Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Got your ears on?

Hi-De-Ho Rene,

Have you seen what Glenn Reynolds writes about the CB Revolution, prompted by a snarky comment made by a NYT writer about weblogs, at Tech Central Station? He links it to the end of the 55-mph speed limit and the beginning of the Reagan Revolution. A stretch? You decide.

Growing up in a big city, you may not have experienced the cultural revolution of the Citizens’ Band radio. But out here in the sticks, CB was king.

Looks like we got us a convoy…

There was something alluring and romantic about the rebel image of CB users, even to a kindergartener. The greasy spoon on the edge of the small town I grew up in was a hot spot for truckers. It was the kind of place with red plastic tumblers, flat pieces of runny cherry pie, and a jukebox loaded with songs celebrating the CB, from Convoy to Teddy Bear. Thrilling and slightly scary, it was my absolute favorite place to watch people.

When our family and some close friends drove to Chicago in 1976, we borrowed CBs so we could communicate between cars. I was almost breathless with anticipation of all the “Breaker, Breaker, 1-9”-ing that awaited us. But the adults wouldn’t let the kids talk on them; they didn’t want to clutter the frequencies that truckers needed to do their jobs. C’mon! Where’s the romance and rebellion in that?

A couple years later, one of our neighbors, a grownup who lived with his parents and spent most of his time smoking and cleaning guns in a lawn chair, paid my brother and I in six-packs of Mello-Yello to chamois his car. The CB radio mounted on the dash in his Dodge Charger completed his image.

The CB is not quite obsolete, either. My aunt and uncle used CBs on their farm until very recently, when my uncle was persuaded to switch to cell phones. (My uncle’s handle was PloughBoy; my aunt’s was Calico. Cool.) But out on the open road, you can’t call the trucker driving next to you in the granny lane unless you know his number.

Breaker 1-9, this here's the Rubber Duck. You got a copy on me, Pig Pen? C'mon…

Anyway, if weblogs are the new CBs, at least I've finally become a rebel. Over and out.



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