I have had more than my fair share of people say to me: “A typewriter!!?? What for?”
Some folks just don’t get it. And that’s cool. These machines aren’t for everybody in this plug-in, rechargeable, “I want it now!” world. In many ways, typewriters are akin to owning a vintage car, as you say, Rev.
Typewriters have no power steering and no airbags. And by that I mean no touch-type-sensitive keys and no ‘delete’ key. So a little more effort is required.
And therein lies the beauty of them.
I have only really typed ‘in public’ once, as I do not get out much. On our road trip, I was keeping a journal of each days events. The second night, I think, I took a chair and my typewriter, an Underwood Champion, outside of the motel room, as Leila was sleeping. Typing away about our adventure thus far, I heard a few men a couple doors down. The only one I saw, at the time, was a large black man. Having been swimming recently, he stood there without a shirt and a towel around his swim trunks. Obviously, too, he had been drinking, because he started yelling to his friends. “Man looka! This muthafucka on a TYPEWRITA!” He was quite amused for the moment, as his smile was quite large. His friends disregarded him and continued to unload the coolers from the bed of the truck, and I just kept on typing.
Heh, you probably made that guy’s day. Often, when I go out typing in public, I’ll get a few people who (either after asking for permission, or usually trying to do so furtively) take pics of me on their cellphones, probably to either facebook about the odd fellow and his ancient laptop or show to friends later. I’d like to think that I spread a little fun out around me when I type (:
Last year, I brought a few typewriters to our city’s “Art Walk” event, by request, to promote a local zine. We set them up at some tables and invited passers-by to type. Kids loved it, adults were intrigued and curious and often had a little story to tell about their past experiences with typewriters. A small handful of people were dismissive, but the vast majority of people who passed by either stood and marvelled for a bit or sat down and started typing. There weren’t many who passed without at least stopping.
Note: one lesson from that event was that Smith-Corona Super-5’s and Galaxies are the most n00b-friendly and trouble-free machines for these events. The two Olivetti L32’s had lots of issues with people accidentally misconfiguring them, and the Hermes 3000 invariably had to have its margins reset every 5 minutes because the magic-margin levers are where people expect the carriage release to be.
These machines certainly bring out strong emotions. They have power.
That about sums it up. The important thing is to get out there. I’ve found the most positives at hotels, surprisingly, and the most negatives on planes.
TYpewriters have a soul!
Yes! Typewriters absolutely have a soul, and every single one of them is different! It is a lot like classic cars, bikes and scooters versus modern ones. Want amenities? Buy a new car. Want soul? Buy an old one.
There’s a lot to be said for soul and the few, special inanimate objects that possess it to the extent that they own it.
My public typing if it can be called that takes place in my front yard. The neighborhood childred are amazed at my typewriters since they have grown up without one in their houses. I have yet to get out to type. I do find at work there are the ‘Oh, wow! that’s neat, that’s a typewriter’ crowd or the ‘what do you want with that old piece of junk’ crowd. Some people just do not have much appreciation for anything but obsolete-to-be digital electronics and PCs.
BTW. I do my best to keep the dust off the vinyl before it collects on the stylus. Turntable cover & Watt’s DustBug & homebrew anti-stat.
I have had a lot of people comment or ask questions when I go out with a typewriter and they are never hostile. Most people, even drunks at a bar late on a Friday, are incredibly friendly and genuinely fascinated by the machine. There isn’t anything threatening about a person on a typewriter (unless you alone in the cellar under the bare lightbulb typing ransom notes and bomb threats) and most people assume you must be pretty chill and they will approach and talk to you. I don’t usually go out to do serious work because there are too many interruptions!
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