Monday, December 24, 2007
Originally uploaded by madabandon.
Growing up--when my parents were still together-- my family was formal, especially in comparison to just about every other family I knew then. We always ate dinner together at the large table in the family room, the brick massive fireplace behind us. We sat down when we called to the table, and we could not leave until we were excused. We had courses. Something first, then the main part of the meal, then dessert. My parents discussed their respective days. My dad would give blow-by-blow recitations of his court battles (at that time he was head of litigation at a very proper-and-prestigious old Philadelphia law firm, making very good money and enjoying professional success). My mom would talk about the horses and how her work with them was going. We were asked about school. We were not to interrupt, and we used proper grammar of my mother would gently correct us. I often misbehaved. I was the rebel middle child, the eccentric, and often I would be sent from the table because I would get fidgety and mischievous.
Now at the holidays, when we give gifts to one another, there is a different kind of formalism but I chafe against it too. I would prefer if we all just gave random gifts at random times but that I know is odd to most people, if an attractive idea. Just not practical for most. But since we do it in such a proper way, with many inquiries about wish lists and such, I go along. I do not ask people what they want, though, preferring to pick something myself. I consult with my brother and sister about gifts for my father and stepmother, although this year I just acted independently.
But to make a long ramble short, my brother gave me a turntable with which I can convert my LPs to mp3 and store them on my network. This is a great idea. I have many records, though sadly in my long years sans turntable I sold some of the best, especially my jazz imports. But I still have a lot of mid-century high modernism, the stuff I breathed in college and graduate school, and so now I am listening, traveling back in time to Hyde Park on the south side of Chicago, where the long gray winter kept me inside, listening for hours in my shabby but comfortable studio room with the huge bay windows...I had a huge apartment for $500 a month, two large bedrooms, huge living room, huger dining room (that was my work-studio) and a kitchen with a pantry. It was all quite run down but I was a student and I thought it was wonderful. In midwinter the snow would drift in through the leaking window sashes in the living room so that I would find snow drifts in the corners, several inches thick.
But LPs on vinyl sound amazingly better than digital media. There is a glassiness and perfection in digital that somehow misses the warmth and physicality of beautiful instrumental sound, especially in acoustic music (classical, jazz, mostly). I will never live without a turntable again, and I will start buying records as I used to, voraciously.