Tail of the Weak is a series of insights and musical memories from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin, singer/songwriter and founder of the Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival, from Waycross, Georgia.
It's hard to imagine life without cellphones and computers nowadays. There are whole generations—including my three grandkids—who roll their eyes and yawn when I begin to expound on my boring childhood with its rotary dial telephones tethered to the wall, black and white televisions with only one channel to watch, and phonebooks that you'd rely on at least until the new ones came out a year later. Even then, you kept them because they were full of hand-written notes and numbers you couldn't part with.
We didn't have a Google machine. All we had were daily newspapers like the Waycross Journal-Herald, monthly magazines like Look and Life, and the antiquated Dewey Decimal Card Cabinet located in the local library. We didn't have a Facebook machine. All we had were our friends, neighbors, and kin, who we spoke with face-to-face or over that rotary dial telephone.
Our YouTube machine was simply the television, which if you watched on most evenings during prime time, you would catch a live performance of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly, The Beatles, or Petula Clark. Yes, we sat cross-legged on the living room floor, while our eyes and imaginations were bombarded with Jackie Gleason, Don Rickles, Jonathan Winters, Red Skelton, Rod Serling, Alan Funt, Roy Rogers, and Rowdy Yates. Movie theaters and TV were our link to the world outside of our hometown.
As tied down as we were—by cords attached to our old-fashioned phones—we are just as tied to the remarkable smartphones we carry around with us today. My wife Lynne had her Google Pixel phone stolen while we were in Macon, Georgia last November. It was like the world came to an end for a few days—until our son gave her one of his used ones and a trip to the friendly folks at Verizon yielded most of her contacts and phone numbers that had been floating around in some cloud. I'm clueless.
Our computer suffered a minor breakdown about six weeks ago and—I take that back—there ain't nothin' minor about a computer breakdown. I've come to rely on doing everything on that blasted hunk of bits, bytes, soundboards, and wires—from finances and spreadsheets to emails and YouTube videos of Don Rickles going crazy at Ronald Reagan's 2nd Inaugural Gala in 1985.
I hauled it to Josh, the computer doctor, and for 10 days it was worked on and retooled after picking up a virus or some such. Jesus, they're almost like one of the family. It was so sad. While it was sick, I took to watching Hulu and Netflix movies on my smartphone just to be able to cling to something digital.
When I finally got it back, I had to reload software and update drivers just to run Quicken, Nero, Microsoft Office, Hewlett Packard, Honey Do List, Where Did The Sixties Go, and Just Shoot Me Now. It's exhausting but it beats writing everything down in a composition book like I used to do in the distant Eighties.
Psychologists are promoting treatments for digital addiction, advising sufferers to log off and walk in the sunshine. I hear that the current generation of young folks rely so heavily on digital devices for their social interactions that in a few years, they won't be able to carry on a simple conversation with a prospective employer in a one-on-one job interview.
Life was simpler back in the day. My older brother Gary still doesn't own a smartphone. He never even had a dumb flip phone and he seems very content.
I resisted for as long as I could until Lynne bought me one for Christmas about 10 years ago. You can't say no to that so here I am, tied down to modern technology—an analog man in a digital world.
Here are a few things I've learned that might come in handy for you.
DON'T drop your cellphone on the pavement.
DON'T drop your cellphone in the toilet, Jesse.
DON'T leave your cellphone in a convenience store restroom outside Jacksonville.
DON'T befriend strangers while hula hooping in Grant's Lounge with your makeup bag containing your cellphone nearby and turn your back for a second. They won't take the hula hoop no matter how pretty it is.
DON'T accept beautifully-wrapped Christmas gifts that appear to have cellphones inside.
SEND CHECK OR MONEY ORDER FOR $20 TO
DAVE GRIFFIN : 950 SUNSET LN : WAYCROSS GA 31503
Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin