Sunday, January 20, 2008


First of all, today is my youngest niece Satya's 4th Birthday. Let's all give her a grand b-day cheer, shall we?!!!!!? She is named after a philosophy of non-violence laid down by Mohandas Ghandi. She is a beautiful, wild, immensely interesting person packed into a little 4 year-old girl(that's her and myself pictured above). She exhibits an understanding of the world and intelligence that she may not even yet be able to express, but it is apparent when you look at her and interact with her.
So, in Satya's honor, I feel it is necessary to continue the discussion going on with RoyC, myself and others involved.
I worked for many years in record shops, Tower(now defunct, sniffle, sniffle, tear) and Cellophane Square, here in Seattle. It served to simultaneously fuel and satisfy my passion(s) for music. Part of this passion had to do with the ability to discuss and critique music and its related culture. This is exactly what is so important, functionally, about the discussion Roy and I have cultivated here. How do artforms exist, struggle to survive sometimes, in our consumer culture, which is more concerned with the product than its effect on us and our reaction to it?
We have been discussing format, namely the rapid shifts in format in the digital age, and how it pertains, most specifically, to vinyl and how artists/bands will record(to what ends?). For now, I just have a little anecdote connected to format.
The other day, I stopped in on my old manager at Cellophane to pick up a data disc he'd burned for me. Another old coworker was there, looking for some hard to find tunes. Upon searching on the interweb, he told her that there was a copy of the album available on CD and another on Ebay(I think), which was on cassette. She immediately chortled at the thought of purchasing a cassette. And why the fuck not?!? Who actually buys cassettes nowadays, really??? I mean, there are still plenty of folks who might make a mixtape for a friend or a girl they're trying to win the affections of(yup, that's me...they take so much more time and thought to make than a disc! C'mon!!), but other than that, it is clearly a dead format. Now, if he had sought out and found a vinyl copy of said album, I am 100% sure she would've been stoked, as she said so. Except for one fact. She was trying to buy the album for her dad, who now lives on a boat and, due to that circumstance, no longer owns a turntable. That is a pretty specific circumstance, based solely on space(mostly for the storage of vinyl). This illustrates, in my mind, that, if you removed that barrier, then two people from separate generations(one in her mid-to-late twenties and her father) would still be pursuing that piece of vinyl. The reasons may not be boldly clear as to why, but the passion and hunt are there, where as the cassette is scoffed at like a dish of Elementary School Cafeteria Mac'n'Cheese. And this all goes down in a few seconds in 2008, years beyond the announced 'supposed' death of vinyl. I think that this should do it for now, but this subject is far from covered.
G'night all and, once again, Happy Birthday Satya!!


Rev. Gabelicious said...

ps- interestingly enough, by googling "the death of vinyl" I chanced upon this, which is pretty cool, if not cutting enough to win me over.

roy said...

Interesting that you mention the generational divide. In his book Playback, Mark Coleman brings it up by saying that dads and daughters are more likely to argue over what format to play music on than what music to play.

Those choices and arguments aren't likely to fade anytime soon (vinyl's going to be around for a long time to come). Even as the digital formats expand and even as we try to figure out where it's all going, the LP -- and the CD -- are going to linger.