Friday, February 19, 2010

My New Digital Remotely Controlled Life

by Francesca Riviere

My relationship with my TV has intensified since the digital conversion deadline on June 12, 2009. I did comply by purchasing the cheapest rudimentary antenna: rabbit ears and the DTV converter with my government issued $40 credit card.
As a result, I find that, in order to watch television, I must renew my vows daily.
That is, when I turn the TV on in the morning, in want of a friendly, familiar voice giving the news, or the entertainment of silly, pregnant, over-accessorized, and under-dressed weather-tarts forecasting local climate changes, or traffic men with blinking charts and
hovering helicopters, I find the local stations and national networks are not where I left them.

In order to relocate them, I must re-boot, re-scan,re-add, re-edit, and re-manually adjust every station with my new digital remote control, and even that is no guarantee. When I hit Signal on the remote, I must re-align the signal’s beeps with a new antenna position. (My antenna has variously seen plastic hair clips, metal vegetable wires, jars of face cream. etc. to hold it in place.) This can take hours. Like a Pavlovian dog, I am trained to find the steady beep-beep-beep that coincides with clear picture and sound, and voila!, a new aerial lift-off.

I have come to describe the channels that are in between alignment as an artistic gallery of horrors, as each channel takes on its own unique digital aspect:

The Francis Bacon channel offers gouged flesh, multiple eyes hanging out of faces, with ragged mouths – the way people look to you when you are on a bad acid trip.

The Lucien Freud channel portrays smeared pastel flesh more lovingly, more tenderly, but smeared nonetheless.

The Seurat pointillism channel has dancing dots entwined with black mold.

The Salvador Dali channel features melting faces, eaten away by black digital acid.

Most recently, during our siege of wildfires burning our beautiful California landscape 24-7,
I have found several artistic stations merged into one: that of the burning of Cezanne landscape paintings covered by an announcing reporter who resembles Munch’s "The Scream." Outbuildings are from Picasso in his cubist period, foliage echoes Fauvian red and purple trees.

I am beginning to enjoy the multiple reassemblages of the aforementioned, as if artists in heaven are competing through the radio waves for my attention: stop watching TV, remember me? Here I am again, in living color, moving around in your living room, not in the museum where you last saw me.

DTV, at my rabbit ear consumer level, has taken on the same qualities that I don’t like about cell phones: spotty reception, static, and interrupted communication. We have sacrificed stability of reception for “improved”, yet infrequent, technological “quality” reception. I need a GPS to find my reception. The lingering captions onscreen from a previous station, the fluttering images,
the chopped distorted speech, like the sound of a Scandinavian language played in reverse are embedded in the viewing experience of one who does not have cable.

Occasionally, I am IN THE ZONE, where magically all the stations have perfect reception at the same time and do not have to be individually reconnoitered. Have the planets realigned? And that is when you appreciate the good old days before DTV reception, of just turning on your TV
and the sound and image were in perfect placement, right where you left them.

Or maybe I’m just watching too much TV.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Salute to a Doll

I didn't have any toy nor a doll, which I dreamed to have. My early childhood was during WWII, a time of survival only.
But I remember a special event in my life, related to a beautiful doll.
It was my first day of school, 1940 or 1942. My mother had prepared a school bag out of her old navy-colored coat. My father had given me a copybook, pencil and eraser. With all the excitement of a school bag and a blue uniform, I held my mother's hand and left home cheerfully.
As we approached the school, I started to tremble. Something was choking me,a feeling of separation from my mother.
At the door of KG, the teacher embraced me, held my hand, and said, "I'm Miss Shoushan, and you are very beautiful, a very nice girl. Come in."
My mother let go my hand and started to walk away, with tears in her eyes. I cried, too, and tried to run after her.
But Miss Shoushan took me in her arms, kissed me, and handed me a beautiful doll. She had big blue eyes, curly brown hair, and was dressed in pink.
I wiped my tears.
I didn't look for my mother any more. She had gone.
"She may sit by you in the class," said the teacher.
And that was it.
The doll sitting by me had opened the door to my love of education.
Now, many years later, I feel grateful to a teacher, who, most probably without the required credentials of nowadays, knew the simplest way to guide her students toward a love of education.
I say today, "Salute to a doll."
written by Jeanette Kassouny

An educator and writer of Armenian descent, Jeanette Kassouny is a dedicated member of "Tea and Tales" a writing class taught by Fjaere Mooney and offered by the Programs for Older Adults, North Hollywood Community Adult School, at Valley Village Senior Apartments.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Private Window to Knowledge

To Whom It May Concern:

Education is my private window to knowledge. Knowledge is the pathway that has broadened my horizons, and touched the four corners of the earth.

In my many accumulated birthdays, I have learned two very important lessons. The first: how much I don't know. The second: there is much power in listening, and, in order to achieve that power, we not only have to listen: we must learn to hear with minds and hearts.

Education has become an essential part of my golden years. it has stimulated my mind, body and spirit. It has challenged my imagination, by stirring my poetic ability to plant seeds for thought, not only for myself,but, hopefully, for others as well.

Education has become conducive to my curiosity in my search and journey into Capricorn. It has kept me alive and alert, wondering what awaits me around the corner, over the hill, and at the top of the mountain, It excites me in the race and chase toward the unknown at the end of the rainbow.

Education has stirred every emotion, to the point of my raining tears in the bittersweet world of poetry and pain, success and failure, joy and sadness, laughter and depression, happiness at its very best, war at its worst, to the moment of truce.

I have learned from my many journeys, experiences and adventures, and, very best of all, from a cross-section of cultures and peoples. I have been blessed with the ability to make life a little less difficult for others, with the stroke of a pen.

But, most of all, education, to me, means that I am able, through my writing to share with others the deliverance from out of the darkened shadows of ignorance.

-Joe Jelikovsky

Joe Jelikovsky is a poet, visionary, and member of the LAUSD Programs for Older Adults, "Tea and Tales" writer's group, Valley Village, CA. He'd love to read your comments.