Thursday, October 4, 2012


What Is a Jukebox?

Over the summer I heard the 1982 song “867-5309/Jenny” by Tommy Tutone, and it struck me: My kids could never truly understand this.

It has to do with the line, “For the price of a dime I can always turn to you,” referring of course to Tutone’s having appropriate pocket change to use a public payphone to call Jenny of the bathroom wall scrawl. My digital native offspring barely know what a public phone is, and they certainly don’t understand what relationship it has to a dime.

For The Morning News, Nancy Davis Kho explains '80s songs for future children, like lovers do.

49 Comments / Post A Comment


Also, seven digits used to be enough to call someone! Oh you kids....


@SuperGogo That's what I was going to say! Phone numbers without area codes is what I thought the author was going to point out, not the pay phone thing.


Fun Trick: Forget/Don't have a loyalty card? Punch in your area code and 8675309. It's practically guaranteed that someone's faked the form with that as their phone number. And it takes less time than that sweet lady at the piggly wiggly hitting random number combos so we could buy our road trip snacks slightly cheaper.


@hopelessshade Piggly Wiggly!


Stuck in my head for the rest of the day now.


Vonnegut Reference

I tried introducing Doctor Who to my 11-year-old brother not too long ago. The intro is playing as I'm trying to explain the general gist of the show and the police box is whizzing around the screen, my brother takes a long pause and says, "So...he travels time...in a port-a-potty?" That genuinely blew my mind and I was born in 1990. NOT THE VAGUEST IDEA OF WHAT A PUBLIC PHONE IS!!


@Vonnegut Reference Phone booth vs. police box comment from some Tru Whovian in 3...2...


@SuperGogo I've only ever seen police boxes in a handful of places in the Unites States. One's in Baltimore.


"The Jukebox Is Only the Tip of the Iceberg"

Yeah, they're not going to know what an iceberg is either.

sceps yarx

@laurel oh snap


@laurel Kids, that creature on the side of my vintage Coke can is NOT a black bear altered with the negative Instagram filter.


This is funny, but some of it smacks of "KIDS THESE DAYS" and "THIS DAMN TECHNOLOGY." You can still bond with someone via text, and taking phone pictures while on a walk can be a fun shared experience! Grumblemumble rassenfrassen.


@frigwiggin Right? as if future lovers won't look each other in the eye or communicate face to face because they're "too busy instagramming". UGH!


@frigwiggin It seems all children today are also idiots who can't even figure out basic metaphors. We will live in the most literal society ever.


@frigwiggin GET OFF MY LAWN!


The other day, my coworker accidentally referred to her keyboard as a typewriter. For some reason, that made me laugh and laugh all day -- and I am 41. And outdated technology--my DVR has an option on it to save a recorded show to VHS. This seems odd.

fondue with cheddar

When I was a kid I loved that song because my name was Jenny. Now I hate it for the same reason. I also don't like being called Jenny.


@fondue with cheddar (formerly jen325) Try having Prince's Darling Nikki floating around when your name is Nicole, and you were in sixth grade when Purple Rain happened. Oy.

When I was in college, there was (well, I mean, there still is) a song called Nicole by Ween. That was fun. At first.

fondue with cheddar

@Hellcat My mom claims she named me after "Jennifer Juniper" by Donovan.

fondue with cheddar

@Hellcat SO MANY COMMENTS I'M SORRY but I was in 5th grade when Purple Rain happened! Hello, fellow Old! ;)


@fondue with cheddar (formerly jen325) Haha! I was going to be Christopher (Hey) Jude if I'd turned out to be a boy!

fondue with cheddar

@Hellcat That's great!


@fondue with cheddar (formerly jen325) 9th grade when Purple Rain happened. Can you bring my walker over?

fondue with cheddar

@Bittersweet Sure, I'll bring the prunes soaked in vodka.


@fondue with cheddar (formerly jen325) No she asked for her walker! Maybe you need to get your internet ear trumpet.

fondue with cheddar

I'm in the phone booth, it's the one across the hall / If you don't answer, I'll just ring it off the wall



@fondue with cheddar (formerly jen325) When I first started university c. 2000, I lived in this temporary residence that didnt have a phone line but they installed a phone booth downstairs right outside the cafeteria. I used to trek down there with my phone card once a week hoping my parents would actually pick up the phone vs screening for bill collectors or something. The thing was also just made of plywood and the phone was terrible so the security desk was definitely privy to my entire life that year. I also had a room in a sketchy boarding house (c. 2003) with no phone line for a while and had to use the payphone at the grocery store. I dont even think they have payphones anymore...

fondue with cheddar

@faience The only time I ever see pay phones anymore are at grocery stores in poor neighborhoods. And sometimes at train stations.


And if I don't see ya, in a long, long while, I'll try to find you left of the dial.

Radios had things called bands and dials? Stations could be left of this dial? What is a what now what?


@yeah-elle My clock alarm still has a dial, is that bad? I am already freaking out a little bit about my birthday in a few weeks, me and my flip phone are feeling old. And a little bit cheap.

fondue with cheddar

@katiemcgillicuddy Remember when phones had ACTUAL BELLS THAT RING?


@katiemcgillicuddy That's okay, haha. When my flip phone broke, I was alarmed at how difficult it was to get a phone that did not require a data plan to function and wasn't loaded with smartphone stuff.


@fondue with cheddar (formerly jen325) My grandmother had one for forrrrever. I LOVED IT. Shit, I wish I had a rotary phone, it was like playing a game before every phone call. My youngest brother, though, has no concept of this, and I find that unsettling.


@yeah-elle I am actually currently in an EPIC fight with Verizon and I refuse to back down. I don't want a goddamn smart phone and they are basically trying to force me. I'm very touchy about phones right now.


@katiemcgillicuddy I'm with Verizon too, and I had to go into a store, say pointblank "I do NOT want a smartphone or a data plan" and refuse to back down. Surprise, surprise, they found they had one last non-smartphone in stock. The one I ended up with is still relatively new, with a touch-screen and one of those pop-out keyboards for texting, but it doesn't require a data plan, and also doesn't have a bunch of weird programs that will trick me into using data without a plan. Phew.

Basically, you've got to go in and be stone cold when they try to up-sell you.

The Lady of Shalott

@katiemcgillicuddy When my grandma died in 1999 the one thing I wanted from her house (at age eleven) was the rotary-dial phone she had in the basement. And I got it! And it doesn't work terrifically well any more (because it's literally like 50 years old and some of the wires and connections are a little bit off), but it just takes a little bit of jiggling.


2. You can't use it when you have to do anything that relies on touch-tone, which has messed me up a couple times.

3. It has the absolute best sound quality of any phone I've ever talked on, ever ever ever!

4. I love it and I wish I still had one! I have a smartphone now and it is nifty and I love it, but one day when I'm settled permanently I'm going to get it from my parents' house and use it again.


@yeah-elle They want me to re-up my plan when I should absolutely not have to (I just did) and it's making me crazy. I bought a phone (I lost mine...in my own house, you can see why I am acting militant about this) they decided oh, you can't use it for this plan, etc, etc, because you lost it? I will use a goddamn carrier pigeon before I cave in to them. It's just a whole thing, ugh. And yeah, oh we have none in stock, I heard that as well.


@The Lady of Shalott Maaaan, my grandma died when I was 10 in '95 and I SO BADLY WISH I had asked for the phone. Except my Aunt May still lived in the house so I guess I couldn't have. She passed a few months later though, stupid 10-year-old me should have snatched that shit right up.


I don't think I've ever seen the music video for Jesse's Girl before, even though I love the song. The dog in the suit at the end cracked me up.


@KanadrAllegria@twitter Whassa "music video"?


So since my name is Jenni (not with a "y" but whatev), I made my Wi-Fi network name "8675309" as an homage to that song.


I feel old now. I remember sitting in a public phone box for hours talking to my boyfriend when I was at university. It was about ten years ago, I met him on the internet and he lived on the other side of the world. Am I a generational bridge or something?


I'm only a handful of songs into the article and am already mystified/irritated. Answering machines were not bewildering brand new technology when that Replacements song came out and lordy "World War II vets and auto mechanics" were hardly the only people with tattoos in the 80's. Now to read on and grumble some more....


@Kakapo Ok. The rest was just confusing. If I had read any of her points before she made completely obscured them via the heavy-duty ironizing machine, I would probably be more annoyed.


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