We had a Zenith television when I was a kid. It was big, bigger than me. When we wanted to change the channel, we had to get up and turn the dial. When the plastic dial broke, or at least the part that connected it to the channel mechanism on the TV, then we superglued the broken bit of plastic back together. We used the dial until it broke, again. We superglued it again. This kept going on until the plastic dial couldn’t be repaired anymore. Then we just risked cutting our fingers against the sharp-edged plastic of the now-exposed channel changing mechanism. We pressed our fingers against it, twisted our wrists and changed the channel. There were only 13 stops on the dial, and only four stations: ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. We made do and we kept that TV long after friends started to buy Sony Trinitrons. Eventually, we got something from Panasonic.
Bob Hartley’s second novel, North and Central (Tortoise Books, 240 pages, $16), is set in a Chicago bar whose clientele consisted mostly of Zenith factory workers and who, no doubt, would mock my use of “clientele” to describe them. “Drinkers,” perhaps, is better? “Strugglers,” perhaps, too, as Zenith is on the decline due to competition from Japan—the entire neighborhood is rough shape. Another name for those workers could be “Trump voters,” which is more about when I read the book than when it was written or its setting a few decades ago in the 1970s.
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Here’s my evidence:
- On Tuesday, Van Halen releases a new album. (Its first album VH1 came out in 1977)
- On Friday, Peter Frampton comes to the Palace Theatre in Albany to play Frampton Comes Alive (from 1976) plus other songs.
- Also on Friday, Star Wars Episode I (the “first” Star Wars, as confused young people who weren’t alive in the 1977 when the real first Star Wars came out, even though it was called “Episode IV”) returns to the silver screen in 3-D.
Now all we need is some new Donna Summer songs in the boom box, and the Pittsburgh Pirates in contention for the World Series.