As day after sodden day piles up on the calendar like a heap of used towels at the public pool, I find myself sinking deeper into the somewhat comforting folds of seasonally affected drear. My window is framed by cypress and fir boughs, striated by columns of rain that have produced a drift of needles in my foyer. My face is framed by unkempt, oily locks of hair, clinging together in solidarity and resentment that I haven’t ventured out of doors to buy shampoo for a fortnight or so. Here in the heart of the rainforest, the body gains protective layers of fat; so does the mind. Only the imaginative faculty remains awake and aware, questing ever outward, upward, spiraling away through the in-fucking-cessant rain and Columbian gales. My body supine, my mind erect: For, indeed, what could possibly be more exciting ?” dare I say arousing ?” than the Portland State Vanguard Geek Guide?
After all, when the weather is like this, it’s unlikely that you’ll be out on the field behind the Stott Center playing a raging game of Ultimate, nor will you be embarrassing the passersby by openly canoodling with that hot gutter-punk girl you met outside the Crystal last week. Man, what does that leave?
Here we will examine my four favorite technological innovations. Though I am Pennsylvania Dutch, and I even hear my Pa went to Mennonite church when he was but a wee lad, we’re no Luddites, neo- or otherwise. We’re moderns, damn it, and we agree with Grace Slick when she sang, “I don’t care if there’s chemicals in it as long as my lettuce is crisp!” in “Man Made Mechanical Mover.” All right, to wit:
The Electric Guitar
How could I not start here? Whenever people start bitching about the evil modern age, or evil America for that matter, I tell ’em to shut their yawny traps and recognize what Adolph Rickenbacker did for the world with his “frying pan” guitar! No other instrument (no, not the piano or organ either, you keys-whores) has the depth of emotive power, the pure visceral throb, but also the potential for crystalline finesse and delicacy, of the electric guitar. Whether you dig Elliott Smith, The Clash, The Dead, The Ramones, or whatever pissy little too-cool-for-me-to-have-heard-of-it indie band, chances are it’s fluffed and animated by the electric guitar. That we guitarists are a dime a dozen is only further proof of the absolute, searing necessity of this invention.
Maybe I should have made this one “the internet” (after all, how else would I do research for term papers?), but I didn’t. I remember well the first time I saw e-mail, back in the early 90s, emerging blearily from a nightlong debauch at Catholic University of America in DC. I went along with my buddy to the computer lab – a place theretofore dedicated entirely to Dig-Dug and Print Shop – and watched him “e-mail” something to a friend in New Orleans! How better to remove even more human contact from communications, while allowing one to be achingly clever and eloquent? Think: 18th century correspondence without the funny handwriting.
The Cordless Phone
Now, I don’t necessarily mean cell phones here. I’ve never had one of those, but they sure are convenient (I’ll admit that I still get a kick out of walking around talking on one of those, but I still feel like a jackass). But cordless phones are essential to modern life. Why, you ask? Fuck, man, do you remember those old cords phones used to have? They’d wind up around one another like horny earthworms at the slightest deformation of their waxy, plasticized little coils. And the longer cords were even worse. I can’t count the number of times I jerked the phone out of the wall, trying to gain a few precious inches towards the fridge. Cordless phones: thumbs up.
Home-delivery of Pizza
Oh yeah, now we get to the heart of it, friends. Some geeks (it’s their issue, after all) claim that the first pizza delivery was by Raffaele Esposito in 1889, to Queen Margherita, but he brought the ingredients and made it there, so that doesn’t count (that was the invention of the cheese pizza, however – my favorite!). We all know it was Domino’s that gave us this elixir of the gods, this unhealthy, cheesy manna. But did we all know that the famous Noid campaign of the 80s led to a five-hour hostage showdown in Atlanta? Avoid the Noid indeed-. But, hey, we’re college kids – give it up for delivery pizza (fuck DiGiorno’s).
In conclusion, I should mention that there were more than a few honorable mentions: NFL Season Pass, water-based lubricants, LSD and duct tape heading up the list.