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Two Times Writers, Two New TVs, One Idea

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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KILL YOUR TV Rakoff Buying a television after living for years without one—the subject of William Hamilton's Week in Review section essay in Sunday's New York Times—may strike some readers as a novel experience. But for David Rakoff, it was more a case of déjà vu. In July 1999, Rakoff published a similar piece in Times's Sunday magazine, describing what it was like to reenter the pop-cultural mainstream after missing out on mass-market phenomenons like Seinfeld and Friends. (For his part, Hamilton was surprised to discover how much C.S.I. there is on TV in 2006.)

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So what does Hamilton have to look forward to as a born-again viewer? Radar called Rakoff to find out about his life with television, only to be disappointed. "I don't even really watch TV anymore," he reports. "I've got a little TV set with the VCR attached that stays in the closet. I dragged it out the other night to watch A Star Is Born with Judy Garland, but I de facto don't have one."

Rakoff is quick to note that his failure to become addicted is not due to any virtue on his part. "I'm sure if I had cable I'd develop the habit in one minute. Or if I had one of those lovely flat-screen ones you can hang like a painting—that would be the end of my life." That bodes ill for Hamilton, who did purchase "one of those lovely flat-screen ones"—specifically, a 40-inch Sony Bravia XBR LCD with high-definition and a 150-channel cable package.

"I actually like my lifestyle without cable," adds Rakoff, who called during intermission from a Woody Allen film marathon. "It's odd to say, but you can recuse yourself from a lot of conversations you don't necessarily want to be in."

Hope you kept the receipt, Bill.

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