My iPod was acting up last night (the brand new one): it refused to charge. With some rather long flights coming up in the near future, I panicked for a second. Ah, but I'm in New York. There's an Apple Store in town! No, there's two! Having logged onto Apple.com and made a service request appointment (self-effacingly called "Apple Concierge" and at the store itself, "The Genius Bar"), I showed up at the swank Apple store on Fifth Avenue (can any store on Fifth Avenue not be preceded by the adjective "swank?"), caddy corner from Central Park, about half an hour late. The store itself is underground, beneath the CBS offices, and one enters through a large transparent glass cube with the Apple logo suspended in midair within.
Inside there are banks and banks of iMacs and iPods and Macbooks and an army of young, hip salespeople, all in identical black tees, with the signature Apple badge -- which just happens to look like a sleek little Nano -- suspended from their necks. Vast crowds buzzing about and a tremendous din rising up through the transparent cube to be joined to the midafternoon Manhattan din outside.
For a brief second I thought I'd stepped into a benign version of some archvillain's laboratory straight out of James Bond, with black Apple tees instead of white labcoats.
Everything was Apple minimalist -- vast swathes of whitespace, broad slabs of solid, simple color. And any moment the host of shoppers would start gyrating to the music of the ears. Their ears. The sounds being piped into their brains from their gadgets, simultaneously but hardly in-sync, each in her own bubble of completely customized, self-expressive sound, hermetically sealed from her neighbor. Sleek. Chic. Hip. Young. The store screams youth.
The opening prayer from last week's Mass (for the Third Sunday of Easter) asks that we look forward with hope to our resurrection, for God has "restored the joy of our youth." These are based on the words of Psalm 42(43). Indeed, this is how the old Mass started out (as the celebrant reminded us last Sunday): Introibo ad altare dei, qui laetificat iuventutum meam. "I will go in to the altar of God: to God who giveth joy to my youth." (Douay-Rheims)
The joy of our youth. Neatly shrink-wrapped and branded. By an Apple.
My iPod was fine. It wasn't getting any juice from the laptop's USB port. I was persuaded to part with dollars to get a USB wall charger.