MICHAEL MUSTO: 10 Ways Today Is Better Than the Old Days

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Michael Musto is a self-described "Jurassic type," but even he knows that these 10 things from today make us a lot better off than we were in the old days.
Michael Musto is a self-described “Jurassic type,” but even he knows that these 10 things from today make us a lot better off than we were in the old days.

No one loves kvelling about the good old days like tired, old me — until I remember that a lot of that alleged golden age used to be absolutely horrible and impossibly inconvenient. Here are 10 things that are way better about the spectacular now.


computersI’m a Jurassic type who was around in the 1970s, when writers actually had to clank out their work on a Smith-Corona. What’s more, in that pre-Stonehenge age, I had to hand deliver (or land mail) the pieces to the publications they were intended for, while making sure to keep Xerox copies of them at home for safety. If more work needed to be done on a piece, I had to retype it from scratch (after trying in vain to cut and Scotch tape in some changes), and then I was required to be a delivery boy once again, regardless of my mood, schedule or the weather. Still miss the old days?


1863401Gosh, the things those computers can do! You can look up anything imaginable and get instant information on it! That wasn’t always the case, believe it or not. In the 1980s, I used to have to go to libraries, look around for reference books and call people in the know just to get a piece of information for an article (or for life). A simple act of fact-checking could take an hour whereas it now takes three seconds while you’re doing your nails. And you can do all your business on there, rather than have to make a long, laborious phone call out of every little thing. Besides, without the Internet, you wouldn’t have been able to read this very article. That’s all the argument I need for how incredibly valuable it is!!!

Social networks

7364479Speaking of the Internet: Can you imagine life without Facebook, Twitter and all the other sites that connect us with the masses? For years, I avoided those destinations, thinking they sounded foolish and wasteful, but I am now glued to the interaction, the support, the means to get extra traffic for my articles and the chance to have people contact me who might otherwise have no idea to do so. Yes, Twitter is tweeted out these days, but so is everything. Yes, there are some douches out there, but there are douches everywhere. At least on social networks, you can block them.

The plethora of TV channels

9259579Growing up in the 1960s, I had to watch Ed Sullivan’s variety show; there were only two or three other options! Fortunately, I loved the show, but still, isn’t it better to have literally hundreds of channels, as well as other options for viewing pleasure, all of which have given us a wellspring of personal choice? The more, the merrier.


6594218When these started becoming popular in the 1990s, the people who used them seemed liked narcissistic jerks. “What’s so important that they couldn’t wait till they got home to make the call?” I’d whinny to sympathetic friends. But they soon became de rigueur communication tools — to call, text, use Internet, take pictures and look like you belong to the human race. It’s way preferable to trying to find a pay phone that works.


1334638During a big chunk of the 1970s, I was terrified to leave the house because I was afraid I’d miss a business call. This was before answering machines came in, so if anyone job-related was trying to reach you and you weren’t there, they would just be greeted with endless ringing. (You could only pray that they’d try again.) Rich people could pay for a phone service to take their messages, but us ordinary folk had to sit home and wait for the damned phone to ring. And if someone did call when you were there, you had to make the conversation really short because there was no call-waiting yet, and you didn’t want someone important to get a busy signal. It was a nightmare — especially when I had to run out and deliver my articles, not knowing which important calls I might be missing.

Long distance is free (or practically so)

8991021In the same era, you had to practically refinance your house to make a single long-distance call. It cost a fortune, so people would only make such calls under duress, and they’d be very brief about it. (“Hey! How’s it going in Barcelona? Great! Same here. OK, talk to you soon.”) My college friends had a trick whenever they wanted the folks at home to know they were OK. They’d put in a “person to person call” to their parents through an operator and would ask for someone nonexistent. “No, Marnie’s not here,” ma would reply, totally in on the game. And as she hung up (making this a free call), she would then know you were fine. Nowadays you can ask for the actual person you want to talk to! Or just send a text!

24-hour pharmacies

2806335Yes, it’s gentrification. Sure, it amounts to steamrolling over mom-and-pop stores in favor of corporate chains, but we’re not going to wax poetic about the old days, remember? Instead, let’s realize how great it is that — in New York City, anyway — you can drag your ass to a Duane Reade at four in the morning and get candy, Band-Aids, perfume and aspirin, just because you feel like it. I might do that right now!

It’s easier to win the Oscar pool

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.In the golden days, there were real surprises at the Academy Awards, and a big part of the fun was seeing nominees act genuinely shocked to win — or to lose. Well, not anymore. Today, there are so many awards shows before the Oscars happen that anybody even remotely plugged in knows exactly who’s going to nab every category. You say anticlimax? I say, “Win that pool!”

Gays are everywhere

8337182They used to only be in the West Village. Then they moved to Chelsea. Then HK (as in, Hells Kitchen). And now they’re all over the place — and some of them are even out!

Michael Musto is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine

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