, Newburyport, MA


November 7, 2013

You may be downsized, but I'm dinosaured


Right then it dawned on me that I’m no longer a projectionist.

With the new technology, pushing buttons and throwing switches is all I will do. No more focusing, framing, splicing film, threading the projectors.

No more assembling from five to eight 15- to 20-minute reels into a pair of 40- to 60-minute magazines to mount on those projectors.

No more changing lenses, centering the projection, sizing the screen.

No more scrambling into the audience to explain a malfunction, ask for a few minutes to reset, and later, while they leave, grin at the gratitude of people who had no way of knowing I deliberately estimated more time than needed.

No more changeovers, looking for those “cigarette burns” that no one else ever notices in the upper right corners because they are watching characters doing things mid-screen very difficult not to watch.

No more writing notes about the changeovers to the other projectionists — now, like me, ex-projectionists.

We haven’t been downsized. We’ve been dinosaured.

Story of my life. I got into the business only because I’m a musician needing a “day job,” which for a street-performer must be a night-job.

When I first played Inn Street in 1982 — coincidentally just two months after the Screening Room opened on State Street — elderly people told me that I reminded them of times long past. One fellow told me, in tears, that I reminded him of pre-war Italy.

Today, none of that. Instead, I watch most people walk by, texting or talking into cellphones, some wired with ear pods, as if I’m not even there — except for the inconvenient delay caused by curious children some drag along.

And I write all about it in newspapers read less and less as people opt for their electronic devices.

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