Siegfried then took out one of the gold coins that waited in his pocket. He had thousands of them made: look for the magic that is all around you, they read on one side. Then he performed a little magic—close-up magic, quiet and simple, the way he once did, before everything else.
Surrounded by the cats who reminded him so much of his lost partner—the same animals whose hulking presence had helped turn their first day together and every day after into the most extraordinary existence for everyone in their sprawling, magical family—Siegfried heard time and again the same five words his father once said to him: “How did you do that?” He never answered. Instead, Siegfried would smile, press the coin into the hands of one of his guests, and float away, leaving his visitors to stare at one another in silence, and the last of Roy’s tigers to exalt in their wonder.
As I’m writing this, my son is downstairs watching YouTube videos. When we have dinner, he’ll stream music on an iPad, typing song titles into the app’s search box either from memory or from a list we’ve written down (at his insistence) on paper. He’ll eat while stimming, except for when he takes a dance break.
There’s no app, drug, or device that’s going to transform my son or his interactions with others. And that’s just fine. He’s doing great and anyone who chooses to listen, who chooses to put in a little work, can meet him where he is.
I have a job to do. If I were constantly worried about death, I couldn’t function. After a while, if your life is more or less constantly in peril, you come to a point where you accept the possibility philosophically. I must face the fact, as all others in positions of leadership must do, that America today is an extremely sick nation, and that something could well happen to me at any time. I feel, though, that my cause is so right, so moral, that if I should lose my life, in some way it would aid the cause.
40 years from now, the first Walkman was released. Crazy.
The first model of the first-generation Walkman personal stereos. Contrary to those inside and outside the company who claimed that “without a recording function, it won’t sell,” it became a huge success, proposing new lifestyles which became popular around the world.
The recordings that burned up in the Universal fire — like the songs that are blasting from car windows on the street outside your home, like all the records that you or I or anyone else has ever heard — represent a wonderment that we have come to take for granted. For most of human history, every word spoken, every song sung, was by definition ephemeral: Air vibrated and sound traveled in and out of earshot, never to be heard again. But technology gave humanity the means to catch sounds, to transform a soprano’s warble, a violin’s trill, Chuck Berry’s blaring guitar, into something permanent and repeatable, a sonic artifact to which listeners can return again and again.