Friday, June 1, 2018

The return of the typewriter - on a big scale

Ruby Keeler was never my favorite 1930s dance star. In fact, I can think of few other dancers who are less nimble on their feet, or less charismatic. But for some reason, audiences just took to her. She had a kind of calf-eyed sweetness. Plus she was married to Al Jolson, which had to count for something. 

I once read (in that vast repository  of knowledge we call "somewhere") that the reason Keeler couldn't tap dance is that she wasn't a tap dancer. She was a buck dancer, as in "buck and wing", a style that has some things in common with clog dancing. I've seen aboriginal buck dancing competitions, and have noticed that buck shades into jigging, as in the traditional Metis Red River jig. 

Is that what she was doing? Maybe Ruby was just misunderstood.

I don't know if this is a Busby Berkeley number or not - I'll have to look it up - but the hokiness, the use of objects on a giant scale seems to suggest it. It appealed to me because I "read somewhere" that typewriters are coming back. It seemed like an absurd idea at first, but then I thought about it. There is one huge advantage: they simply can't be hacked. The documents they produce can be destroyed - I mean, really, truly and forever - reduced to a pile of ashes in seconds. Remember that "eat the note!" thing  that spies used to do? 

If the hacking problem continues to grow at its present rate, by the year 2050 we'll all be using Olivetti portables with reversible ribbons. Not Selectrics, not that one with the ball that flies around - those are just too advanced, and some electric typewriters even have basic computers in them. No. We'll have to use manuals, and pound the hell out of the keys again, rip out/crumple up the sheets of paper and throw them across the room into the wastebasket. As a matter of fact, I think the stress levels in contemporary society are entirely due to the extinction of this ritual. That, and a lot of other things.

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