Entry 0080: Journal Fragment Found From Missing Astronaut

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7-inch: You & You by DNA

2016 Superior Viaduct SV098

Favorite Track: You & You

 

Photographs of two kids stare up at me. One of the brats is smiling. I blot out their eyes unable to take the accusation. One of them was me but I can no longer tell. I would say that I could feel the mutations in my cellular structure, however, that wouldn’t be exactly the truth. I can intuit it. Like when you feel a pair of eyes watching you. Imagine a billion eyes bubbling around my organs, reproducing at a rate I can’t even write down. I’m past the point of urination now, which the scientist said is one of the last steps. I’m not sure what she said would happen to my wastes. Something gross and recyclable. She laughed when I asked if it would fall off. It wasn’t getting much use in the last ten years until after that surgery. Then it was overused. Apparently, humans have been waiting for something not human.

It has become very difficult to record my thoughts: to try and capture the memories that I am losing one by one. Each morning they collect at the shower drain with clumps of my hair. I kick them aside and shave carefully in areas I’ve never shaved before. What am I even trying to write down here? Just my last thoughts about being human, I guess. What are they though? I no longer care what the definition of human is. I would even go as far as to suggest there isn’t a definition. Just a concept for the politicians and ad men to sell you.

My dreams become my new memories. I vaguely recall one from this morning. I was a kid playing baseball, shortstop. We were losing. The other team wore grey uniforms with crimson socks and a logo eerily similar to a real franchise. I was wearing white that was not streaked with brown dirt. We had one out and the boy at the bat had double both previous times. He hit it right to me and my clumsy self caught the grounder, threw it to second who tagged the runner then whipped it so hard the first basemen cried over the umpire. But we had one last up to bat to stage a comeback.

We failed but I won the game ball for the double play. Coach and team mates cheered and hugged me like we won a trophy. And all I could think was that I didn’t feel human then. Why celebrate automatic reflexes? What a strange ritual to enact under the burning sun and in the rough dirt? We have play acted for so long. What will I do now that I have finally grown up?

I pin the photograph to the wall of my bedroom next to the mirror I shattered. I can see myself ten billion times from ten billion angles. You and you, little ants, will know me when you see me. By then, I will have made first contact.

Entry 0079: 2016 Record Store Day

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LP: Drastically Reduced by the Reduced

2016 ShakeIt Records SHAKE 1281

Favorite Track: Nervous Little Thing

 

When the list came out, I considered skipping Record Store Day. Nothing struck me as necessary. Then a record store owner told me Superior Viaduct was re-issuing early Fall singles, which intrigued me but outside of the album art (and I do collect things just for their album art) I didn’t really need another copy of the songs. I became more excited for the Northside Record Fair until I found out that I had to work all day of the fair. But I was busy with my new job, my best friend’s wedding, the NHL playoffs, and various other happenings that was making my life interesting.

Right before Record Store Day, I discovered that Shake It Records was releasing The Reduced, a punk staple house band for the Jockey Club. Many people have told me stories about the Jockey Club, a punk venue that closed down before I moved here, but sounds like it would have been my home. I became curious about this music that seems largely a part of local lore, but also a missing addendum to punk history.  I had two other incentives to check out this album: a friend designed the album cover and a co-worker’s brother was in the band. The night before Record Store Day came and I went giddy from some weird anticipation.

My friends and I lined up at Black Plastic this year and were first in line. They found excellent records, but I browsed and decided to save my money. I felt bad not supporting Black Plastic (but I am there almost every week so they sure do get a chunk of my money) but, like I said earlier, the list just didn’t cater to me this year. I knew Shake It also put out a bin of super rare records and I wanted to save my money for that.

The line to Shake It was still long by the time we got there. Once inside, I found the Reduced album and it was only 9.99. Excellent. The new B-side IPA by Rhinegeist was good, but not a stand out. My love for IPAs is dwindling and I find myself loving cheap beer more than craft beers. If I want something tasty, I’ll drink wine or bourbon. The super rare bin was incredible, but I couldn’t afford what I really wanted: a UK pre-release (limited to a 1000 copies I think) of the Sex Pistols’s only album Never Mind the Bollocks with the 7-inch Submission. I could have fainted. Both at such an artifact of history and at the cost. I thought about it the whole time at Shake It, but I couldn’t justify it especially with the other purchases I made, more on them later. Also in the bin: original Nirvana LPs, an 80 dollar Limp Bizkit LP, and some crazy metal LPs.

So what did I purchase: I caved and got the Fall singles. The album art is fantastic, the songs amateur-sounding but delightful, and what are my chances of finding originals? Then I found that Superior Viaduct also re-issued two Suicide singles and the only DNA single. Sound of cash register temporarily overtook my ears. Then I snagged a Nigerian Afrobeat box set titled Wake You Up volume one. It was an expensive chance that was worth it despite the waste of a lot of cardboard for a small but thick booklet. However, the songs are great, fuzzy, steeped in 70’s psychedelic and disco and funk. Plus, it gives me an opportunity to write a little sequel to Nigerian Nights. Then I found two gems: a re-issue of Sonic Youth’s Sister–one of my favorites by them and recently I have been on a huge Sonic Youth kick–and the Tubeway Army’s First Album, an LP I’ve never heard before but really, really enjoy–I’m also been having a resurgence of Gary Numan. The last time I went record shopping I found Replicas and Sonic Youth’s Washing Machine. Synchronicity?

So, the long story is, I thought this year I might skip Record Store Day and then ended up spending the most. Go figure.

Oh yeah. The Reduced rocks. Great guitar riffs that betray a classic rock/country influence over speedy drums and Damned-esque lyrics. Once again, I find myself born too late. But also glad that I am still young.

Entry 0078: On Record Collecting and Record Store Day

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7-inch: Inconvenience by the Au-Pairs

1981 Human Records HUM 8

Favorite Track: Inconvenience

 

The local newspaper did a feature story about record collectors in Cincinnati. I was selected to be interviewed and photographed for the story, which can be read here: http://citybeat.com/cincinnati/article-35009-vinyl_revival.html. I had a lot of fun with this and I especially love Jesse Fox’s photograph, if you allow me to sound vain for a second.

With Record Story Day looming ahead of us, it got me thinking about the evolution of my record collection: how it started on a whim, how exploring a new genre of music reinforced my love for punk rock, how I discover new music, how I collect 7-inches now, and will it ever end? Here are some scattered thoughts:

  • You should be listening to the Au-Pairs. You might not have heard of them; they get the short shrift when people talk about post-punk music. I discovered them through a CD at the library titled Totally Wired, an excellent collection that exposed me to numerous bands including Pylon, the Mo-Dettes, and Romeo Void and also features some bands I knew a little about such as Delta 5, Bush Tetras, and the Raincoats. The Au-Pairs are a groovy band with brittle bursts of political and sexual noise-bombs that cut open the unconscious norms and divide your brain into new progressive thoughts. Your you can just shake your butt. Guaranteed to get you laid.
  • My record collection will end someday. I am actually incredibly close to finishing off my full-length punk collection. But the seven inches and new music and further exploration into older music will keep me busy for some time. Especially now that I am allowing myself to collect some classical music. I doubt I will go over 1,000 records though. And I will sell them off one day, hopefully to a young person just about to start a journey.
  • I like Record Store Day. I understand the complaints from smaller indie labels about getting their releases delayed over yet more re-printings of Bruce Springsteen albums. But that’s capitalism and that is why more people need to fix old vinyl plants or build new ones. I like Record Store Day because it has saved one of my favorite types of local businesses. I like the community aspect of it. Tonight, I am meeting with friends to have a sleepover and then wake up early and go stand in line. I’ll talk to people in line. Afterwards, at brunch, people will be spinning records. It’s a holiday and one of my favorites.
  • For the first time in a while, I am excited about new music. If you have not heard Savages, Shopping, Ought, or the Nots, get on it! Also, one of my all-time favorite bands Wire has a new album coming out that I am super excited about.
  • I cannot guarantee you will get laid. Disregard previous comment.

 

Entry 0077: Well, I Never Thought I Would Own That

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EP: Procession by New Order

1981 Factory Records FAC.53

Favorite Track: Procession

 

Yesterday I was interviewed for the local paper about my record collection. The photo shoot was fantastic. I don’t have any desire to have a media presence but I am enthusiastic about records and how my collection came to be. After all, I just bought some records one day never realizing it would turn into a hobby or lifestyle or whatever it is that I’m doing. During the interview, I realized just how long I have been collecting for, how much it has become engrained into my weekly routine.

For the photo shoot, I got to pull out all of my precious rarities and first presses of punk and alternative music. One of them was a recent purchase–the orange version of Procession by New Order. I never thought I would own this 7-inch. I looked at this record on Discogs.com all the time, dreaming of which of the nine different colors I would discover at a record store. I even once almost bought it online. But the record remained elusive. Why would anyone sell it? The song is fantastic, the album cover iconic, and non-bootlegged Factory Records kind of a rarity these days. Maybe not super rare, but uncommon enough to be noticed by someone who record shops a lot.

How I found the record was typical record store shopping luck. I walked in and looked all around the basement. Found nothing worth buying. Hungry, I was about to leave when I decided to look at the new upstairs section for 7-inches. My eye scanned the wall and then froze. There it was in orange, one of my favorite versions of it. I laughed. But then I laughed harder when I got home.

While I was being interviewed, a story floated up from my subconsciousness but I didn’t have time to say it. But when you have a large collection like mine, you forget what you have and there is always a special day when you realize you are listening to a record you have owned for seven years but haven’t listened to in a while. That happened to me with New Order. I played a compilation that I bought way back when I lived in South Carolina and was pivotal in sparking my interest in that band. On that compilation was the song Procession.

I didn’t realize I already owned it.

But that wouldn’t have stopped me from buying the 7-inch. I live for record album art.

Entry 0076: Downs and Ups

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EP: Hey Senorita by the Penguins

1980’s reissue DooTone Records DOO-348

Favorite Track: Earth Angel

 

Who knew Earth Angel was a b-side hit? I found this gem on a good record shopping day. It was the classic twist: go down into the basement, search around, find nothing, feel slightly disappointed, go back upstairs to look at the seven inches and there is one of your dream records: an original Factory Records Procession single by New Order, the orange color! Oh, and here is one of your favorite doo-wop songs as well. I left the store feeling pretty good.

And that has been the story of my life recently. After a series of downs, a whole lot of ups have happened. I can barely take it all in. The shift was fast. To make a silly analogy, it was like buying a completely unknown album, hating the a-side but just for completion sake, throwing on the b-side and discovering your new favorite song.

I recently had a chance to be on television, which was an exciting opportunity. I was promoting the library’s 50 Years of Star Trek exhibit and I was interviewed on a morning show. It was somewhat different than I envisioned. First, the green room is the same as a waiting room at the dentist’s except with coffee, which I don’t drink. Then I was told to come to the studio where the host was being filmed live while I set up the Star Trek toys. I was fascinated how at ease he was with being on camera. When they cut to a commercial, he was quick to start making jokes with the cameramen and other staff while they counted down to ten. Then, after being miced, we were on and the whole thing lasted a fast three minutes. The host was a little bit difficult to get words in but a lot of co-workers agreed that I did a wonderful job. I don’t know about that but I certainly had to think on my feet. I thought I would be asked what the exhibit was about and had a small speech prepared. Instead, I had to wing describing the toys and showing him how the communicator had a secret calculator inside of it.

I also have found a lot of good records lately, including some new bands. I am not known to staying hip to current music but lately there has been a wonderful surge in post-punk music that has captured my ears. The two front runners are the bands Shopping with their surf-style bass-heavy anti-consumerism rants that sound straight out of 1981, and the Savages, a gothic train rolling into a bleak futuristic station and who I am going to see in Cleveland in May. Other bands that I enjoy are Ought, a Canadian band where Mark E. Smith and David Byrne have merged into one happy singer and the Nots, a snotty smashing good time.

To top off the goods things happening in my life, I ordered an original US version of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures to make up for the biggest record regret I’ve ever had. I will probably order an original Closer in the sometime future. These two albums have gotten me through some tough times and there is nothing better to celebrate getting through the rough times than by listening to your favorite band.