The Awards Shelf

It’s in a recording studio in a corner of the building that isn’t used very much.  A reel-to-reel machine still sits there with its editing block where you’d cut out slices of audio tape with a razor blade. It hasn’t been used in close to 20 years. Behind that are the awards.

My daughter found them — waiting for a ride home — as I was  checking something on the computer because she looked into a space it never occurred to me to look.

When I came to KPBS we were still using those tape machines and I’m sure I’ve seen some of these awards before, when they were kept in a more prominent place. The Golden Mic Awards are on the top shelf. Some of the mics (they are golden) have  fallen off the tops of the trophies. Emmy’s dating back to 1978 are also falling apart, the plaques that name the winning entry had come off after the glue dried up.

They honor stories about important issues of the time and we gave each other awards for doing them. But memories fade and awards get old and fall apart, and I guess we eventually wonder why we thought they were such a big deal. The subjects seem to be the same ones we talk about today.

It reminds me of old cemeteries and the forgotten people they speak about. I remember seeing a cemetery in East London that the owners left to the elements. Grave stones had  fallen over and wild plants were consuming the grounds, making a true symbol of death and rebirth and mocking the conceit that we can enshrine a life that has passed like millions of others.

For dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return.

I don’t know how long those awards will stay on those shelves, though I imagine they will stay there until the next building renovation when someone will find them, like I did, and finally decide they need to go to the landfill. Until then they will deteriorate, nature will follow its course and we will see what becomes of our pride.



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