Reading

Stereogum’s Tom Brei­han on the Pitch­fork Music Fes­ti­val:

I find some­thing quizzi­cal and hon­or­able in this: A whole fes­ti­val built around music that is not, in any way, designed for par­ty­ing. In a way, isn’t that the log­i­cal end­point of a decade-plus of inter­net music con­sump­tion? We’ve all spent all this time find­ing music on our com­put­ers and pip­ing that music direct­ly into our ears, rarely if ever hav­ing real-life con­ver­sa­tions about some of the artists who mean the most to us. Why shouldn’t we be ded­i­cat­ing entire fes­ti­vals to that same anti­so­cial expe­ri­ence?

Need a #latepass here, but I’m not alto­geth­er sure what this is about. I attend­ed the show Sat­ur­day with a friend, cour­tesy of Pitch­fork, and found myself chat­ting with present and for­mer Pitch­fork crit­ics, as well as the Super Fur­ry Ani­mals in the VIP.

There was also a mas­sive crowd in Union Park singing “Bar­bara Ann” as I left. It sound­ed about the same as when I first expe­ri­enced the Beach Boys 30 years ago at the Great Allen­town Fair.

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Thinking

Overlooked Culture

Maybe I’m fol­low­ing the wrong peo­ple on social media, but has the word “over­looked” lost all mean­ing as it per­tains to cul­ture? It seems to me that when we’re still print­ing spoil­er alerts for ten-year-old TV shows that “over­looked” has lost all explana­to­ry pow­er. Now when I see that word in a review, I roll my eyes. Chances are the reviews are just as over­looked as the cul­ture they describe, if not more­so.

Sure, with­in your niche the new records from Vam­pire Week­end or the Nation­al may be on everyone’s lips, but it’s a safe bet that the word of mouth out­paces actu­al con­sump­tion of that par­tic­u­lar cul­tur­al arti­fact. You may per­ceive that those records have gone main­stream, but the real­i­ty is your neigh­bor has nev­er heard either band.

There’s def­i­nite­ly a bright side to this; with this shift, it appears to me at least that snob­bery los­es in the bar­gain. The on demand nature of cul­ture now enables any­one curi­ous enough to book­mark those things men­tal­ly and nar­rows the gap between the expert and the novice. More­over, we’ve done away with the cul­tur­al mono­liths that once dom­i­nat­ed the pop cul­tur­al land­scape that allow us to gath­er around real and imag­ined water cool­ers for dis­cus­sion and debate.

But how do crit­ics describe this shift as the pace of cul­tur­al cre­ation plows under what came before? Blink and you could miss the next cul­tur­al epicy­cle. Has cul­ture been mar­gin­al­ized or per­son­al­ized? Can any­thing be described as ephemer­al, or were we just always talk­ing to our­selves, the myth of mono­cul­ture just anoth­er imag­ined com­mu­ni­ty peo­pled exclu­sive­ly by elites?

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Doing

Saying Goodbye to My CD Collection

I start­ed pack­ing up my remain­ing CDs last night. I’ve final­ly real­ized that no mat­ter how often I tell myself that I’ll rip them to a dri­ve, or that I’ll fall in love with the medi­um all over again, they will only col­lect dust in a dark cor­ner of my house. Don’t believe me? Look how many times I’ve lied to myself about it!

I’m rid­ding myself of a col­lec­tion I’ve built over 20 years. With a lit­tle effort, I could turn the entire thing into a Spo­ti­fy playlist in about an hour. It’s hard not to feel defeat­ed. How often did I spend mon­ey bet­ter spent on food or clothes on music that I bare­ly heard? I’m still find­ing unopened CDs with receipts that are a decade old. Now I’ll sell them for pen­nies on the dol­lar and be glad.

I’m doing my best to not be sen­ti­men­tal about it, but it’s brought back mem­o­ries of trips to record stores around the world. My R.E.M. CDs have been with me since I lugged them to Den­mark as a 17 year old! I can still remem­ber how much I cher­ished the 40-odd albums I took on exchange. I remem­ber when my col­lec­tion bal­looned to 120 care­ful­ly curat­ed discs in grad school. I spent time man­i­cur­ing it, trad­ing in to trade up, bud­get­ing as best I could to have a col­lec­tion my peers would respect. It grew to near­ly 1500 discs when I moth­balled it in the walk-in clos­et. Now as I pack it up and pre­pare myself to sell it all, I shake my head with every obscure disc I find encased in shrink wrap.

If you or some­one you know would like to own a music col­lec­tion that imme­di­ate­ly makes it seem like you came of age in the ‘90s, you might want to stop by AKA Music in the next cou­ple weeks. It’s only fit­ting that I take them back to the place where I spent so much time and mon­ey on the music I’ve loved most.

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