High Definition: A Bildungsroman of Sorts


As a young boy growing up in the desert there wasn't much to do in the early 1980's. There were no Cardinals, Diamondbacks, or Coyotes to root for. My family had two televisions in the house. One in the parents' bedroom, another in the "family room."  Before the advent of cable TV there was "On TV", which was a movie channel scrambled all day until prime time. Adults were treated to movies into the wee hours of the morning on their dial changer TV's. You remember them, the bunny ears with the tin foil wrapped on top?

The remote control for my parents was me. My father wouldn't speak when he wanted me to change the channel to one of 5 available, I was forced to watch to look at him ever 30  seconds or so. He'd simply make a circular motion with his fist and I'd know to change from Mary Tyler Moore to Bob Newhart, or to the Suns game on channel 5, KPHO. Or was it 12, KTVK? I don't even remember.  Anyway, it was a sad state of affairs.

By the end of 80's Arizona was in full swing with an awful NFL team, of course or beloved Suns, and CABLE freakin' TV. That's right, at least 50 or 60 channels and PPV adult movies. The salad days were here. Remote controls, big screens and all that jive. And watching Barkley's Suns play Jordan's Bulls in '93 on 60 something inches was nothing short of a technological and athletic miracle. Except the Suns lost the series. And a certain special something was missing now that I remember it.

What did we do without HD? Why did we bother to watch sports at all?

Waxing about the old days is not nostalgic, it's absolutely depressing. It reminds me how old I really am and how out of touch with most technology I am. And I'm not going to lie. I have a love/hate relationship with technology. I am too impatient to learn about a lot of things and I go into a shutdown/coma mode when I'm attempting to grasp a tekkie type of abstract concept. But the first time I saw an HD picture several years ago, I was convinced I had to have it, immediately.

I'll never forget the picture that what was on the screen at that moment of realization:  Steve Nash tossing a half court lob to Shawn Marion. In high definition. I could see the spin of the ball, the sweat on Steve Nash's brow, the snarl on Marion's lips. The monster dunk. It was like I was in a movie when everything goes in slow motion for perfect effect.  I was hooked. Plopped down the gold card, consequences be damned.

Cut to present day. That young, freckled face, curly headed boy holding the bunny ears for his parents has survived the rough years in Arizona. The dusty unpaved streets, the drunken cowboys and OK Corral gunfights, the unreliable Pony Express, and the dry wells we once pumped our water from.

We're in the big leagues, people. And I have a remote control and High Definition Television. The next generation will have no clue what kind of pain and suffering we all went through.

*Ed. Note: The afore mentioned was a true story, yet part of a corporate promotion in which the writer has mostly sacrificed his reputation in order to feed his starving young children. Sorry.
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