Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I didn't take the photo of a phone getting smashed, but I sure had a lot of fun setting it up

Not My Photo, but I Sure Had a Lot of Fun Setting It Up

The 1983 photo was by Madison's Brent Nicastro for a magazine I edited, Credit Union Management. He had the equipment I lacked, and besides, I wanted to be the one wielding the mallet. The breakup of AT&T the coming January was of interest to our readers because there were were a lot of telephone company credit unions.

In working on the article, I had a vision of a red dial phone (with a Bell logo we could paste in) being smashed in a flash of light. To do that I needed to get a red phone, and went to our local phone company's office to buy one. It had only recently become possible to purchase your own phone, and this was the first one I ever bought.
"I'd like to buy a red rotary dial phone, please."

"Are you sure you don't want a TouchTone phone? Or one of the new Princess phones."

"That's OK -- I'm just going to break it anyhow."

"Oh, I don't think it will break. They're very reliable, sir."

"No, I mean I'm going to smash it with a hammer."

The look on the sales clerk's face was priceless. For a moment, I thought she would refuse to sell it to me for such a blasphemous purpose.

"It's OK -- it's for a magazine photo."
I cut up the phone with a hacksaw first, then reassembled it with the Brent's slave flash inside, rigged so that the phone would fall apart and the flash fire when tapped with the mallet.

What a different world. Appropriately, perhaps, AT&T was broken up in January of 1984, and seven regional operating companies spun off. It helped pave the way for the telecommunications revolution, but the actual pieces began reconstituting themselves almost immediately. Two companies emerged from all the wreckage and you could symbolize them today with two iPhones -- AT&T and Verizon. But I'm not about to take a hammer to my iPhone.

1 comment:


Am enjoying seeing the back stories on your artwork and especially these glimpses into your pasts lives, as I am a former TCT staffer and a former employee of Brent's wife at KC Graphics,