She might have been a tree huggin’ hippie with tortoise-like nostrils, but Joni Mitchell knew a thing or two. One crusty gem in that nosehole of knowledge was this: ‘you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.’ Ask any amputee and they’ll tell you (unless it was their head that got the chop). I wouldn’t quite call mine a limb, but I can tell you, not having it rrrreally stings. No no, not that thing. I’m talking about my iPod. The one that upped and died on Friday.
I don’t wanna sink my blue tooth into Apple over this one, after all, I caned my iPod for about five hours a day. Admittedly, I only bought the thing two years ago, but given that it’s survived travelling through five continents and been dropped more times than a Pentridge soap cake, I’m fairly philosophical about it. I’m okay, you’re okay, it’s okay… Except for the fact that now I don’t have an iPod. Which sucks, far more than I thought it would. Okay, so maybe the amputation metaphor was a bit overcooked. It’s not that bad. What it’s like is when you cut your thumb or your forefinger, and you realise just how many times you (I dunno) stir the pot, pick the parsnip or finger the villain in a given afternoon.
And I’m not the only one whose pod ate itself on Friday – there was a queue three deep at the Apple retailer, all waiting to be told just how much it costs to resuscitate the pesky things. How much could it cost? Ouch, that much. Man, at least reviving a loved one is covered by insurance. New screen? One seventy five. New hard-drive? Two seventy. New iPod? Not much more than that. Message? Spin’n’bin.
Ironically enough (given that they invented this shithouse way of making things and doing business), my Sony discman is still going strong. Sure, it’s of the non-skipping variety, but the sordid, cumbersome reality of having to do a redun-dance with a case full of discs, an accumulating mound of CD-Rs (the cellophane! the Artlines! the cracked jewel cases! the horror!) and burning through a set of AAs a week repelled me more than spider veins glanced up the spread leg of a fat old school ma’am. You think I’m joking, but seriously, the whole thing was so utterly repellant that I seriously considered stealing the pink iPod mini out of the hand of a tween standing outside the milk bar waiting for Humbert Humbert to arrive with his lollipop.
So instead of that, I’m using my digital recorder. Sure, it sounds fine, but it burns double the batteries of my massive, clunky discman, and it’s fragile. Well, anything’s fragile when you’ve got the co-ordination of a baby elephant.
My digital recorder’s got a flash memory of 1GB, which not so long ago was quite a lot. But after losing 20GB worth of music on shuffle, you realise what a difference a stupid, white object was making in your pathetic life. Which must have been the same reason why the jüzzy, Glenferrie Rd teen in front of me at the Apple shop was on the verge of tears.
Teen: Bin it? But… what am I gonna do? (lip all a-quiver)
Teen’s dad: You’re just gonna have to wait until you can get a new one.
Teen: But, I, I, I can’t…. (machinating) Daddy, can I have a new iPod? (more quivering)
Teen’s dad: No.
Teen: But dad, I can’t, I can’t live without it.
Teen’s dad: Why?!
Teen: I just, I just can’t.
And hate her though I might, I couldn’t help feeling - no, not even sympathy, but even empathy. It was true. I can’t say I understood why she was wearing marl tracksuit pants with her underpants visible over the top, but at the same time, I knew exactly, truly, deeply just how she felt.
Originally published in Inpress, February '07
© Peter Chambers 2007
in which the naked chimp is unmasked, his machines debugged, and his bugbears debunked
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