Thursday, July 30, 2009

CD Collections, Already Dead? Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Do the Denial Shake

We can all agree that thanks to iTunes, iPods, and CDRS , our old CD libraries have become completely irrelevant. Fact: No one needs cds anymore. At least that is what I’m currently trying to tell myself. I’ve done something today that is forcing me to falsely embrace this mantra. You see, thanks to my recent actions I’m currently in a state of denial.

Today was the day I decided to take my once untouchable CDs to SecondSpin to trade in for cash. As it already stands my extensive cd collection had already been whittled down to just the bare bones of a music aficionados life blood Long ago I convinced myself that I could part ways with most of my cds after copying them over to my external hard drive…and from there another external hard drive.Yes, two hard drives are a bit excessive but I couldn’t live with myself if I lost all of those mp3s. Finally feeling secure about the backups I was freed to sell back these old cds to Second Spin (for more cds) that I had no emotional attachment to.

So long “…And You Will Know Us From the Trail of the Dead”. We had some good times “Franz Ferdinand”. Hate to see you go, but I love to watch you leave “Rilo Kiley”. Even though I had all of my music (117 gigs) backed up on MULTIPLE hard drives I could never bring myself to sell back certain cds, even if they hadn’t seen the light of a CD player laser since Clinton was in office.

Nevertheless I wanted cash for a new bike so I convinced myself it was time to clean house. I grabbed the remnants of a once proud collection and headed over to SecondSpin. Stepping into the store I felt a bit panicked. As I watched the salesclerk examine each cd for scratches I found my cds taking on a life of their own, making desperate last minute pleas with me. Elvis Costello’s Greatest Hits tried playing the whole “We look alike! Don’t do this” card. I didn’t bite. The Who’s Tommy looked at me as if I murdered Keith Moon and said “If I knew this was going to happen I would have joined Quadrophenia in the trunk of the Prius, all scratched up. At least those discs died with some dignity!The BeatlesThe White Album” looked at me incredulously as if to say “Um, HELLOOO I’m the White Album. You’re joking right?” Afraid not lads. That decision triggered something in me. I was frightened. I realized if I could hand over an album like The White Album for $9 I was capable of truly horrific things.

Years of memories and emotions came flooding in as I watched the register put prices on pieces of my life. These cds with their album art, their cd silk screen, and their cases each with their unique cracks all have specific stories that wouldn’t make sense to their new owners. They’d be lost on everyone but me. How could I abandon them and how could they love anyone else. I was the Daniel Plainview of SecondSpin. At that point I knew what it felt like to give up a child for adoption. True, it wasn’t hard to say goodbye to Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Sure they hold a special place in my heart, but it’s more for novelty’s sake…like the time I hooked up with that wonky eyed fat girl with the onion breath. It was a great story and everyone had a good laugh but nothing inspiring came of it. The same cannot be said for The Flaming Lips’ The Soft Bulletin…which I turned in for a measly $2. This was an album that re-introduced me to a band that I once thought was a one hit wonder. As it would turn out, I was reacquainted with a band that blew away their “She Don’t Use Jelly” one hit wonder label and this album would become the Pet Sounds of the late 90’s.

Some cds were too scratched up to be returned, others were not returnable as the store’s inventory was already at full capacity and each time I feigned indignation at these “slights”. In reality I was celebrating the salesclerk’s overly judgmental eye. Radiohead’s The Bends was rejected due to cd laser burning from overplaying that I immediately could translate back to when I first got the cd and I played it at least 1000 times in my old “top of the line” Sony cd walkman ( “Look it even comes with a wired remote!” ). That disc was my introduction to Radiohead outside of “Creep”. Even if it was scratch free I’m not sure $3 would be worth kissing goodbye the memory of riding in the backseat of a car studying the liner lyrics to “Black Star” till my eyes hurt.

The parting pains for Interpol, The Raconteurs, and Sigur Ros were there, but not nearly as bad as what I would see waiting for me at the bottom of the return pile: Beck’s Sea Change. Dare I part ways with Beck Hansen’s ode to breakup? What would I look to when I too suffered from crushing personal loss or heartbreak? Hearing it on my iPod simply would not do the trick. This album has always had a strong hold over me and I couldn’t bring myself to part ways with it. I hoped, no PRAYED that it would fail the scratch inspection. It didn’t. Of Course. As I inched closer to see what the return would net the salesclerk compassionately responded “Are you sure you’d like to return this?” I feebly responded with “Um…only if it’s more than $2”. As soon as I got $2 out of my mouth the register responded with, rather curtly I might add, a return price of $2.50. It surely heard me and now was testing my resolve. We both sat there string at Beck’s face, for what seemed like forever until I finally snatched the cd off the counter and said “I’ll keep it I need something to listen to on the way home”. Luckily the salesclerk was unaware that I easily have 80+ ripped cds in my car. It didn’t matter.

To me, nothing would feel more perfect to me than listening to “Already Dead” as I drove home with the dirtiest feeling $80 that I’ve ever put in my wallet. As I sit here looking at my return receipt taunting me like a long paper snake of lament part of me wants to drive back to the store and explain to “Brett” and his hipster moustache that I made a huge mistake. He could keep Maladroit and Chulahoma but not Icky Thump. Surely he’d made mistakes in the past hadn’t he? Could he not understand? Had he no regrets? I feel like Jason Robards in Magnolia pontificating about the pains of our actions. This is the regret that you make. He had nurse Phillip Seymour Hoffman to voice his regrets to. Now all I have is Beck.

So stupid, that fucking mind! Stupid! Jesus Christ! What would I think, did I think for what I’d done?”Earl Patridge (Magnolia)

Already dead to me now”
‘Coz it feels like I’m watching something die”
Beck Hanson (Already Dead)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Taming of the Screw: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Pain on Wheels.

After biking for six miles on my newly purchased from craigslist bike I give you:

The Top Ten Reasons Why I Hate My Fucking Bike (Letterman Style)

10: There’s no kickstand. You’d think I’d have noticed this during the craigslist wooing face of the transaction…but I was quite hungover.

9: The paint job. The seller couldn’t tell me how old the bike was but because of its super sweet “EXTREME” paint job I can easily carbon date it back to the early to mid 90s.

8) Thanks to the seat my ass needs a rape kit.

7) The peddles are like bear traps for your feet. Sharp, metallic, and blood thirsty.

6) If i stop peddling the gears magically change on their own. They either suck or I’m the proud owner of an automatic transmission.

5) There looked to have been some sort of insect colony in the back reflector hole. Which leads me to wonder where they are now?…and what are they waiting for. Perhaps they are the ones who are changing the gears.

4) The back tire appears to be bent, initially something that neither I, the Horatio Caine of Bike Investigation, nor my roommate noticed. After learning of it I didn’t think it would be too big of a deal as the bend in the rim was barely noticeable but…..

3) it is just enough to cause the back brakes to not brake. Now on the hills of Santa Monica I get to play a little game w/ cars that I like to call “Are you going to honor your stop signs?”. A funny and easy game w/ only two outcomes.

2) The bike is named “MTN TAMER”. The only way it could be more gay is if i had a Hello Kitty basket on the handle bars

1) and the #1 reason why I hate my bike is my roommate bought a borderline brand new beach cruiser w/ a kick ass lock for $50 I.E. the same price I paid for my deathtrap on wheels (sans lock….brakes…….and kickstand.)

Lesson Learned: Do not test ride bikes in sketcky venice alleys when you’re super hungover.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Beat It: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love...No Seriously, Hit the Road!

As I hear countless stories of idiots hitting the internet attempting to pay obscene amounts of money to celebrate the life and times of Michael Jackson today I can't help but question their sanity. Do you REALLY want to hang out with hardcore Michael Jackson fans? They are a scary lot. STAY AWAY from downtown LA today! I'm picturing the tailgate @ a Jimmy Buffet concert w/ less drinking, more leather and NAMBLA members, and just about the same amount of tears. I thought I couldn't be more disgusted w/ the coverage of this nonsense till I heard Stacy Brown, Jackson's biographer, say "This is going to be Princess Diana's funeral times 20. Michael Jackson was Elvis and The Beatles rolled into one!". People paying into this feeding frenzy and treating it as some sort of cultural watershed moment that needs to be ranked makes me sick. Mind you if it were somehow possible for me to go see a reunited Beatles w/ a Zombie Lennon and a Zombie Harrison ripping through Helter Skelter I'd be be hitting eBay w/ the quickness. Lucky for me I don't live in a glass house.

The only plus about all of this nonsense is that because of the MJ hype I came across ear gold! After the news broke people began writing up countless tributes to MJ. Desperate to be heard in a sea of mourners they needed to guarantee traffic to their little sites....and what better way than to add a remix or a cover version of one of Jackson's songs . After hitting The Hype* and sifting through some crappy remixes I came across an amazing auto tuned enhanced cover version of "I Want You Back". As it turns out it was done by Discovery, a side project for Vampire Weekend keyboardist and producer Rostam Batmanglij and Ra Ra Riot lead singer Wes Miles. These geniuses, whose album releases TODAY of all days, must have been in cahoots w/ MJ's doctor for months as the cover was announced back all the way on May 20th. That can't be a coincidence. Let the conspiracy theories begin. That's right, I said it, MURDER. I'll send this theory to my ex-girlfriend who doesn't believe that astronauts landed on the moon. Plant the crazy seed in some fertile soil and let her run with it.

Along with the autotuned cover of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back, The album features guest vocals from Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig and Dirty Projectors' Angel Deradoorian.

*The Hype Machine is an MP3 blog aggregator. It's pretty much the best site for experiencing new music...once you get past the countless remixes of MGMT's "Kids". Enough already, people!
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