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Film 'California Typewriter' touches on an old tool's new life

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Still from "California Typewriter" documentary trailer.
Via "California Typewriter" trailer

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That's the Boston Typewriter Orchestra. Pretty good rhythm section, right?

It's just one of the many quirky characters and big-name stars in the new documentary "California Typewriter."

The film centers around a shop in Berkeley that's actually named California Typewriter. In existence since 1949, it's a place where a special kind of love and passion exists for what now seems like an ancient way to put words on paper.

Doug Nichol is the director of "California Typewriter." When he spoke to A Martinez, he said this project just was something he was working on, "really for the love of doing it."

The typewriter as a muse

In the age of technology, it's hard to see why something as old fashioned as the typewriter might still have a small, passionate following, but this film offers some insights.

"It's really varied. Some people just love the tactile feeling of writing on it. Obviously some people in the film like Sam Shepard and David McCullough they're older and they've been using it their whole lives to work on.

Other people, younger people, like John Mayer came to it more recently. And then there are people who make music on it. There's a lot of different reasons. Some people are burnt out on the digital world and are going back and just loving to sit there and just have their thoughts and not have a machine whirling but just the quiet feeling of typing."

Making a comeback

It may seem like most of the people highlighted in the documentary are men of a certain age. But Nichol shared there are many from the younger generation that are just as interested in the typewriter.

"The shop (California Typewriter) most of their new customers are kids. So kids are asking their parents for a typewriter. So parents are taking them there, they're sometimes between nine and 14 or 15 years old. And the kids who have grown up touching glass, touching iPhones, iPads, are really finding it fun to actually push a button and see the letter being formed and it's something they did.

And I think they're just enjoying the tactile quality whereas they've grown up without that kind of tactile feeling."

To hear more about the enchanting powers of the typewriter and how artists like John Mayer and the Boston Typewriter Orchestra love them, click the blue play button above.