Apr 5, 2005

the 79th cool thing about getting older

Went on another CD buying binge today. There was a time when I knew my music. I lived in the Bay Area and I'd make my weekly trek to Berkeley and make a pit stop at Mod Lang. Mike was my guy. He ran Slumberland records. He was a pit bull of a music afficianado. First time I ever asked him what I should buy he snaps, "haven't a clue". I asked him what he was listening to, "nothing...I hate music". I knew instantly this guy would be my doorway to (using his terminology) some 'good shit'. He listened to everything and had heard everything. While he mildly pushed his Slumberland presses onto me, he also introduced me to bands I would never have heard. This is the guy who firmly pressed the first Radiohead album, the day it was released, into my hands muttering, 'this is the shit'.

Eventually Mike was unneccesary. I knew what was hot. I knew the avenues to quickly find what was precious and what was simply hot right now. Typically it came down to labels. Mo'Wax, NinjaTune, Warp, Pure were the newly formed up and comers back then. Labels had a theme so you could actually buy pretty much anything that came out and like what you purchased. After 1 or 2 years you had to dump those labels and find the next ones. It was exhausting work. You waited for the day you could tell someone "I hate music". Because while you had a passion for music you also got a buzz off of the fact that pretty no one else but you actually knew this music existed. I picked this up in high school when I simply couldn't listen to anything the majority of people listened to (REO Speedwagon, Journey, Foreigner, etc.) because you simply didn't want to be anything like them. Then you'd take it a step further. You'd try to be into music that your smaller subset of alternative listening buddies didn't know. It was a status seeking pursuit. "Oh yea I used to listen to [insert obscure band] 3 years ago".

It was fucking exhausting. Not to mention expensive. It's not endemic to music. You see people doing it with things like iPods, jeans, stock picks, books, cars, etc. And now I sit here looking at these 9 albums I'm buying and I know they are one degree east of being hip. They are has-beens in the world of cutting edge music. You can spot them a mile away on Amazon because the negative reviews sound awfully like crap you used to spew when someone told you they were listening to Shriekback back in '86. I know a few people who if I tell them I bought these albums will look at me like some kind of nancy boy. I don't really hang around these people for obvious reasons. But frankly I don't care any more. I'm not sure when that happened. I wear Rockport's when I walk to work for chrissakes. Next thing you'll know I'll be driving a mini-van and wearing sweat pants advertising to the world that I've given up. It's a nice feeling to just be able to buy these albums and not care what any one is going to think. At 36 these things come easy to me now. No one looks up to you at 36. Teenage girls definitely do not check me out anymore. My friends like me for things other than my 'unique' factor. I just kind of enjoy life a little more freely. This is good. And so I'll go listen to my over the hill The Decemberists album and like it. It compensates for the fact that my knees are starting to give out.

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