So i got stuck moving my Boss’s mother’s belongings this last friday —oh, don’t get me started on that one — She had boxes full of food (which the mice at her storage locker had loved), a dilapidated barrel planter filled with about 50lbs of dirt, pool cleaning equipment (though she owned no pool) —and amongst all the other useless debris this woman had, she had two big cardboard boxes full of VHS tapes. This elicited more laughter from our impromptu moving crew –who keeps VHS tapes anymore?
Kinda made me sad though too –sad for the mighty VHS tape, whose reign was basically from about 1980 till around early 2000. It’s that same sadness i feel when i go to the Goodwill Bins, and see literally hundreds of VHS tapes, from damaged and unwatchable to new, still in the cellophane — they go for next to nothing (you pay $1.39 per lb), and no one wants them. Next stop, the garbage. What a waste. To think, years ago people paid good money for those spools of magnetic tape. Well, I still have a VCR. Still have my tapes too.
Network Awesome takes stuff you could find on youtube yourself and puts it together into daily “programming”. What I think is really neat about Network Awesome is how much of it is appropriated from VHS. Remember being so stoked that ANTHRAX was going to be on “Married with Children” that you taped it? Oh, you didn’t? Well, someone did, and then had the foresight to put it on youtube, then Network Awesome pointed it out to you. Remember how, as a kid, you were into G.L.O.W., cuz, uh…you were into wrestling? (uh-huh) It’s here, preserved in fuzzy videotaped glory on N.A. Remember when mom and dad destroyed all your Iron Maiden cassettes after watching 20/20? Let’s watch that!
The lost beauty of VHS was the fact that you could RECORD what you saw on TV–can’t do that with DVD, can’t do that with Blueray. Oh, I know, there’s DVR’s, there’s streaming programming on the web, there’s bit-torrents, yadda yadda, but who’s actually physically keeping anything they record? VCR’s could be programmed to record any length of time, so you could get your favorite show, but you’d have to record the commercials too. At the time, you thought, “what a hassle”, as you fast-forwarded thru them —now, those 15 year old commercials are kitschy little bits of your past, and you can watch them with a sense of nostalgia. And they’re on Network Awesome as well, tucked in the youtubed gaps of programming. Kitschy goodness.
—Now, I know the phrase “everything old is new again” is a tired phrase. It’s also pretty tiring to see “old stuff” get remade into “new stuff”, especially when there’s no effort put into it. Classic horror movies are the biggest victim, but really anything that people have nostalgia for is fodder for the Media Machine who seem to be either out of ideas or are too lazy to search out a new paycheck. Then there’s those who take the old, and make it new again —specifically, they take elements of the old and put their own spin to it, making it new, making it different, making old new again.
My two examples are bands. Yeah, for some reason Music isn’t completely sold out, unimaginative, or lazy.
UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA makes me think of 70’s influences like David Bowie, Pink Floyd, and Kraut rock, but it’s got a hip-hop catchy beat. Sounds old, sounds new. When I saw that you could buy it on vinyl (with a free digital download) they got my money quickly. YES, i still buy vinyl records.
HONEYDRUM , to me, sounds like Ian Curtis never died. In fact, he found some meds that helped him out, probably made him a cheerier chap and decided that he was done with Joy Division. He got together with some other early 80’s synthband members and continued on, putting out lo-fi cassettes of catchy, somewhat gothy music, with lyrics that weren’t so damn mopey. Well, that’s not exactly the case (mind you, they’re not as good as Joy Division, who is #1, and timeless), but that’s what they remind me of. I’m pretty sure they’re reaching out to the past. This video screams “I was made with old video editing”. It is true about the cassettes releases. It appears that’s all their label sells. I like that some bands out there still release cassettes, though it’s not the same as releasing vinyl –cassettes, as tough as they are (i’ve got cassettes that are almost as old as i am) sound like shit pretty much from day one. Luckily, if you don’t care for them, you can pretty much download everything Honeydrum’s put out for free on their bandcamp site here