|legeros.com > Writing > Internet Love Letter|
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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