Dear Dear Enemy

Thursday 27 February 2014

Dear Dear Enemy,

Firstly, sorry about the double "dear" thing.  It's perhaps a bit confusing.  But this is one of a group of posts I have on here called Dear ... which are addressed to different musicians about different song lyrics, and so while it is a little clunky having "Dear Dear Enemy" it's sort of cool at the same time.

Because I like your weird name, Dear Enemy.  I don't know what it means but it sounds nice and kind and compassionate, and I'm quite fond of those sorts of things.

Just like I'm fond of your song Computer One.  International visitors probably won't know this song because I don't think it charted out of its native Australia in 1983 (they can see the bottom of this post for the YouTube clip, if they so desire.  What's a post, you ask from 1983.  What's a YouTube clip? You'll just have to wait and see, Dear Enemies).

I loved this song in 1983 and I love it now 31 years later, in 2014.  I even bought the album Ransom Note.  It was one of the albums I bought from that mail order music club whose name escapes me.  I remember the LPs coming in the mail - geez, giant things they were.  We had enormous storage mediums in the 1970's and 1980's.  They matched our enormous computer systems and our enormous pubic hair.  I remember when I first started working we stored our stuff on these bloody disks that were so big you had to almost hold them with both hands to slot them into the computer.  They stored a whopping one megabyte of data on them.

Anyway, where was I?  Yes, that's right.  I was complimenting you on your song Computer One.  I still love it. I still love so many songs from 1983.  I gotta say though, dudes, it sounds a bit dated - from the lyrics though, rather than the music.

The film clip features a modern, streamlined and rather steel-encrusted beginning, all cool blues and greys, signifying a brave new world of impersonality.  Hmm, guys, I don't want to scare you or anything, but it gets just a tad more impersonal after 1983. I guess the popularity of computers might have something to do with that, I hate to say.  Though I love them, they do seem to have taken over just a smidge.  Whereas in 1983, you, Ron Martini, are at work because none of us have computers at home yet, and because your work is some sort of top secret operation hidden behind steel doors.  Your workspace is surrounded by banks of computer-ish looking thingymies ... and a photocopier!  Dude, where on earth do you work?  I didn't think photocopiers were around in 1983?  And if they were, I'm pretty sure a toner cartridge cost, like, $983 each and you copying pictures of your girlfriend who has left you probably wouldn't have gone down all that well.

Oh, hang on.  Is it a printer?  It looks like a photocopier but I actually think it's a printer.  Sorry.  I don't mean to come across all laughy and sneery at your technology.  I hate that whole technological disdain thing.  It's why we have giant piles of ewaste because we're too easily beholden to the latest version that's really not all that much more awesome.  But looking at your printer, I see how amazingly far we've come.  You can print photo quality now, at home, in colour, for a fraction of the price, Dear Enemy.  So I'm sorry to laugh, but it just gets a bit better.

I'm very sorry your girlfriend left you.  You seem like a lovely bloke with a beautiful singing voice and you're a bit of a spunk too. 

I feel a great nostalgia for the colour of that green that is the text on your computer.  Green on a black background.  Ohhh, you have no idea how much better those computer screens are going to get.  Which might be a problem for you because I sort of get the feeling that Computer One has been the cause of your breakup.  It has come between you and your girlfriend.  And now she has gone with her suitcase of clothes.


I like how you talk to your computer as if it's real.  You say, "Computer One, if you know all you say you do, why isn't the answer on the screen?  Do you sleep at night, when the program's through, or do you lie awake at night like me?" 

I'm really interested in knowing what program it is that Computer One is running through. Is it something governmental?  You just wait - a couple of decades down the track you will be amazed at what happens in terms of computers and top secret information.  The internet, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden - the internet will be a force for social change, just you wait and see.  What's the internet?  It's a collection of computers all joined together that can talk to each other!  I imagine you have something like that in your top secret governmental office, yeah?  Well, it goes mainstream, baby.  And then people like Assange hack into computers of big governments and tell the rest of us how they are spying on us and what bastards humans are when they're in power.  And people will take to the streets because we're all just fucking sick and tired of the way these top level people behave, and people will have these sort of hand-held computers that they can take photos on while they're out and about and send them to the internet.  This is a pretty cool force for democracy, but it gets messier before it gets better.  You'll see.

Plus, the hand-held computers are also phones.  You don't need a house phone anymore that's connected to a cable.  You can talk to someone across the world if you want, from your mobile phone.  They're wonderful.  Perhaps if you and your girlfriend had email and SMS it might have kept you together.  I can't be bothered explaining what those are.  But, as I'm sure you're starting to pick up, computers and mobile phones are a bit of a blight as well as being wonderful.  They've made us even more distrustful of each other in some ways.  Our public social skills, Dear Enemy, have decimated a little since 1983.  But I guess you're probably aware of the theme beginning to occur here about technology being awesome and having unforseen nasty underbites.

I think it's really sort of sweet that you are concerned about Computer One's psychological health.  You really love that computer, even though you can't look at any porn on it.  You probably can't play any game on it either, other than the types that I played in Grade Six at school the year before, called Worms I think, with that same green on blackness that was just different types of lines.  I thought it was so awesome!  Worms involved moving the cursor around which grew and grew as you went like a rampaging worm, and the object was for the worm not to touch any part of itself or the game was over.

That was cutting edge stuff that was exciting to me, even though it is very easy to laugh about it now.

There are a few things I wish to know, Dear Enemy, that have me curious.  The questions come into my head on occasions - like in the Aldi car park a few weeks ago, and now every time I think of Computer One the Aldi car park comes into my head.  We're weird creatures, are we not? But what I'm curious about is where Ron Martini says, "Computer One, you are the one I've been talking to.  Maybe that's where I went wrong.  All the secrets that I told to you I should have told to her all along."

I don't understand this bit - why are you telling your secrets to Computer One in the first place?  Do you mean you're writing a diary on it?  In work time, again?  Because I'm pretty sure there weren't any BBSs or anything like back then for you to be talking to anyone else on, and, well, Computer One doesn't really seem like it would have a program that would give you the impression that it's listening and cares about you.  It seems pretty limited.  If you are writing a diary that happens to be situated on Computer One, you can't really blame the computer that once you've written it out to yourself you didn't then go and talk to your girlfriend about it. I mean, if you were writing a diary in a paper notebook, the same thing could happen.  But then I guess if that was the case you'd be writing a song called Notebook 78.  And that would probably be a bit more naff than this techno-groovy 1983ness.

And I'm interested also in knowing why it's called Computer One.  I mean, is it the first computer in the country, or in your office, or what?

If any members of Dear Enemy would like to leave a comment I would really appreciate it.

Dear Enemy, you foresaw the alienation that computerisation could bring.  You don't know the extent of it.  And yet ~ ending this long post on a note of sunniness and cheeriness ~ it's also done amazing things.  I think, in the end, computerisation is a balancing force for democracy.  People could not uprise in quite the way they do now without it.  We just have to learn how to manage it all a bit more so it doesn't get quite so much in the way of our relating with each other face to face.

But I think you know enough about that.


  1. I googled them and thought wikipedia said they'd all died in the 80's. Then I realized that was when they were in the band, not when they were alive. Phew.
    I just got a Fine Young Cannibals cassette from the thrift store and have been having similar 80s flashbacks in my car (which has a tape player). Love it.

    1. I thought the lead singer died in a car accident but then apparently his daughter commented on a YouTube clip that this is her dad and she is glad their music was pretty good. But who knows, on the internets, who is who and what is what? :)

      Hooray for 80s flashbacks. You must have picked up that cassette for a song from the thrift store. I think I still have some lying around somewhere - I wonder where they are? I was thinking a while ago about how good it is on the one hand that our new technology is easier and faster to use, but how on the other it is one less space of time in which to daydream while you've pressed "rewind" or "fast forward" and are waiting for the tape to reach its right spot. Anticipatory spaces, those are.


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