YouTube – I love it!
This is another Cup born out of the confinement during the January blizzard.
I’ve been working with computers since before the first IBM PC, ever since the Customs Service sent me to systems analysis school at Hofstra University in 1968, and I learned that I could “talk to the animals.” My first field of endeavor was programming. I programmed, installed and maintained an accounting system that was used in the offices of 98 Senators. A co-worker on that project wrote the user manual, did all the training, served as my quality control ensuring ease of use and consistency in the user interface, and suggested numerous features. For the past 20 years though I’ve become more involved in workstation and server hardware and in networking and combating viruses. I love the puzzle solving aspect of it.
I’ve been aware of YouTube probably from its beginning but never paid it much attention. Then a few years ago I started using it to test the audio on new computers. My favorite YouTube videos for this were the one of Hollie Steel on “England’s Got Talent,” the Sound of Music flash mob in the Antwerp train station, and Andre Rieu and his orchestra playing the Blue Danube Waltz. Sometime after that I found other uses for YouTube. I discovered and installed a new control device on the boiler at St. Alban’s Church following a YouTube how-to video. And I followed another one in upgrading the disk drive in a late model notebook computer which had to be completely disassembled to get to the drive. (Older models were easy; they had their own access panels to the drive.) I would never have discovered all the disassemble steps on my own.
But the blizzard raised YouTube to yet another level. I was working at my desk at home and somehow the question came to mind – I wonder if Glen Gray’s “No Name Jive” is on YouTube. For years it has been my favorite piece of Big Band music, and it has been impossible to find. I Googled “No Name Jive” and, presto, there it was, in the original, by Glen Gray and The Casaloma Orchestra. But that was just the tip of the iceberg, for queued up to come on right after it were more videos of the other big bands, such as Artie Shaw’s orchestra playing “Begin the Beguine.” Who knew there was all that video footage from 80 years ago and that it is right there, right now, literally at our fingertips. That whetted my appetite to connect with other favorite music, which I once had on long-gone vinyl records and which I thought I would never hear again, and not only hear again but see in performance, which I never had: Jefferson Airplane with Grace Slick on “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love;” Jay Unger on Bob Will’s “Maiden’s Prayer, which I used to look forward to hearing every Saturday night on WAMU when Mary Cliff’s radio show “Traditions” came on; Country Joe and the Fish’s “Who Am I,” a “beautiful poignant and timeless song that deserves a wider audience” according to one YouTube upload. And operas – yes, complete operas. The first one I looked at but haven’t yet watched completely is Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro.” With a $30 Chromecast or similar device you can open it on your laptop or a tablet and probably a cell phone and “cast” it to your TV and watch it on your big screen. I haven’t been so happy with a discovery in a long, long time. It is like recovering part of my past.
I guess I’ll conclude by expressing thanks for weather imposed downtime to stop and smell the flowers, or rather, in this case, to hear the music, and to all the people who have been making these historical treasures available for us to enjoy. The scope if it is truly staggering. It has enriched my life, and I look forward to more of the same. I’m glad I’ve lived to see it.
Ron Hicks, Parish Verger, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Washington DC, 23-February-2016.