Friday, June 22, 2012

Return of Alexander the Great

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — He’s back.
But you might not recognize him at first.
Inside, grandson Alexander the Great is the same bon vivant who helped me cover the weekend A&E beat from ages 3 to 10.
He’s always been a good sport, admiring budding artists and musicians at openings, graciously sharing an impromptu dance at a downtown street festival, curiously sampling the kids’ instrument petting zoo at the symphony, and even gratefully accepting Lonnie Klein’s baton to conduct the orchestra for a moment.
As a tot, he was never shy about greeting his fans … or recruiting new ones: “Hi, I’m Alexander the Great. You may know me from such Las Cruces Style columns as …”
Now he’s a wise, well-traveled 15, topping 6 feet, and a bit more subtle about engaging his fan base, but still too cool for school … or high school, at least. If all goes well, he hopes to start college this fall in the Pacific Northwest, finishing up the first two years toward an audio engineering degree by the time he’s 17.
Maybe it’s something in the water in the state where Bill Gates — and Alex — were born, where tots design their first websites in nursery school. By the time Alex moved here at age 3, he was already a computer whiz, educating his grandmother on everything from computer games to online research and design.
That trend has continued. While I try to convince myself that I’m ahead of my peer curve on Twitter and the social networking front, as soon as Alex hit town, I realized I am barely leaving the Jurassic exit on the information superhighway.
He’s been keeping up his on-line composition repertoire on Soundcloud. As his grandmother, ahem, I understand the seminal influences in his budding career, but you don’t have to know the artist to have fun at (I’m particularly partial to “Ocean,” and “4clubber-vs-bassnectar,” plus “Lavender City,” which features a guest chirp shout-out from Pikachu, the fierce yet cuddly little dude that was my favorite of his Pokéman buddies in his wild youth.)
Within a few days, he’s coaxed my relatively-new-but-neglected home MacBook into whole new worlds, setting up Skype for his college admission interview, thrilling my barely-touched GarageBand with exciting new sounds, all the while, skillfully and unobtrusively texting and sharing photos and audio with his parents and friends back in the Pacific Northwest and his cousins in Las Cruces.
(Three minutes after I made the decision to stop at the Mesilla Valley Mall and mere seconds after I picked an entrance, there were his cousins and their friends, greeting us. I’m still not sure how they pulled that one off. )
He’s almost talked me into chucking my Neanderthal cell phone and smartening up. Yes, I’ve been impressed by watching friends and colleagues around the office, but I’ve mainly thought of androids and iPhones as a mandate to sacrifice the last remnants of privacy and extend my work responsibilities into a relentless 24/7 siege.
Alex is showing me how the iPhone can be our benevolent friend, streamlining a variety of tasks and enhancing the quality of our everyday lives. He asked for my favorite song at dinner the other night, and I was pretty sure I could stump him with a melody that’s even before my time. Soon the dining room of my semi-adobe abode was filled with the poignant World War II ballad, “Long Ago and Far Away,” and he’d chosen a lush version by Johnny Mathis that I’d never heard before.
He’s at a life stage when most of his time is shared, appropriately, with his peers, but we’ve found a lot of common ground, sharing fond memories of our shared six years in the 20th century and current and projected decades of hopes and visions for the 21st. We’ve been amigos for a very long time, parts of two centuries already.
Times change, forms pass away. Kids grow up and grandmas get older … and discover there can be a timeless constant in love, life’s adventures and soul’s substance.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at (575) 541-5450. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.

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