I never knew The Great Gatsby was composed on a Remington portable typewriter. At least, so it was in Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of the classic American novel, starring Leonardo DeCaprio. In the film, the narrator Nick Carraway checks into a sanatorium after a riotous summer with the mysterious Gatsby. He types his story on a Remington Portable (model 1, shift keys right and left) as a form of therapy.
During the film, I nudged my friend and commented, “I own one of those.”
The selection of this typewriter, a humble, yet sophisticated machine, is appropriate. Gatsby, too, was humble, yet sophisticated. The typewriter is also appropriate for the period, the summer of 1922 — (the Remington was introduced in 1920) — which is more than we can say for Gatsby’s yellow car, a 1929 Duesenberg Model J.
Postscript: Had I not politely turned my phone off, I would have taken a photo of the various scenes in which the Remington appeared.
Are gadgets making us dumber? Two new studies suggest they might be. One found that people who are interrupted by technology score 20 percent lower on a standard cognition test. A second demonstrated that some students, even when on their best behavior, can’t concentrate on homework for more than two minutes without distracting themselves by using social media or writing an email.
Interruptions are the scourge of modern life. Our days and nights are full of gadgets that ping, buzz and beep their way into our attention, taking us away from whatever we are doing.
We’ve known for a while that distractions hurt productivity at work. Depressing research by Gloria Mark at the University of California, Irvine, says that typical office workers only get 11 continuous minutes to work on a task before interruption. With smartphones reaching near ubiquity, the problem of tech-driven multitasking — juggling daily tasks with email, text messages, social media etc — is coming to a head.
I suppose I should say something witty (checks e-mail), or offer some sage advice (checks Facebook status), but nothing (reads article on boy who saved busload of students) directly comes to mind…
Well, the McCool typewriter I previously blogged about did not sell. The “buy it now” price had been set at $9,000. Meanwhile, an Edison Mimeograph Typewriter fetched a little more than $8,000. That got me musing…
So I’m browsing Darryl Rehr’s Antique Typewriters last night, and my attention is fixed on the McCool Typewriter No. 2. I would like to add one to my collection. Now, as I peruse the Internet, I discover one for sale on eBay… for $9,000! I’m not sure what a McCool is actually worth (in 29 days and 22 hours — perhaps sooner — we will know), but it would be a nice addition to any collection.
According to Rehr, the McCool was not very successful, despite that it sold for only $25 when other typing machines were priced at around $100. In 1997, Rehr valued the McCool at a cool $850, but, as many are aware, the value of typewriters has increased greatly.
What would you be willing to pay for a McCool?
Postscript: I must confess that half the appeal of this typewriter is its name.
I’ve never purchased anything from SkyMall, nor am I likely to, but that they offer a manual typewriter greatly elevates them, in my estimation. The product description is masterfully written:
This is the manual typewriter that recalls the thoughtful, well-written correspondence of yesteryear. Devoid of technological crutches such as spell-check and deletion, each of its 44 keys requires a firm, purposeful stroke for a steady click-clacking cadence that encourages the patient, considered sentiment of a wordsmith who thinks before writing. Using a 10-characters-per-inch Pica 87 font, it faithfully reproduces the eclectic printed impressions of its forebears–variable kerning, subtly ghosted letters, and nuanced baseline shifts–imparting unique, personal character to every letter, piece of prose, or verse of poetry.