What Sunday Feels Like

This is a Sony Trinitron® Color TV model KV-2037RS for sale in Central and South America, released in 1989. It features stereo sound and comes with a supplied remote commander as well as on-screen displays, sleep timer, and dynamic color system. However, it does not feature the additional built-in audio and video jacks present in the KV-19TS20 for sale in the United States of America and Canada. The supplied remote commander model RM-780 allows for muting, timer set, channel control, sleep control, power control, picture adjustment, channel jump, and sound volume control. The sleep timer is a novel feature which allows you to set a time for the television monitor to turn itself off. I was never able to fall asleep to it, but my brother had no problem and was often lulled to sleep by it before it automatically shut off.

You know that moment when you open your eyes and for a split second don’t recognize your surroundings, before you realize it is someone else’s bedroom, a friend’s living room couch, or a hotel room. Where does your mind wander in that short parasomniac moment? The small fear of not knowing what is happening makes us strive towards routines, unending moments of normalcy. But then, the real is often exposed in moments of shock, when the veneer of our reality is pierced and a greater truth is exposed for a split second. What brings us back from our slight panic are the objects that we recognize or fail to recognize; the objects in the room are our comfort. These objects are imbued with a sense of banality, of belonging to the space that we recognized as our own, unaltered by a night’s worth of time.

You can pre-program up to 13 unique terrestrial radio wave channels on the KV-2037RS, although in my case we only had five to choose from and only one that mattered. There was always a slight humming that came from the misaligned radio waves that we could never quite catch. The waves seemed not to float onto the antenna in the right place. Touching it sometimes helped. Truly a magical moment, a miracle. A satisfying electric conduit that I did not question.

This type of interference is referred to as “Dotted lines or stripes” in the KV-19TS20/KV-19TS10/KV-19TR20/KV-19TR10/KV-2037RS/KV-2027R manual 3–751–226–21 (v1) published in 1989 by Sony Corporation and included with all the above models including our KV-2037RS. The phenomena are “often caused by local interference (e.g. cars, neon signs, hairdryers etc.)”. It is recommended to “adjust antenna for minimum interference”. Interestingly, there is no mention of holding the antenna in place by an unfortunate family member, now unable to view the VHF/UH output of 525 NTSC full-color lines of transmission. There is a type of interference which is not listed in the 3–751–226–21 (v1) manual. That is the nostalgic interference caused by almost thirty years difference between the moment of inception of the apparatus and its remembrance.

The KV-2037RS was my Sunday relic. It was dark grey with darker grey buttons. The On-Screen Display (OSD) was a pleasing ocean green rendered in a sans-serif typeface, it displayed the channel information on the top right corner while the bottom left was reserved for the time of day (always powerfully out of sync with real time).

We received the KV-2037RS as a gift from our neighbor, although in retrospect I believe this was actually intended as a temporary loan. My brother had broken his elbow playing football during the summer and had to sit in the miserably warm Caribbean weather with nothing more than a book. Our neighbors who observed this pitiful sight from our bedroom window decided to lend us their extra television set, as we had none.

Once the supplied telescopic dipole antenna had been adjusted, we performed the one-time procedure of presetting all receivable channels. While this one-time setup is meant to be performed one time, as clearly indicated in the 3–751–226–21 (v1) manual, we would ritualistically perform this operation in the hope of intercepting some rogue channel that had yet to be discovered. The procedure of presetting all receivable channels is performed by pressing a specific sequence of buttons on the RM-782 remote commander; ‘CABLE’ so the appropriate mode appears, followed by ‘AUTO PGM’. After which “AUTO PROGRAM” is displayed on the screen and receivable channels are saved in numerical sequence. Yet this would result in no new channels being added, as no new channels existed.

I’ve always thought there was a connection between how little I had and how much I wanted, and that the act of wanting something was an intrinsic part of growing up, wanting to be an adult, wanting a Super Nintendo, or wanting my own room. But the less I want now, the more I realize how full of everything I am. I’m full of memories and associations with products that are ripe for the picking. This is not a new concept, nor a unique feeling, it is not specific to any one generation, or to any one group of people. However, the application of nostalgia to sell us something is always new. Because what we feel nostalgia for shifts between generations. It is not exclusive to things we owned but also to things we desired to own. While some might feel nostalgia towards a 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe with 300 horse power and a 4-speed manual transmission, that is completely irrelevant to others. Perhaps we want buttons on our phones, film in our cameras, or ocean green channel indicators. But the object itself is not what we intrinsically desire. We desire the time and place that they facilitated or promised.

Most Sundays I watched the “Siempre en Domingo” (Always on Sunday), broadcast over Very High Frequency (VHF) 54 to 88 MHz signal to the KV-2037RS’s telescopic dipole antenna. This occurred at a predetermined time on a predetermined day of the week; Sunday. This ritual itself was not meaningful at the time, as many times it didn’t occur via the KV-2037RS but via other such apparatuses, in other neighborhood households. It was as much about the simultaneous participation as it was about the content of the program. It created an invisible bond between me and the others. The unknowns were suspended and replaced with the known, on a maximal communal level. And I’m not nostalgic for having to watch only one channel on a certain time. Clearly having options and flexibility is better. But better is not the point.

The KV-2037RS includes an internal clock. It is not a Real Time Clock (RTC) like the ones soldered on to your computer motherboard. The internal clock on the KV-2037RS is a Radio Controlled Clock (RCC) which should’ve, in principle, automatically synchronized by a time code received via the telescopic dipole antenna. However, that was not the case and the internal clock was often out of sync with our GMT-5 part of the world. The procedure for setting the time of the KV-2037RS is a multi-step, multi-button operation that requires to press the TIMER/BLOCK button on the RM-782 until the OSD displayed a change from “normal page” to “clock page”. The time has to be adjusted by inputting a mandatory “0” ahead of the desired time digits. After this operation is completed, press ENTER on the RM-782. The OSD will wink at you to indicate that the command has been inputted correctly, and the leading 0 will disappear.

It’s difficult to remember what the buttons on the RM-782 feel like; they were a mushy firm plastic. I also can’t recall what the smell of the mirrorblack Trinitron® picture tube emitted when it warmed up and turned on. The Sunday sounds, textures, smells start to softly blend together to form a gestalt of remembrance.