As a Gen-X'r (Atari Wave, not Nintendo Wave
) I have one foot firmly placed in the nostalgia of my youth: 8mm film, AM and FM radio, land-line phones, broadcast analog television . . . yet I accept and enjoy the technological progress that I have witnessed: DVD's and streaming video, mp3's, cell phones, satellite television, to name just a few. As much as I've enjoyed those "old-school" things, you won't find me comparing 45 RPM records with streaming audio and trying to convince someone of the merits of, well, historical technology.
Despite this, the film slide transparency of Kodachromes
have yet to be surpassed for me. Do I have any delusions that technology won't trump these images? No. Someday they will. But not yet.
Years ago, I read a novel by Steven King that he wrote under the pen-name Richard Bachman. The novel, "Rage,"
recounts a Columbine-esque scenario of a disturbed young man. I recall the story only because of a passing reference in the story of the main character gazing at the image of a relative in a slide image that was being projected. The colors, the luminance, the big-as-life picture hanging there in the dark . . . for a moment, you find yourself back in that place, hearing those sounds, seeing those people . . . it's almost as if you could step into the picture. How would you be received? What would you say? Could you make them understand? Would it change anything? Would they believe you? Would it matter?
If I could step back into this picture, what would the the little boy in the tan pants say to the tired-looking 40-something man who coalesced from the ether and appeared in front of the boy's father, a man roughly the same age but holding a Beseler Topcon
Could any of them hear these words? Would they want to? "Look over your right shoulder, Jimmy. Your brother Tom is going to spend his life working with what he loves most -- cars. Engines of all kinds. He'll marry a woman named Joyce, have two sons, and live in the Catskills. He and Joyce love their horses, and they have grandchildren now. Look over your left shoulder. Your brother Dave will live what some call a colorful life. He'll marry, but he'll let the winds of change carry him where they will. From woman to woman, job to job, enjoying a sip of this, a snort of that, and a toke of this or that along the way. But he'll live without worries. He'll be gone in 24 years. Maybe it was his physiology -- a proneness to cancer, which he survived 7 years before this picture was taken. Maybe it was the Cobalt radiation that saved his life, coming back for him. The cigarettes sure as hell didn't help, but like I said, he lived without worries.
Enjoy the fun times with your brother Johnny, Jimmy-boy. You won't get along very well for, well, nearly a decade. By and large he'll kick the shit out of you for no particular reason. What you lack in physical skill and strength you will compensate with a quick wit and sharp tongue. Not that it will stop him from kicking your ass. You'll emerge relatively unscathed, though as a grown man you tend to be one moody motherfucker, although that might just be a character defect. Oh yeah, you swear a lot. Fuck yeah. I won't tell your mom if you don't. John will stop being a prick after his 18th birthday, and you'll actually get along with each other in a phenomenal way. He'll die at age 19 in a head-on collision while riding his bike home from church. Remember what I said about the swearing? Well, that is going to fuck with your head for years.
Your sister, Janie (Why is she frowning? Is the sun in her eyes?) will, after a string of boyfriends that don't seem to meet with Dad's approval, marry her high-school boyfriend Eric. No kids, but they'll have a long string of doggies that amuse them. They love each other, and are financially comfortable. They actually live in the same area they grew up in. Everyone else scatters, eventually, even your parents. Your mom, by the way, will have a severe stroke in two years, but experience a fantastic recovery. A little numbness, but she'll regain full speech, full memory, full mobility. That health scare will change your parent's eating habits. Your father will begin jogging and running long-distance, and stay with it even into his retirement. You won't see him much from this point forward, because there is very little construction work in New York for an ironworker like him. You'll see him on weekends, because all the construction work is in Massachusetts.
Strangely enough, and I don't want to give everything away, but you and your parents will eventually leave New York behind for the Southwest. Your father will pass away from complications of heart surgery in 2006 . . . and 2006 is one motherfucker of a year for you, by the way. But you'll find out soon enough. Keep an eye out for a woman in college named Joanne. You'll kiss on April Fool's Day, and celebrate many anniversaries. You named your only son John, after your brother, and you'll have two daughters. You'll pursue the career of your dreams, and find it doesn't pay shit. You'll shift gears, career-wise, and find relative contentment. And you're blessed to have some good friends."
Would I believe anything that future James might say to me, should he emerge unexpectedly?Not a fucking word, most likely.
By the way, here's how little Jimmy reacted when I told him his father's male-pattern baldness was hereditary: