May. 17th, 2014

rockinlibrarian: (eggman)
I wanted to catch up on READING this blog I found before I posted about it, but it's taking me longer than I'd like (I'm looking at it as reading a book, and we all know how persistent I've been about THAT process lately), and anyway at the moment I feel a bit annoyed, which is a good way to get me to post something (that actually relates to ANOTHER potential post that's been tumbling around my head lately-- anger=drive-- but I guess I'll get to that one some other time, too), so darnit, here you are anyway, now. I must share! We shall NOW all finish catching up TOGETHER!

Anyhoo, a couple of weeks ago I found a link to this article, about a woman-- a CHILDREN'S LIBRARIAN in fact-- who's started a Tumblr blog called My Husband's Stupid Record Collection, in which she listens to her husband's stupid-only-in-that-it-is-stupidly-LARGE vinyl collection in order and writes about it.

OH-EM-GEE. THIS WOMAN NEEDS TO BE MY NEW BEST FRIEND. That is so totally what I want to DO with my life! Systematically go through a whole stupid record collection and write about it! (It's probably the true ulterior motive behind my imaginary marriage to Martin Freeman! I'm totally imaginarily using him for his record collection!) It only really WORKS with a massive vinyl collection, I'm afraid. Sure, I could write about new-to-me music I find online. I could go through MY husband's CD collection if I thought it contained any hidden treasures (it doesn't). But it's not the same. It's not that I'm a vinyl purist, sound-wise-- it's that there's something ritualistic about listening to a record. The putting-it-on-the-turntable, setting-the-needle-in-place process, and then SITTING, LISTENING.

The annoyance that nudges me to post comes from, apparently, some outsiders' attitudes toward the project. Did you know there's apparently a gender divide to music geekery? And so this blog is either a musically-clueless girl bringing her fresh perspective to the male world of music collection, or it is reinforcing stereotypes ABOUT how girls are clueless about record collecting? (Reading SOME of the comments to this post she wrote in response to the detractors, basically comments in which detractors said "You're still wrong," which is super-annoying but seems sadly to be the fate of Internet discourse, anyway, that was what made me annoyed this time). Where do these ideas COME from? In my house growing up, sure, the music-collection geek of the binary-gendered couple was my dad. In this house right here? The music geek is me. Absolutely not the guy. I certainly never thought of it along gendered lines. Just, you know, individual people and their hobbies lines.*

My dad passed on his music geekery to me from long before conscious memory: playing the piano for me as an infant, offering me music lessons as a given (the way I remember it was he brought some fliers home from some lesson-offering friends and said "Would you like to learn the piano or the violin?" Which, MAYBE he was asking if I'd like to learn either at all, but I definitely HEARD as "You will learn one of these, which will it be?" Luckily I already WANTED to play the piano), quizzing me on singers and songs, getting so involved in the Band Parents that I'm pretty sure HE had more friends at my school than I did, and, yes, digging out his totally massive vinyl collection for my perusal and eventual use on my college radio show. Now, HIS record collection I could definitely write about. The special thing about his collection is that it's mostly 45s instead of LPs-- as a teenager he'd worked for a deejay who paid him in records. LOADS of Promotional-issued 45s. He's got this famous misprint of "Penny Lane" with a few extra trumpet notes at the end, that deejays were SUPPOSED to destroy once they got the official release instead, but hey. Technically, I'VE got it. He officially gave me all his Beatles 45s, but they must be somewhere still at his house... which is funny because now I also have his RECORD player.

My best friend Angie had a record player in college, and her roommate Jen and I would dig up obscure records from our parents' collections just to bring to school and sit around their room, listening. (Okay not JUST-- I DID have my radio show for which I was constantly lugging a bag-and-a-box of vinyl around). My only really great contribution to this was Donovan's "There Is a Mountain," which I made everyone I met listen to at some point, and okay, you can debate if this was a GREAT contribution or not (but if you choose to debate with me on the topic, you ARE wrong). Jen dug up the marvels. She found the "Da Da Da" song that was on a Volkswagen commercial at the time-- not just the song, a whole ALBUM. She introduced us to "Hocus Pocus" by Focus, which is awesome but to be honest we mostly just made excuses to say it aloud. I'm sure there were more, but those are the only specifics I can think of at the moment, beyond that they sampled the Doors' "The Soft Parade" for all the system sounds on their computer, so the computer would announce "THE MONK BOUGHT LUNCH" every time you turned it off, but they had that on CD, not vinyl, so like I said. Not the Same.

I'm really not so off in wanting Sarah-of-her-husband's-stupid-record-collection as a best friend, because she reminds me an AWFUL lot of Jen. Even in looks, they're built alike, with similar smiles, and have the same super-straight banged hair, and glasses when blog-Sarah is wearing glasses. Jen ended up marrying a musician-- a drummer of nearly every possible genre, a true music geek if ever there was one. No one can deny that Jen's husband is a BIGGER music geek than she is, but that doesn't make Jen NOT a music geek, just because she (like Sarah, like me) chose to devote her career to books instead (Jen's a writer/English professor, not a librarian, but basic gist holds).

This is an example of a broader issue of Geekdom. The "what makes a TRUE Geek of Such-and-Such?" question. And there IS a gender thing that comes up in that question, most famously in the "Fake Geek Girl" concept. This title usually refers to girls who like comics and conventions, where a few of the guys who like comics and conventions just can't seem to believe that is possible. But of course GEEKINESS is much more than comics and conventions. The word "geek," used in a neutral-to-positive sense, seems to mean "a person who takes joy in their favorite things to the point of studying, collecting, debating, and otherwise going on and on about them, unselfconsciously and irregardless of those things being seen as 'cool' by the mainstream," most inclusively. But you can't deny that some of those favorite things are considered more "geeky" than others, and "Geek Culture" just generally assumes a love of speculative fiction, comic books and/or superheroes, games of all sorts (but especially NON-MAINSTREAM games), and anything BRAINY or NERDY (I still think "nerd" is a subset of "geek"-- a more academic and outright-uncool geek). I'm an utter nerd, and therefore (subset, you know) a geek. I use big words, not to impress people, but just because they come out that way. I love learning new and weird things, I like to THINK about things, I absorb useless trivia, I'm passionate about my favorite things, and I love "Geek Culture" because it's full of people LIKE that; and I DO love speculative fiction, though mostly as written for younger people, and I love games but video games make me dizzy, and I like superheroes but comics make me dizzy, too... so when people say "Fake Geek Girl" they're usually not talking about ME.

Rock music, in and of itself, is not considered "geeky" that way, but a) it's nonetheless MY biggest Geekdom, and b) the culture surrounding it ALSO tends to assume that This Isn't a Girl Thing. So I relate.
I even did a whole salute to "Fake" Rock Girls last year for our Video Blog. I'm not going to repeat everything I said there here, partially because I want to get us away from the gender issue now. WHAT MAKES SOMEONE A GEEK FOR SOMETHING, male or female? CAN you draw a line, saying Because you are not as Extreme In Your Geekitude as me, you're not a Geek of this topic? Because you direct your passion on this topic in a different WAY than I do, you are not a Geek?

I always think of Star Wars for that last question. Star Wars is very important to me, emotionally. Did a Vlog about that one, too. But I still remember when my aforementioned friend Jen-- I DEDICATE THIS WHOLE POST TO JEN-- first gave me her email address, which incorporated the name "Wedge Antilles," and I was like "What's that mean?" and she was like, "WEDGE WAS THE ONE REBEL BESIDES THE MAIN CHARACTERS WHO MADE IT THROUGH ALL THREE STAR WARS MOVIES!" and I was like, "Oh, really? I don't remember him." Because, unlike most "Star Wars Geeks," I really didn't have every ancillary detail memorized. I was too busy marvelling about life and death and sacrifice and mercy. I'm a BIG PICTURE Star Wars geek-- a forest type instead of a trees type. But there's a certain contingent of Geekery devoted to mapping the bark of every tree in the forest, and a certain contingent of THAT contingent that believes you're not a true Geek unless you, too, are a bark-mapper.

I'm a bark-mapper of the Beatles forest, though, which may be part of why I feel most comfortable claiming that as my biggest Geekdom. But it gets a little scary when your Geekitude is judged on quantity, because there's a LOT of bark in a forest, and even if you SHOULD get through mapping it all, by that time some trees have died and new ones have grown. And sometimes I feel like a sorry excuse for a music geek because I've gotten so BEHIND in the past seven years (as I have with everything. KIDS KILL BRAIN CELLS, in case you were unaware). Plus, I'm on the Internet, surrounded by other bark mappers, who are familiar with so MUCH obscure music and trivia-- my specialized knowledge pales! I mean, come on, "There Is a Mountain" is on Donovan's GREATEST HITS album, for cryin' out loud!

Bringing us back to Sarah-of-her-husband's-stupid-record-collection. If you actually read her blog, it's clear she is NOT a clueless outsider. She LOVES music! She LOVES to listen and to dance and to go to concerts and to discover MORE of it! But a) she loves it in a different WAY than her husband and the other bark-mappers-- a more emotional way, feeling it physically, is how she describes it. And sure, there's lots of DETAILS she doesn't know-- a lot of stuff I knew that she only just learned. But she also knows stuff I don't know (starts off her Blonde Redhead review by saying she listened to them a lot in college-- I've never so much as HEARD of them), and stuff I DO know but I'm fairly sure is really NOT common knowledge (does the average person REALLY have any idea who Syd Barrett is? Also by the way, am I stupidly pleased that she loves Barrett? It's so weird but so wonderful).

The point IS loving it. Or hating it as the case may be. The ENTHUSIASM. Geeking out over records is not a contest to see how much you already know. It's sitting around the turntable making discoveries for the first time, or sharing your underappreciated favorites with your friends, or even gawking over truly horrible things you've dug up, but learning and feeling new things is all PART of it. You lose that vitality if you make it dependent on what you ALREADY know.

Now I really miss Jen and Angie and their record player. Oh well.

--
* In a flip to this, a few weeks ago the 5yo, listening to the radio, out of nowhere said "This is a BOY singing! Boys don't sing!" "SURE they do. Whatever gave you that idea?" I replied, genuinely bewildered. "Well, DADDY doesn't sing..." she said. "Well yeah, but that's DADDY. Not BOYS. The Beatles are boys. And haven't you ever heard Pappap sing?" and I vowed in my head to make sure to get the kids to more of my dad's choral society concerts. He also sang in the church choir at Easter, and I made a point of MAKING SURE THEY KEPT NOTICING THAT the whole time we were there.

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