Though televisions, our prompt for today, have become thin devices that hang like a painting on the wall, they were quite different when I was a kid. In my youth, they were large wooden cabinets that filled an entire wall of our little house with far more wood than screen. Picking out a television was no different than selecting a couch or bookcase. It was an object of admiration and the centerpiece of every living room. And the fascination with all of the programs it transmitted kept us glued to it each and every night. Of course, as a kid, I never had control over the remote. This was relegated to one of my parents, most often my dad, and so I ended up watching whatever he chose for the evening. Remotes were an amazing invention that, at the time, sent ultrasonic tones to make the magic happen. The first remote to control a television, though, came from Zenith in the form of the “Flashmatic,” a little green gun-like flashlight that shined a beam on the television. The drawback was that it couldn’t distinguish its own light from any other light sources and had to be aimed precisely in order to work. Modern day remotes have improved in that regard, but the endless buttons still leave much to be desired.
By the way, I used my “Shiny” Da Vinci Trio for today’s post, which you can learn more about here! As for televisions, Philippe and I don’t have cable anymore and only watch programs on Netflix and Hulu. Though we have proper televisions in the house, you’ll more often find us watching things on an iPad. This, to me, is a dream. Although televisions have progressed nicely, the remotes that come with them are usually crazy and confusing. There are entirely too many buttons, many that literally nobody ever finds the opportunity to use. It’s as though having those buttons is supposed to provide us some sort of comfort. The idea that although it’s entirely worthless, it’s indeed there if the off chance you might actually need it. This is quite like the “close door” button in an elevator that doesn’t actually work as intended, but is simply there to complement the “open door” button. An aesthetic choice to fill space that serves no actual purpose at all. This, to me, is the apparent design choice of nearly every modern remote ever created. A strange idea that more is more rather than embracing the tried and true equation of less.
But despite my TV remote woes as a kid and the fact that I never really had the opportunity to attain that power, I loved watching television. It really didn’t matter what the show was as I was enraptured by the experience of enjoying any story at all. True, there were many times when sports were the chosen program and in those times I toddled off to do something more creative. But thankfully, my dad did enjoy other things and would watch a variety of story-filled programs. Our family particularly loved comedies of all sorts. For some reason, they just seemed a bit more true to actual life. And on Saturday mornings, I did manage to have full remote control, since my dad slept in, and I could enjoy all of my favorite cartoons. While I’m certainly appreciative of modern televisions, there’s something precious about these earliest versions. As a kid, televisions were a magic box for me that made it seem like all those characters were actually performing their antics just inside. So, part of me will always cherish those days, many years ago, back when televisions were furniture.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Nickel Azo Yellow, Terra Cotta, and Cobalt Blue. (To Learn More About This Da Vinci Trio, click here!) Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!