Watched the movie The Bicycle Thief last night. Filmed in Rome during the post-war depression, it feels like The Grapes of Wrath in Italian. It starts out with the happiest scene of the film, a guy gets a job so long as he has a bike. He’d hocked his bike to buy food, so now his wife, saying they don’t need sheets to sleep, hocks her dowry linens to get the bicycle back. He’s delirious about a job slapping up posters. (Note to self: don’t complain about gig.) The movie’s worthwhile just for the street scenes of Rome as he pedals around carrying a ladder, then hoofs it after the bike is pinched, desperate to keep his job.
Incredible to watch that hellish descent, here in the land of Bigger, Better, Faster and With More Accessories. Especially after I begrudgingly ventured out into Consumerdom yesterday myself.
I do not care for shopping much, but have been gradually furnishing a room downstairs for months now, and even added the TV cable for a spot on the wall. All I need to do is go out and get the flatscreen boob tube. So I trundled Edie and Ernie into the car (all I need do is say “store?” and they are wagging with enthusiasm, prancing underfoot), braced myself, and drove to Edison’s Dream Realized, a couple Big Barns of Consumer Electronics. (I wish the dogs could go for me.)
I decided to walk right past the gargantuan excesses of illumination, straight to the smaller models they keep in back. I do not need or want a 60 inch TV, I do not need or want 50 inches of bright light — medium-sized to small is fine by me.
Ha. Aside from the cost of the TV itself (which I expected) they want $250 for a wall mount. And recommended I pay $350 for professional installers. Misunderstanding them, I said I could save a $100 by mounting it myself, and the fellow said no, the $350 for installers was on top of the $250 mount.
The flipping DVD hard drive I wanted to record the PBS Newshour and a baseball game or three costs less than a chunk of metal to screw into the back of the tube and mount on the wall. Wotthefuck?!
The screens were all so big and vivid they kind of ate my face, but I was braced for that. And it turns out my cable won’t be enough, I’m going to have to deal with the cable people for some additional box for that, too. So now I have to factor in how heavy these things are, re slapping it on a wall and getting it to stick here in the land of shake, rattle, and roll. By the end I was kidding around with the guy, and asked how much they were going to ding me for a remote on top of the $1500 or so for the tube.
(He chuckled and said they would give me a remote for free, and they’d toss in the power cord, too.)
I got back out on the road to bob along amid the sea of SUVs, stop and go traffic, because of course here in the land of Bigger, Better, and Faster, drivers can’t see around the SUVs so they have to back off for better visibility, worsening the congestion.
I felt a lot better about not buying a great big TV after watching a 60-year-old black and white movie on our old tube. I don’t want to go back to Rome circa 1949, where people queue at the town pump and trudge home with buckets of water. But after dealing with belligerent SUV drivers cutting off my visibility, then watching that poor Italian and his kids walking the street desperate to find the guy who stole his bike, everything seemed out of whack.
I wished I could melt down a few SUVs into bicycles and beam them back in time. I’d even send a $250 wall mount so he could store it, too.