by Jeff Milo
Busy day, yesterday. Bustling. Found respite inside the ol' organic foods shoppe, the place down the street I call Carrots-a-Go-Go, where a friend of mine handed me a burned copy of David Bowie's Lodger.
I was struck with a sudden nostalgia. How long had it been since someone passed me one of these...?
What are we losing, (what are we preserving, if anything)...as we tumble forth, somewhat impulsively, somewhat herded, down super-highways of technological innovation? iPhone-streamlining and MP3-swapping has killed the custom of trading flimsy telegrams of sound, these piddly polycarbonate portfolios - encoded with the same notes and sounds, segues, melodies, and correct track list flows of any album.
This generation's been fickle...We wave with the tech-trends so swiftly. Through the late 90's, we were all about the CD format. Vinyl, then, was the realm of fogey-retro-purists and cassettes were buried 7-feet-securely under, dead.
But in 99-2000, we dove into MP3's...we became file-sharers, swapping for years' on end and it sustained us through the glory days of Blog...
It follows, then, that we would eventually retch and retract back to the physical format, the most hallowed and invigorating of all physical formats - that being, the vinyl LP record -so starved were we for music to become a more intimate listening experience.
While the only thing intimate about CD-R's was that you could decorate them with sharpies and make mix-CD's of multitudinous themes for long car-rides. How embarrassingly quaint...the same kind of old-world-y embarrassment you feel when you look over at your sad Desktop PC...like some bucktoothed-half-blinking-caught-me-from-my-pudgy-side photograph you wanna stuff in a drawer.
Here I am, holding a CD-R of an almost-40 year old record by a guy who ostensibly retired...and, even then, it's one of his most notoriously "overlooked" albums in his canon.
I got back to the Library, back to my day-job, and checked-back in, geeking out, only subtly, over the new acquisition. Lodger! I haven't heard this album in five years, "'African Night Flight' is so freaky! 'DJ' is so groovy!' This is like...poppier than Heroes ...how weird. Weird! Cool!"
...Then a co-worker admits that she is, perhaps of the minority, not one who subscribes to Bowie-mania...
And oh how quickly I submitted to that, that post-Ziggy Stardust and pre-"Let's Dance" era Bowie is an acquired taste.
And then I remembered part of the ceremony involved with CD-R burning. Persuasion! We used to burn these things for each other because we were convinced that another party, a friend, just hadn't seen the light, yet, on a certain artist, for a certain album. You gotta hear this...I'll burn it for you. You'll fucking love it. ...or you'll learn to love it. Let me make you a personal-best-of...
But yesterday I shrugged it off so easily, even saw it from her point of view - so quickly. Will I give up fighting to get people to like certain bands? How long has it been since I burned a proper, dorked-out Mix CDs even? Shall I return to my roots?
But now we just swap Bandcamp streams or old YouTube clips...a beguiling behavior one endemic to the scrolling shuffle of status-updates... Oh, you haven't heard this yet? Post-on-yer-wall! These CD-Rs (and before then, yes, Mix-Tapes) were dialogues! Where's the musical-debate, the patience?
Burn me something you want me to hear. Vinyl back. Cassettes even came back! Lo, I fear, CD-R's will probably never come back...
But Bowie, whether you like him or not, isn't going anywhere - retired or not. We zealots are still out there...
"Actually," I tell my co-worker. "If we're talking this era of Bowie, I have to admit that I'm more a fan of Eno's contributions, if it came down to brass tax."
But it was weird that I wasn't fighting. What had happened to the record-snob in me...had Facebook diluted those confrontational-chemicals inside me?
I'd like to get it back. Need to train myself. You need to hear this!
Well, it's Friday - and you made it through my rant...
If you're looking for something new to get into this weekend, there's plenty to choose from... But -tomorrow - maybe consider stopping into this new art gallery that set up downtown about two months ago - Corktown Studios
- where you can hear local sounds from acerbic/sweet -post-hardcore-pop band The Rogue Satellites, paired with the mesmeric, droney/dreamy psyche rock of Electric Lion Soundwave Experiment - their opening up for D.C. experimental duo Washerwoman.