Monday, May 13, 2013

An ode to my dumbphone

This weekend, an uncooperative charging port in my four-year-old phone forced me to join the ranks of every other journalist in this country: I now own a smartphone.

Unsure what to do with a dead phone incapable of being charged, I put it on my dresser. Leaving the house this morning, I felt traitorous as I picked up the iPhone instead of the LG. The old phone facilitated elements of almost all the relationships and exchanges I've had over the past four years, including a transition to journalism and dozens of subsequent interviews. In gratitude, I give you some high points:

  • Last summer, I interviewed Dame Stella Rimington, former director general of MI5 and author of seven spy novels. You know when James Bond movies introduced a female M? Judi Dench's character was based on Rimington. I was petrified to talk to her, a situation made worse by a phone problem in the newsroom and inclement weather; with nowhere to go, I huddled with my dumbphone under a squatty awning and asked her what she thought of M's management style. She felt M tolerated far too much erratic behavior from Mr. Shaken-not-stirred.
  • Two weekends ago, I texted a bass who sings for the Metropolitan Opera. He arranged for me to take a backstage tour of the Met and see "Das Rheingold," one of my all-time favorites. Amazing.
  • A year ago, I called violinist Geoff Nuttall to discuss his thoughts on the chamber music series at Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, S.C. As the series director, Nuttall may be America's greatest ambassador for chamber/classical music--he demystifies and humanizes an art form padded in pretension without diminishing its quality; his audiences laugh and listen in equal parts.
  • As I worked on a musicology master's thesis at Florida State, I cried over the Kafkaesque cruelty of academia on my phone--graciously, the moisture didn't cause the keys to stick. I also used it to call my parents and tell them I'd passed my thesis defense, and then again to say I was withdrawing from the doctoral program to pursue arts journalism. I called when I got into the journalism graduate program I would later attend.
  • I interviewed author Roger Rosenblatt about his friendship with and admiration for Norman Lear and his writing. Glorious. I have loved Rosenblatt for a long time.
  • Also at Spoleto Festival USA, I talked to conductor John Kennedy about the last American John Cage debut. All of Cage's work has now been heard in the U.S. On the same concert, the orchestra played a piece by Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood.
  • Just a few weeks ago, I talked with composer Carlisle Floyd, who wrote "Ain't it a pretty night," one of my favorite arias. Our conversation illuminated a startling number of similarities between us: we're both from rural towns in South Carolina; we both attended Converse College; We both attended Syracuse University; we both lived in Tallahassee; and for about a week, we were both in Charlotte simultaneously. The last one is pretty unimpressive, but look at all our other parallels!

I will talk to other artists on my new phone, and--bonus--I will check my email and get directions to exhibits or concert halls. Even so, my old LG will probably remain on my dresser for a few months, reminding me of all the great conversations I've been happy to have.


Mary Zuniga said...

Your four-year-old phone certainly had given you a lot when it comes to its functionality. And I think calling your parent from it to tell that you passed the thesis abstracts defense was one of the most important roles it gave you. Anyway, what smart phone did you get? Do it also giving you the same functionality of your old phone?