37 Years! Celebrating (or at least thinking about) VHS

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 25, 2013 06:37pm | Post a Comment
The inaugural Cassette Store Day took place this past 7 September. On that day, over 50 audio cassettes were released by major musical acts like The Pastels, The Flaming Lips, and Suicidal Tendencies. Unfortunately for video cassette fans, Cassette Day was a strictly audio observance. For whatever reason, Cassette Culture (or the cassette underground), which lovingly embraces audio cassettes for whatever reason treats the word “cassette” as if it only applies to the audio variety. As if that weren’t offensive enough, just two days after Cassette Store Day was the 37th birthday of the VHS VCR. Now that a couple of weeks have passed and the sting has subsided a little, perhaps we can do a bit of reflecting on the video format that dominated the 1980s and '90s (but was born in the '70s). 

The year 1976 was marked by several serious technological milestones. The year of the US' bicentennial saw America land Viking 2 on Mars and introduce the first space shuttle -- the Enterprise OV-101. In the computer world, IBM introduced the first laser printer -- the IBM 3800 -- and Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak launched Apple.

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I no longer live, but was raised in, a Yellow Submarine.

Posted by Job O Brother, August 31, 2009 05:49pm | Post a Comment

I have seen the movie Yellow Submarine more than any other film. This is because, as a child, I had a BETA copy of the film that had been taped off our TV. Without exaggeration, I’ve seen the movie over 200 times. Unfortunately, my taped copy also contained the commercials that played on TV when they showed it, which means I have also seen this…

…over 200 times. (If I, in the future, ever do anything absolutely crazy that lands me in trouble with the law, please remember this fact and use it in my defense.)

It’s also because of this movie that I was acutely aware of who The Beatles were. While most of my 1st grade friends were learning the hard way that Strawberry Shortcake dolls do not taste as good as they smell, I was phoning local radio stations and pleading with them to play songs off of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

I was six when John Lennon was shot, and remember the moment when I found out. I was channel surfing (back then it was “switching the dial”) when I happened upon the news. I heard that Lennon was dead and starting sobbing. It was all so confusing. My primary association with him was as a cartoon character, and on some level I didn’t understand how that piece of animation had been murdered. It was all so complicated and awful. And probably why I genuinely feared for Scooby’s well-being from then on.

Seeing Yellow Submarine on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis as an impressionable youngster left an indelible mark on my mind and eventual artistic output. And speech choices. For my whole life, and to this day, if someone asks me a “how much” or “how many” themed question, I will at least think, if not say, “Enough to fill the Albert Hall!” in a squeaky, Liverpudlian accent. If I do not know the answer to a question, I will often answer, “Rimsky-Korsakov?” in a sheepish, groveling tone and, if the asker doesn’t say anything in response, I will follow up with, “Guy Lombardo?” (My friends almost never ask why I’m saying these things. What does it say about me that most people don’t think twice that these are my answers?)

Nothing can really be written about The Beatles that hasn’t been written before. Unless you were to write an article about how they saved the Moon from exploding and how Ringo was actually a made out of penne pasta & zinc/Eiffel Tower sauce, but that’s because those things are not true, and exceedingly silly.

So I eschew a more intellectual blog about the Fab Four in lieu of the above mentioned childhood experiences. I hope that’s okay with you, dear reader.

Also, I wanted to mention that Yoko Ono’s made some really neat albums, you guys. Particularly Approximately Infinite Universe and Feeling the Space. I’d like to think that we younger generations could start to give this broad her due. I’m just sayin’.

I still love The Beatles and am happy that technology now allows me to enjoy Yellow Submarine on DVD. It’s out of print as of this writing, but used copies often pop-up in the film depot of Amoeba Music. Although I must say, I do miss little vignettes like these…