Internet Love Letter

By Michael J. Legeros


This is a love letter to the Internet from a lover of information.
A learner, not a fighter, whose weekly/daily/hourly mission is to
discover one more thing about the things he's interested in.  Like
movies, heavy-metal music, and die-cast toy fire truck collecting.
This person is also a freak for poop.  What's new?  What's the
latest?  What's happening, who's making it happen, and when will
*he* have a copy in his greedy little hands?  Prior to the inven-
tion (or at least the wide-implementation) of the Internet, this
quest required a considerable amount of leg work.  He'd search
high and low, library to newsstand, record store to radio station,
person-in-the-know to other-person-in-the-know, trying to find one
more morsel of Something Not Yet Known.  Who knows how many hours
he spent, paging through trade magazines at libraries to spot a
single sentence of new info.  Or watching a week's worth of CNN's
"Showbiz Today" just for ten seconds of juicy news.  Or calling
record companies directly, asking "when the Hell is the new album
coming out?"  This letter is a look back, looking fifteen years
forward at the many ways the Internet has improved this lover's
life.  Or at least, his access to information.  Thank you, Al
Gore, for inventing it.


  TOY FIRE TRUCKS - I collect toy fire trucks.  Die-cast toy
  fire trucks, meaning made of metal and typically between
  1:87 and 1:34 scale.  (Couple of inches long to maybe a
  foot.)  The hobby laid low in my teens and early twenties,
  while I was busy being obsessed with other things.  Like
  girls.  Around the time of my marriage, say age 25, I un-
  boxed the collection and placed a couple models in a wall-
  mounted display case.  A year or two later-- around the
  time Corgi Classics began operation-- I started adding to
  the collection.  (Credit my mother, who worked in conjunc-
  tion with the Easter Bunny to always leave a Corgi Major
  in my basket...)  By the mid-'90's, other companies like
  Code 3 Collectibles had come into play.  I'd also discov-
  ered toy shows, train shows, and a marvelous, bimonthly
  magazine titled "Fire Apparatus Journal."  (The latter
  with a regular column on... toys!)  Finally on one fateful
  night in 1998, I did a what-the-Hell Web search on "Tomi-
  ca," a brand of "pocket cars" that I hadn't seen in stores
  in a double decade.  (Not since living in Minnesota.)  Lo
  and behold, the brand was still available (at least in Ja-
  pan) *and* had produced a number of new emergency vehicles
  in the intervening years!  Twenty-four months and a few
  thousand dollars later and the rest is history:  dozens of
  search queries; mail ordering from merchants cross-country
  and around the world; discovering heretofore unknown model
  manufacturers, like Conrad, Replex, and A. Smith; finding
  photos of obsolete models and then e-mailing everyone and
  their brother who might have one; and, or course, the dai-
  ly visits to a certain online auction house, which allowed
  for both the finding of models that I didn't know I wanted
  and the *selling* of those I no longer liked.  Toys *do*
  fall out of favor...

  REAL FIRE TRUCKS - As a full-time firefighter, I was al-
  ways asking about the "buzz."  What new stations were "on
  the books?"  What new trucks for due for delivery?  What
  was the status?  What was the progress?  etc.  After leav-
  ing the profession in 1992, "insider info" was glean-able
  either by (a.) simply spotting something, like the day I
  nearly ran off the road when I saw a brand new aerial tow-
  er in front of "Sixteen" or (b.) bumping into a former co-
  worker and interrogating them on the spot.  (I know they
  loved that.)  Nowadays, the RFD has their own, occasion-
  ally up-to-date Web site.  (www.raleigh-nc.org/fire)  The
  City's home page, however, is more frequently updated.  I
  often scan the City Council meeting minutes, the upcoming
  City Council agendas, and even recently awarded construc-
  tion bids.  (A keen way of learning when new stations are
  being built.)  Several County fire departments also have
  home pages.  Sundry Sunday drives are no longer required,
  hoping to get a glimpse of some rig or some new station.
  Western Wake had snaps of a service truck posted less than
  a week after delivery!  See: www.westernwakefirerescue.com

  ROCK - Finding out about favorite bands was a newsstand-
  based activity.  Every Monday and Wednesday, the days new
  rags were released, I'd saunter down to DJ's on Hillsbor-
  ough Street, to sample "Circus," "Hit Parader," and even
  "Guitar World."  (No, never picked up an axe in my life.
  Just sticks.)  And on those rare occasions when a nugget
  was mine-able, I'd learn a bit more about Judas Priest,
  Ozzy Osbourne, and the other hard-rockers that I hungrily
  awaited albums from.  Later, while in "in the loop" while
  working at the North Carolina State University radio sta-
  tion, I had access to advance albums.  [ Insert audible
  squeal of delight ]  Since I didn't remain in radio, how-
  ever, later pre-Internet years required a return to the
  newsstand.  Plus occasional phone calls to 'KNC, to grill
  those I knew for anything they knew.  Terribly time-con-
  suming, but it worked.  For several years, in fact, until
  I "got online" and discovered fan sites and band sites and
  MP3 files and www.hardradio.com, where the news is updated
  weekly and the music clips even more often.

  MOVIES - The best source of cinema scuttlebutt has always
  been "Variety," the oversized entertainment industry mag
  that costs a fortune to subscribe to.  (I've never taken
  the plunge.)  While in college, while working at the Stu-
  dent Center Information Desk, one of my duties was sorting
  mail.  One of the building's tenants, the Union Activities
  Board, subscribed to said periodical.  So guess who always
  volunteered for mail duty?  As the years passed, other in-
  side sources became available.  CNN had a daily Hollywood
  news show that I'd watch or tape.  And magazines like "Mo-
  vieline, "Premiere," and "Entertainment Weekly" were solid
  sources for scoops.  However, it wasn't until Yahoo began
  posting the daily headlines from "Daily Variety" that my
  fix was finally fixed.  Now, as for stills, plot details,
  bootleg trailers, and entire scripts, that's another story
  for another essay...

  MUSIC - Gone are the days of the weekly "record browse,"
  searching for some small-label release or hard-to-find
  import.  Such as the *years* I spent seeking a CD release
  of "Hear 'n' Aid," a heavy-metal famine-relief album from
  1986 featuring the Ronnie James Dio-written, "We Are The
  World"-style, all-star anthem  "Stars."  (Complete with
  thirteen-guitar, name-that-shredder solo.)  Roughly once
  a week I'd glance in some store's Various Artists bin.  At
  the mall, on H'boro Street, while travelling, etc.  Seven
  or eight years later, I learned of a Japanese CD pressing
  available from a German Internet store.  In a mind-bogg-
  ling bit of coincidence, the same week that I learned this
  and immediately placed an order, I found a copy in town!
  At a Durham Best Buys, of all places.  Go figure and then
  go browse www.cdnow.com or www.cdworld.com.  That's where
  I shop.

  X-MEN - In days of old, when I was less bold, I used to
  collect comic books.  I started around age 12, in Minne-
  apolis, and continued through high school, college, and
  post college.  Around age 26, my interest began to wane.
  By age 30, I'd gone cold turkey.  'Twas not a joyous end-
  ing, tho.  I became increasing unhappy about two things:
  (a.) the fact that my closets contained five or six thou-
  sand non-dust-collecting comic books and (b.) the Hercu-
  lean amount of effort required to convert them into cash.
  Such as by toting to comic book conventions.  Or the flea
  market.  Salvation came in '99, with the discover of ebay.
  And the convenient coincidence that both Postal Service
  mailers and store-bought bubble wrap came in comic-book
  sizes.  The mailers are free and the buyer pays for ship-
  ping *and* the cost of packing materials.  Cha-ching!

  CORRESPONDENCE - What I was your age, we wrote letters on
  something called *paper*.  Using something called a *pen*!
  Alas, my gregarious-ness never translated too well to the
  handwritten word.  Partly because I can't cursively write.
  (Never learned how.)  And partly because I can't compose
  without simultaneously self-editing.  (Five or ten "takes"
  might be required.  And don't even ask about the number of
  greeting cards that I've torn up, re-purchased, and torn
  up again.)  Thank God for electronic mail and that wonder-
  ful Backspace key.  Where would we be without it?

  RARE AND EXOTIC DISEASES - Thanks to the extensive amount
  of medical information online, I was able to successfully
  self-diagnose myself as suffering from Adult Immature Im-
  patience Disorder (AIID) and immediately begin seeking
  sympathy from friends and family members, preferably in
  the form of cash donations.  See: www.legeros.com/essays/
  impatience.shtml

  OLD GIRLFRIENDS - Praise be to www.switchboard.com and all
  those other "white pages" sites.  Pestering an "ex" no
  longer requires contacting college alumni offices, perus-
  ing other-city phone books at the library, or getting the
  courage to call one of *her* friends.  See also: www.
  antistalking.com

  DEAD PRESIDENTS - Paying a bill that the ol' checking ac-
  count ain't gonna cover?  Log onto your bank (or credit
  union) site and perform a funds transfer.  No ATM re-
  quired.

  FAMILY MEMBERS - Who else has the last name Legeros?  Or
  my mother's maiden name, Pennington?  You can learn a lot
  from a search engine...

  FELINE FAMILY MEMBERS - My cat has his own home page.  Fe-
  lix Alawishous Legeros at www.legeros.com/felix/.
  Or press the Paws button.

  MEETING CHICKS - Then: awkward small talk.  Now:  hand 'em
  an address.

  NAKED PICTURES - No explanation necessary.


Copyright 2000 Michael J. Legeros

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