Alice in Texas

Not writing here anymore- see top post for details of my new blogs.

Monday, June 13, 2005

built-in obsolescence

nail varnish

When women all over the world went bonkers about the famous Chanel rouge noir nail varnish worn by Uma in Pulp Fiction, it was the beginning of a nail varnish trend that led eventually to the establishment of "nail bars" on every street corner all over the place. These days manicures are as common as haircuts. If you want to smarten yourself up and feel pampered, they cost much less, can be even more colourful, and don't involve sticking your head in a sink. They are also less touchy-feely. Not everyone likes touchy-feely, and hand-shaking is definitely less involved than a head-massage.

Actually, I conjecture that an aversion to general touchy-feely (as distinct from intimacy with your closest loved-ones) is less weird than Jackie Danicki might suspect. In particular, the recent Western custom of hugging and kissing everyone you know every time you meet and greet them is, I think, due for a major backlash. It has become extraordinarily difficult to avoid, but I am quite certain that a large number of people find this practice quite unpleasant.

When rouge noir happened, so did short nails. Previously, most nail varnish but especially strong colours were expected to be worn on long, impractical ones. I recall trying to grow mine as a teenager, and horrifying my viola teacher. It was the blue nail varnish that shocked her the most, though. You can't wear blue nail varnish and play the viola. It is distracting for the audience and looks out of place in the orchestra. Something like that. I don't know whether things have changed now or not.

Blue was more or less unknown then, I would guess it was a tiny new-romantic spinoff, as those people were heavily into make-up generally. But after rouge noir, there was a big colour explosion in the nail-varnish world. Rouge noir was the ultimate in red. Red could go no further. But the nail-varnish box had been opened, and women wanted more. So they got everything: gold, blue, chocolate brown, all the metallics, and it hasn't stopped since.

Short nails staked their claim, but long nails came back soon afterwards and have sat quite happily next to long ones ever after. Because length doesn't matter anymore: nail bars do fibreglass extensions that last a few weeks, if you even want them for that long, because long nails are impossible to live with. Hair extensions, fake sun-tans and fake nails are all temporary, which is just how we want it.

Which is a long way round to saying I have decided to buy an acoustic piano. Not that there is anything wrong with digital ones- but I don't want an infinitely-variable instrument, I want one that stays the same so I can get to know it properly. I will never get "bored" with a piano that has a beautiful sound I love. I'll just keep learning more music from the huge and amazing repertoire that has already been written and which there is no hope of my ever exhausting. If digital pianos are like a nail-bar in your own front room, then acoustic ones are a simple bar of soap. There is definitely room in the world for both rainbow colours and the natural look. What really matters is what you do with your hands.

Anyway, if there had been digital pianos when I was a child, I am fairly sure my Great Aunt Mona would have used headphones while playing Chopin at night the time my sister and I were staying, so as not to disturb us in bed. And then I would never have had the chance to hear her at all.


At 2:10 PM, Blogger Glen said...

My digital piano's voice has been set on "Grand Piano" for the last 5 years. The fact that they throw in a half-dozen other voice options doesn't mean you have to use them! Ditto for the fact that there's a headphone jack hidden underneath.

(Incidentally, with a weighted keyboard people can still hear the physical sound of the keys being hit. It's a lot quieter but it's not totally silent.)

Whatever you get, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.


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