I first met Mark in about 1990. I was writing for The New York Review of Records (which I spoke at greater length about here), and he was working for a music PR start-up representing some very cool shit. Most of our correspondence happened over the phone, but we met in person, one afternoon, when he swung by the SoHo art gallery I was moonlighting at (suffice to say, writing for The New York Review of Records wasn’t exactly a lucrative endeavor). Mark walked in sporting a black leather jacket with the MC5 logo on the back. He’d also perfected a piercing stare which, when executed at timely points, could render all arguments contrary to his entirely moot. His passion for music was (and remains) already encyclopedic, but the effortless aura of authoritative cool he exuded was something few else could master, whether it was by design or not.
I first met Jem at the beginning of 2006. A rare fellow adult in a crowded room full of mouthy millennials, Jem was the copy chief at MTV News Online. Without ever lording it over any of his colleagues, Jem was the type of legit music expert that could dole out a pertinent factoid about some bit of arcane minutia without having to look anything up or even furrow his brow. He wouldn’t even have to be part of the actual conversation. He could just hear a snippet, solve whatever riddle and keep moving. On my first day, he heard me humming something as I was trying to get my desk in order, and accurately identified the tune in question (the guitar riff from “Cruiser’s Creek” by The Fall). He was — and remains — that guy, and I doubt I’d have survived my two years at MTV without him.
It’s not at all surprising, then, in the increasingly shrinking realm of NYC-based music journalism, that Mark and Jem would know each other. But imagine my surprise yesterday when I spotted this article in The Record, NPR’s music site wherein Jem profiles Mark over his exhaustively obsessive — and unsurprisingly thorough, authoritative, and lovingly curated — collection of the myriad editions of The Velvet Underground and Nico.
Released only seven months prior to my birth in 1967, I didn’t actually hear The Velvet Underground and Nico until my freshman year at Denison University in 1985, when a classmate and kindred soul, Jay, told me to stop worrying about bands like Alien Sex Fiend and start investing in the real shit.
Here’s to the music geeks!!