In the dusty cobwebs of childhood memory I recall first hearing the term ‘hi fi.’ The audio buzz was circulating around the schoolyard, kids talking about their parents’ new ‘hi fi stereo systems.’ Some rich kids, no doubt. High fidelity stereos were not cheap. Most kids’ parents had shitty mono systems with shitty mono records playing at home. But the buzz was in the air and everyone wanted to hear the hi fi. One day a kid captured a bee in a school lunch milk carton and ran up to me and shook it up, pressing it to my ear. The bee buzzed and thumped against the inside of the milk carton angrily as the kid yelled ‘TRAN ZIS TOE RADIO!’ He was no doubt a poor white trash kid like me who was inventive out of necessity; mother didn’t own a hi fi.
In the dusty columns of the Berlin U bahn the kids run around with their mobile phones blasting lo fi mono noise in what appears to be technology gone full circle. Mobile phones are the ‘in’ device for today’s crack smoking yoots. The damn things have radios and tiny speakers in addition to cameras and internet. But rather than spend 300 EURO on a decent ghetto blaster to hoist proudly on their shoulders to share their noise pollution, they buy a mobile phone and blast their hideous music at full volume through the tiniest speaker known to man. I remember the good old days when the yoots would pollute our fair air with bumping, thumping hip hop cooked up in low riding trucks and slung through 1000 watt speakers into the night air. Actually, that is a bit of an understatement. It KICKED through the metal side panels and rattled rivets and screws of the body of whatever poor Nissan or Toyota mule bore the huge musical burden. And they shook the cars next to them. The police issued tickets for noise pollution. Those were the days.
Now BVG (Berlin public transport) has signs on the U bahn trains. The signs feature a cartoon woman who looks like she ran off the set of ‘Run Lola Run’ directly into the unemployment office. With her official uniform, shock red hair and exasperated look, she touts a different message in each sign; such pearls of wisdom as ‘the seats are not garbage dumps,’ ‘don’t eat on the train,’ or ‘travel only with a valid ticket.’ Common sense shit for the white trash of Berlin (and there is a LOT of white trash in Berlin; hmm, subject for future blogs and/or government study money/cash cow). My favorite of all of Lola’s Ten Commandments has to be ‘Ein handy ist kein lautsprecher,’ or ‘a mobile phone is not a loudspeaker.’ Clearly this was meant for those unfortunate yoots whose parents saddled them with a mobile phone rather than a mini hi fi system with headphones. And they are everywhere, sitting and giggling and spazzing out with some dumbass drivel like Whitney Spears blasting through the tiny speakers of the mobile phones clutched in their sweaty, pimply hands. Usually it’s one phone per group of 6 yoots. Poor bastards.
One of the joys of getting older is complaining about the miserable, uncouth youth of today. I don’t do that. Instead I pity them. They gather in small circles with their single shitty speaker and socialize in U bahn trains. “Why in my day….” I pumped up the volume in my $500 car with the $2000 hi fi stereo. Sometimes I even curled up in the back seat with a babe and a beer. Those were the days. The yoots of today? Poor bastards.