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article imageMr. Media Radio: Anna Jane Grossman, Obsolete: An Encyclopedia Special

By Bob Andelman     Sep 2, 2009 in Technology
As I’m saying this, I can’t help wondering if, by the time you hear this, I won’t be obsolete.
Think I’m kidding? I’m not.
In her new book, Obsolete: An Encyclopedia of Once-Common Things Passing Us By, Anna Jane Grossman reels off a stunning list of devices, equipment and habits that were once everywhere and now are nowhere. This would include body hair, the evening news, long distance charges, housewives, lickable stamps, short basketball shorts and even slide projectors.
AUDIO EXCERPT: "I've written a lot for newspapers and magazines and I certainly worry about them becoming obsolete... In the book everything is written in the past tense. I had a hard time convincing the publisher that it was okay to write about books in the past tense."
The disposable society now comes with an encyclopedia—at least it’s an alphabetical look to the past—and its chief historian is Anna Jane Grossman.
Obsolete​ contains essays and entries on more than 100 alphabetized fading subjects, including Blind Dates, Mix Tapes, Getting Lost, Magazines, Looking Old, Operators, Camera Film, Hitchhiking, Body Hair, Writing Letters, Basketball Players in Short Shorts, Privacy, Cash, and, yes, Books. This ode to obsolescence also includes 25 quirky pen-and-ink line illustrations to further help us remember exactly what we’re missing.​
Grossman is a New York–based freelance writer specializing in lifestyle and arts and entertainment features. Her work has appeared in dozens of publications, including the ​New York Times, Washington Post, Elle, New York Magazine, Marie Claire, Fortune​,,, and the Associated Press.
You can LISTEN to this interview with ANNA JANE GROSSMAN, author of OBSOLETE: An Encyclopedia of Once-Common Things Passing Us By, by clicking the audio player above!
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