inspired by downton

I have not had a TV in a dozen years.

In 1998 when life (employment) offered me the opportunity to move to Los Angeles, I took it. Never especially had a desire to go to LA,  much less set up a home there – but it was the right thing at the time and before long I happily found I didn’t actually have to live in LA (proper) to work there. I rented a small house in Burbank, around 17 miles northeast of downtown. In those pre-satellite TV days, it was a real bonus that the house came with free cable TV access.

But then the choice came, a year later when I bought a house in another area of Burbank: cable, or no cable? Even knowing that Burbank’s hilly terrain meant that NOT buying Adelphia’s service meant not having TV at all…right there, in the TV capital of the world. ABC, NBC, CBS, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, you name it…just down the street from the house, but not something I’d be able to enjoy without cable service.

I soon discovered that the only option for a cable provider in that area was Adelphia: at $75/month for basic service, which included no premium channels and not even high-speed internet (still a new thing at that time) wrapped in the deal. It would have been  $75/month for the privilege of access to ONLY the usual handful of mundane basic channels. In other words, Adelphia’s “service” was a total racket. Having arrived at the only plausible conclusion that they were crooks, I then opted for having no TV. (N0t familiar with Adelphia? Here’s why: in 2002 they went bankrupt due to…corruption. Surprise! Yeah, not really. They were crooks.)

A dozen years later I have wondered occasionally what I’ve missed. And now, working at a joint licensee TV/radio station, it’s becoming apparent that the answer is more than the annual Superbowl half-time commercials blowout, the occasional  conversation-worthy movie, or the new season of Mad Men. Every day I work with people who are involved with the TV half of our organization, but without a TV I have limited context for their conversations and the very things they do each day in their jobs.

The recent Downton Abbey  phenomenon has also made me feel some tug to get back with it and start keeping up with the latest intrigues of Lord Grantham’s world. If you think it’s big out there in the world, try working at the station that distributes it here in the US! Everyone I work with seems to watch it. Of course “Netflix it!” has been frequently offered as a solution, but there’s a certain timeliness lost in that process. Online viewing is also not an option right now – I’m sure my Comcast connection isn’t up to the challenge. (I can’t even watch YouTube videos or send email without constant buffering delays.) So the time may be coming when I’ll get legit TV again. Maybe.

Until that happens, it has been great fun to be swept up in the Downton whirlwind at the station, including the event we hosted last Thursday night: an evening of music, cuisine and fashion inspired by Downton.  The New England Brass Band joined us for a couple of sets in the Fraser Performance Studio, and presenters and models from Mass Art gave a fashion show in the auditorium. Smashing! Sherry and port flowed through the reception area in the atrium, and many folks even came in costume. Here are a few shots from the evening.

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