I saw it on a granite porch of sorts, as I walked the sterile disorder of crumbling masonry near the train station.
An old Sony Trinitron. Resting face down, on its tube. I’d recognize it anywhere. Such an indignity for such a deathless companion! We used to have one in the den, back in the day when one of those Sonys blew anything else away. Magnavox, RCA, Sylvania! All crap. Transistorized, instant-on, with slight high-pitched squeal only perceptible to children and dogs, Trinitron was the gold standard. And as near immortal as anything electronic of their day.
That was the entertainment cube! My, what we watched through that rack of pixels! Marcus Welby, MD. The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. M*A*S*H. Three’s Company. Charlie’s Angels! Oh, my, what this tube hadn’t ogled!
Back then, where we lived, past Westport, Connecticut, back there, in the deer-busy, pheasant-thumping wilderness, we could only receive three strong channels. Can you imagine? Just three places to rest one’s eyes television-hungry eyes! Other, weaker signals came in not at all or all snowy unless you turned the big aerial around with your Channel Master remote-control rotor. Yeah, the grind of small gears turning the physical antenna to better receive stations in other compass directions. And the low-flying airplanes on approach to Danbury Airport offered a home demonstration of radio reflection and ranging, or radar, causing the channel you were watching to arrive at slightly different times, to begin strobing, showing double-images on a trigonometric interference schedule unfolding between distant TV transmitter, Piper Cub and your TV.
You see, video was still intersecting with machines, back then, but in meaningful physical ways, ways that depended on one another. Motion, distance, weather, radio sources, all coming across the cathode-ray tube.
Not something grafted-on and inessential like you have today with your onboard information and entertainment systems.
No, back then, you could still smell an air of solvent, or fragrant fluorocarbon lubricant. You could scent this joining of the ethereal and the mechanical! Oh, what a fragrance attended the marriage of Technology and Machine!
In those days came The Little Rascals and Laurel & Hardy and Lucy and The Mothers-in-Law and Hazel and Bachelor Father and Gunsmoke and Mannix and Hawaii Five-O and Perry Mason and I Dream of Jeannie and Star Trek and Courageous Cat and Officer Mike and Abbott & Costello, and, above all else, the treasure of Loonie Tunes.
The arrival of color TV was impressive enough, but the Trinitron!
In my earliest youth, we watched black-and-white television! I remember a Gemini launch that must have been in 1965. I remember the countdown and the missile!
Then came color. And soon after, Sony. Oh, people lamented the ascendancy of the “Idiot Box” and such, but we all watched. There was just enough good stuff on.
My, what sights hadn’t that tube poured glowing through its raster and into hungering eyes? How we all basked in a darkened room, how we bathed in its cool blue luminescence, safe assured of a long war movie cut with lengthy commercials, or a Can’t Miss final episode of this or that.
My. That was more than a TV. That was a place to be.