Archive for March, 2012

The Clock is Operating and I Feel Fine

March 7, 2012

My iPad just delivered a Billy Pilgrim, unstuck in time, moment. The latest Time magazine release for the iPad is really the March 2nd, 1962 issue all over again – “The Space Race is a GO” – re-titled “A Half-Century in Space.” It’s the entire original issue, ads and all. It’s awesome.

The Mercury Seven were my boyhood heroes and even they aren’t the most interesting part of this reissue. It’s the excitement evident in every section, from Letters to Milestones; like a young man with his second love, he is certain of his knowledge yet his world is still magical. Every detail brings a new thrill; the publisher expends two full paragraphs explaining the new mailing label printed with “electronic impulse.”

The Time Listings section provides a glimpse into the future of some high school required reading: On the fiction side Salinger’s Franny and Zooey, Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Robbins’ The Carperbaggers. In nonfiction – The Guns of August, and The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Don’t won’t to read? Turn on the TV to The Bob Newhart Show with musical guests, The Limelighters or NBC’s Saturday night movie was The Day the Earth Stood Still at 9PM eastern. TV too low brow? Then New York’s theater district was offering up Tennessee William’s Night of the Iguana or A Man for All Seasons, Brecht on Brect, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Camelot, or My Fair Lady. Wow – and these aren’t revivals!

It is not all new and shiny, some themes keep recurring. This headline sounds familiar: “Can the U.S. Compete?” Also this article: Romney running for the highest office in the land and the issue of his Mormonism. This time, however, it’s George and the land is Michigan. And not to worry – the White House assures us some part of Asia is now stable because of American troops there. Can someone go back and tell Kennedy and McNamara that over 50,000 American lives will be shed and just like our Civil War, the north will win. As usual, education is failing, letter writers are agitated and there is an invitation to choose several titles for only a dollar with only a small obligation to purchase a select number more at the regular club prices.

Speaking of ads, the latest thing is digital data that can be…wait for it…sent over telephone lines! This is stored securely on either magnetic or paper punch tape. Most ads for cars have a jet in the background (“ ’62 Chevrolet goes Jet-smooth and it’s built to keep going that way”). Mercedes even goes so far as to keep Deutschland über alles by posing the 220se in front of a Lufthansa jet on the runway in Stuttgart. Cross promotion at its best. Though no Italian cars are found, Alitalia is promoting their new low cost flight to London from New York for $350. Sounds pretty good until you consider the median U.S. income in 1962 for a family of four was $6000. Still too expensive for the average American, but things were headed in the right direction.

Looking back another fifty years prior and groups were lobbying to keep the airplane out of war. Unsuccessfully. Two world wars and 20 years later the technology advances enough for jet flight to connect the world’s elite. Jump another fifty years forward and nobody bats an eye about flying to Cairo or Beijing, though the seating is guaranteed to damage your knees. A small price to pay considering that such a voyage may have cost your life in a not too distant past. We still don’t have moon bases (Newt?) and I never did become the astronaut I dreamed of from these pages, but I did get a pilot’s license and have vacationed in Europe. Oh – and I finally did read To Kill a Mockingbird. Everything in it’s own time.