Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Fooling burglars with turntables

WFMU's Beware of the Blog has made available for download a 1972 LP, Play It Safe! Vol. 4. It's a recording of a man and woman talking, to be played over and over to fool would-be burglars into thinking that someone is home in an empty house. The record came with a set of "special reusable ties" with which to rig various turntables and let the record repeat.

Here's a sample of the conversation, silly enough to make me think that someone -- either the actors or a writer -- was having fun with this assignment. The woman (no doubt a "wife") has been trying to persuade the man (no doubt a "husband") to buy some new clothes:

She: Why not go out and get some nice clothes for the nice frame?

He: What, that funny stuff they're makin' now?

She: It's not all funny.

He: Well, it looks funny to me.

She: What's funny about it?

He: Well, they take -- they take some of the older stuff and they jazz it up too much, you know? Too many pockets on stuff now.

She: I can take pockets off.

He: Either that or they don't put any pockets at all.

She: I can put pockets on.

He: Well, what's the sense of that?

She: Well, if you need it.

He: Oh, I'll tell you what -- the ones I buy with pockets, you take them off . . .

She: [Laughs.] I'll save the pockets . . .

He: . . . and you put 'em on the ones that don't have them.

She: . . . and put 'em on the ones you don't want, right.

He: That makes a lot of sense, you know? That makes as much sense as my going out shopping for myself.

She: I'll go with you!

He: That's worse.
Thinking about this LP reminds me of a brief episode from my days as an apartment-dwelling graduate student in Boston. A young couple -- they seemed to be recent immigrants -- moved into the first-floor apartment below me. They both worked all day, and they must have feared burglars, because every day, for perhaps a week or more, they left a 45 of Kool and the Gang's "Joanna" playing on a turntable, from early morning to early evening. I'd leave my apartment, come back hours later, and the song would still be playing, same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was:
Joanna, I love you.
You're the one,
The one for me.
After a couple of weeks, this couple (and Kool, and the Gang) disappeared. When I'm in a supermarket and hear this song playing over cheap speakers, my memory can still supply the bass line, same as it ever was.
Play It Safe! Vol. 4 (WFMU's Beware of the Blog, via Boing Boing)

comments: 3

flygirl said...

This reminds me of Sebastian Speaks, the guard dog LP featuring a savage German Shepherd on the cover:

The liner notes advise if you live in an apartment to play the record at 45rpm to create the effect of a smaller dog. Arf!


Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for visiting, Dianna. (Or Ian?)

A 45! -- that would've been perfect for my old neighbors.

I remember something similar from an episode of All in the Family -- not a record but an electronic gadget that barked.

Nyssa23 said...

That is brilliant. I'm going to have to download it now just to hear what it sounds like!