From the Fab Four to 4G

09Feb13

Four-By-The-Beatles-EPToday, Saturday, Feb. 9, marks a significant anniversary for Baby Boomers. On that date in 1964, a British band known at The Beatles made its US debut on the Ed Sullivan Show.

For the benefit of those under 50, the Ed Sullivan Show was a TV staple. It was a variety show that families could watch together on Sunday nights. It was before the days when Sunday night football games featured half-time performers costumed as common night-walkers and winning quarterbacks dropping F-bombs on national TV. Back in 1964, four guys playing musical instruments in suits and ties with their hair combed over their foreheads was enough to stir controversy.

In 1964, boys in Wakefield Junior High School were sent to the principal’s office and given detention for wearing their hair Beatles style. Today, middle school girls go to class flashing more cleavage than Beyonce. Role models have consequences.

How the media world has changed since 1964. There were only three channels to choose from (four if you count WGBH Channel 2) on the old black and white TV, and you had to get up and walk to the TV to change the channel.

Now, we have hundreds of cable channels on our widescreen, high definition televisions. And we don’t even need a TV to watch television programs. We can watch them on our PCs, laptops, and phones.

Speaking of phones, a growing number of people no longer have land line phones, relying entirely on their mobile phones. Even though we have cell phones, some of us still can’t part with our home phones any more than we could part with our refrigerators or our stoves. A home without a land line phone just wouldn’t feel right.

Area codes and exchanges once told you something about the location of the phone’s owner. Now they are random and meaningless. Still, when I finally got a cell phone I remember being relieved that I was assigned a “617” area code because it felt like a “real” telephone number and harkened back to the days before interlopers like “978” and “781” crashed onto the scene.

We can no longer have shared cultural events like the Beatles’ first appearance on American TV because before such a phenomenon as the Beatles ever got to a national TV network, their videos would have been shared on YouTube and Facebook, tweeted and retweeted on Twitter, and watched by millions of people separately and at different times on their computers and smart phones.Jack on Spring Street

But hey, the world changes and we all change with it. We no longer get milk and bread delivered to our homes by Spear Dairy and Cushman’s Bakery. Dogs no longer run free and we don’t burn our rubbish in back yard incinerators anymore.

And I guess a cell phone with a “CRystal 9” exchange is completely out of the question.

[This column originally appeared in the Feb. 8, 2013 Wakefield Daily Item.]

Photo of Beatles record cover by Pineapples101.

Painting of dog “Jack” by Bob Sardella.

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