Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Silly things

On a Saturday evening about three months ago I picked up the lp, Person Pitch, by Animal Collective's Panda Bear, on my way out the door at the store. I'd only heard it once, and compared to the elegiac Young Prayer, which he composed for his late father, I found the new work a little tainted by more popular contrivances--especially those throwing back heedlessly to Brian Wilson's broad-swath sunshine sound. But the consensus was good.

I haven't opened it yet. And it's possible I only bought the record to feel better about the day--I may never open it.

I bring it up now because coming off a few days of creative dryness, following a horribly botched meditation on an old doo-wop record--a favorite, which only makes it worse, I considered swinging by the bins at Beautiful World Syndicate to see what $5 or less could buy.

This last week has proven psychologically challenging from a listening standpoint. As I continue to discover the rambunctious side of Schubert there is precious little resistance in the air; if we buy records to placate ourselves, we actualy listen to them to chafe ourselves, or at least chafe others that the friction might return to us.

Sadly many stores no longer carry classical music, or if they do they're worn out selections, picked over for strong recordings of popular titles. Popular, such as they are. All of this makes the process feel somewhat empty, certainly less exciting. You don't get that cagey feeling coming across a 78 of Alfred Cortot's Chopin performances that you might get from seeing a clean mono copy of Another Side of Bob Dylan--though the former in market terms might exceed the value of the latter. It's just not that cool. No one's going to call you a dick for finding it first; and in his head the owner is kissing Christ's sweet feet that that useless, dingy thing is finally leaving his store.

Last night, after walking the dog and seeing a peculiar barefooted man on the glassy sidewalks around 5th & Tasker, in the heat with hardly any streetlight to show the way, I had a flashback of something I'd read a few years back. Anthony Bourdain described his awkward college years in a single image, which I'd say speaks to the wilderness of social awkwardness out there. He was, as he wrote (and I paraphrase), that kid walking across campus with the samurai sword in his belt. Not, I should take the license to point out, on his way to a martial arts class, nor a weaponology seminar, nor even a trade show where such things are often bought and sold among minds liberal to those objects. He was likely going to the cafeteria, or maybe a parking lot wall to stand and spit. I was struck by the thought of Bourdain, as with this mysterious night creeper, how silly we must seem no matter what we do.

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