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Of Childhood and the Sony Cassette Walkman

October 28, 2010 Leave a comment

I was one of those happy 80’s kids who got a Sony Cassette Walkman for Christmas.  Mine was painted red-and-black and had nice earphones.  I took great care of it — I never used the rewind function to play a tape from the very beginning.  Instead, I took out a ballpen, stuck it into one of the holes and spun it around.  It was always slung on my belt and it made my shorts sag from its weight.  Riding a rented bike within Quezon City Circle, I sang with Lumiere the verses of “Be Our Guest” at the top of my lungs on Sunday afternoons.

But decades have passed and technology has evolved into smaller, faster and more efficient machines.  Now Sony Japan has ceased production of the iconic Cassette Walkman, and though Chinese manufactures will still be producing units for the US and UK markets, I sense the beginning on an era’s end.

The news has made me slightly nostalgic.  I love how music has become more portable and accessible, but the idea of the Cassette Walkman’s slow demise is a reminder that this truly is the Digital Age, where people want everything right here and right now.  Life is unimaginably fast-paced — sometimes  frighteningly so — and it makes me sad that my children will never experience how to rewind a tape with a ball point pen.  It’s the same kind of sadness knowing that kids today would prefer games on their PSPs instead of going out and playing endless rounds of patintero.

The world of my childhood is something that children today can never experience.  I wanted and expected so much less back then; I was happy with recording songs from the radio and playing my mix tapes on my Walkman.  I hated how sometimes it ate the ribbon of my tapes, but there’s nothing like unraveling the mess with ballpen-spinning.  It’s a long goodbye to a bygone era, and though the lot of us now carry around MP3 players, it’s nice to look back and remember what the Cassette Walkman symbolized — a revolution in music, and a generation of simple creativity.

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