Monday, August 17, 2015

The Spangled Dwarf with His Bow-Tie

There I was, minding my own business at a skosh after four in the morning in Planet Fitness late last week, listening to ABC News Radio on Slacker on my smartphone (have only made one call so far since getting it) struggling to keep pace on a treadmill while facing a wall of unblinking video monitors with everything from Lifetime to NESN, CNN to Fox, and most of the local Connecticut over–the-air broadcasters thrown in. 

I couldn’t hear what was being said, but I watched the graphics unfold and the Fox talking heads get all frowny faced as the plasma display graphics revealed Columbia House Records was filing for Chapter 11, bankruptcy protection.

When local record shops were few and far between back in the day, they brought the store to you with a magazine crammed with glowing reviews that often combined hoopla with hyperbole for a heady potion of near-knowledge of all things musical.

As of now, I have a jar full of pennies with nowhere to go and holes in my music collection that I fear will remain holier than thou for the foreseeable future and longer. Who among us didn’t try to beat the system, after grabbing some mind-boggling number of records or tapes when you joined at what you believed to be next to nothing? Foiled and failed at every turn were we. 

And heaven help you if you forgot to decline the selection and mail the postcard back before the next shipment arrived. Because when you didn’t get that card back to them in time you became the owner of stereophonic delights such as Enoch Light and his Orchestra Play Waiting for My Man, White Light, White Heat, and Heroin from The Velvet Underground Singalong Songbook. Just $19.99 and the better part of ten more bucks for shipping and handling. Yipes!

Those eight or ten free records or tapes became very expensive very quickly, but for those of us at a certain, and somewhat difficult age, it was a rite of passage. The article speaks of Spotify of the 80’s, except I’d like to think the artists didn’t get screwed quite as much as the scheming streaming services do to them these days.

Another souvenir of my growing up years that hasn’t survived the turning of the age. I’m afraid the day is coming when all I’ll have left are my memories which is troubling because the memories I have left right now are often someone else’s and not even my own. Time for my boot heels to be wandering.
-bill kenny 

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