Yesterday I went to Joliet with my father and one of my brothers to help my dad go through his papers, the accumulation of a lifetime as a physics educator. At one point, my brother took an old book off the shelf and when he read the title aloud, I knew intuitively that it had been my grandfather’s, as it was one of those “how to succeed in business” self-improvement books that my grandfather used to talk to me about. My brother had no such recognition or memories, as he is the youngest in our family and I am the oldest, and my grandfather was in the latter years of his life when my brother was coming of age. Our childhood home, too, speaks to us very differently. When we moved in as I was entering the seventh grade, I’d already lived in five states. I had been a young child when my father was pursuing his PhD, and we’d moved for educational opportunities as well as for economic reasons, as my parents tackled the realities of raising a young family on the meager resources of a grad student. That same house, my tenth, was the one my brother was born into and the only family home he’d ever known.
Same parents, same hometown, same house, yet the passage of time meant different memories and experiences.
We live in the most exciting, most dangerous, most dynamic time in human history—at least we believe so, in large part because it’s the time we are living in. Our understanding of the world, our cultural references that are so deeply meaningful to us, take just fourteen years—the difference in age between my brother and me—and the milestones all change. My teen anthems are his classic rock.
Newcity is immersed in two industries undergoing profound, even unprecedented transformation due to the consolidation of the power of the internet—media and movies. Nobody has faced the challenges that we, collectively, are facing today.
Except those who came before us. Fifty years ago this month, a legendary movie studio, Warner Brothers, was acquired by an operator of parking lots led by a middle-aged executive who came up as a funeral parlor operator. Warner was sold for a song, because conventional wisdom at the end of the 1960s held that the days of people seeing movies in theaters was at its end, thanks to the transformative advent of television, which had come to dominate the media and entertainment consumption of the American household. Sound familiar? Print, of course, was just as dead in the water in 1969 as the movies.
This is not to diminish the perils of the business waters we swim in today. But it’s impossible to make the case that the rise of the internet has been a greater force for change than the ascent of television, unless you were present for both. Sometimes the long view of history calms even the choppiest currents.
In this issue:
Music 45: Who Keeps Chicago In Tune
Impresarios of the Moment: CIVL Defense—Chicago Club Owners Find Strength In Solidarity
The Conversation: Jim DeRogatis discusses “Soulless—The Case Against R. Kelly”
Exposed: Giselle Gatsby’s Minimal Lucite and Sterling Silver Pieces Echo Virgil Abloh’s Quest for Transparency
Look for Newcity’s August 2019 print edition at over 1000 Chicago-area locations this week or subscribe to the print edition at newcity.com/subscribe.