I was too young for Woodstock, so never got to wallow naked in the mud at Max Yasgur’s farm. By my 18th birthday, the Vietnam War had wound down, so I missed that as well. Not that I’m complaining.
I still don’t know what the heck the Harmonic Convergence was supposed to be, so that wasn’t on my things-to-do list. And I’m too much of a germophobe to have taken part in Hands Across America. No doorman has ever waved me past the rope line at a hot nightspot. But now, for the first time in my life, I suddenly find myself ridding the crest of the zeitgeist; my personal data has been hacked!
Thanks to Equifax, the credit-monitoring giant, I’m one of the 143 million Americans who’ve had their personal data compromised.
Keep in mind I’ve never contacted Equifax for anything.
I never asked Equifax to monitor my credit. I didn’t vote for them. I’ve never visited their website. I’m not even sure what Equifax does. Yet, somehow, Equifax was in possession of my name, address, date of birth, driver’s license number, Social Security number, and for all I know inseam and shoe size, which is 10 if you must know. I mean it’s on the Dark Web now, so what’s the point?
At least two other credit-monitoring companies, Experian and TransUnion, also have my personal information. I didn’t give it to them either. And now, for all I know, my neighbor’s kid might have it, too.
The digital world has seeped into our lives at the granular level. Every click of the mouse, every “Like” on Facebook, every question we ask Alexa or Siri is being swept up by Google or Amazon or the NSA or Ukrainian gangsters. And yet we still keep on clicking away. Now we’ve learned half of us have had our personal Rosetta Stones swiped.
A stolen Social Security number is the 21st-century equivalent of having your horse taken out from underneath you in the 19th century. They used to hang horse thieves.
Anybody got a rope?
Of course, there is a fix. We’re told we have to freeze our credit. To do that we must go back online and give more people we’ve never met and will never meet our personal data, including our compromised Social Security numbers, with the promise they’ll keep us safe from the nefarious evildoers that can get their mitts on everything except Hillary’s 33,000 deleted emails and Trump’s tax returns.
The Equifax hack is just the latest in a long string of major security lapses that have allowed hackers to penetrate the firewalls at companies large and small, including the FBI and CIA! It’s just a matter of time before somebody somewhere figures out how to empty all our bank accounts while we sleep. Wells Fargo customers have already had a taste.
What’s a fellow to do?
Well, this fellow hauled his two ancient manual typewriters out of storage and drove them Star Typewriters on Westwood Boulevard, and delivered them into the caring hands of Helmut Schulze, the Jonas Salk of Selectrics.
Schulze repairs and restores old-fashioned, decidedly analog typewriters. Yes, that’s a thing. And it’s a making a comeback.
Fueled by the success of “California Typewriter,” a feature documentary about a struggling typewriter repair shop in Oakland, Helmut Schulze’s West L.A. repair shop is experiencing a sudden revival.
“Did you see the movie?” asked Schulze as I heaved my 50-pound 1940s vintage Royal onto his glass counter top. “Yes!” I said having just come from an Encino screening.
Staring typewriter junkies Tom Hanks, John Mayer, historian David McCullough and the late Sam Shepard, “California Typewriter” is director Doug Nichol’s rebuttal to Equifax, Amazon’s Echo and that irritating spinning wheel that means your router stopped routing.
Like the resurgence of vinyl records and the uptick in book sales, the typewriter revival may prove to be only a blip, a passing fancy destined to fade as quickly as it arrived. Still, as the digital world sinks its seductive hooks deeper and deeper into our DNA, the rhythmic heart beat of a clacking Smith-Corona and the sweet pinging bell of the carriage return on my 40-year-old Olivetti Lettera 32 might just be the clarion call to a more sustainable, hack-resistant pre-Equifax way of life.
Doug McIntyre’s column appears Sundays. Hear him weekdays 5-10 a.m. on KABC-790 (AM). He can be reached at: Doug@DougMcIntyre.com.