Editor's Note: Please join TheaterFocus in welcoming Ian G. Masters to his first blog.
Ian G. Masters
Excuse me, let me just move a few of these boxes to make some space. As long as I'm going to inhabit this small corner of the blogosphere, I should give myself a little elbow room.
In fact, I've been clearing stuff out for some time now. After my decades of involvement in audio and video, the accumulation of dead or near-dead equipment in my basement and garage has gotten out of hand. Prompted by the possibility of eventually selling the family homestead and moving to something more manageable, along with the increasing chorus from my wife of "why are you keeping all that junk?", I've begun to dispose of everything that isn't usable or out-and-out historical.
It's not as easy as it may seem. Nostalgia is fine in its place, but it turns out that there aren't all that many people willing to lay out actual money for a piece of the past. Especially if that piece is actually broken.
I did luck out with one aficionado who was in the business of restoring old audio gear and selling it on the Internet. He cherry-picked his way through my stuff and walked away with a few pieces that were both interesting and fixable. He didn't give me much hope for the rest of the equipment, however.
I did have a bit of success when it came to my old 78 r.p.m. records. Some of these were discs I bought back when I was a pup, but most had been wished on me by "friends" who were looking to clear out their own attics and thought I might be interested in their shellac dinosaurs. I took them because . . . well, I don't really know why. But some 500 of them have occupied a couple of shelves for years. Not long ago, I lucked into a local antiques dealer who had several old wind-up gramophones for sale, and he figured his potential buyers would need something to play on them, so he took the whole shebang for 100 bucks.
Hardware proved to be more difficult. Several local second-hand stores that deal with sound gear -- mostly musical instruments, but some audio and video stuff as well -- were willing to pay a few dollars for pieces where they recognized the brand names, but much of the equipment drew blank stares. I offered some unused high-end record-playing accessories from the 80s to one, whose only reaction was "what's a tonearm?"
I did make a very small amount of money from what I could sell, but mainly I just wanted to get rid of the stuff. And last weekend, the town I live in came to the rescue, with its first-ever "E-Waste Day".
Citizens were invited to bring their cast-off electrical and electronic junk to a local parking lot, where it would be collected and recycled by a company that specializes in that sort of disposal. I loaded up the ol' family sedan (a couple of times) and trundled off to the site, not really knowing what to expect. I was greeted with an immense expanse of discarded electro-junk, from mangled headphones to side-by-side refrigerators and Mediterranean-style console TV sets.
I had to wonder how much of the stuff was really broken, rather than just inconvenient, and I expected that there would be scavenging by some who thought they might find something useful. I only saw one person walking away with an item somebody else had discarded, a beat-up boombox ("I still have a few cassettes," the new owner explained), the rest was scooped into a truck and hauled away.
I have no idea whether or not any of it was actually recycled. But now, at least, it's somebody else's problem.