Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Going Digital

According to this AP article in this morning's Standard-Times, the big changeover from that nasty old-fashioned "analog" broadcast teevee to the nasty newish digital teevee has begun. Since most of the residents of the first digital midwife town, Wilmington North Carolina, already have cable, it wasn't that big a deal to them, but a certain number of people have bought "converter boxes" from the Radio Shack and WalMart. Though I somehow feel that Finkelstein's on Water and Market has some to sell right next to the Fender amps.
But maybe that's my desire to paint Wilmington as a rare paradise where one can get anything one wants.
I like Wilmington because it's a historic town, a theater town, a movie industry town, with trendy restaurants and bars and schools to feed its industry, independent bookstores and coffee shops, and a brackish river that leads out to the Atlantic.
And because it has a battleship, it's what I imagine Fall River could have been like if the "We'll Try" City had relied more on high school education than on high school basketball.
One of the most miserable boat deliveries I ever made was the third or fourth time driving that ship model from Fall River to Saint Petersburg FL. I had ruined a relationship and lost my self-respect, and I spent most of my off-watch time moping around and hoping for big seas.
I had never thought of Bounty as "a motor yacht," but this run held little joy, and even less sail and so, even less joy. The Foundation was smugly running the floating carnival aground under its trustees' incompetence and uninformed hubris, its business insight informed by a property management mentality that saw sheetrock where everyone else saw grand fresco murals.
A vain, unwitting, and boundaryless board fails in its most important task: nurturing confident employees. I hadn't yet devoted my life to understanding non-profits, so I couldn't have known the crew's legal options as employees. And nobody knew anything about the tenets of admiralty law that were being ignored out of sheer unmindfulness.
It was a boatload of uncomfortable.
Sure, I might have spent the trip staring out at the cold North Atlantic, musing on the meaning of life and my unsignicant miniscularity, fashioning pallid and soul-wrenching sonnets that I could recite wanly to passersby while I manned the helm, chain-smoking and regretting my self-conscious and officious decision to not spike my coffee with Bailey's Irish Cream.
We were rounding Hatteras uneventfully. On other rides, a cold dark storm cloud would crash open to welcoming breezes and warm blue skies. This time it rained. I climbed down to my bunk and crawled into a little battery-powered television. Some mindless teevee shows I can't even remember drowned out the sound of the twin diesels. I don't recall if I even wore the headphones or earpiece.
It was a broadcast television station from Wilmington, wafting out of the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Really, that's all I can recollect. It was a reminder of The Beach, that sinister place that housed scummy politicians and dirty business and low selfish soft-handed weasels and whores. After a while -- probably forty minutes, although my melodrama mind imagines several dank days -- I was back up on deck, and someone suggested setting topsails and courses.
Dutifully at first, and then cheerfully, I ran up the ratlines, untied robands fifty feet above the deck, and freed the canvas that eventually, sheets and clews secured, filled with wind and filled my heart afresh.
I imagine that, these days, I wouldn't have a digital converter box in my duffel bag to convert the probably terribly uninteresting signal.

I could avoid the lonely melodrama and moping altogether.

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