The Jukebox Doctor (The Atlantic, 2015)

This is a piece I produced and directed that ran in The Atlantic, May 2015

 

Walking in to Perry Rosen’s garage in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn can feel a little bit like going back in time. About a half dozen antique jukeboxes line the walls, and there’s stacks of pre-digital gadgetry on every shelf and workbench in the room–old-fashioned gizmos with springs and motors, dusty gearboxes and rust-covered panels with missing fuses. There’s not a motherboard or a computer chip in sight.
When Perry Rosen began fixing old jukeboxes in the 1970’s, it was a hobby— he mostly repaired TV sets and telephones at the time. By 1998, it had become a career, and now he’s one of the few people in the United States who does it full time.
When he first entered the business, most service calls were to bars and restaurants, but these days, jukeboxes are generally found in the homes of private collectors. A majority of his clientele are baby-boomers, who, like Rosen, are drawn to the machines for their nostalgic appeal.
“There was always something for nostalgia that’s been in my DNA,” says Rosen, who remembers being fascinated by an antique telephone he found in his kindergarten class in the 1960s. That appreciation for antique machinery extends to old cars, pinball machines and television sets as well, but it’s clear from the three jukeboxes he proudly displays in his living room that these machines are his primary obsession.
However, despite this passion– he can talk about jukeboxes for hours on end—there’s one thing about these machines he’s never been so crazy about.
When asked if he’s a music lover, Rosen responds simply:
“No–I’m a mechanic.”