Nothing On

Nothing On

She’s 51 inches of ebony glamour corner to diagonal corner—as glistening and glassy smooth as a wet crow’s wing. Sexy, seductive, high-maintenance, classy and trashy all at once.

She’s my new Samsung F8500 smart plasma television set with Evolution Port, Quad Core Processor and 600Hz Subfield Motion. I don’t even need a remote control—I can use hand gestures to change channels. And TV Guide, which was once the largest-circulation magazine? Forget about it! I simply ask my Samsung F8500 and she will respond to my voice with a selection of programs based on my preferences.

Lauren Cumming, the twenty-something son of our architect, pimped the Samsung F8500. He said this was what we had to have as part of his mom’s renovation of our Cape Cod house. Nothing else comes close for true black color.

True black color? Yes, that’s what he said. Other TVs can’t provide true black—only very dark grays. Oh, and it’s not a TV set. It’s a flat-screen.

But why did we ever listen to this technology know-it-all? Who needs all this electronic, plasmatic firepower to stare at the twaddle put out by television programmers?

As author Jarod Kintz said, “A window is more entertaining than TV. Just ask a cat looking out … “

Here’s what my wife and I watch, the complete list: Chopped, Love It or List It, Judge Judy, and almost anything on TCM.

To see a movie on TCM that was filmed in black and white 75 years ago, we need a TV that sells for $2,376.21?

That price was just for starters.

The custom-built shelving and cabinetry to house our black beauty was $6,500.

She comes with a hunk of steel to mount her to the wall. But the articulating arm to enable tilting and swiveling listed at $150.

Despite shelling out $2,376.21, we were advised by the Best Buy salesman that the Samsung’s audio quality really isn’t up to snuff. So he sold us a really cool sound bar for $229.

Installation by two Geek Squad techs, including extra-long cabling to the new Blu-ray player, added $441.

The final insult was learning that we needed a high-def receiver. To get one from DIRECTV, we had to renew our contract for two years and pay an additional $10 a month for the new box.

All these incremental costs for what once was free.

I spent most of my life in the New York City metropolitan region served by the three networks and a clutch of local channels. So what if our old Dumonts and Admirals and Philcos were victim to intermittent vertical roll, snow and ghost images? So what if we had to actually get up from the couch to change channels or fiddle with rabbit ears? TV was free and I could always find something to watch. Today, with access to hundreds of channels, I usually find, “There’s nothing on.”

As W.H. Auden wrote, “What the mass media offers is not popular art, but entertainment which is intended to be consumed like food, forgotten, and replaced by a new dish.”

In my next blog: "Most Hated"


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  • commented 2014-12-22 17:18:55 -0500
    So true, Peter, So very true.
    If just verifies the old adage – less is more.
  • commented 2014-12-21 10:19:24 -0500
    As I keep learning over and over, “cool” and “satisfying” are very different. Cool quickly becomes tepid, while satisfaction nourishes the soul.