Maura Magazine | Brass Bed

Brass Bed

One of the problems with growing up in the suburbs in the early days of cable: I learned the wrong way to appreciate much of the R&B music that was popular at the time. I’m specifically referring to the Quiet Storm jams that were a staple of certain radio stations in 1982 or ’83; my parents had cable pretty early, early enough that the box we used to change channels—a Jerrold Starcom II, model JSX-3—was connected to the television by an actual cable. There were 36 options available on the box, although my parents didn’t pay for all of them. (HBO, yes; Showtime and Playboy, no, although punching button combinations allowed you to see almost-unscrambled-enough versions of those channels deemed out of reach by your monthly entertainment budget.)

When I was a kid, I loved watching words on screens float by: The Weather Channel’s just-the-forecast-ma’am incarnation, the Newsday-sponsored channel that would flash stories from the paper across the screen in a way that would make them look as if they were being typed in real time. (Sometimes I would try to type along on the TI994A attached to the TV, but my predictive text abilities weren’t so hot.) I also reveled in watching Swap N’ Shop, Cablevision’s in-house classified ads that would run on channels after they’d gone off the air. [...]