It's a sad but factual statement that most of my favorite record stores/disc shops here in Manhattan are already gone. Moreover, my opportunities to actually go disc-shopping (much less disc-playing) these days are fairly few and far-between. Adding further insult to injury, my current state of being between jobs again doesn't really lend itself to pricey music-purchasing either. But today being Record Store Day, I figured that making at least one little purchase was the least that I could do to support the dwindling network of independent record stores left here in the city. And so during the course of my dutiful dad errands this morning, that's exactly what I did.
I strolled on over to Generation Records on Thompson Street. A line was already forming (the Bouncing Souls were doing some sort of in-store for Record Store Day). I ended up selecting Crack The Skye by Mastodon (as I simply do not have enough punishing metal riffs in my life) and the hoarily re-packaged re-master of The Head on the Door by ye olde Cure. Also, evidently I subconsciously took great pains to wear my S.O.A. shirt, featuring my favorite Dischord 7", the No Policy e.p., thus desperately establishing how punky, 'old school' and esoteric I am. Yes, sadly, I'm that guy. Sorry.
On Record Store Day last year, I went to sadly since-vanished Etherea in the East Village and picked up a live Kraftwerk disc and the latest from LCD Soundsystem (`cos y'know, I'm soooo eclectic :::groan::::). This year, my reasons weren't just arbitrary. I've been meaning to check out the new Mastodon every since my former colleague/metal writer Chris Harris forced me into being a fan of theirs a couple of years back. My reasons for the Cure disc are a little more complicated.
Not only is The Head on the Door one of my quintessential Springtime albums (I vividly remember the shimmering guitars of "Push" echoing off the ivy-lined walls of the East Quad at Denison University one incomparable Spring day during my freshman year), but a recent event recently implanted it squarely into my brain, and it's not really a happy story.
Over on the truly nebulous realm of Facebook, I somewhat recently befriended someone who I'd be hard-pressed to call an acquaintance at best. Many years ago, he hosted a cable TV show that showcased just the sort of music I was into. Years after that, he went onto work at one of the same offices that I did, although our respective tenures there did not overlap. I ran into him at a couple of shows and introduced myself. In any case, some years later, I found him on Facebook and asked to add him as a friend. He did, and we've been Facebook "friends" ever since. Well, up until yesterday, that is. And here's why.
If you're currently on Facebook, you're doubtlessly aware of the "Pick Five Things" application that's been spreading around like an oil spill. Pick your five favorite movies, your five favorite beers, five people you'd want to punch in the face, etc. etc. In any case, this acquaintance of mine filled one out titled "Five Bands You've Seen in Concert." I've filled this one out too. It's a fun, ultimately meaningless little time-waster, but that pretty much describes the entirety of Facebook anyway. In any case, among his five, he cited The Cure. When a friend of his commented on that point, he responded. "Yeah, I saw them at Radio City Music Hall in 1985 on the tour for The Head on the Door, before they'd started wearing the creepy make-up." Here's where the trouble started. Being that this exchange took place in a fishbowl-like public forum, I happened upon it. Being both an avid Cure fan and -- more worryingly -- a slavishly pedantic knowitall, I felt compelled to chime into a discussion I had no part in and make some corrections. I pointed out that the Cure abandoned their relatively straight-laced look well prior to 1985, citing 1982's Pornography album as their point of departure towards all-things frightwigged and lipstick-smeared. My acquaintance attempted to save face and defend his position, but I couldn't let up. I replied again, providing links to photographic evidence (and even - god help me -- a video) on the web that confirmed my original correction. I'm not sure where I inherited this particular need or trait that requires me to hammer a point home, but it's a virulent one.
A little while later, I noticed that my acquaintance had "de-friended" me, and it really took the wind out of my sails. I shot back another friend request, appending a note expressing my shock that he'd taken such a silly thing so seriously and offering my sincere apologies. He wrote back basically saying that he had enough loudmouths in his life trying to win arguments with him and that he didn't really need someone he honestly didn't even really know that well showing him up in an online pissing match for all to see (and raining on a favorite youthful memory of his in the process). I wrote another apologetic note back attempting to explain myself and that was pretty much that. Suffice to say, we're not friends anymore, on Facebook or otherwise.
A couple of years back, I wrote a somewhat laborious, self-pitying post about my problems with being both boorishly opinionated and unsolicitedly outspoken, specifically regarding (but not limited to) the discussion of music. I'm not sure where exactly I get off on doing this -- or what deep-seated insecurity feeds the habit -- but evidently I'm still having a very hard time restraining myself. I'd love to change that acquaintance's mind, but I don't want to push the issue any further. While I often hide behind the flimsy conceit that music arguments are silly, given that the appreciation of pop/rock/whathaveyou is ultimately entirely subjective and not just a little trivial, the fact that the topic of the discussion was music is incidental. The fact remains, once again, that no one likes a knowitall.
I'm not sure how purchasing the re-mastered re-release of The Head on the Door atones for my sins. It doesn't at all, really. But I'll probably play it later today, trying to maintain my earlier associations with it instead of assigning this new chapter to it. But either way, I do regret being a jackass about it. And if you and I happen to engage in a similar exchange about music sometime soon, please don't take me too seriously. I'm afraid I can't help myself. But I'm trying.