quite frame by frame, but close, with comic-book speech balloons. I had one for the old animated 'Lord of the Rings' film by Ralph Bakshi, and I used to re-read it almost as obsessively as the original books and trace the artwork too (shut up, I was nine).

Imagine, no video or DVD; a book of film stills instead. I can remember this clearly but it seems as remote, sad and quaint as something from an old, old lady's reminiscences. Mulling it over, it struck me how quick the pace of cultural extinction is now - how many things from my childhood and early adulthood are so very, very obsolete that they feel like they belong to some distant history lesson, beyond living memory. So I thought I'd list as many of them as I could think of offhand; you know, for the archaeologists.

Red and black typewriter ribbons
Yes, children, when we typed things we had a choice of red or black ink. That's it. And there wasn't a Delete button.

Paying by cheque at the supermarket
It was the only non-cash option. Those little plastic debit cards just didn't exist. You had one card, but it was your 'cheque guarantee' card, and all it did was prove your chequebook was yours. Or that you'd managed to steal both.

The most popular playground game is conkers
This might be doubly obscure: not just 30 years old, but British. You thread a horse chestnut on a string, and then you hit someone else's with it until one smashes. If yours doesn't, you win. This time of year, you'd see every chestnut tree wrecked by school kids chucking branches into it to bring the conkers down, and the ground underneath would be scattered with green spiky chestnut shells. Now, they're untouched.

Pay phones are the only 'mobile' option
You need to call someone from town, you walk and walk until you find a pay phone that works. Then you queue up to use it, and it eats your money. And if you're in town - if you're anywhere but home or work, in fact - you're off the grid. Uncontactable.

Carrying a box of matches in your bag
When I smoked in the 80s, we all used matches. Scottish Bluebell, if I recall correctly. Having a lighter made you a grown-up, and we didn't want that.

People write letters
Not emails, letters. Bits of paper, envelopes, stamps. Put simply, you didn't communicate anything in writing that couldn't handle a two-or-three day delay. Okay, eventually there were fax machines, but only Rich People had those.

Cassette tapes
'Home taping is killing music.' And if you wanted to skip to a certain song, you had to fast-forward through all the ones between. Shake, rattle, squeak. If the cassette was old or your tape-deck was in a bad mood, the tape could catch in the wheels, back up, and spool all over the guts of the machine to emerge as tiny concertinas, unplayable.

Floppy disks
'Removable media' had to be the size of a beer mat to hold 1MB of data. But that was pretty good when your PC hard disk was 50MB maximum.

God, I'll stop now. I feel about 85 years old.


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May 2012

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