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An open letter to Steve Jobs

Dear Steve,

I understand that you’re as enamored of the occasional “Dear Steve” open letter from puffed-up bloggers as you are of a slab of rare prime rib, but something has come to my attention that is sure to be as troubling to you as it is to me. I’m talking, of course, of the threat to our treasured childhood memories.

Steve, while you’ve had your share of golden moments—founding Apple, helping to give birth to the Macintosh, saving Apple, Pixar, Disney, the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone—when you take time to look back at your fondest memories, surely some of them come from your childhood, growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Like me, you spent hours glued to the TV, so enamored of the box that you’d wake up at 6AM on Sundays to take in black and white newsreels of wheat harvests conducted during the Truman administration because, dammit, that’s what was on a television that offered just four channels—KTVU, KRON, KPIX, and KGO. Gripping as wheat harvests, Shirley Temple Theater, and Davey and Goliath were, those dreary offerings served only to get you through to Monday when you could rush home from school, switch on Captain Satellite and Mayor Art, and watch, for the thousandth time, the scratchy animated musical parodies of long-dead 1930’s Hollywood celebrities.

I was there with you. I know you, like me, like every boy our age, put up with those cartoons because we knew the highlight of the day was coming up in one seemingly-endless half hour.

The Stooges. The glorious Moe, Larry, and Curly (and, okay, even Shemp if that’s all that was on the menu that day) who caused our parents hours of concern that we might add eye-poking, hair-tearing, nose-honking, and a general “woo-woo-woo-woo-woo” spirit to our childhood play.

And Steve, therein lies the threat.

This week, the iTunes Store added Three Stooges - The Collection 1934-1936 and I can’t help but think that someone in your employee slipped it in while you were otherwise occupied conceiving the next game-changing gadget. Oh sure, it looks great from the outside—19 Stooges 21-and-a-half minute reels (all Curly!) featuring such beloved titles as Hoi Polloi, Ants in the Pantry, and Woman Haters, priced at just $20 for the set—but Steve, purchase one of these things and I’m sure you’ll be as disappointed as I.

It’s bad enough that each episode begins and ends with a cheesy title and credit segment. (Thankfully, you can dispense with this junk by moving to the Options tab within each episode’s Info window and set the Start and Stop times so they skip over it.) Unforgivable is that each episode is interrupted smack-dab in the middle by a completely unnecessary interstitial that forces some needless Stooge trivia on the viewer.

I can’t conceive of what Comedy III Productions was thinking. Sure, as a kid I expected to sit through at least three commercials for Mighty White toothpaste, the San Francisco Zoo (“All the animals in the zoo are jumping up and down for you…”), and Willie Mays admonishing me to inform a policeman should I encounter a pile of blasting caps, but I understood, even at that tender age, that this was the one way to pay for my Stoogely pleasure.

That's changed as I'm now laying down real money for this stuff. Or would like to. And I bet you would too. But if you’re the man (and once-Bay-Area-kid) I suspect you are, you won’t punch that Buy Season until things are put right.

Thanks for helping preserve our precious past. See you subsequently!


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