Entertainment, Media, Sports

The Peril of Cable

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Reconstruction goes on, with no traffic tie ups.

We are in the midst of rebuilding our house after extracting a 2007 Acura from the bedroom where it was abruptly parked, 9 weeks ago.

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Billy, our ATT guy sorting out phone lines.

The latest house renovation is re-connecting some of the ATT phone linkage which was damaged during the crash.   My hat is off to those dedicated techies who spend hours on their knees, on pea gravel in crawlspaces of 50-year-old houses, communing with spiders while they unravel nests of old wires, looking for a dial tone.

Cable and wires are my nemesis.

The current Stanley Cup playoffs remind me of my near cable undoing during the 1976 Canada Cup.

Forty years ago we had no television. We found great entertainment listening to the radio. But there was a new show on– M*A*S*H, and curiosity drove me to see it.

TV

Black & white: as good as it gets.

We had inherited a small black and white television, but its rabbit ear aerial could only bring in fuzzy pictures, even from the three local stations. I had learned that a new invention–cable– could pipe in perfect imagery.

All I needed to do was to subscribe. But reportedly, the cost was huge, so we stayed with radio.   Inspector Maigret on CBL Toronto was great theater.
At the time, we rented in a townhouse complex, one of about thirty 2-story apartments surrounding a common. Blue collar young families used the common as a play ground for their kids, who could run off their patios and into the parkland, well within the confines of the complex.

Cable

No amount of protective sheathing will resist a wire cutter.

Our next door neighbor Buzz was a truck driver.   Buzz wasn’t an outlaw, but you could tell by the look in his one good eye and the stitchery across his face that he met challenges head on, or at least, with his head.

Buzz

Buzz, on a good day.

We called him Buzz after we heard him holler across the common to a neighbor about a batch of turkey buzzard soup he was making.  -Not sure that he was a hunter, and it would not surprise me to find he was feasting on something from the grill of his rig.

On any warm evening we could wave to our neighbors who might be on the patio, barbecuing, or enjoying dessert outside.

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Guy Lafleur works his technique.

In September, 1976, the common discussion was about The Canada Cup series.  This was a fierce hockey competition between Canada, Finland, Russia and Czechoslovakia which were fighting each other on the ice for supremacy.

The game between Canada and the Czechs was starting soon, and the chatter all along the patios was about our chances.

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Gyro and his little helper.

On our patio, I was brewing a solution to the TV viewing problem. Gyro Gearloose, unleashed.

I had often seen in our basement the TV cable snaking along the ceiling, one wire going to each room upstairs.  In the living room was a cable outlet.   My figuring was, cut a length of cable from one of the unused bedroom lines, and use it to connect the TV in the living room.

After confirming it was a bedroom line, I deftly severed it to create a 3-foot piece of cable.   Marching upstairs, I connected it to the wall, and to the TV.

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Success! With 12 channels to surf, too.

Voila!!   Pure, crisp and pristine TV viewing, not on three channels, but on TWELVE channels.   And as I spun the dial, I found M*A*S*H.   Wow!   I was amazed by my brilliance.   Running through the channels, I also found The Game.  First period, and the Czechs are pounding Canada.

Pretty pumped, I went on to the patio to brag about our newfound cable reception.  I wasn’t expecting high-fives, because everyone already had cable, but still…

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Where’s the remote??

Outside there was commotion.  Unsettled residents were sliding open their doors, crossing over to their neighbors, assembling in groups.   There was a mild but growing grumble of discussion floating across the common.

“What’s up?” I asked.

Buzz growled.    He stood about 6’4″ and 260 pounds.  The devil tattoo on his forehead was pulsing.  “Cable’s out.   How about yours?”

“Oh, geez, no, hahah, mine’s fine!” I blurted out.  I hardly had seen the words float across to his pierced cauliflower ears before I realized my blunder.

“Good.  We’re coming over.  Got a bottle opener?”

gyro's helper

A better idea in progress!

“Well, let me just check the kids, first.”  I dove back in to the living room, slammed the door, and literally ripped the cable out of the television.  Unscrewing the wall plate, I pulled the piece out, and ran to the basement.   Minutes later, I had re-connected the wire.

Running back up to the patio, I found Buzz gathering his restive and frustrated friends heading in to our living room.

Out of breath, I put on my most disappointed face, “Geez.  Whaddyaknow..our cable is out too.  Crap. Shucks.  ‘Can’t get the game!”   I kicked the lawn chair for emphasis.

In the next moment, another hockey fan grunted across the common: “Cable’s back on. What the…”

Buzz retreated with his entourage, shuffling back onto his patio, tearing  off a prolonged belch as he slid open his living room door.

We retreated to ours as well.  The TV screen was an oatmeal grey with Hawkeye swimming through it.   I turned it off.  Out on the patio, the sound of distant cheers.

Mean time, we clicked on the radio, Inspector Maigret, surveying a footprint in the garden.  We leaned in closer to hear.

 

 

Thanks for reading!  It wasn’t for a couple more months before I learned that cable was free: it was in the rent.  Canada won the series. Go Hawks!

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2 thoughts on “The Peril of Cable

  1. Phil,
    We were also struggling in ’76, and your story hit home! We made due, but we weren’t quite as disconnected. The TV reception in NY, around the Tappan Zee Bridge area was reasonable. We were able to see most network programming. Our kids would go next door to watch HBO and other cable programming at our neighbors. Your story reminded me of those times when we were able to just DO WITHOUT!!
    Nowadays, No……..we need HBO and Showtime and 150 cable channels, Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Oh, and Master Bathrooms, 55″ TV’s, Stainless Steel Kitchens, Membership at the health club and two (or three) car garages!
    Is that really what it’s all about??!!

    I’m sliding into retirement wondering whether progress,and affluence have combined to make us more superficial and pointless that our forefathers would have ever imagined!!

    On a different note:
    We visited Sanibel Island last summer for a week. Nice.. but those Gulf waters are way too hot and full of sea grass. We live in the Aventura area in Miami and my kids’ families all live in Broward County.Funny, but we hardly ever go to the beach over here. It’s so crowded!! Anyway, we all rented a couple of condos in Sanibel Is. for a week and about 20 of us greatly enjoyed our stay. Everything does shut down pretty early, but the Southwestern Gulf coast has something over our frenetic Southeast Florida pace: Peace and Quiet!

    Enjoy Captiva!!

    Hope the Acura’s imprint has been totally erased.
    Keep up the e-mails!

    George Berens
    Miami

    Liked by 1 person

  2. George, thanks for your note! More than just a few words actually, and well understood. I cannot begin to judge the actions of my kids and grand kids based on how we raised them, but I think they have good values and principles, even if the times have evolved. There is nothing better than being short on discretionary funds, because it forces creativity. For instance, a good afternoon excursion was to drive the back roads of southern Ontario looking for beer bottles, each which had a 5-cent value when redeemed at the Brewer’s Retail stores. We spent more on gas than we claimed in bottles, but the enjoyment attached to spotting a case in the ditch at 40mph, and screeching to a gravelly halt can’t be replaced by any video game I know today. Thanks for writing; I hope you have a great weekend! Here’s another for you: http://wp.me/p41ooi-hY

    Like

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