Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Chuck the Writer Practices What He Preaches

I've been on my father-in-law's case about him hoarding junk all around his house. So last Saturday, my wife's aunt (his sister) and I went through his living room and, with the tacit understanding that we would look through things before indiscriminately throwing them out, we bagged up huge contractor bags full of garbage, we packed grocery bags full of old newspapers, and we boxed up two crates of old cassette tapes.

He was a bit upset about the procedure at first, but before long he was thanking us for our efforts. That, and the fact that he could now see his living room floor, was a big plus.

But later that afternoon, I realized something. I had tons of junk around my house as well. How could I, in good conscience, tell someone to clean up their junk when I had not done so myself?

And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? [Matthew 7:3]

Bible on Hypocrisy

Quote from Quotations Book

So what did this mean?

Essentially, I had to practice what I preached.

And that meant I needed to get rid of stuff as well. Old books that I hadn't read in years - I looked at them with a critical eye, determining that if they weren't autographed or weren't part of something important in my life, they were headed to the Albany Public Library. Videotapes that I had laying around for ages were, unless they held family memories, going on their way to DVD, and from there to a digital format for quick storage (I started doing this with all my over-the-air copies of Tour of Duty - great show back in the day).

But it also meant that I had to finally decide what to do with the record collection.

Mind you, I have been collecting 45's, LP's, 78's and whatnot since the day my sainted Grandma Betty brought home a box of dusty 45's that were once found under the table at a flea market. That eventually led to a massive and burgeoning record collection, a ten-year stint with Goldmine magazine, interviews with everyone from James Brown to Weird Al Yankovic, and the authorship of two record collector's guides. Definitely worth marking on anyone's life list.

So that afternoon, two big boxes of records were delivered to my local Goodwill. And I've resolved that since then, anything regarding my record collection must be done in such a way so that by the end of the summer, my entire remaining collection should fit in a single shelving unit. No excuses.

If the record in question contains a song or songs that I would want to hear on my iPod, or to be burned onto a CD, I will transfer the recording digitally. About four or five years ago, I had my Technics SL-1200MK2 turntable modded so that, in addition to records that spin at 45 and 33 1/3 RPM, this bad boy can play 78's at the proper speed (and I can attach one of two different tonearm headshells, in case I'm transferring a regular 78 or a "hill-and-dale" Edison Diamond Disc). I hooked the turntable up to an amplifier, and in turn routed the amplifier to the back of my supercomputer. Voila!

So if the song does not exist on CD or on iTunes, and if it's a song that I will play in my car stereo to drive everyone else nuts, then it gets transferred over. Then the record gets put in the box with the other records I can't keep any more, and off to Goodwill it goes.

Now you're thinking, Come on, Chuck, you've been collecting for years, you must have one of those rare records that are worth lots of money!

Actually, I did have one or two of those. I had Nirvana's first 45, "Love Buzz." I also had George Enesco's Bach Symphonies and Paritas on the Continental label, of which maybe 100 copies were pressed. Those were sold off long ago. I also have some autographed albums - James Brown, Grandmaster Flash, Manhattan Transfer - those ain't getting sold. Those stay on the wall where I put them. 'Kay?

A lot of records were bought and sold as part of articles I worked on for Goldmine or for other publications. Some do have emotional attachments, others need to find new homes. And for me to even think of putting stuff up on eBay - you've got people who gripe about condition (you swore to me it was near-mint, I heard a tiny crackle on side 2, I want my money back you ripoff artist!), plus you gotta buy shipping materials, you gotta schlep it over to the post office, you gotta deal with PayPal, the whole 23 yards. If the record's going to cost me more to get rid of it than it would listing it on eBay, then it's not worth the trouble to me.

I essentially have to resign myself to the fact - shit gotta go. And if I'm going to expect my father-in-law to get rid of all his junk, then I gotta do the same.

Besides, if someone's looking for some records, go help out the Goodwill, they could use all the support you can provide. 'Kay?

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