Sunday, March 24, 2013

Don't Disappoint Us Now

Shame inevitably floods my face when I am reminded of the time I was at the remarkable Ooze Records off of Burnside In SW Portland with Jeff during some random escape from school during the spring term of 1990. Sometimes we would take the two hour bus trek from Forest Grove into Portland just to find some sense of civilization despite our lack of money and the dreaded four hour round trip journey. It was on this particular day, when I was flipping through the strange dangling red rack filled with CD covers representing their stock. This was when there were actually record stores and when those record stores mainly displayed vinyl, while the CDs were often kept behind the counter to prevent shoplifting. Yes, CDs were still that strange and special. At any rate, when I reached the J’s, I ran across a Goddamn import copy of Factory Records’ first posthumous Joy Division release Still actually and finally on CD! It had not previously been available on CD at all. All I had was a terrible used copy of the double LP, and yet, here it was all pretty and shiny and new for only $20! My heart began to race, I started to shake, and sweat spread across my forehead, because I only had $10 on me and really no hope of getting my hands on any money in the near future. My thoughts became frantic in an unhealthy way, where I became certain that this was indeed the only copy of this collection that I would ever find on this resilient format (which, of course, would be forever). I held the cover in my hand and tapped Jeff on the shoulder with it. He responded with a ‘too bad it is $20’ shrug and a look of concern for my health – maybe wondering if I was having a stroke or a heart attack. I wandered over to the girl, who I think owned the store, or was at least always there, and inquired about the possibility of laying it away like some piece of expensive furniture at a department store. Maybe I was going to sell myself on the street for some extra scratch just so I could get that damn CD (of which I already owned almost every song on CD from the Substance compilation released in 1988!!!). She smiled at me incredulously, and appropriately didn’t respond with anything more than a negative nod. Sadly, I had to return the cover to its place on the rack and hurry back to the bus before our transfers expired, with no hope of securing that CD any time in the near future.

What’s sadder is that I did make it back eventually and purchased that CD early in the summer of ’90, when I then ran across The Go-Betweens’ second album Before Hollywood on CD for the first time and up to that point I had only read about its amazing delicacies previously, so it was especially needed. The entire breakdown happened all over again. Luckily, this time, I had been working my summer job and was able to afford the second expensive disc.

Is this a sign of simple rampant consumerism? Is this a case of a spoiled kid who never grew past the stage of believing that all of my wants need to be taken care of immediately, or else a tantrum will be thrown? Well, yes, but I am not that way with anything else in my life and I don’t really understand any of it. Much of the time, when I think about it, I try to get rid of stuff. I know my tendency to collect “things” that I love, so I try not to do that – except with music.

For the last year or more, I’ve been questioning my motivations behind almost everything that I do. These little queries have reared their ugly heads on this blog before - going back to the previous unfocused malaise entry from January (seen here: 100 Resolutions) and as long ago as January of 2012 (seen here: This is Our Emergency) and yet I still find myself pretty lost as to why I do what I do. Maybe it’s my middle age crisis happening for the umpteenth time. Why do I write and feel compelled to share what I write? Why do I have more in common with people with illicit addictions, when it comes to music, than I would ever really want to believe?

When it comes to music, people often assume that I am a musician, when they learn of my passion for it. This is so far from reality that it’s laughable. I have not been blessed with any kind of aptitude. I have tried to play different instruments half-heartedly over the years and have taken a stab at writing song lyrics, but it has always been terrible at best. So, in my little way, I have tried to be the best audience member I can be. I try to support the artists I appreciate by actually buying their music (often directly from the source), attending shows when they come through town, by sharing their music with friends via mix tapes and CDs. In fact, I still do these things.

When I started college, the aforementioned Jeff and I forced our way into a twice weekly radio show on the campus station: KPUR 94.5 FM (“Music with Imagination”) and quickly station management. Though we only had a few listeners each week, we had incredible fun until our enthusiasm petered out come spring time. Fortunately, or unfortunately, a few tapes that were recorded by our friend Marcy still exist today, though we cannot seem to pay anyone to bear to listen to these historical artifacts (most of our friends are too smart, I suppose).

When I left school, Wil and I started our This Wreckage fanzine, allowing me to write about music in an attempt to get involved with music, until that excitement and freshness wore off under the realization that most people don’t have time to pay attention to such nonsense (though I still carry on my meager music musings in this blog with old favorite album pieces and year end best of lists).

Then, it was back to school in Seattle, where I learned about sound engineering, before getting derailed by health issues.

The next step was to start a record label! With no money or any real idea of how to do it, Ox and I found ourselves trying to manufacture, promote and distribute a vinyl single by the magical Buddha on the Moon (find the music here: bandcamp or here: discogs).

Then after years of dormancy, we set out again down the path of “record label” and financed a release by the under heard UK band Decoration (found here: cdbaby or discogs), as well as starting up a fledgling online music retail store under the same name as the label, before the expense and effort became too much to be able to maintain along with full time jobs.

As each of these attempts at getting involved with music have come and gone, I find that, though I’m proud of each experience, had a lot of fun, and do not regret any of it – except not returning to pursue the sound engineering education I had started - none of it really has placed me where I would like to be. Maybe it’s because what I enjoy doing and what I do to make a living never seem to intersect. Maybe I am simply using my love of music to fill in some gaping holes in my life which need to be addressed. Whatever the case may be, I will continue searching and continue to find solace in the music, because that is what seems to make my world go round.