Saturday, March 27, 2004

A Nod for Shaman

Some days, while intently seeking one thing, I stumble across something else quite different. The disappointment of my failure to acquire what I sought is consoled by the surprise of discovering something new and wonderful. At least, that's what I tell myself. Maybe I'm just a well programmed consumer. If you can't buy the one you want, buy the one you find (a variation on CSN&Y, the capitalist version).

Imaginary Keith mentioned a film, Stone Reader, that I had to see. I ventured out last night to find it. It is not to be found in this small South Jersey town. I had one clerk look it up, correcting her twice regarding her insistence on adding an additional "d" to the title. It was not listed under either spelling.

On my way home, I stopped at two places seeking this illusive film. In both, I had to correct the clerks. The reader is not stoned, as far as I know. Of course, I haven't seen the film yet. The young men at my final stop snickered and gave me a knowing look, but failed to deliver the film. Disappointed, but determined to make some purchase (and to show the youngsters I wasn't as square as my black stormtrooper uniform made me look), I decided to browse through the CDs.

CDs are a rather new addition to my life. I can recall when 8-Track players first came out. Being set free from the domination of radio DJs, who all seemed to be poor imitations of the Wolfman, was a major liberation for those of us who spent most of our evening hours cruising (or, in my town, "dragging the gut"...a curious turn of phrase, but it was a curious town).

I eventually gave in, and switched to cassettes, primarily because 8-Tracks disappeared. I saw no great improvement in the technology, and some serious drawbacks. Right at the dramatic shift in tempo in "Free Bird," the tape stops. You pull it out, and a thread of thin tape remains bonded to some cog in the inner workings. You pull some more, and end up with chocolate spaghetti all over the front seat. Yet, it was cassettes or DJs. I learned to accept that this is not a perfect world, and to consider cassette recordings a disposable item. Which may have been the plan all along. Our worth is defined by how much we consume. Defective products result in more consumption. I needed to do my part to help the economy.

I had little faith on this new technology; miniature albums that played on one side. They looked much too shiny and delicate. But the selection of cassettes continued to dwindle. Last month, I compromised. I got one of those kits that makes your car cassete player into a CD player. It's a rather unusual piece of hardware; a cassette with a wire on it, which plugs into a portable CD player. The CD player runs off a jack plugged into the lighter. I like the appearance; the jumble of wires makes it look like some techie type has modified the console to do some new and marvelous thing.

So, I've been buying a few CDs. It may be good consumer brainwashing that leads me to the conclusion that the sound quality is better. Nevertheless, my perception is that I experience better music now. In the end, isn't it all about our perception of the experience that matters? Some would agree.

Until today, I had Joe Walsh, Steve Miller, Dave Matthews, Divine Discontent, Jethro Tull and U2. Today, I added Shaman, by Santana. "The Game of Love" with Michelle Branchi and "Nothing at All" with Musiq are superb.

I've ordered Stone Reader. Now it will come through the mail. Those who monitor such things will be alerted. The authorities will no doubt suspect that I am doing something illicit in the privacy of my home while I read obviously subversive literature. I need to remember not to play Santana in the house. That would leave no doubt in the minds of those sworn to protect us all from such devious behavior that I am a serious threat to the moral fiber of this great nation.

I think I'll retire to the basement to read for a while. Maybe I had better bar the doors. And use my headphones.


No comments:

Post a Comment