Discogs Memories

I don’t know what it is about putting my vinyl purchases into Discogs that makes me tingle all over. Could be the OCD side of me. Or the anal retentive that likes things in order, collected, and neat and tidy. I love having a place to go to that gives me instant information about my obsession(addiction.) Seeing all of my vinyl acquisitions over the last 9 years listed neatly for me to browse at my heart’s content satisfies something in me that I can’t describe.

I’ve always been this way. Even as a kid I loved having cases to put my “things” into. First I had a couple carrying cases for Hot Wheels. One in the shape of a wheel and the other more like the size of a lunch box. Within those I could easily access several muscle cars, Chrysler vans, European sports cars, and even my favorite, a blue van with Marvel’s “The Thing” on the side of it. I quickly moved from Hot Wheels to Star Wars action figures and then GI Joe figures. Each obsession had its own special case to carry them in. This allowed for easy access and also a way to display my collections of various Kenner, Hasbro, and Mattel toys.

By middle school the toys turned to cassettes which turned into cassette cases in my room. Swanky faux wood-looking things that pulled out awkwardly to reveal various guitar shredders, glam rockers, and Rush’ entire discography by 10th grade. When my wife(then girlfriend) and I moved out on our own we bought a Sauder CD tower which housed three years worth of CD purchases. It was heavy as hell and awkward in general, but was way cool in that it gave me plenty of room to grow a collection of shiny discs and wasted clear plastic with color inserts in them.

In 2008 I began my vinyl journey. After years of contemplating whether I should start a hobby of collecting a near dead means of listening to music I said the hell with it and bought a couple vinyl records at the Jazz Record Mart on a Chicago trip with my wife(before I’d even purchased a player to listen to them on.) A month later my Audio Technica was purchased and the rest, as they say, is history. The collection was slow going, but I was determined to fill my house with a clunky form of music consumption. No one would get in my way, dammit.

I didn’t start cataloging my albums till the spring of 2013. I had maybe 100 albums by then. I’d heard stories about a place online where you could catalog your record collection for free(as well as buy albums, too.) One weekend, after I built my first vinyl cabinet, I decided the hell with it and opened an account and began cataloging my records on Discogs. I remember staying up till 2 am that first Friday night. By noon the next day I was fully cataloged and ready to roll. I haven’t looked back since(well maybe a couple times over my shoulder to make sure my wife didn’t see me ordering vinyl.)

I was inputting some recent purchases when I decided to go back to the first entries. Seeing them put me into that weekend. Sitting at the kitchen table typing in bands and selecting the right pressing and color variant. Not really getting why this was so important to me, but I knew it was. My kids were so much younger then. I wasn’t as beat up and sore as I am now. Looking back things seemed simpler. My biggest project was sitting in a dark dining room typing in band names into a dated website and adding their records into my collection. That was important? That was relevant?

Yes it was. And yes it is.

Maybe it’s an OCD thing like I said. Maybe I just like things orderly and easily accessed. There’s some comfort for me in knowing I have a digital “Dewey Decimal System” of sorts available to access whenever I want to look up my collection. There’s really a right brain/left brain thing going on here. The methodical and the pure pleasure. I had a pretty big week of record buying and loaded up quite a few records this week. I happily opened a beer and sat down to do some inputting.

It felt good. It felt like home.

Giants on my front porch

DSC03757When I got home from work I saw a couple square packages waiting on the front porch. Oh boy! My recent Discogs purchases arrived! As you may or may not recall, I’ve been on a real jazz kick lately. I’ve been perusing back catalogs of some of my favorite guys; Davis, Coltrane, Monk, Winklehammer. So last week I located a first pressing of Thelonious Monk’s Monk’s Dream, one of my favorite Monk records. It was also the first jazz album I ever bought, back in 1995 and on CD. I also found a first pressing of John Coltrane’s Ascension. I think I got a pretty good deal on both, as the vinyl is near mint. Bonus points, kiddos.

As I said, I’ve heard Monk’s Dream many, many times. “Monk’s Dream”, “Body And Soul”, “Blues Five Spot”, and his incredible rendition of “Just A Gigolo” are all on this album and I can listen to them anytime, anywhere. Living room? Yup. Kitchen? You bet. Driving? Of course. The toilet? Why the hell not? It’s an album that evokes a feeling of timelessness in me. I can remember being 21 years old and listening to this album in my apartment with the only light being the glow of my stereo. It’s an album that always brings me some inner peace.

Ascension is another story. I have to admit, I had not heard Ascension before just about 40 minutes ago. I’d always heard of it and had heard it was very close to Coltrane’s heart. Very much in the free jazz form. If you’re at all familiar with Ornette Coleman, then you’d have an idea of what Coltrane was trying to accomplish. Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra,…cats like that were pushing John Coltrane in a totally new musical landscape. Well, this album is the turmoil and tumultuousness of the Civil Rights movement, violence in the south, the threat of Nuclear war, and Coltrane’s inner anguish to find some sort of spiritual peace within himself and the world around him. In other words, Ascension is a loud, brash, tense, and explosive musical love letter to a world Coltrane loved but was afraid might not love him back. First two minutes I was worried I might not be able to get into this record. By the time I was flipping to side two I was already falling love with this album. I’m currently on my second time through and, though I won’t be winning over my family with this one, Coltrane has won me over yet again. As the liner notes state inside the gatefold sleeve, this is not for the casual jazz fan. In an indie rock perspective, this would be like starting your Pavement journey out with Wowee Zowee. Or instead of beginning a relationship with Lou Reed by spinning Transformer you decide to hit Metal Machine Music…or God forbid, Berlin. No, if you’re new to John Coltrane I would suggest Coltrane’s Sound, or My Favorite Things. Those are records that definitely show Coltrane spreading his musical wings while still being firmly grounded in be bop and hard bop. Once you’ve immersed yourself in those two albums, hit up A Love Supreme. Hungry for more? Well my friend, sit down at the table and prepare for the aural and spiritual feast known as Ascension.

Well, that’s all that is happening in the woods surrounded by a cornfield. Now it’s time to figure out what Coltrane album will be next to snag. Or maybe I’ll check out that Winklehammer guy.

Winklehammer on tour with his wife and vibraphonist, Vivian le Vivian, circa 2040.
Winklehammer on tour with his wife and vibraphonist, Vivian le Vivian, circa 2040.

Academic Quiz Bowls and the Vinyl Geek

quiz bowlSo yesterday my oldest daughter(she’ll be 13 in May) had her first Academic Quiz Bowl competition.  She was on the English and Interdisciplinary teams.  Interdisciplinary meaning a little bit of everything was in this round.  The rounds were: Math, English, Science, Social Studies, and Interdisciplinary.  80s Sitcoms weren’t included, otherwise I’d a swept it.

Let me just say, I have no idea where my daughter gets her academic prowess.  Not that her mother and I are drooling mongoloids by any means, but this girl is really, really smart.  We found out a week after her third birthday that she could read.  By the time she was in the 2nd grade she was testing into the gifted and talented program in our school system and was accepted into it with open arms.  She excelled wonderfully in the program.  It helped that she had two incredibly giving and caring teachers while in the program.  They were also 30 year teaching  veterans, so they knew a thing or two on how to wrangle kids too smart for their own good.  But once she graduated out of the program last year in the 6th grade we were mildly concerned how she would transition from this tight knit group of brainiacs and savants to the cold, hard halls of middle school.  Turns out, pretty damn good.  In fact, it really didn’t phase her at all.  It helped that she was already going to the middle school the previous year for geometry(Oh yeah, she’s in the seventh grade and already in Advanced Algebra 2.  I barely made it out alive in Algebra 1 as a freshman in high school).  So she’s doing great in middle school.  And she’s joined a bunch of clubs.  Magazine Club, Spellbowl, Academic Quiz Bowl, Drama, and Archery(okay, not archery).  She’s also in band and plays the oboe.  I barely made it out of my pajamas in the 7th grade, so the fact that she’s involved in so many things has me thrilled beyond belief.

So the quiz bowl.  Yeah, my wife and I had a blast just sitting out in the audience and guessing random answers.  I never felt so stupid in my life(well, there was a that $40 shoe shine in Chicago…ugh).  I mean, I thought I knew a little about Greek Mythology.  Harry Hamlin, the Kraken, snakes for hair,….thought I had it covered.  Well, no.  No I didn’t.  And the math?  Umm, I took Accounting my junior year in order to get my math credit so I didn’t have to take Algebra II and fail it.  Smelting, Sophists, Antigone, Macedonia, Persia,….Great Odin’s Raven!!  Despite feeling like the bridge troll that showed up for the Masquerade Ball, my wife and I actually had a great time.  It’s been a hell of a week, so having a sub with my high school sweetheart and then laughing at ourselves and lack of book smarts was just what we needed last night.  My daughter did pretty well.  Her school’s team got a first in Science and a second in English.  My wife and I?  Well we had fun being the immature ones for a change.

The vinyl geek thing.  Well, you may get from time to time on this page that I love music.  And my preferred format to listen to music is vinyl.  You didn’t get that?  Huh.  Well, I do and it is.  I started collecting vinyl back in 2008.  I never really collected vinyl at all.  I bought a couple Judas Priest albums, a Yngwie Malmsteen album, and a Vinnie Vincent Invasion album back when I was 13 when for Christmas I got my first proper stereo.  But that was it.  It was cassettes and then CDs till 2008.  So in 2008 I bought my turntable and so began my vinyl journey.  Lately I’ve started to get serious about my collection.  Building vinyl cabinets, geeking out over colored limited edition pressings, etc.  So I started an account on Discogs.com and have begun to catalog my collection.  My collection is still relatively small -roughly 150 to 170 records- but I’m particular about what I buy.  I’m not like http://jatstorey.com/, but I’m working on it.

So this cataloging thing….it’s addictive.  And what’s even better is that it doesn’t cost me anything.  It’s busy work that doesn’t hurt the wallet.  And it fills my anal-retentive quirks.  And thanks to ma and pa Hubner I’ve got a few oldies.  I’ve also got two collections of 78s that were my grandma’s that I haven’t even begun to investigate.  I’ve got a geek-tastic weekend ahead of me!

Maybe the smarts my daughter has is from her mom and I, and not Little Einstein and breast milk.  Maybe it’s just coming thr0ugh her in a way that could actually pay off someday.  Great job, nice savings account, lake home for mom and dad, wicked sense of humor, and vinyl collection to look forward to when her old man croaks.

I really should read Antigone.