This isn't an actual photo of my old television, but almost: the rounded corners, the double- decker dials, the on/off/volume knob are all spot-on. It had a small sticker in back that said "manufactured: March, 1987" and it might possibly have been one of the last appliances made with the gesture of faux walnut cabinetry. Over the years I spray painted the cabinet, first gold metallic, more recently white. People would say, "Wow, a B/W tv?!" but it was actually a full fifteen inches of glorious cathode ray color. That recent glossy white coat actually gave it an almost Verner Pantonesque flair, like set decoration for a *Wallpaper shoot. I never really had any problem with it, or with reception (it had a rabbit ears antenna) and the image was just fine until the very end. I finally replaced it, with a new flat screen, shortly after its 19th birthday.
In researching for my next tv purchase I had been told that new(er) television sets were more "sensitive." Sleek, sliver-like, highly attuned, they picked up ambient interference, electromagnetic fluctuations and the like that the old(er) sets, stolid and workmanlike, did not. No longer could I just plug the thing into the wall and go-- I would need cable. I was enabling a neurasthenic intelligentsia to take over from the lumpen proletariat.
As I began this post, a gossamer sprinkling of snow glittered in the street lights outside, but my flat screen remains dark. The cable box flashes an insistent 7:15, but it is after 9. My friends in cable repair are coming to visit again!
*zugzwang-- (from chess) A position where one is forced to make an undesirable move.
*schlimmbesserung - literally means, "an improvement which makes things worse."