Anti-Ipod Animus

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Dr. Bombay lays into the Ipod on the occasion of the ubiquitous, semi-transformative appliance's fifth birthday with a bracing little screed in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. He concludes:

unlike the gadget-boy and gadget-girl sitting next to me and my indulgent wife at an outdoor restaurant last weekend, each of their empty heads surgically connected to their iPod earbuds, each off in their own little iPod world, I actually preferred hearing the world around me and the woman across from me, the only one I know who will listen to my rants without charging me by the minute. I was almost moved to rip the buds from their ears and drag them kicking and screaming back into the real world.

That couple was lucky I was occupied with the intricacies of a really fine Mexican beer at the time. They may not be so lucky next time.

More here.

Back in 1999, RiShawn Biddle celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Sony Walkman thus:

In The Closing of the American Mind, cultural critic Allan Bloom wrote that the Walkman-tugging teen reduces centuries of Western cultural progress into "a nonstop…masturbational fantasy" celebrating libertinism. The neo-Luddite writer John Zerzan, for whom art itself prevents people from truly experiencing nature, says the Walkman is part of an "ensemble of technologies" that cause a "protective sort of withdrawal from social connections." And any card-carrying member of the hand-wringing morals brigade would lump those magic earphones in with video games and TV violence as abettors of aberrant and abhorrent teen behavior.

Then there's Thomas Lipscomb, chairman of the Center for the Digital Future. He thinks the Walkman is the electronic equivalent of soma, the happiness drug in Brave New World. "It closes you in an airtight bubble of sound," he complains. "It's a sensory depressant." What's more, he says, it prolongs adolescence, stifles social contact, and keeps people from expanding their intellectual horizons….

The Walkman is neither hi-fi Prozac nor a perpetual alienation machine. If anything, it makes listening more interactive. We can mix and match our music like clothes, creating our own playlists and carrying them with us wherever we go. This has subtly changed our expectations in the marketplace, forcing the music industry to accept our eagerness to rearrange their products. Now CD-ROMs such as Xplora 1: Peter Gabriel's Secret World let consumers assemble sampled beats and film clips into personalized versions of their favorite tunes and music videos. And Web sites such as CDNow allow you to buy individual songs and create a customized compact disc.

Thankfully, we can now give thanks that Xplora 1 helped render Peter Gabriel as obsolete as an 8-track tape player. But websites were you can buy individual songs? Who'da thunk it? More on the amazing pace of technological change that immediately gets taken for granted here.

Genesis_PeterGabriel_live.jpg

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  1. The real world of being needlessly angry at trifles, apparently. Did you know that portable personal music-playing devices were responsible for the fall of Rome?

  2. That couple was lucky I was occupied with the intricacies of a really fine Mexican beer at the time.

    Yeah…sure sounds like it.

  3. Off Topic: Genesis tribute band The Musical Box is touring soon. Their lead singer does himself up in all the Gabriel costumes.

    Portable mp3 players are the only way to drown out the sound of everyone around you yelling into their cellphones.
    I listen to audiobooks on mine.
    Of course, I doubt Bombay would lay into the act of reading with equal viciousness, despite the fact that it is as insular and antisocial as listening to Ipods, and involves blanking out the world around you. I doubt the urge to rip the novel from their hands and drag them back to the real world ever overcomes him.

  4. After a scientific study of the Sharper Image catalog I determined that nearly 100% of all things offered for sale are overpriced marginally useful crap. With my scientific juices flowing I then began an exhaustive survey of the Victoria’s Secret catalog and came to the startling conclusion that the US does not in fact have an obesity problem but quite the opposite, all that extra weight that skews the BMI has been strategically placed in boobies.

    Dr. Bombay

  5. Nero podcasted while Rome burned.

    Anyways, rage at iPod-users probably has to do more with their smug, look-at-me-I’m-hip, cult of Apple, what monopoly?, attitude than anything else.

  6. Ipods were invented to get away from onanistic whiners like that guy. Too bad he doesn’t get that the po-mo joke’s on him.

  7. Can we assume that the only way Bombay will sit and talk with his wife is with a few mexican beers in him?
    I also think he doesn’t enjoy the thought of someone near him not being able to hear the sound of his voice.

  8. 1. “Dr. Bombay” sounds like the name of a minor DC villain, perhaps one of the Flash’s less-successful adversaries.

    2. What inspired certain people, with everything else wrong with the world, to rail against something that makes life more pleasant for the rest of us? Somebody buy that man a Shuffle, and load it with $100 of his hardest-to-find favorite songs, especially the stuff he’s embarrassed to like. (My most-played iPod song is “Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies. I really understand loving something that defines lack of cool.)

  9. unlike the gadget-boy and gadget-girl sitting next to me … the woman across from me … will listen to my rants without charging me by the minute. … I was occupied with the intricacies of a really fine Mexican beer.

    So, um, the creepy ranting wino on the train doesn’t like iPods. Hell, if iPods keep drunken ranters away, I’ll buy three!

  10. You’d think that a guy with an outstanding action hero/villain name like Dr. Emilio Bombay would be cooler than that. He should be digging around in tombs, or plotting world domination. Instead, he goes around looking for people to offend his sensibilities by listening to music that no one else can hear.

    And really, what’s with self righteous reference to “four-eyed geeks in their mother’s basements”? When did worknig on an invention become a negative?

  11. Dr Bombay was a supporting character on Bewitched.

  12. keeps people from expanding their intellectual horizons

    Really? That’s news to me. Since I got my iPod I’ve discovered amazing things like an RAI lecture series on the Peloponnesian wars, a French philosophy podcast and a German poetry podcast. Not to mention the little fact that many people listen to Jazz and Classical music on their iPods.

  13. That couple was lucky I was occupied with the intricacies of a really fine Mexican beer at the time. They may not be so lucky next time.

    Because Dr. Bombay might lobby his aldermen to restrict this type of useless–and dangerous– freedom…as a public safety hazard of course.

  14. Are you telling me that that flowered horror is Peter Gabriel?

  15. If he really lived up to his name, Doc Bombay would try to steal an Indian nuclear weapon then detonate it above the US so the EMP would fry all personal electronics. Then people besides his wife would be forced to listen to him drone on and on at restaurants. Not that we (or he) can prove that she is listening instead of thinking about running away with the next door neighbors (a lovely couple, who have dropped hints) or doing Dr. Bombast in, the whiny old fart. Maybe combining the two, she mused, as DB finished off his fourth Negro Modelo?

  16. I don’t mind ipods. I do get puzzled when students come into my class and sit there the whole class with their headphones on (earbuds in, whatever). I get downright annoyed when they try to talk to me and still don’t remove the things. I simply refuse to answer until they take the headphones off. If you want to tune in to your own world, that’s fine, but don’t then try to carry on a conversation with me at the same time. It’s rude.

  17. I read the headline as “Anti-Ipod Imus”

    For a few minutes I was really confused, thinking that Dr. Bombay was Don Imus’ secret alter-ego or something.

  18. Googling Dr. Bombay, I found his website.

    This guy’s a joke, right? God, his website looks like it’s right out of 1995.

  19. Hey everybody, the iPOD is a toy. Get it? Just a toy.

  20. Thankfully, we can now give thanks that Xplora 1 helped render Peter Gabriel as obsolete as an 8-track tape player.

    His time may be past, but Gabriel was a fucking genius. Gabriel/Collins is a favorite compare/contrast. One a master craftsman and profound artist, the other a prolific purveyor of plastic pop, mostly for the same reasons.

  21. Hey! Watch the Gabriel bashing! I love Gabriel! At least he doesn’t start sentences with clumsy redundancies!

    Thankfully, we can now give thanks…

    So NYAH!

  22. I don’t see why people should be all up in the iPod’s grill for removing us from society. I have the Internet to do that!

    – Josh

  23. I just cannot take anyone seriously if they can be “occupied with the intricacies of a really fine Mexican beer”. That’s just nuts.

  24. so he was going to drag them back into reality by pulling their headphones off? isn’t that more of a hypersurreality thing?

    mexican beer = mexican magical realism? it worked for achewood.

    also, i expand my intellectual horizons by listening to grindcore. books on tape are a little too low to listen to on a train.

  25. Really? That’s news to me. Since I got my iPod I’ve discovered amazing things like an RAI lecture series on the Peloponnesian wars, a French philosophy podcast and a German poetry podcast. Not to mention the little fact that many people listen to Jazz and Classical music on their iPods.

    Hey Vanya, I’m interested in the RAI lectures. Where’d you find ’em?

  26. Aaaagh! I’ve been stamped “human bacon” by some butchery tool!

  27. Bee,

    Go to YouTube and search “Peter Gabriel Genesis” for more exciting Gabriel outfits. Brittania (“Dancing with the Moonlit Knight”), the Old Man (“The Musical Box”), the Watcher (“Watcher of the Skies”)… collect ’em all!

  28. From Dr. Bombay’s website:

    “This site is maintained for people smart enough to read my column but too lazy or stupid to find web addresses or solutions to computer problems on their own.”

    Sounds like a delightful fellow.

  29. Rafuzo,

    You can find them on iTunes or at the RAI 2 website: (http://www.radio.rai.it/radio2/podcast/podcast.cfm). Unfortunately though they don’t maintain a large archive of downloads so you have only a 3 or 4 day window to download any given episode before they take it out of circulation. The latest series is a biography of Einstein.

  30. Thanks, Mitch. I will take a look. I love Peter Gabriel’s solo stuff, but I’m ignorant of his Genesis phase. Plus, I can’t stand Phil Collins.

    Fun threadjack! Taking Karen’s cue of confessing the downloads you’d be embarrassed for your loved ones, roommates, or IT staff at work to discover on your machine….what are you embarrassed to like? Karen’s “Sugar Sugar” is, to me, not at all cringeworthy – it’s so square it’s hip. My embarrassing download – Hall and Oates.

  31. If Dr Bombay ever releases a podcast, he should be kicked in the nuts.

    Hell, he already need a good cockpunch.

  32. Peter Gabriel’s solo stuff wasn’t embarrassing enough?

  33. Gabriel/Collins/Genesis sounds like Artificial Music Substitute. That one should make me some friends.

    A lot of young (and some old) poker players use iPod headsets to keep old codgers like me from talking their ear off. The older I get, the more I can relate to Grandpa Simpson; “That reminds me of an interesting story. Well, it’s not so much interesting as it is long…..

  34. Karen, any gal who can namecheck the Rogue’s Gallery and Don Kirshner’s cartoon supergroup…

    Well, I just can’t believe the loveliness of lovin’ you. (I just can’t believe it’s true!)

    But, no, the good Doctor has another pop culture referent:

    Calling Dr. Bombay, calling Dr. Bombay. Emergency! Come right away! – Samantha Stevens

    Yes, Doc Bombay was the family warlock/physician on Bewitched.

    I will forgive enthusiasm for Mexican beer, provided we are talking Negra Modelo or Bohemian. Walking around with earbuds or headphones may rankle someone who claims to not listen to music, but my pocket stereo is as apt to be tuned to a ballgame or a talk show as it is to my favorite music stations.

    Kevin

  35. “That couple was lucky I was occupied with the intricacies of a really fine Mexican beer at the time.”

    Apart from the fact that a really fine Mexican beer doesn’t exist, to what intricacies does he refer? Tastes like Budweiser, but smells like skunk?

  36. Kevin, thanks for the Bewitched tip. I just knew a name that good hadn’t been wasted.

    Bee, my actual most-embarrassing download is either “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” or a K-Tel copy of “Enery the Eighth I Am,” embarassing because it’s not the original recording but a terrible redo without the Hermits harmony. Then there’s Golden Earring’s “Radar Love” which I like even if does show my age. I’m also probably the only person in the history of the MP3 file whoever downloaded “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring,” “Der Fueher’s Face,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and Willie Nelson’s “There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood” at one sitting. I do this as mojo against marketing experts.

  37. No shame in “Radar Love” as far as I’m concerned. “Radar Love” and “When the Bullet Hits the Bone” are back to back on my player. Those two songs alone knock out 17 minutes of my workout.

  38. Me: “…a really fine Mexican beer doesn’t exist.”

    You have drunk beer before, right? Dos Equis, Sol, Pacifico, and Corona, just to mention the one’s I drink, are all delicious and taste nothing like Budweiser, which is skag beer.

  39. I’d listen to Dr. Bombay’s rant, but he refuses to pay me by the minute.

  40. Apart from the fact that a really fine Mexican beer doesn’t exist, to what intricacies does he refer?

    When I first read the line, I thought he had some kind of puzzle-bottle, requiring skillful manipulation in order to enjoy the amber goodness within. Maybe made of mahogany and brass, with clever little clockwork bits.

  41. “Der Fueher’s Face,”

    I remember listening to that as a child! It’s Spike Jones, right? I’ll have to check. I remember falling all about the room laughing at the songs on that album.

    “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”
    Oh, that’s bad.
    LOL!!!!!!

  42. Bee, “Fueher” is indeed Spike Jones. There’s a great Warner Brothers cartoon, probably on YouTube, but I’m too lazy to look it up right now.

    As for the Wham! thing, I’m a sucker for a catchy tune, and that one is positively viral. Bad, but viral. The CDC should issue an alert. In fact, iTunes describes it thus; “Nothing says gay 80’s crap like Wham!” That’s a ringing endorsement, no?

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