Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Horrifying Glimpse Into the Future

Back at the old Main Library we had a number of regular downtown residents we encountered on a regular basis. Some we liked, some we tolerated, and some you went on a break and tricked someone else into covering the desk when you saw them.

Kinks Guy was a little of all three. He was a short, stumpy guy with a sunburned face and a big beard who was obviously homeless, and even more obviously, a little off.

He got his name because he would constantly come up to the desk and ask for printouts of '60s groups. He must have asked for the Kinks a lot for the name to stick.

He would go to each floor on the library getting as many printouts as he could, then end up on our floor, the Arts Department, which became a second home. He always wanted information on '60s musicians, which was easy enough to find for him, even if we had a sneaking suspicion he wasn't really reading all those pages he would glance at then stick in his Santa Claus-sized trash bag.

He quickly went through the major '60s bands, and would ask for more obscure psychedelic groups, usually muttering snippets of criticism while we searched.

"Rable rable "Forever Changes" was clearly influenced by Spanish music along with the brilliant wordplay of Arthur Lee," he'd mutter, while we gave him his allotted three pages.

"You know you can only get three pages a day, right?"

"Mumble mumble mumble The Who's early stage shows were influenced by auto-destructive art. The Incredible String Band was a major bridge between folk and psychedelia. The Kinks' British whimsey mumble mumble mumble."

Kinks guy scared me.

Not that I thought he was dangerous or anything. He scared me because listening to his spiel reminded me of stuff I had said when drinking with friends or writing record reviews, just from different decades.

Who was this guy? A fellow reviewer who went off the deep end? A rabid music fan who ingested too many chemicals during the music's heyday?

Whoever he was, I saw a potential future in him. Was I doomed to follow in his footsteps? Would I show up at a public library sometime in the late 21st century muttering to the employees about music from my heyday?

"Argle argle The Wedding Present's guitar tone was totally influenced by the Smiths. The Jesus Lizard had an amazing rhythm section that combined with David Yow's stage antics for one of the best live bands ever. Tar had aluminum guitars. The Mummies dressed in mummy costumes. Homina homina."

Kinks Guy eventually got kicked out for some sort of infraction, but the memory of him still haunts me. I figure I have another good 10 years or so before I'm jabbering about Man or Astroman or the Minutemen somewhere before I'm led away to be roommates with Kinks Guy.

I guess that's just the price you pay for promo CDs and getting on the guest list.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Thoughts While Sitting in Traffic Listening to New Wave

So a few months ago I'm sitting in Atlanta traffic, listening to a college station. They're playing a whole set of new wave stuff that sounds pretty good - sort of like stuff I'd catch on college radio  back in the '80s or at a new wave club where they'd never announce what the names were.

Then the DJ announces that all this stuff came out in the last year.

"That's pretty cool," I think. "Glad that the kids are getting into the new wave instead of all the other crappy musical styles they could be listening to."

But wait.

"Wouldn't that be the same thing as bands in the '80s aping, I dunno...Country Joe and the Fish or something? College kids should be making music that I find unlistenable and offputting. They shouldn't be doing stuff that makes me remember being a teenager. This is almost starting to annoy me as much as when I finally check out one of those raved-about indie beardy bands only to find I've been listening to a repackaged James Taylor album."

Then a new DJ comes on and announces that her set is all vinyl.

"That's cool, I guess." I think. "Although really, who's gonna know if she isn't really playing vinyl? What if she's sneaking some MP3s in there just to trick us?"

She announces she's starting the set with something off Bauhaus' live album "Press the Eject and Give Me the Tape."

"I played the hell out of this album in high school," I think. "Again, weird that kids today are listening to stuff from what - 30 years ago? Also, I never really noticed this long-ass intro. They're really building up the tension with these two notes. How did I miss this? Damn, they're still milking those notes. Funny how obvious the reggae/dub influence is in their bass. Guess I wouldn't have known anything about that in high school though. Damn, they're really building the tension. Is this an import or something? I know I would have remembered this."

Just then the DJ comes on the air and apologizes for the record skip. I guess they were really playing vinyl after all.