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Let The Great Experiment Begin: Music Condoms!

Written by Nick Leitzke

We take many things in life for granted. An endless supply of essentials seems to surround us. We will never deplete the resources that are necessary for our survival, and we can live our lives knowing that everything is in the black. My car is always on a full tank of gas. My bank account is always ready to accommodate my rent. Starbucks will never run out of freshly brewed coffee. These are a given. The very notion that any of these resources will run out is absurd, because we sit on an endless reserve of everything. This is America where plenty is an entitlement. Don’t ask me about emergency plans because people who speak American don’t have “emergency” in their vocabulary.

But the necessary things never last. I will eventually have to break down and fill my tank. I will have to check my online statement to make sure my balance is roughly where it was last month. There will be that one busy day where the line is out the door and I might have to wait four minutes for a fresh cup. Exhaustion of any or all three of these things will derail a good day. Lack of plenty – that is the one thing Americans refuse to accept. The day a lack of plenty hits America is the day the Earth stops spinning on its axis. (But isn’t there a recession going on? Shhh-shut up!)

Then there are the things I know I can’t live without. Recently I made a discovery that turned my world upside down. I am the kind of music collector who treats his collection like a collection. Any real comic book connoisseur will house his collection in plastic sleeves with proper cardboard backing to preserve the newsprint and the spine. The same is true of a music collector. Stick those records in plastic sleeves if you have a shred of decency inside you. Is that CD in a cardboard digipack rather than a plastic case? Get yourself some CD-size sleeves and protect that thing, you unruly savage. Preserving the collection ought to be priority one for the collector. Before that album goes on the shelf, make sure you have it taped shut and safe from the elements.

Crisis struck when I ran out of record sleeves. Every time I bought a new record I took another sleeve from the pack, well aware they would run out one day. I had no need to worry, though. This is America where nothing runs out. Records stack easily, as long as you stack them upright to maintain their integrity. The day arrived when I pulled the last sleeve from the pack, and I didn’t worry too much. Just stack them next to the player so they’re already in grabbing distance. The stack is growing larger? We’ll get more sleeves eventually. Don’t worry.

Denial is the real American virtue. The scope of the crisis didn’t fully hit me until two weeks ago when I made the most shocking discovery of all. My CD sleeves ran out. Not only did my CD sleeves run out, but I had multiple Amazon orders en route. This can’t be! My world is…I don’t even know. What am I going to do with all of my new children? It’s going to mean going online to the place I purchased all my sleeves to begin with, but what will I do in the meantime? Think man. Think.

If there is one thing that times like these call for it’s cleaning house. Take a good long look through that collection and find the pieces you haven’t touched since the day you bought them. Ask yourself if you really need them and then make that difficult but necessary decision. The choice is hard, but there are any number of sleeves in this collection that could be used for new acquisitions. Do I really need this copy of CCR’s ‘Pendulum’ that’s all scratched to hell? No. Will I ever listen to Pearl Jam ‘Live On Two Legs’ on vinyl? No. Do I really need to hold onto this Screaming Trees single that isn’t even the Screaming Trees everyone is thinking of? Absolutely not.

As I went through my collection I realized it had become just that – a collection. There are records I still listen to and pieces of this collection I can’t let go of, but as with any collection there is dead weight. There is dead weight occupying space that new, more exciting, more logically acquired pieces can occupy. I wondered how so much dead weight could accrue in a collection, and I realized it’s because I defined my collection not by what I enjoy but by what I deemed collectible. I don’t particularly want or need a large number of albums in my collection, yet they are still there. I combed the shelf and managed to create seven empty sleeves. This didn’t even reduce the freestanding stack by half, but it’s a start until I buy some more sleeves. It’s progress. I’ll take progress for now when my collection has so much dead weight.

Then I came to the most critical part of the endeavor – the CD shelf. I have a bookcase that’s designed solely for CD’s, and it’s not even halfway full. My goal in life is to fill this case, but when I ran out of CD sleeves I had a moment of clarity. There is a lot of stuff on this shelf that I don’t listen to, and a lot of the stuff I don’t listen to I just don’t like. I bought something a few years ago because it was the current big thing or I saw a video on Subterranean, and then I regretted my decision after one listen. Then there are the albums I bought, listened to once, and then forgot about because something else came along and grabbed my attention for three months. Going along one shelf of my CD collection I found a dozen titles that I could make a case for dumping. The heartless businessman in me wants to drop the ax without a second thought, but after what happened this spring with the National I don’t think that’s fair. Whether or not I liked something the first time I heard it, everything deserves another listen. Opinions and situations can change over two or three years. I can’t just drop the ax because I forgot about something when I discovered a new indie Mecca. It’s time to give everything the second chance it deserves.

So let the great experiment begin! In the spirit of fairness I will be giving five CD’s another chance before I decide whether or not to send them to the consignment store. ‘Some Loud Thunder’ by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, ‘In Case We Die’ by Architecture In Helsinki, ‘Widow City’ by the Fiery Furnaces, ‘Real Emotional Trash’ by Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, and ‘Show Your Bones’ by the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s will receive the rotation treatment while I play Resident Evil 4 on a cleared game, background music while I shoot parasitically infected Spanish villagers with fully upgraded weapons. I see good times in my future, regardless of how the experiment turns out. Truth be told, I will be listening to more than five CD’s while I decide what stays and what goes. These five are just the five I’m going to talk about.

Post image by Sean Mograth
Posted by admin   @   14 October 2010

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