An old-fashioned man

…and proud of it.

It doesn’t stop at just using film and old cameras.  I suppose it stems from a passion for history, but it makes itself felt in many areas of my life.  I appreciate old things.  There’s an innate level of craftsmanship and quality in something that has been around for a long time but still works as well as it did when it was new.  And there’s not much made these days that holds up like things from even 3-4 decades ago.

My grandfather was 70 when I was born, and I didn’t know him as well as I’d have liked to, but I have some mementos of his to remember him by, and that probably helped forge a connection to the past as well.  I have several of his cameras, some of his Army clothing and paraphernalia, and his favorite fedora:
0001AA015Photo by Jonathon Davidson, from the fake trailer “The Lights of Seven Falls.”
It’s just a bit too big for me actually, and for him as well, I believe.  I remember he used to line that hat with old church programs.  My solution is a rolled-up bandana.

My brother paved the way for me in taking up wet shaving over a year ago, and I picked up the torch back in September.  When in Ohio I raided my grandparents’ house looking for any old shaving accessories and came up with gold (well, brass).  Now I have discovered the joy of the badger hair brush, shaving soap, and using Personna double-edged blades in a 1930 Gillette Ball End safety razor.  It’s possible that this was the razor that ol’ Grandpa learned to shave with, though I don’t know one way or the other.

My dad has a pretty good stereo and he’s always kept it set up and ready to play.  He never got rid of or packed away his records, so I was able to rediscover The Difference relatively early.  I’ve assembled a pretty sizable collection of my own over the last seven years.

55mm lens taken at 1/30.  200 speed film

More important than owning records though is the concept of owning music, something we’re losing.  I believe true value is expressed by what we’re willing to pay for, and the current trend is a sense of entitlement to get everything for free, including music, at the expense of the people who actually work hard to create something new and interesting.  Ownership is going out the window these days in favor of access, which should scare a whole lot more people than it currently does.  With that said however, I also find it hard to give real money in exchange for a download.  There’s too much of the “I need it now” attitude where so much is sacrificed in the name of expedience (this also relates to photography).  If I’m paying for music, I expect to get something I can hold in my hand, and if nothing else, it makes for a good backup (and having lost hard drives before, having backups is important).

There’s not much that can beat the sound of a well-engineered/mastered and good clean copy of AAA vinyl, and my research in that direction led me back to true analog recording with open reel tape.  Being a composer/songwriter, I do record music, and tape is my recording medium of choice.

Most people make an analogy between vinyl and film, but this is wrong.  Vinyl is the end product, more like a print.  Both can be made from digital sources, in fact these days most are, in both cases.  Many more are made with analog at the front end, but perhaps digitized at some step in the process.  By the same analogy, AAA vinyl relates to an optical print, black and white or RA-4 color, both fully analog.  And to carry the analogy to its full conclusion, film is equal to tape, because they are both capture mediums, and represent the creative side of their respective mediums.  I suppose that also means that albums released on tape would be analogous to a 35mm motion picture film print.

What’s strange is that taking a picture on film can be so much easier creating a good recording on tape.  I’d know: when I made my first album it came out sounding like the musical equivalent of Lomography.  Actually, there’s a whole sub-genre of music called “lo-fi folk” that describes what I did, and I understand if it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I learned a lot merely by getting out there and doing it.  Here’s some more shameless self-promotion:

In fact, I can’t really think of any area of my life where I’d consider myself up-to-date, even in the tech world.  I’m writing this from a Windows XP computer I bought from a thrift store.  My most recent computer game purchases were the first two Fallout games, and while I just updated my video game system from original Xbox to Playstation 3, my heart still belongs to the 16-bit era.

It sometimes feels like the world has passed me by, like the values of earlier generations have been swept aside in favor of something new and of-the-moment.  It’s a sad sometimes, seeing what the world is becoming, and knowing that I don’t want to be a part of it.  Let other people have their safety in numbers; I am who I am.  Or, “That which we are, we are.

I love books, hate Kindle.  I strive for proper grammar.  I support brick & mortar establishments as much as possible.  I use old cameras.

And I hold doors open for ladies.


6 thoughts on “An old-fashioned man

  1. Mmmnnn. Cassette, vinyl and paper books are my media of choice too. I don’t own a Kindle or other ereader-type thingy, but I don’t mind a high quality download now and again, (predominantly because these days I can rarely afford to attend gigs or purchase music, let alone replace my turntable, but I still like to support my favourite artists nonetheless).

    I also like tech that works or furthers my cause, preferably stuff that can be taken apart and fixed, but that’s quickly becoming a thing of the past in this throw-away culture. It just means that we have to research our investments more – not a bad thing in my book! It’s also good to see people re-discovering ideals and ways of doing things that de-construct and de-clutter some of the unnecessary layers that we tend to get heaped upon us.

  2. I’m old enough to remember when records were primary and cassette tapes were the new kid on the block. I entered college as the CD was introduced and amassed a large vinyl collection, used, at $2 a pop as people sold off their records to buy CDs. I sold my records in the divorce, which hurt a lot at the time but is not something I regret now. I loved my record collection but I love traveling light even more.

    I bought my audio equipment used in the late 80s and still have it. Well, except for the speakers, which blew about ten years ago. I replaced those. But I still love my old NAD receiver. Its volume pot is all scratchy and I intend to have it repaired rather than replace the unit.

    I am charmed by wet shaving and have dabbled in it, but the way the hairs grow under my chin makes it too easy for me to rip them out and end up all bloody, rather than shave them off, so I stick with electric. I have long wondered whether a single-blade razor would ease that and do intend to try one day. But there’s no doubt: electric is fast and doesn’t leave a wet mess all over my sink.

    Back in my radio days I did some studio recording work, so I like your film/tape analogy. It’s right.

    • Thanks for the thoughts. Can I ask which blades you were using? From what I have discovered, your type of razor combined with sharpness of the blades counts for a lot and if you have a thick beard like I do, you’re going to need some really fine quality blades to get a good shave. I went through 4 different brands that were ok but not great, and they definitely pulled at my hair to some degree. I’m currently on American Personnas at the moment but might give Feathers a try, they’re supposed to be the sharpest around and hold their edge a long time (and they’re reputed to be the only brand that are sharper and higher-quality than Personna). Also, from what I understand, the biggest practical difference between double-edge and single-edge razor blades is how many swipes you can get in before rinsing them out, but you’re not going to find the variety of blades that you can with double-edge.

      • It’s been years; I don’t recall. I’ve shaved electric almost exclusively for 20 years. I have a sparse beard but the hairs are thick and difficult, so I even have to choose a particularly hardy electric razor. Thanks for the blade advice — if I try again, I will start with the Personnas.

  3. Pingback: Recommended reading | Down the Road

  4. Can’t agree with you more on the durability of the “old” versus the “new and not so improved”. We live in a throw away society but both my hubby and I prefer the old for quality. Have a good weekend. Great post.


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