The Annotated Boom Box - "Customized" Emerson CTR 965
I love old boom boxes, especially when they've got something unusual about them. Usually, boom boxes differentiate themselves with different features, but occasionally it's some manner of personalized "customization". I dream of one day finding a boom box that's been airbrushed like the ones you see in breakdancing movies of the 80's, but mostly customization comes from the prior owner using a Sharpie to scrawl a name on the device itself. When I do find one like that, I usually christen the boom box with that name as a reminder of its prior life. Maybe I'll tell you about good ol' "Jasker" one of these days.
There's not much unusual about the Emerson CTR 965. It's somewhat typical of 1980's boom boxes. It gest loud, dubs tapes, sports an entirely useless equalizer graph painted on, has unmistakably 80's square speakers (Surprise! It's just the grille cloth that's square.) The interest lies in the extensive customization job someone has done on this CTR 965. Nearly every button has a little tag taped on where the prior owner neatly typed out each function - this in the days before spellcheck, of course...
I guess today's whipper-snappers with their YouTubes and their Borats will laugh at such a fuddy-duddy move, but peeling back one of the tags I can see that the original labeling is quite difficult to make out. The text is all quite tiny, and the icons for each button are chrome on chrome rendering them visible only from a narrow angle. I especially don't want to laugh because I suddenly notice that my girlfriend had done the same thing to our bookshelf stereo. Again the fancy chrome detailing obscures the embossed function of each button (complicated by the device's control scheme being maddeningly non-intuitive).
While this could be a testimony to my own ocular decrepitude, I think it's more of a cry out to manufacturers. Do authentic human beings test products before they ship to consumers? When I have complained to a manufacturer, they brush me off saying that I'll get used to it. I'm the type of person who evalulates purchases very carefully, and I want to be in love the moment I open the box. It's similar to how I fell in love with this unique boom box & it's hand-crafted additions at the first moment I saw it. In my mind's eye, As for the original owner, I've got an image of an older guy buying this boom box despite it's being intended for a younger crowd. Maybe the guy really wanted to blast "Just a Gigolo", okay?
The Emerson CTR 965 is actually worth a couple bucks on the collector's market, but I think I'll leave the old boy as-is since it has so much personality. One day I'll be grateful that I can still hear music on the radio, let alone play my Louis Prima tapes at ear-splitting levels.