Archive for July, 2013

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Yes, that’s what it looks like. Except mine is encased in plastic and has the backing of a cheap Walgreen’s 12″X58″ photo frame to keep it intact. Except, truthfully, it is not in great shape.

Not sure if Dave has a caveat that all things written about on this blog must be in pristine, wafer-thin condition, for if that’s the case, he’s going to have to dispose of the evidence contained inside this Ziploc bag of a blog. [I do not – DM]

The year is 1985. The Chicago Bears were known, deservedly so, as the “Monsters Of The Midway”. A longtime Chicago Bears fan gets the idea to write and choreograph a rap video for the team. He knows someone who knows a Mr. Willie Gault, and the ball gets rolling. They record the song and video, and it explodes. Chicago Bear fanatics weren’t the only people digging this tune, it goes on to be nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Group or Duo, in a time when the Grammys seemed to still mean something. It meant something more when Da Bears lost to- wait for it- KISS. Ha ha. Trivia factoid for those who are trivia-bound.

I was 12 in 1985. 12. Many momentous things happened when I was 12. I discovered a minor-league prospect (not personally) for the Cubs named Greg Maddux. Little did I know that I would become slightly obsessed with Mad Dog (that’s another blog post for another time) for over a decade. I discovered that I was my mother’s daughter and hooked on soap operas, and who cared if I ditched classes to watch them? I had straight A’s, no one would say anything (insert laughter here). I discovered that Vision Quest was a fucking awful movie, although Madonna saved the soundtrack (not the case for Who’s That Girl, oddly enough). More importantly than that, I discovered I was a Chicago Bears fan. What took so long? My father raised us watching the Cubs. Process that. My mom hated all sports with a passion. If any sport was on the channel, she would start a fight to get her point across.  My dad would turn the TV louder and ignore her. Now you know where I get that from.  My dad was a Green Bay Packers fan. Green. Bay. Cheesehead. Fan. I have never been more ashamed to write a sentence in my entire life. I love my dad, but I am die hard Bears fan, and he is die hard Swiss Snorter.  The Bears record is categorized under “rap”, a genre I readily admit to not understanding, although I do think it has its moments (Kayne West, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Swiss Miss Coco Cozumel. OK, I made that last one up.). If the Bears are considered “rap”, then sign me up for a lifetime membership. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I get the individual lyrics corresponding to individual characters on the team, and I liked the video also. C’mon, McMahon, my dream sportsman at the time? (BM- Before Maddux). Walter Payton, Sweetness, one of,  if not,  the best running back in the history of the game? Mike Singletary, “Heart of the Defense”? Richard Dent, the Sack Man? The Fridge, the most lovable teddy bear to play for the Bears? A singing cast you couldn’t beat. Any rabid Bears fan would love it. And that was the start of my Chicago Bears obsession. 1985. The season overall, the players, Ditka minus the orange glow, the song- all of it. I was hooked. I listen to that song now, and I should cringe (listen to it, seriously- all these years later and given what our ears have been exposed to since it was released), but I don’t. It still makes me silly.  What did I have to go through to get my paws on this 45″?

Given the hysteria attached to anything that the Chicago Bears did in 1985, you can only imagine what it was like to find this 45. It was, for lack of a better 5-letter word, chaos. Rose Records in Countryside (where the HPB now is) didn’t have it, they had a waiting list of 200 people for it. 1985, and I was a 12-yr old kid in love with Jim McMahon, I didn’t have the fortitude to wait it out. We went to JR’s Music, and they were out. K-Mart, Venture, Zayre- all out. There weren’t bookstores that sold music back then- that was the advent of the 1990’s and beyond. The idea of a bookstore that sold records? In 1985? Crazy talk. So- onto the waiting list at Rose Records it was. My mom went with me to wait in lines week after week. She didn’t complain. She would just ditch me in line and go looking for Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdink albums while I was suffering in vinyl purgatory. It was a good 3 months AFTER the Bears won the Super Bowl before I finally got that call from Rose Records. When I went to pick it up, the guy behind the counter told me that it was indeed a collectible and was sold separately. It came in a separate box, etc. I don’t know if I totally buy that story, but at that point, it had ceased being about collector status and became rabid fan status. I didn’t give two shits if it was worth 10 thousand rupees if I had it in my perspiring little mitts. And I did. The cover. I propped that fucker up against the other side of my record player so that the first and last thing I saw before I attempted sleep was the 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears. They must have stayed that way for the better part of a year, replacing my beloved Duran. (Of course, various smart ass friends of mine love to point out that Duran on a break that year, splintering off into Arcadia and Power Station. That doesn’t mean they still wouldn’t have been put into superstar vinyl worship like normal!). I still love that 45. I still take it out and marvel that they did it, and that so many people enjoyed it, and still do. It wasn’t a colossal undertaking of epic proportions to secure the vinyl, like some other stories I will eventually share here, but it was the thought of the love and joy behind securing the vinyl, and continuing to worship and enjoy it, 28 years later.  One cannot say that about many things these days.

Crazy From The Heat, or Crazy From the Hunt?

Posted: July 28, 2013 by generationgbooks in Books, Music
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DLR, before CLR, Way before CLR. Another exhaustive search for an obscure 1st edition was Crazy From the Heat, by Mr. Showbiz Ninja Pants himself, Mr. David Lee Roth. Former lead singer of Van Halen and then solo artist, this book was his autobiography. It was also his chance to set the record straight about what really went down in Van Halen after 1984 that had him bounced out of the group for one Sammy Hagar. The cover alone was enough to make me thirst for its hardness in my hands. Oh wait, that was awkward wording there…then again, it is me. I had to have it. Oh wait, that wasn’t much better. The cover made me want it. Never mind, obviously a blog cannot be posted without a dirty mind sinking it beforehand. Onto the story.

In 1997, David Lee Roth’s hilarious autobiography, was released. 1997 wasn’t a good year. I was shackin’ up with Redneck Flats and fearing for my life. My mom had passed the year before, I was trying to save an addict and have some semblance of a “relationship”, and I was stuck in a job where i had recently taken a demotion based on grief. Not my finest hour, nor my happiest. I needed some cheer. There came along David Lee Roth’s book.

This one was one that the aforementioned Waldenbooks in Countryside had. However, every time I saved enough of my check and went over to buy it, it was sold out. I finally decided to act and call around for a copy. Orland Park’s Borders had it, and there’s where I finally got it. The first copy. I read it in 3 days, and passed it onto my brother. I don’t think I remember my brother laughing so hard after my mom’s death, or before that. He loved it and thought it was as great as I did. I think Jen got it next, and she thought it was hysterical. It made the rounds of my heavy-metal and classic rock loving friends, and then, I made the fatal mistake- I gave my precious, much loaned copy to Steven (aka Redneck Flats, The Poor Man’s Scott Weiland, Dumbass, Useless, BudMan, GoatMan, etc). That was the last I saw of it. He took it to Lawrenceville, Georgia, to see his uncle, aunt, and second cousin, who I later found out, he had some sort of relationship with (he is Southern, y’all). He returned with a suitcase full of Wizard comics (which i stole, in retaliation, for my book disappearing), a lizard (not in the suitcase, but oh boy, a pet!), some cassette tapes of him singing Creed, and other inadmissible forms of lunacy. I asked him where my book was, and never got a straight answer. There was some sort of mumbling about a poker game, moonshine, the cousin, denim skirts, cowboy boots, a rodeo, and money lost. So I gather from that incoherent pothead, drunk mumbling that he sold my book for moonshine. That wouldn’t have bothered me. But if he lost it in a poker game to the cousin he wanted to poke? That wasn’t allowed! Although some part of me thinks DLR would dig that kind of wild story and would maybe write a song or make a great video from it (the beginning of Yankee Rose, with the convenience store and the black lady and Tic Tacs- that’s what I’m talking about!), that didn’t mean he got off the hook for it. That, my friends, was really the beginning of the “Dawning of the Age of the Goat”. Meaning, the end of the relationship. No Southern-Fried Creed fan was stealing my book! Except that he had, and left it somewhere in an attic in Georgia.

I started by going back to that Borders. All they had were, by now, 3rd editions. I hit the new Barnes & Noble down the block- same story. The Crown Books in Oak Lawn (Irony!) never had it. The one in Western Springs? Stacey offered to order it, but I didn’t know when I would have the money again to get it. I decided to wait. Big mistake. No more luck was had- until finally, in 2003, i found a copy- on Ebay.

Ebay is a mystery I will never solve. Like Japanese noodles and old ladies’ knitting circles. One of my friends from the Orland BAM, Kevin S. Cook, pointed me to Ebay. He told me he had found a number of H.P. Lovecraft sci-fi books that were out of print, by bidding on them on Ebay. I liked a pissing contest, minus the appendage, so I created an account. Then all sorts of hell broke loose. I had too much time on my hands one day and got to searching for Boy George coffee mugs. I found one and bid- except I didn’t realize that it was like a live auction, and I had to sit there and reply to any and every bid to win. I did win, but the problem was, I was drunk when I bid and didn’t realize that the pounds were not converted to American dollars. Once it did, holy crap, that was more than one week of pay for a cup. Except I had won the bid, and they now wanted my payment info. There was no way I was paying $75 for a Boy George mug. I worship the man, but I had my limits. I sent an email saying I didn’t want the mug, and I would let someone else have it, etc. Next thing I know I get clobbered with a number of Ebay emails saying I have broken the Holy Grail of Online Ebay etiquette, Blah, blah, blah. I ignored it and went on my merry way. However, due to this juvenile miscreant behavior, I was BANNED. From Ebay! So there went my hope of DLR 1st editions.

Flash forward. 2007. I am at a closeout sale at Crows Nest in Crest Hill. It is, unfortunately, not long before the end of this location. Sadness fills my pores as pizza fills my face; but there, on a cart of “Closeout, No Returns”, is my long unfulfilled destiny. The book. It is not, sadly, in prime shape. It has a horribly bright yellow sticker on it with the giant crow that was the mascot and a giant “Closeout. No Returns” sticker with the price- $4.99- on it. The cover is slightly torn. It looks, like DLR himself, like it has seen better days. I can’t stand it. I open the cover and find the copyright page. And there it is. The 1st edition. I am one lucky midget that day. I purchase it, I have the clerk wrap it in plastic bag, doubled, and I walk out of there with Jen and a big smile. Almost as big as the one that I had the whole couple of hours it took me to re-read this. If you haven’t read it, borrow it from me, I guarantee you will laugh your ass off. Totally worth the long and winding days to finally find it and call it mine.

The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse

Posted: July 27, 2013 by The Social Retard in Music
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The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse

The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse

Sometimes, things are meant to be.  My “engagement” at age 20 was certainly not one of them. A story for no other time, at least on this blog. However, my life is not entirely without magic. Occasionally, I have reason to believe in kismet. It was January 2007 and I was reading Under the Radar magazine or Paste or one of those type of things. There was a preview section and in it were The Besnard Lakes from Canada. Their sound was described as Beach Boys meets David Lynch or some approximation of that. I have no love for the Beach Boys but I loved the music in David Lynch projects (courtesy of Angelo Badalamenti) and bands from Canada not named Rush. This record, their second, was also to feature Sophie Trudeau, violinist for Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Sold.

I remember being instantly intrigued and determined to find this CD. This was right before my vinyl conversion. The search ended pretty damned quick as the album, The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse, wasn’t due out until the next month. Mind you, I hadn’t even heard a thing from these people yet but I was champing at the bit.

I found the band’s MySpace page (yeah, it was 2007) and listened to the track they had posted called “Devastation“. A more apropos name for a song had never existed. This song laid to waste every other musical thing that was out there at that moment. My entire landscape was leveled. What sheer power? The jolt I felt hearing that song was like nothing I felt since I had become an adult – adolescent, though, I did act.

At that time, there was a music store in Willowbrook located in a shitty little strip mall called Mojo Music. I feel bad now that I didn’t start collecting vinyl again while they were still around. They had a ton. I feel less bad because I once applied at the store that the owner, Al, used to manage in Downers Grove called Music Warehouse. I never even got a callback. Why doesn’t anyone want me to work in their music store? It’s like no one wants me to have a job where I’d be happy.

Music Warehouse was where my previously mentioned buddy Joe and I would rifle through their CDs and buy them based on their covers. Joe always picked better than I did. He’d get stuff like Lacuna Coil’s In a Reverie, while I would end up with Macabre’s Dahmer. I was happy when they closed because I scored a lot of great deals there at the end. In spite of my grudge, Mojo became my primary music source.

I was looking through their used bin some January day when the unthinkable happened. The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse was sitting in this bin, I believe priced at $3.99. Surely, this couldn’t be. The album wasn’t to come out for another month, two days before my 28th birthday. But there it was with a hole punched through the barcode. I had seen this before when I worked at my high school radio station, until I was thrown off for allowing a guest to curse. If only they knew some of the vulgar stuff I had played on the air when they weren’t paying attention. This was a radio promo copy.

Al confirmed this by saying that he knew a guy that worked at some local station and he would bring in boxes of promos that were never going to get airplay and trade them in for records he wanted. Great racket but what a short-sighted dumbass. How could anyone listen to this and just toss it aside? I had only heard “Devastation” and I knew full well that was a fucking perfect song, maybe not for radio since radio was stupid. That guy was just a cog in a larger dysfunctional machine. They just couldn’t grasp what I already knew, despite not even hearing the whole CD: this was going to be one of the greatest albums ever.

I gladly threw Al my four bucks and listened. For once in my life, I had built something up so much in my mind only to not be disappointed. I passed this melodic masterpiece to anyone that would listen. I found a couple of takers and they wholeheartedly agree. Joe and I saw them play at Schubas where the band was also running their merch table. I had brought my CD to listen to in the car and that about getting it signed but handing over a radio promo seemed unseemly. I bought the CD directly and singer/guitarist Jace Lasek signed it. Their show was jaw-dropping, everything I could have wanted. Their music is hypnotic and leaves me awestruck.

I eventually got around to buying their album on vinyl. If they put it on 8-track, I’d fucking buy it. Despite its young age, it is easily in my top 25 albums of all-time. I want the world to know of their greatness and hope for their success but, like all music snobs, I secretly harbor the wish that they never grow out of the imaginary bubble that I keep them in. They are nice Canadian folk, though, so I do wish them the best. They’ve already given me theirs.

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The book above was another exercise in my attempts to find impossible things. Boy George’s autobiography (and a New York Times bestseller) came out in July, 1995. 1995 was a rough year. I was 22. I was crazy in love, eating Little Caesar’s all the time, smoking cigarettes, not sleeping, and drinking insane amounts nightly. Basically, living it up. I honestly could not have cared two shits about Take It Like A Man. In the incandescence of heady youth, I somehow managed to not realize that one of my all-time music muses had released his long-hyped autobiography.

This was, as I have referenced in other posts, before the Internet blew up. Not literally, unfortunately. AOL was beginning its long held strangehold on the Interwebs, but there was not the wealth of knowledge that we now call “The River” ( I call it other words), Goodreads, Riffle, etc. It wasn’t easy to pull up a bestseller list on the old Dell, but it easier to pick up the newspaper and browse the NYT bestseller list. Sometime in October, 1995, reeling from a broken heart, I picked up a newspaper and checked out the bestseller list. I saw Take It Like A Man and Boy George’s name. I may have screamed. I’m pretty sure the word “motherfucker” was uttered. I would have to ask Jen, because I think she was with me when I spotted it. Something akin to rabid fangirling, before it was the “norm”, took place. And then I had to have it. Which is where the insanity began.

By the time I had found out about that the book had come out and I had missed it completely, there were no more 1st editions available. Believe me, I looked. And so did Jen. And Heidi. And my mother. And any poor person who was friends with me at that time. Pretty sure I mentioned it repeatedly to those I worked with at LCP. I went to Waldenbooks on Lagrange Road over and over again looking for it. They never had it. They offered to order it, but I never wanted to. Why? Because I didn’t want to order it and get in there, and it not be a first edition.  Because I would not buy it, and they would be stuck with it. So I kept hoping I would find it. At this point, I was NOT a collector of any kind, but this was about to be my initiation.

Let me give you some background. I am a huge Boy George fan, not just Culture Club, but his solo work, his DJ work, his battle and win over addiction, and his incredible life. His story is bitchy, dramatic, overemotional, and often wrought with bitterness. It’s also wildly inspiring, full of bluntness in dealing with the drug addiction that almost killed him, and a lot of hard truths in dealing with his homosexuality in a time when pop culture and the world at large did not openly embrace gay people as it does in this day and age. In other words, a book I could identify with. He was the first gay man that I idolized and fell in love with (I still think it’s because it’s one of my cherished memories with my mom. When CC was on Solid Gold for the first time in 1981 and we saw who that amazing voice belonged to, we were in love. My mom also was enraptured, and more than a little curious. Truly a bonding experience, our shared love of Boy George). So a first edition it had to be.

Eventually, I found it at a Crown Books in Chicago Heights. Odd that I would end up finding it there before my eventual tour of duty with them four years after that. This was a 4th edition. The nice lady at the counter told me they had no control over what edition they got from the publisher and that I was going to have a “hard time finding one because it’s been out for months and reprinted several times.” I almost wept. Instead, I bought that copy, because the book fiend had to read it. I guess we would call it my desk copy. By the time I eventually gave that copy to Jen (once I found the elusive 1st edition),  there were things underlined, the pages were dog-eared, things written in ballpoint ink in the margins, and I could recite whole passages by heart. I began hitting record stores, hoping I would find it. I did, but it was all the same edition I already had at home. I went to redneck garage sales, in southern Illinois and even in Georgia (I was dating the poor man’s Scott Weiland at the time, so I was in the neighborhood). Years go by, times change, scenes change, records begin to go out of vogue, then cassettes, etc, but I continued to use every avenue to try to locate the book. Tower Records, my beloved, had a great book section, and they couldn’t get it in. It was fucking impossible to find it. Rolling Stone Records in Norridge also has a great book and magazine section, and I used to go there with Czaja and Mark quite frequently, but no dice on the Boy. Of course, those fuckers had no problem having 10 copies of that stupid Pink Floyd biography by some Rolling Stone author, and they were all first editions, but not the one I sought. Life, and my mother’s death, came along and bumped me down a dark road for quite a few years. The twin bitches of responsibility and life took priority to my idle pursuits, so I let it spin off my radar for a while. And then one day, Beavis Jesus finally delivered me that copy I had been trying to find; at this point, for the better part of ten years.  A decade. For one book. Believe it.

The lead-in to this culmination is rather lame, or the Rog without the Rerun. I was waltzing along one day in a Bargain Books, which was on its way to ruination. The minute those people starting wearing the denim overalls and blasting Jesus Music Hour out of loud boomboxes, that was the end of that glorious remainder shack. Heidi and I were hunting for Duran Duran photo books, or possibly a gift for someone, I honestly don’t remember. I saw something buried under a Joyce Meyer (she haunted even then, and that was before the Niles book signing of infamy) book. It looked like a biography of someone from the silent screen era. I love to read stories of old Hollywood. So I turned the Joyce Meyer book over and hid it- under a Sesame Street book. Don’t worry, Grover approved. There- in all its glory- was one battered copy of Take It Like A Man. And battered is being nice. The corners of the book were dodgy, the cover was in deplorable shape, and the spine looked like someone was using it for Koosh practice. I grabbed it and quietly remembered to breathe. I open the book. Yep, there’s the first edition. In a balmy, stinky, denim-outfitted book barn warehouse in the middle of Countryside Plaza (The Amish Store–used to be Bargain Books), there was my first edition. Not in the prime condition a collector would hope, but I was to the point where it was for me. I wasn’t selling it, I wasn’t showing it anywhere, and I really just wanted to have it. It was the principle. It still is. I still own it. It still looks like I chewed entire parts of it up while awaiting the Robot Apocalypse, but it’s a first edition, and I wouldn’t trade it for all the red eyeliner in Cambodia. And I’m proud as hell that somewhere in a world of irony, there was a homosexual under Joyce Meyer.

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It’s no secret to anyone that I’m an 80’s fan. Anyone who knows me also knows that I have a top 10 of 80’s bands that I constantly return to, even after a long-distance love affair at times. INXS is one of those bands- easily number 3; sometimes number 2 when Boy George and Culture Club’s poppy love songs in reverse get me annoyed.

I’m not, by nature, an optimistic shark circling my next victim. However, I’m not the most negative person on the planet. There’s always a light to the dark side. It’s not often easy to remember those things when you’re young, wild, & free (insert laugh track here). It’s often up to an artist, an author, a muse of some type that you can adore from afar, whose messages and words move you into a different hemisphere. That’s definitely the case with INXS. Duran Duran, you know, they were the ones who brought poppy, synth-heavy “music you can dance to when they drop the bomb” (Simon LeBon, for the record). They’re always going to be my favorite band, but they were, and remain, my guilty pleasure. INXS appealed to me more on a visceral and cerebral level. The fact that Michael Hutchence was nice eye candy only helped, to be honest. INXS were, and still are, the go-to for any days when I am doubting anything. The message of positivity still rings true throughout their records now, a fact that still confounds me when you remember that Michael Hutchence committed suicide in 1997.

I first found this record at Tower Records in downtown Chicago. On compact disc, which was the new “happening” thing at that time. Tower still had bins of vinyl all over; as well as cassettes hanging on by a limb, imports, magazines (oh, the days before these fucking E-readers took print media out of stores everywhere), and the gone-and-no-one-really-cares laserdisc. My Tower Records love affair was due completely to the influence of one Chuck Contreras, aka Disco Chuck. I never met anyone who loved vinyl and movie collectibles, and shopping for them, as much as Chuck did (well, now I know Dave, but I digress). So I had a partner in crime (some backstory here; Chuck had a thing for me, but I was oblivious and didn’t see it because I was too busy hanging onto Biceps for Jesus at that time. It didn’t end well). I found out about most of the area’s well-known record stores through Chuck. Red Tower Records in Orland Park, Unabused Music in Bridgeview, Discount Records in Midlothian, The Crow’s Nest in Crest Hill, Tower Records downtown, Beverly Records in Beverly, etc. I still can’t remember all the places we hit. We hit some huge record convention in Joliet that was an entire football field’s worth of tables. I dropped about $200, and that was in the days before the economy sucked. But nothing compared to Tower Records in finding the obscure vinyl, back in the early 90’s. One night in 1992, I found the CD for Underneath The Colours, the largely unknown 2nd album from INXS. At this point, INXS were on top of the world, having Kicked ass with a slew of successful albums and tours worldwide. The Swing brought them some long sought after acclaim in the US, due to the song and video for Original Sin, a song about interracial relationships. It turned out to be the song that broke them on MTV in the States. Following that was Listen Like Thieves, and then the multi-platinum smash Kick, which launched them into superstardom. But this was the 2nd album! I didn’t even know it existed. I knew none of the songs. I had to have it. Except I didn’t. It wasn’t on vinyl.

Let me explain further about why the CD wasn’t the smart move. I had a crappy, ready to explode sound system at the house. I tried to sell it to various people, but they were all wise enough to turn me down. My mom begged me to throw it out, because she was afraid that I would blow up the fucking house. I refused because I couldn’t part with the record player. Those days, it was hard to find a record player in any sound system. So I refused, despite the fact that it may have blown my house in Willow Springs into the towering inferno. Because it was a record player, man, and vinyl was, and remains, my first love. So I walked out of that Tower Records without a CD copy of Underneath The Colours, but with more important things- namely, knowledge of the existence of that album, and a burning desire to find it on vinyl. Chuck was rather tactfully informed of my desire to procure the vinyl, and it began a 6-month record store odyssey to find the vinyl.

Again, a side note. These were the days without the massive media spitball known as the Internet, so your best chance of hearing music that you had no idea existed, was next to none. My best bet was to steal Heidi’s library card (ok, that’s kind of harsh, she lent it to me readily, but I was a little more obsessed with using it than she was) because Willow Springs never had a library and to join the Justice or Bridgeview one was $200. Steep in those days, so I borrowed hers and used it. Except I hit all the suburban libraries. Yes, I went to Blue Island, Bridgeview, Justice, LaGrange, and all points in between, trying to find a library that may have had Underneath The Colours on CD or cassette, so I could rent it and listen to it. No luck, so i had no idea if the album was a godsend or a flaming bag of suck. After that panned out like Al Capone’s Vault, I decided I had to re-focus the hunt on record stores again. Chuck and I hit the Holiday Inn Record Show in Hillside at the Holiday Inn, no dice. That’s actually where I found my vinyl copy of Kick, so I didn’t complain. And I became aware that they had this wonderful gathering every month, so there was always the chance that someone would have a copy. So began the obsession with the ARC Record Show, which didn’t take long to hook Heidi into attending (oh, the Duran we found) and Jennie eventually ended up going, looking for Gary Numan collectibles. I had just about given up hope of ever finding it when it finally came into my possession- purely by accident and a Faith No More finding mission.

By this time, I had a new bunch of people working at LCP with me and my brother. A young man named Nick Jedd enlightened me to a little band called Faith No More. Talk about love at first listen. Nick also enlightened my brother and I to the existence of a little record store in downtown LaGrange, called Beautiful Day. We left LCP one day and were hunting for a vinyl copy of We Care A Lot, when for some reason, I went over to the I’s and looked under INXS. There it sat. In plastic. An import. For $26. Now, don’t scoff. In 1992, that was a good deal of money for someone who was flipping pizzas for $6.25 an hour. I didn’t hesitate. Mike Patton and Co. would have to wait another day. I had to have that album. My brother wouldn’t let up in making fun of the Australian accent. I got home, and opened it up. Flawless Victory. I put it on. What a revelation. I was not totally thrilled with the material, although I loved” Stay Young”, “Big Go Go”, and “Underneath The Colours”I was largely unmoved on the rest, but as any fan would, I came home every day and religiously listened to it, and learned to love the quirkiness, and the political slant that Michael and Co. have on a number of songs on that album. The cover is god awful. It looks like something you would have found on a hand towel in a bathroom that Patrick Bateman would have been doing lines in, circa 1981. But the memories?? You can’t put a price on nostalgia, and the blood lust that consumes someone who collects these vinyl discs of memories. INXS always remind me of the light at the end of the tunnel, and there’s just something so innately satisfying about coming home and putting a record on that took you forever and many treks to obtain. You have to have something to give a shit about; and if it’s vinyl and you have gotten your hands on something that eluded you for eons, well, there’s nothing that can compare to that feeling of sonic nirvana.

12 Hits From Hell by Misfits

Posted: July 20, 2013 by The Social Retard in Music
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Misfits

Misfits

1977, the year that punk broke. The movement’s progenitor, Iggy Pop, was trying to sober up in Berlin. The Sex Pistols were running roughshod over London. The Ramones chainsawing through CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City. At least, that’s what we’ve always heard and read about. I was almost two years shy of being a magical wad courtesy of my father.

Nope. I wasn’t there. I couldn’t even claim to being there for the rise of R.E.M. or Metallica. My concert-going apex began with the advent of nu metal and the inexplicable popularity of Green Day. The word “punk” wasn’t part of my vernacular. It wasn’t until 1993, at the foolhardy age of 14, that “punk” and “music” were connected in my brain. I didn’t have a cool older sibling to teach me about it. My mother’s most extreme musical exploration was Black Sabbath. No, it took Guns N’ Roses and their retarded “effort”, The Spaghetti Incident, to introduce the idea of “punk rock”.

There was this kid in my homeroom named Ricky that seemed to know what was up when it came to rock music. So when we were talking about what would end up being the last GN’R album to feature Slash, I mentioned that I had heard that the album was a “punk” album.

“What’s that? What does punk mean?”

Ricky was no fucking help. It wasn’t until I was well into high school and at the height of my teenage angst that I discovered the Sex Pistols. My musical growth was stunted for so long by hanging out with so many uncool people, some of which are among my best friends today. Years spent wasted on throwaway bands like Green Jelly and Jackyl. Most of the crap we listened to on 103.5, the Blaze. This was the “metal” station. But they played fucking Foreigner! We didn’t know any better.

My friends have gotten marginally cooler (some I traded in for cooler friends, some I no longer talk to – addition by attrition) but still have largely atrocious musical tastes. They segued into bad rap and got stuck in the past rock-wise, while I expanded my horizons. I found whole new genres to be abrasively critical toward.

But the one band we all seem to agree on is the Misfits. We found about them in a roundabout way thanks to the aforementioned Metallica (as well as that awful GN’R album). Say what you want about them now but Metallica has meant more to rock music than anyone realize. Their most important contribution, though, is covering “Last Caress”. We must have listened to Live Shit: Binge and Purge a thousand times and “Caress” was always the highlight. One minute and twenty eight seconds of furious power chords and unseemly lyrics. The liner notes showed that the track was written by Glenn Danzig.

Wait a minute. The “Mother” guy? Good music came out of New Jersey? It turns out that there’s more than corn in Indiana and there’s more from NJ than Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi. In a little town called Lodi, nonetheless.

What followed was the constant consumption and immersion into all things Danzig and Misfits. This band with the revolving door of guitarists and drummers wrote songs about B-movies accompanied by largely nonsensical words, the ones you could actually decipher. When the boxed set came out, you truly saw that the words Glenn was singing were hardly Edgar Allan Poe but that didn’t matter. The fury laced the inherent poppiness of these songs was undeniable.

We started with the two eponymous compilations. My buddy Hector buying the first which consisted of singled and much of Walk Among Us. I purchased the far inferior second. I thought I made out like a bandit because I had “Last Caress” but Hector’s had “Ghoul’s Night Out”, “London Dungeon”, and “Horror Business” which, even after buying all of the individual albums, I still didn’t have.

The summer of 1995, I listened to almost nothing but Legacy Of Brutality. Because of this, I thought there was something wrong with my stereo. “She” sounded so much better at Hector’s on his CD. Little did I know that the band recorded so many version of each song with varying degrees of quality.

That was made quite apparent in 1997 as the boxed set and extended version of Static Age was released. Static Age is what happened when some money and care went into the mixing process. It was, by far, the best sounding Misfits release possible. The only problem was the weird sound of Franché Coma’s guitars. They just seemed to lack the proper punch. The songs were phenomenal but the true power of their capability was just never quite captured on tape.

It was a shame that Jerry Only and brother Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein resurrected the name Misfits for their own knock-off sans Danzig. Glenn wrote all of the original songs. How was this supposed to work?

The bigger shame was that the two post-Danzig albums with Michale Graves singing were actually kind of good. The travesty being that they sounded so much better than any of the Danzig-era Misfits releases. Technology had improved over time, obviously, but it just wasn’t fair.

After Graves and drummer Dr. Chud left the band, the wheels totally came off. Jerry Only decided he could, not just play bass but, sing all of a sudden. Most fans agree that he assumes incorrectly. His own brother didn’t even believe it and left to later join Danzig on tour. They play a mini Misfits set so that fans can hear how these songs are supposed to sound when they aren’t being butchered.

Amidst the turmoil within what was left of the band, another long sought after recording was set to come out from Caroline Records. 12 Hits From Hell, a session recorded in 1980 at Master Sound Productions in Franklin Square, New York, was to finally be unleashed upon the masses in 2001. It is the only Misfits recording to feature at least two guitarists on each track.

The lineup consisted of stalwarts Danzig and Only on vocals and bass, respectively. Arthur Googy was on drums and the guitarist of the moment was Bobby Steele (later of The Undead). He recorded three guitar tracks per song with Doyle’s being added on after Steele was fired. Original session producer Robbie Alter also played guitar on “London Dungeon” and “Violent World”.

The 2001 remix from producer Tom Bejgrowicz and engineer Alan Douches melded the guitars together in the center of the mix, resulting in the most mammoth sound the original band had ever achieved on a recording.

Reportedly, complaints from both Danzig and Only caused the album to be canceled. All copies meant for stores were supposedly destroyed. Bootlegs have made the rounds since then but it remains officially unreleased.

Listening to the Misfits on vinyl is really the only way to hear them. The first time I did, I listened to the Die, Die My Darling EP and I heard guitars that just weren’t present on the digital masters.

Static Age, for as great as it is, has the bass way too high in the mix. And while many of the same songs are on Walk Among Us, they just don’t pack the punch of the 12 Hits versions. It is the quintessential Misfits release and no one was meant to hear it.

This was a bootleg that I would always be on the lookout for at record shows. Not that I had ever expected to find it. This was my white whale. It’s what got me to go to record shows in the first place.

“Experts” say that you should do a full sweep of the place before buying anything so that you can make sure that you are getting the cheapest price. Fuck that, I say. You just can’t risk losing out. If I am going to get my grubby mitts on 12 Hits, I am not going to fool around. I vowed after that hippie shithead bought Atomizer right in front of me that that would never happen to me again.

Instead of going straight down the first aisle on this particular day, Joe and I veered right. It seemed like the smart thing to do. We weren’t thirty feet in the showroom when I saw it prominently displayed on an easel, sealed. Sealed! With the price tag of $40. Mind you, I had looked online for this record and never found an opened one for under five times that amount. And here it was, in plastic, for $40.

There was, however, something amiss. The cover of the album is a pea soup green with orange trim around the white letters. This cover was very much grayer, duller, muted. Was it sun damaged or something? Was this a fake? It had to be. This son of a bitch was preying on people like me to blindly buy this severely discounted item and not notice the details because we had never seen the real McCoy in person.

I must have held and stared at this thing for at least ten minutes. Joe was likely looking for whatever homogenized classic rock claptrap he could acquire. But I was transfixed. Was I really this close to Moby Dick only to find that the whale was some animatronic facsimile? If this is a tease, I am going to harpoon this fucking vendor at the next show.

I demanded he guarantee the record’s authenticity. Will this thing actually play? He guaranteed that it would play but stopped short of anything more. In the end, I gave in. As long as they never press any official vinyl, this is probably the closest I’ll ever get. I plunked down the forty bucks, went over to Joe, and proclaimed, “I’m done”.

I called dibs on the turntable and we ran into the basement. I unwrapped my treasure and examined the contents. The insert and labels seemed to be legit but the moment of truth was yet to come.

Upon laying the needle down, I stepped back and waited. The opening blaargh of “Halloween” rang out and I knew everything was going to be alright. I didn’t care if this was official or not. It sounded great. And it was mine. It remains the most prized record in my collection.

Atomizer by Big Black

Posted: July 15, 2013 by The Social Retard in Music
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Big Black

Big Black

Like a lot of people my age, I first learned the name Steve Albini from Nirvana’s In Utero album liner notes. He was the guy those songs were “recorded by”. Little did I know that he was so much more.

The closest I had at that age (14) to a musical pedagogue was my older cousin Daniel. The best he ever did was introduce me to Sugar and Bob Mould. Not even Hüsker Dü. I shouldn’t have expected much from the guy that used to come over when I wasn’t home, play my Downward Spiral CD, and then leave it outside of its case where it got scratched up by mysteriously vicious air particles.

As a result of my lack of guidance, I didn’t learn about Nirvana’s influences until years after Kurt Cobain was just dust in the wind (dude). The loud-quiet-loud dynamic was a direct ripoff of the Pixies and that the same Steve Albini had recorded their album Surfer Rosa. I have hope for the future because my little cousins in Florida that are less than half my age already know all of this stuff. But I didn’t have the benefit of high-speed internet when I was their age. What an old codgery thing to say.

Albini had recorded countless other classic albums like PJ Harvey’s Rid Of Me and all of the work up until that time of The Jesus Lizard. Admittedly, I only know about JL because of the Clerks soundtrack but I still thought they were pretty good. Even after I found out about this Albini character, I still had no idea that he had his own band, let alone how awesome they were. It was ten years after I had first become aware of Steve Albini that I was working as the assistant manager at a wretched Southern-based bookstore. I met and interviewed a bright young lady named Lauren.

Lauren was 17 but already knew about the Pixies, The Jesus Lizard, Albini, and the whole Touch & Go Records back catalog for which Albini has a major hand in. I felt like a neophyte that had wasted my life, not knowing about this shit. For the record, this was not what we discussed in the interview. I did take some pride in that job at that time before strange things were a-Foote (this typographical anomaly is intended).

It took a while for me to get into Big Black but I loved Albini’s one-off band Rapeman instantly. It consisted of Albini on guitar and vocals, Jesus Lizard bassist David Sims, and drummer Rey Washam, that I knew from Ministry. The Two Nuns and a Pack Mule album hit all the right angry notes with me. I also liked Albini’s current band, Shellac, more than Big Black. I think I had an aversion to drum machines or something. Completely unjustified reasoning in retrospect.

Lauren loved Big Black’s Rich Man’s Eight Track Tape comp. And while I am receptive to new music, I also sometimes dismiss stuff that she plays me initially. She’ll play me stuff over and over until I can’t stand it anymore. Eventually, I’ll get around to listening to it on my own and come to the conclusion that it is one of the greatest things I have ever heard just so I can feel like I discovered it myself. It’s a dick thing to do but, sometimes, I’m a dick.

All of this new love of this kind of music led me and my buddy Hector to open our own online music store. At first, we sold CDs but the profit margin was just not good enough. Besides, the big box stores could offer CDs below cost as a tool to get people in their stores. We didn’t have a store for people to come into, so that was not a viable business option.

After much prodding, I convinced Hector that we should start to carry vinyl. He was hesitant because, like a lot of people, he assumed that vinyl was a dead format, the fucking heretic. However, he changed his tune once I showed him the Touch & Go catalog (in those days, T&G distributed their own stuff) and how much cheaper the record costs were compared to the CD costs and we could sell the records at a far greater mark-up. We tried it on a trial basis and we sold off all of the records we ordered in the time it took to sell 1 CD. I didn’t turn him into a vinyl lover but he sure liked money. We were off and running.

Not long after our conversion, Touch & Go sort of went under. They were no longer releasing new music nor doing direct sales with stores. This news sucked. There prices were great and the music was something I believed in. They also distributed Merge and Drag City, among others. I was just about to restart my record collection again and now my main source wasn’t going to be available. With the writing on the wall, I used the opportunity to order our largest order form there ever, putting in a chunk of my own money to buy everything in their catalog that I was ever going to want. Somehow, I harbor a bit of guilt that we waited until the end for such a big order. Maybe if we had ordered more before, they wouldn’t be closing up shop. That is a ridiculous notion, of course. I always thought that if I won the lottery, the first thing i would do is buy a stake in Touch & Go and bring it back to its 2007 state. I digress.

Some stuff wasn’t available anymore but I did manage to get, among others, Slint’s Spiderland, The Jesus Lizard’s Liar, and a whole mess of Albini stuff:

Rapeman’s Two Nuns and a Pack Mule and the Budd EP

Shellac’s At Action Park and Excellent Italian Greyhound

Big Black’s Songs About Fucking, Pig Pile, Headache and Lungs EPs, and their 3 45s.

A couple of things were missing in there but the one that really mattered was the one that was out-of-print: Atomizer. The Eight Track Tape consisted of Headache and the “Heartbeat” maxi-single, along with 1985’s Atomizer LP. This was the one piece that I could not have.

My friend Joe and I started going to monthly record shows nearby, namely the one at the Holiday Inn in Hillside. I’d go with a fifty dollar budget that often was just an arbitrary number. We would always try to get to the show as soon as it opened to better assure ourselves the pick of the litter. That’s just good strategy.

When we got our stuff back to his house, we showed our offerings to his wife, Theresa. Bless her that she pretended to be interested in what a couple of knuckleheads have been wasting their time and money on. She likes to sleep in on Sundays, so I’m sure she was just glad that her house was moron-free until noon. Unfortunately, that was usually when we started watching football or playing Rock Band. They have a kid now, so that shit’s over.

Anyway, at this particular show, the guy in the back right corner of the place always had the oddball alternative stuff, so I made it a point to check out his offerings. There was always this hippie-looking douche that seemed to shadow me at these things and I never paid him any mind until I fell asleep at the proverbial wheel. I almost always asked vendors about Atomizer or the Bulldozer and Racer-X EPs that I was also missing. I had managed to acquire those sealed for $10 apiece before but I still longed to scream “Passing Complexion” through my stereo.

On this day, I had rifled through this gent’s collection, saw Sonic Youth’s EVOL for $50 but I had already gone through at least half of my monthly allotment. I eventually asked the guy if he had Atomizer and he said that he did but someone else was about to buy it. I looked over at the culprit to find that it was that Willie Nelson-haired fucktard. That patchouli prick forked over the $45 and offered a half-assed apology. Have you ever seen the American version of Shameless on Showtime? This asshole looks like that motherfucker Jody, the half-retarded husband of Karen. Haven’t seen it? Look it up.

I could have eaten this bastard’s eyes, I was so mad. I tried to shake it off and find something else but I just wasn’t having that. I carried that cloud for the rest of the morning and well into the month that followed.

I hunkered down in my place, ignoring the cries of my roommate’s two Pomeranians. And, yes, he was a guy. What kind of guy has one Pomeranian, much less two? He expected me to walk them but that wasn’t my damned job.

I scoured Gemm.com and other sites that sellers post their wares. Of all places, I found it on eBay. There were 13 days until this auction ended with no “Buy It Now” option. I had been outbid several times for Atomizer on eBay because I refused to pay more than I would paid at the record show. I was not going to admit defeat.

I waited and waited and waited to place my bid. I maneuvered my work schedule so that I would be home with an hour left to go in the auction. The price sat at a manageable amount that escapes me. I plunked down my bid of $40 with ten seconds to go and won the item. Final price: $25. Patience is not a virtue that I have ever really possessed. People marvel sometimes that it looks like I wait forever for some things but it’s an illusion. I am dogged. I am always hunting even though I may not know what for. It’s animalistic, I can’t help myself…I am not a serial killer. I felt like that was where that was heading, so let’s, just, not.

It wasn’t patience that allowed me to get what I wanted (which was actually better since mine was pressed for Homestead Records, an earlier pressing than the one that “Jody” got). It was perseverance. I refused to miss out just because some jagamuffin swooped in like a vulture with a learning disability and snagged my desired record. This is a story of overcoming adversity and triumph. This is a colossal “fuck you” to Jody’s everywhere.

Duranecting

Posted: July 13, 2013 by generationgbooks in Music
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Image

Go ahead, look it up. The word doesn’t exist, except in the mind of yours truly, LadyGDuran. I was trying to think of a term that would combine another of my passions and the art and act of collecting anything and everything relating to my favorite band of all time: Duran Duran. My idiot savant friends can make fun all they like, but there is something to be said for having something in your life that never lets you down. I know, I know, we won’t discuss the “dark” years of Liberty, Medazzaland, and Pop Trash– except, well, we will. Or rather, I will. And you will read, comment, like, share, continue to help this blog onto mass followers, or I will make you listen to Reel Big Fish’s awful cover of “Hungry Like The Wolf”.

OK, begin the begin. The life changing force catapulted into my orbit in 1981. I was 8. I’m now 40. Do the math. They’ve been in my life almost as long as books have. They’re like the best friend whom you can go without talking to for awhile, then pick up again, as if nothing had ever happened, and the two of you were eating cheesy nachos and making fun of Mr. Piwnicki’s coffee addiction just yesterday. The object of unwavering adulation that never lets me down on those dark, lonely, bogus Hallmark card holidays (Valentine’s Day? Sweetest Day? Ha. I would rather watch Sing Blue Silver and overdose on Pirate Booty). The band that no matter how awful I feel, one spin of the Rio vinyl (Yes, vinyl. Screw you, Internet music bit torrent users), will restore me to a happier, calmer place. Just a record. Except, it’s NOT just a record. It’s a way of life. As is collecting something in which you have undying faith, no matter how dark the times, no matter how lonely the days, no matter what awful color of lipstick Nick Rhodes may have been wearing. You get the gist.

You should have heard my family. My mother happily endorsed this behavior of buying every single teeny bopper magazine out in the 80’s- simply because she wanted to see where I was going to find a place in my bedroom to hang the newest addition to the poster collection. I have pictures, it was insane. My mother also knew all the lyrics to every song, and happily encouraged Heidi and I in our worship. This usually involved ‘Duran Days’. Heidi’s ever-so-patient family would bring her over to the house, and we’d hunker down in front of the old floor model Panasonic console. We would watch the original Duran Duran video album (which they won a Grammy for), then Sing Blue Silver, then whatever else we had that was Duran-related. We would rewind the hell out of those VHS tapes. My mom rented the video album and Sing Blue Silver so much that Beth Mayo, owner of Video One in Willow Springs, eventually gave both to me as Christmas gifts. Phar-Mor, my first job; I rented that videocassette so much from the video department, that eventually they gave me a copy for free when I won employee of the month in March, 1989. All copies that were watched relentlessly snapped in half. I cried every single time it happened. And it happened often, make no mistake. Similar scenarios happened when I played the cassette tapes. Over and over and over. It didn’t matter when, where, what my mood was. The whole summer of 1986 I spent in front of the TV re-watching The Monkees series being played on MTV, for the 20th (25th? I don’t remember) anniversary. When I wasn’t shoving ungodly amounts of Sour Patch Kids, Doritos, and Diet Coke in my piehole while watching the marathon, I was outside on the swingset playing my Duran Duran tapes. Over and over and over. You’re starting to notice a pattern. It wasn’t difficult to let my true love cup run overfloweth, when it was widely encouraged. My mom was definitely the ringleader. My dad just shook his head, said “Christ, not again”, and left the room. It gave my brother unlimited fodder for his shotgun of meager insults. My younger sister swears she’s scarred for life. Oh well, you can choose your bands, you can’t choose your family. You can, however, find ways to mortally wound them for life when you continue to play the same song relentlessly (“Goodbye is Forever” by Arcadia. I think if my sister ever hears it again, someone may get beheaded ). And that, my friends, I excel at.

What happens when you continue in your ways as you age? Either you grow out of the phase, or it continues to color your life as you move on through this circus known as life. I choose to continue riding the Duran Wave. An example? You’re so obsessed with collecting that you somehow manage to have amassed a ridiculous amount of the same song, in multiple musical formats. An example: Seven and the Ragged Tiger: I have the original vinyl, minus the gatefold which was water damaged in the move from my old house to this one. That vinyl is scratched to all grooves of hell, but I do not let it go. I have the replacement vinyl, in plastic. I have every 45 that came out associated with the singles from that album. I have a remix album of the songs off that album- again, vinyl. I also have the CD formats. I used to have several cassettes of live shows associated with that legendary 1984 tour (the one where the US magazines and DJ’s were designating them “The New Beatles”). I have every single cassette single. Despite the fact you cannot find cassette players anywhere. I. Cannot. Let. It. Go. There is no joking with musical passions, friends. Nor any passions, for that matter. I don’t care what the format is, how much it costs, how many days or hours of work may be compromised for the consummation of this courtship, how many bad neighborhoods you may get lost in on the way back from Indiana at 2am after stalking out the tour bus (Duran Duran, Star Plaza Theatre, Indiana, 1992. We got lost in the ghetto downtown at 2am).

What happens when your dream comes true, and you get to meet them? Kind of. And by meet them, I mean that Heidi and I went to Best Buy on Ashland on December 13, 2006, for a meet, greet, sign sort of thing for Red Carpet Massacre. We both got off work. We got down there bright and early. We both had shitty Verizon phones, so photos were not great. I think Heidi got some photos, but grainy John Taylor is still better than nothing at all. They were at a table directly in front of us. Simon, John, Nick, and Roger. I had coffee and the spastic handshaking did, indeed, result in me spilling my coffee right near Simon. That didn’t go over well. He was quiet, but polite. John was grace and gorgeous incarnate. Nick was also quiet, but the beauty of those green eyes up close struck you speechless. Roger was all warmth and rugged handsomeness. Heidi and I both had the Red Carpet Massacre CD’s signed. John renamed me Georgia. My CD, my pride and joy, says Georgia, not Georgette. There is, of course, the chance that he asked me and in my state of shock, delirium, insanity, that I told him I was now named after a bad Victorian romance heroine. But it’s them! They were inches in front of us, and we survived. How? No idea. I will say that it is one of the few great days of my life. I wouldn’t trade that whole day and night of Duranventure with Heidi for any amount of money.

What does this all mean? It means that once you accept something into your mind, body, heart, and soul and decide there is no leaving, you must be prepared to accept the consequences. I happily accept the consequences of having over 3,000 Duran posters and articles. I happily accept the consequences of having 13 different formats of one album- Japanese pressing, Dutch pressing, etc. I happily accept the consequences of having to read every book that has a single mention of the boys. I happily accept the consequences that may result from my fanatically following Simon LeBon’s Twitter account. I happily accept any and all things that spawn from this all-consuming passion of mine known as Duran Duran. Why so excessive? Why not? You could be excessive in the ways of all things bad. Or you could be excessive in the ways of something that makes you so ridiculously giggly that it’s like you’re an 8-year old bookworm stuck in a podunk town full of corrupt policeman that dump bodies in canals, all over again. Except it’s 32 years later and you have to be an adult. But you don’t. If you have something that constantly crests you back into a sea of nostalgia (Dave’s saying, not mine) and happiness, that’s the wave you need to continue to ride. In a time, date, and place where you can obtain “happiness” with money, false promises, material possessions, and broken mirages left and right, your best best is to stick with the tried and true that will never make you blue. Duran Duran, you’re my wave.

Hysteria by Def Leppard

Posted: July 12, 2013 by The Social Retard in Music
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Hysteria

Hysteria

I know. I already did a Def Leppard post. This is the last one, I promise. Please keep reading. Look, I was a dopey kid of the 80’s and I was raised on MTV, back when MTV actually stood for “Music Television”. That’s right, kids. MTV used to show music videos and it made sense that they had their own award show. Then, “The Real World” came out and began the channel’s fascination with reality TV leading to the dissolution of the medium of music videos. Somewhere, Pearl Jam is celebrating. Eddie Vedder drunkenly screaming, “That’s right. Fuck making videos! Fuck Ticketmaster! Fuck Lars Ulrich!” or something to that effect.

Anyway, I was eight years old when Hysteria came out and I was too young to realize how gay Def Leppard’s music was. Then again, I don’t think the concept of “gay” was even on my radar. I just thought George Michael liked to dance indifferently around attractive, scantily-clad women. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” was a colossal hit and Joe Elliott’s spastic elbow stage theatrics were considered cool. The album would have been #1 on the Billboard chart had it not been for Michael Jackson’s Bad.

Myself, at that time, I had the album on cassette. When I moved away from my beloved house in Westchester in the summer of ’88, I went to some local piece of shit carnival. I played the game with the darts and balloons, you know the one. I was pretty good at it because I played baseball all the time back when I thought baseball was not insufferable. See what a dumb kid I was? I kept winning, trading up in prizes until I got my ultimate: a 12″x12″ mirror of the Hysteria cover. That was my prized possession for a long while until some tard was rummaging through the basement and broke it.

Once CD’s became a thing for me in 1993, Hysteria was one of the first ones I owned. I eventually even got the double disc deluxe remastered CD, from Walmart of all fucking places. Shocking as I had owned it on every other format, that I did not have it on vinyl. I had found a used copy at some random resale shop but it skipped during “Run Riot”. So, in November 2009, I went on a leading online retailer’s site so that no one at a record store would give me shit. Yep, sometimes I am that insecure. I ordered the new 180 gram remastered version and when it finally arrived, the cover had a corner that was bent to shit. Those idiots just through it in a box, that looked like it was meant for a pillow, with one of those inflatable plastic bags underneath it. There was no stability, the damned thing had definitely been jostling about. I was not paying $19 for this.

I sent it back and awaited the replacement package. When that came, you guessed it. All fucked up again. Let’s try this once more time. When the third one came back, I was convinced that they had just sent me the first one again. To hell with this, I opened the 180 gram and took the disc out. It looked and played fine. I then put it in my original version’s sleeve. I put my old version in the new package and requested another return, this time a refund. I was done with this crap. I eventually got my $19 back and still had the brand new disc. Suck it, big filthy box store.

I have a long history with this band. They are my one embarrassing pop culture constant. I had an argument with my then-girlfriend in 1999 because she didn’t pick up the Euphoria CD for me on the day of release. Little background there: I could say how she was the blonde vulture that ruined my life in general but that doesn’t seem wholly pertinent to this particular story. She had no car so I let her borrow mine while I was at work…forty minutes away. The only caveat was that she had to pick me up at the end of my shift. I never asked her to do anything during this time except not to use all of my fucking gas. This one day, I gave her $10 to get that CD at some point during the day. She wasn’t working, she just sun-tanned during peak sun hours.

When she picks me up, I ask where the CD is and she says she didn’t have time. Amazingly enough, she didn’t blow the $10 on something else. Normally, I let her drive back home but, this time, I took the wheel because I needed to make a stop. I headed straight to Best Buy and left her in the car. I got my CD and drove her back home while I hung out with friends, likely to complain about this latest transgression. Look. I know this doesn’t sound like much but I really didn’t ask for anything, ever. I received it…in abundance!

Two years ago, I got out of the hospital after a week of surgery and horrible tests, my mom picked me up and decided that I needed supplies. I said fine but I insisted on Walmart. This would normally never happen except that  my idea of supplies were chili cheese Fritos, Diet Dr. Pepper, Hobo With a Shotgun on Blu-Ray and the Walmart exclusive Mirror Ball, Def Leppard’s first official live album that had just come out. I was convalescing and I needed some comfort, no matter how stupid or fleeting. I didn’t really feel like I had anyone to turn to, so I went to the old standby.

These days, “Pour Some Sugar On Me” is my second to least favorite track on Hysteria next to “Excitable”. My favorite may be “Gods Of War” now but I’m not quite sure. Even now, I still have the tradition of playing it all the way through at least once on my birthday. It reminds me of a time when things were simpler, like my musical tastes were. It’s clearly nostalgia but I think I do, somehow, still enjoy the music. I know it isn’t “good” and I don’t care. It’s just nice to know that it will always be there when I need it.

I realize I’ve slandered the epic Sir-Mix-A-Lot anthem. I am sure Mr. Mix-a-Lot (I mean, really, what the hell would you call him?) wouldn’t mind, as it’s in the way of creation of a blog about collecting. I collect many things, so there will be other blogs, but the main one, at least consistently, has been books.

When and how did this start? Not sure, to be perfectly honest. I grew up in a household where reading took a back seat to bad horror films, bad disco music, and bad television shows of the 70’s. My mother’s primary source of reading material was tabloids. I blame her for my continuing fascination with the printed scandal sheets. My father’s primary sources were sales papers (buying a Sunday Sun-Times only for the sales papers, I was the fool reading everything between those papers), old car manuals, old Army manuals, and history books on WWI and WWII. I guess with those lines set early on, it’s no surprise the three of us were avid readers. The point is, it starts somewhere. The love of reading started the obsession with books. The obsession with books means despite the fact that I know better and have even less space, I continue to amass frightening amounts of literature, from multiple sources. The minute you find yourself anchoring a little old WordPress book blog, you find yourself inundated with MORE books. That’s a warning, friends. A warning I happily continue to ignore, for the record.

There was always an indication the books were going to get me into trouble. First there was the war with Joe D in grade school. He was reading the Hardy Boys, I was reading Nancy Drew. There was some spirited discussion of who could finish their series faster. I don’t remember who won, or if we totally stopped, but I did finish all the ND. Joe did finish all the HB, I just don’t recall what the spoils of that hard-wrought battle were(or likely, weren’t). I remember telling my mom and all she could say was “With all your homework, that’s what you’re worried about? Put that down and let’s watch Welcome Back, Kotter.”(sad AND true). No one thought of pointing out that she was telling me to quit reading those Nancy Drew books and watch my beloved Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, while I should have been doing said homework. Oh well, the late 70’s and early 80’s were quite a time of freestyle parenting; this would have been a good example.

Monetarily? The first sign of trouble was shortly after that, when there was a library sale. I don’t remember if it was at WSS or if it was at my cousin’s school in Hickory Hills, but I went and my entire allowance was gone. I had a motherload of books. I was excited. I stacked them all up in my bedroom, on the side that my nihilistic brother didn’t have taken up with those GI Joe dolls. The same weekend found me going to garage sales with Darlene, my mom’s best friend. More books. The pile grew higher. I would plow through those suckers, but it’s a battle that cannot be won. No matter how many I could read, there was always that hirsute bitch, Miss Responsibility, sitting outside to ruin my book party. I was never going to NOT have a collection of books. Nor would my desire to have mountains of books about, ever truly cease.

The psychology involved here is that no matter how much i enjoy reading, how fast I can read and blog about these books, and how often I tell myself to not buy books, I just cannot part with them. I continue to collect them, win them, borrow them, buy them cheaply at HPB, have them sent to me by publishers and colleagues. They aren’t going anywhere. For every box that gets donated (3 boxes today alone), I’m already figuring out which books I can afford to buy this week from my job (I’m a manager at an independent bookstore). By the way, choosing to have a career that is even in the remotest of ways connected to your passion, will not quench your thirst to further add to that collection. In fact, it will no doubt feed the fires, even more so.

For anyone to pour their heart, soul, wallet, creativity, and time into something that is a leisurely pursuit, and to do it for many years, in many different economic times, amid tumult of professional, personal, and mental types, and still not lose that desire, it means that this is an edifying passion that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I used to scoff at people who would go to craft shows religiously, and sell goose clothes. Who the fuck has a goose on their lawn, and why would they outfit an inanimate object? Well, guess what? It’s their passion, I have no fucking right to sit here and judge and snicker, because I collect books, they are my passion. I have no right to ridicule others, when I am in a different class of the same school of thought. Ridiculous amounts of them, many different subject matters, and many different editions. I have found books that I had hardcover and paperback editions of, but I can’t bear to throw out the hardcover, although I also have the paperback. If I go to a thrift store, where do I end up? Books. Do I end up buying them, even if it’s a Jackie Collins yellowed dog eared copy that I probably won’t read until I’m 68? Sadly enough, yes.

Overall, there isn’t much to add to this, except a bit of advice. When you go to move from one residence to the next, that is really when you realize just how much of a collector you are. Meaning- you now have to make sure your items of worship are lovingly preserved so they don’t expire or disappear in the move. It also means that you have to find room for all those items. This, in itself, should be a blog posting. My act of having to move two years ago, with my 3,660 books, was an ugly thing. I have more books than clothes. I have more books than records. I have more books than scruples. Would I have it any other way? Hell to the no.