On the Jazz #5: A Death in the Family

“And so I face the final curtain…”

By Matt Springer
September 19, 2002

My TV is dead.

That’s not entirely true. It could be salvageable. It is, however, currently unable to turn on. It is sitting silent in my living room and quietly mocking my inability to use it to tape tomorrow night’s debut installment of Firefly.

Right now, for all intents and purposes, I have no TV.


This morning, I had a TV. My girlfriend and I used it to watch The View and Oprah, as is often our custom. (Call me wussy if you must, but it sure beats workin’ for a living!) As I prepared to leave for a lunch with some college buddies, I remembered to set it to tape Firefly tomorrow night. I’ll be out of town, and there’s probably no TV event this season I’m more excited about than the new Joss Whedon show.

I left. I had lunch. I came back. I walked up to my apartment door. It was unlocked.

I opened it slightly, only to find my way into the apartment blocked by a stepladder and a Polish guy with his hands up in my ceiling.

Of course. There was a note on my door yesterday about some electricians coming in to the building. That explains it.

Then I slipped in past the Polish guy and noticed the SMOKE BILLOWING FROM THE BACK OF MY TELEVISION SET.

“What the fuck is this?” I shouted. I literally said that. I spoke like Joe Pesci in…well, in just about every Joe Pesci movie. I was flabbergasted.

The Polish guy spoke Polish at me. I unplugged the TV. I walked into my office to see SMOKE BILLOWING FROM THE BACK OF MY COMPUTER.

Another shouted “FUCK!” Another flurry of Polish. Another quick unplugging.

The Polish guy scurried from the apartment. I followed him. There was yelling. I’m not proud of it, but goddamn! There was SMOKE pouring from about $2000 worth of electronics in my apartment! What else could I do?

The Polish guy, his Polish boss, and the Polish owner of the building came up to take a look at things. Naturally, it was their fault. There was a pipe up in the ceiling with an old wire, and the old wire…ah, hell, I didn’t catch much of it. They spoke broken English at best, and while I tried to follow along, it eventually became too great a challenge. The only words I definitely caught were from the head electrician — “We pay for it.”

Fine. You pay for it. It still bites ass. The next week of my life, and perhaps beyond, will now be consumed by a constant struggle to line up tapings and/or screenings of four to six hours of new television each week. Beyond that, I will be deprived of the joy of sitting in my own house and watching all these tremendous season premieres, a Springer household tradition that has reigned ever since Bill Cosby and his atrocious sweaters danced across my TV screen. It’s an inconvenience, and beyond that, it’s a huge bummer.

And though I exaggerate for humorous effect, there is an undeniable emotional component to this loss as well. To some of you — hell, probably to all of you — the fact that I have no television will seem insignificant. Not just because it is not your problem and you are cold inconsiderate bastards with nary a drop of empathy in ya. No, this will seem insignificant because in the grand scheme of things, the problems of one geek and his busted boob tube don’t amount to a hill of beans.

But it was MY hill, and every last bean in it was looking so forward to plunking its ass on the futon for a couple weeks of fresh, hot network programming. My escape, my refuge, my item-to-heckle-that-cannot-heckle-back — gone for now, if not forever. The set that got me through college, sat in my bedroom at my first apartment and was the centerpiece of my new living room. The set where I played a tape of “City on the Edge of Forever” to try and convince a girlfriend that Star Trek was great. The set where I slurped take-out pasta and watched the last two knockout seasons of The Sopranos. The set where, in college, my friends and I often gathered to watch reruns ofWKRP and marvel at the wonders of a modest comedy done with intelligence and emotion.

It’s just a TV set, but it was MY TV set, goddamnit. And now it’s gone, and I can feel the anticipatory joy of the new fall season slipping through my fingers.

Anybody got a hankee?