Monday, October 5, 2015

Save Me

One of my fondest memories of dropping by a social studies class one day in high school (it must have been raining or something) was how the teacher foretold a future in which computers were going to simplify everything, fix everything, take the place of bulky papers and books, and find true love for everyone seeking same.

"Imagine," Mrs Frantz said, "all of the information in your books on a computer!  You won't have to carry any books home with you to do your homework!" 

Not even my pointing out that I was already not in the habit of toting books around with me  could deter her.  On and on she crooned, a soothsayer saying soothing things about a Brave New World where paper would go the way of buggy whips and rumble seats. Everything was going to be on computers, books would disappear, that was it, accept it.

Fast forward to the work environments we know now, where almost everyone has a monitor staring back at them, and a computer terminal, and everything that's done and said is said and done on that terminal...and then it gets printed out and stored in the boxes that the paper comes in, stacked in dusty closets and the former offices of people who swore they'd never learn to use a computer.

You have to print important information out because computers crash, and hard drives stop driving, and thumb drives give you the finger from time to time.  

So Mrs Frantz's prediction of a paperless world never came to fruition (as did her presaging my future as a convicted felon) and that lesson has been learned by almost everyone.  No one trusts just their computer, laptop or mobile device as the sole carrier of any important data.

That's why it was cause for great head-shaking last week when Garth Brooks, country singer of one song I like ("I've Got Friends In Low Places"), and dozens more that I don't, announced that for the last six months, he's been storing ideas and lines and snippets for new songs on his cell phone.  

How many devices did you store the data on?
"Here's where the old guy gets into technology, which is bad," he explained to "Rolling Stone.

"All the new stuff which I've been working on for six months was on a phone that's been fried, and I can't get the phone to come back up. . . It's like losing your briefcase back in the Nineties!"

Well, Garth, next time, copy and paste and forward it to your email and your wife's email and print it out and store in your freezer in a ziploc bag.  But before you feel too bad about it, consider the case of my hero Mr Garrison Keillor.

In 1974, Mr Keillor, the soon-to-be retired host of radio's "Prairie Home Companion," got the idea to write about radio's Grand Ole Opry, a piece that The New Yorker ran. They paid him $6,000 for it, and he spent that money on a train trip to the West Coast with his wife and son. But on the way, he left his briefcase in the men's room at the Portland train station.  

In the briefcase was the one and only copy of his manuscript for a novel called "Lake Wobegon Memoir," which he thought would be his breakthrough masterpiece.  The briefcase was never returned and the typed pages of the book he dreamed up have been lost from that day to this. 

Always with the red socks
In the summer of 1974, Mr Keillor created the radio show which is still on the air every Saturday evening.  The highlight of the second hour of the show is a monologue, his extemporaneous weaving of the tales of everyday life in a fictional small town in Minnesota. He told the Los Angeles Times in 1985 that he started telling the stories on the radio in hopes that "my lost story would come down the beam and land in my head. Eleven years later, I am still waiting for it."

Type it. Send it. Print it.  Save it.  Bury it. Mail it to yourself.  Just don't make but one copy of anything you might want later.

Looking to whip up some buzz for last year's Man Against Machine album, Garth Brooks got social last November, launching his own Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts in the same week. Less than a year later, though, he's shaking his fist at modern technology. 

Garth Brooks Garth Brooks Talks Touring and Uncertain 'Machine' Future »
A fried cell phone may have just set back production on the icon's next album. Speaking with Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel before last weekend's pair of sold-out shows at the Bradley Center, Brooks admitted that he's been storing ideas for new songs on a personal cell phone that recently stopped working.

There's also a possible delay on a duets album with wife Trisha Yearwood, who tells the Sentinel that the Christmas collection they're working on won't likely be out in time for the 2015 holiday season.

Meanwhile, the married superstars continue to keep busy on the road, thanks to an ongoing, cross-country tour that's on track to become one of the highest-grossing concert treks of all time. The Garth Brooks World Tour With Trisha Yearwood has stayed within America's borders thus far, with a foreign leg possibly popping up next year. New U.S. cities are still being announced, with Brooks and Yearwood wrapping up their year with multi-show residencies in Cleveland, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and San Diego. 

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