Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Duff Thoughts: Memory Train
This past fall, my parents were kind enough to give me their old car, which bizarrely enough, has a cassette deck, even though it came off the factory line in 2002. Unfortunately, dad didn't warn me that the deck wasn't working that well--I discovered that as I was speeding down the Deegan toward Manhattan and it ate my NYC Ska Live cassette. I shredded the tape trying to get it out. Luckily, I have an LP copy of this compilation, so I still have the music and all, but I was bummed nonetheless. My immediate thought was that there aren't too many cassette copies of this floating out there anymore (sure enough, a search on eBay and GEMM didn't turn anything up--no NYC Ska Live LPs or cassettes, nada).
It also reminded me how earlier in the summer, when I was moving around some of the stuff I have in storage in my parents' basement, I opened one of the big Rubbermaid trunks where I had been keeping a ton of old ska t-shirts dating back to the late 80s, Moon posters, and posters that Buck brought back from touring in Europe and points beyond--and found almost everything wet and moldy (their basement had flooded a year earlier, but not high enough to leak into the seam where the lid connects to the bin...so I'm not exactly sure how the water found its way in). It was all trashed. I was heartbroken.
Most of this stuff can never be replaced.
Now, I don't consider myself to be a ska collector (I'm not obsessive enough, and don't have the time or enough disposable income--or even space--to do so), but what I have I treasure. I don't hold on to all of this stuff because I hope to sell it one day for a killing on eBay (if that were even possible!), but because each LP and patch and sticker and button that I have means something to me.
Here's sad part--the true geek in me: I imagine that someday, someone will desperately want it all to be part of a larger scholarly collection of ska and reggae (a version of the ARChive of Contemporary Music, where one of the ex-Skavoovie band members has been a music archivist). I can trace the seed of this desire back to around 1997, when a librarian at the New York Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center got in touch with me at Moon, because they were putting on a small exhibit featuring graphic design in punk and ska (or something like that). So I sent over a bunch of posters, t-shirts, etc. that were displayed in the library (and I had been regularly sending him promo CDs, which became part of the general New York Public Library collection--some of them are still in circulation and I've run across them in the stacks). Plus, I've always been a sucker for sociology and cultural studies--particularly what the products of pop and subculture reveal about us as a people. The meaning behind the sound and vision.
There's nothing profound in this here post--sorry. I'm getting older. Change is constant. Things that hold meaning for me won't last forever. Pop culture is especially ephemeral (CDs crack; LPs warp and melt; bands break up; labels go under; fanzines disintegrate; digital files are mistakenly deleted or are stored on something that becomes obsolete; fans move on; people die).
But I like to think that it all will still continue to matter.