Saturday, June 25, 2005


It is the advent of increasingly more compact and digital recording formats that has damaged the music industry most. You can't copy an LP record, but tapes, CDs and now MP3 formats are easily reproduced, and it's the artists who suffer. This is what I told myself as I headed to the local record shop to trade in three more selections from my CD collection for fast cash. I don't like CDs, and I only have about five of them left, but the three I just sold were particular favourites, and I kinda wish I hadn't let them go. I have them transferred to cassette, but the mind still clings...

I needed money to feed my collecting habit. Over the years I've had numerous preoccupations, the most prominent of them being vintage toys and comic books. In childhood I collected stamps, bottle caps, marbles, stickers, license plate numbers, and ants. My friend and I had a game where we competed to claim the ant colonies we came across in the name of our personal insect armies. Since we didn't keep any formal record of whose ant colonies were whose, it was a somewhat chaotic game, full of disputes and disagreements.

Being nomadic these past few years has made it difficult to keep my collections intact (except for the ants, who take care of themselves). I've had to sell off many items, keeping a few token representations from each category of treasure. It's probably better that way; no need to multiply frivolity to excess. But something in the collector's mentality reaches towards an ever-receding horizon, a fantasy of completeness that agonizes over minor variations and trivial minutae.

LP records are the latest, and perhaps most excellent of my collections. Excellent because music, unlike G.I.Joes or Transformers, has a wide, humanistic appeal; because LPs contain the most acoustic information out of all the recording formats; because vinyl LPs are perhaps the best justification for why the dinosaurs had to die; because unlike comic books or fridge magnets, you can dance to them.

And they're going cheap! With the eight dollars I garnered from my three CD liquidation, I bought twelve records and a book about Stone Henge. I traded in Dr. Flavour's Christmas gift (which I dearly loved), but got a record of strange, psychedelic bagpipe jazz (the riff from one of the songs sounds like the theme to Star Wars, though the album predates the movie by some five years), some old Johnny Cash, Herbie Hancock, the Stones, Talking Heads and a very odd recording of Hungarian Wildlife Sounds.


Maybe it was and maybe it wasn't a very good trade. I'm addicted, it seems, to seeking out new sounds, and my compulsion--as in skateboarding--occasionally overrides more reasonable impulses. But while defunct CDs serve, at best, as coasters, I can always turn any dud records into attractive candy bowls.

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