One of my favorite television shows of all time was, Justified. I enjoyed the characters, the dialogue, most of the plot lines. When I heard the show would be ending soon and saw the arc of the plot heading toward a showdown of some sort I, like most fans, wondered which of the two main protagonists would die. Would it be the "good guy" (well, most of the time), Raylan, or the "bad guy" (well, most of the time), Boyd? Typical television shows had taught me to expect that someone would have to die and Justified had been just unconventional enough to make me wonder if Raylan would be the one to get it or maybe -- in Game of Thrones style -- everyone you care about or who has redeeming characteristics would die. But, the writers transcended the typical series finale in a way that probably only regular watchers could understand. Not only was it good t.v. but it made me think for weeks afterward. Each character, include Eva (who had been romantically involved with both men at different times), lost something important so they didn't get out of Harlan without paying some price. But, most importantly, each kept or regained their humanity and the deeper bonds that held them together even through the times that they sincerely wanted to kill each other. In a series where most conflicts were resolved by varying degrees of violence the final conflict between the major characters was resolved through the bonds of love, place and shared experience. Each decided that to be alone was the best way to resolve the fact that they couldn't be together. But rather than "taking out" the other two, they removed themselves from the picture in what could be interpreted as acts of empathy or compassion. Boyd went willingly to prison. Eva moved far away to start a life as another person with her new child. Raylan cut his ties with Eva, and finally let his wife start a new life with his young daughter. In the end it was just Raylan and Boyd again, in a prison scene that was so well-acted by both Timothy Oliphant and Walter Goggins that I came close to tears. To whatever extent you want to let a television show teach you something you could leave this series with a sense that, ultimately, forgiveness, compassion, and the bonds of shared sacrifice, work and geography make redemption possible.
Final scene of the Final Episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjXC9KwzzoI
The LP is back, sort of. Of course the same album I bought for $5.99 is now $19.99. That's a shame too because that's going to keep a lot of young people from knowing the true experience of listening to and, more importantly, sharing good music. No, handing your ear bud over to a friend to listen to a tinny version of the latest pop song doesn't count as really sharing music. In a recent conversation with the owner of a local used record store we got to reminiscing about how music should really be shared. I'm really not anti-technology and I've streamed and downloaded some music but anyone who grew up in the original era of LPs (even cassettes and CDs don't really count) will understand what I mean.
What set about the LP experience was as much the sound (I'm not enough of an audiophile to get into that debate) as it was the holistic experience. Does anyone recall a night like this (or whatever your version of it was):
We were in college. My friend Wayne and I had just made some money shoveling snow off the roofs of neighborhood
houses after a huge Chicago snow storm. That night we get in the car and drive to the local music store. Since our
dollars were few at that point we spent well over an hour going slowly through the record bins trying to find the one or
two albums that would be worthy of our hard-earned cash. We study the cover art. We check out who played on that
album -- maybe even who produced it. We call each other over from our respective areas of the stores to get a
second opinion. After making our purchases We grab a six-pack and stop at the late night doughnut store. Then we
head back to the dorm, tear off the plastic rap (much easier than those blasted CD wrappers that came later) and . . .
YES! . . . a trifold album cover which meant a lot of album art, full lyrics, maybe even some well-written text from a
music critic. We invite some friends and start to listen as we eat our doughnuts and drink our beer. Wait, play that
track again. Yeah, it's a pain having to get up and reset the needle but even that required some dexterity -- trying
to get that needle in just the right space between tracks. All the while we're passing around the cover and liner
material, finding out that our favorite keyboardist played back-up on the 4th cut. The whole album might have
been about 9 good tracks. I was never convinced that the 13 or 17 tracks on a CD were a better thing.
Now, tell me again how scrolling through a list of songs, clicking on an icon -- never really "feeling" the texture of the music -- and sitting with 4 friends, each listening to their own music, is a wonder of modern technology. Nah, I'm going to go pour some bourbon (I've moved on from the six pack), go to my new turntable and put on my old, old copy of Led Zeppelin III -- track 1, "The Immigrant Song".
Nostalgia and Melancholy are the stuff of my contemplative moments. The melancholy is usually brought on by the nostalgia. Lately I've tried to dwell a little less on what has been lost than on what has been found. In other words, those things in my present life and in contemporary living that for which I will later become nostalgic and melancholy.