Sunday, January 9, 2011

Robert - Static

I have this magically amazing and emotionally-conflicting tool in my fingers right now. It's about 1x3x6 cm big, and it gives me the ability to be the official DJ of 90.3 FM within my own car. Like the rest of my generation, I no longer have to rely on the radio to score my trip to Kohls. It's an FM transmitter for my iPod, more specifically an iTrip, and it's not very good at what it does. Its weakness is power lines, and my car's weakness is driving off-road. Tragically, power lines and roads coexist pretty much all the time everywhere. Anytime I'm driving on, oh, say, Chatham Road -- basically required for all Springfield, Illinois transportation -- my speakers quiver with static and my newly frustrated state sometimes makes my driving a little bit more erratic.

It's simultaneously a leap forward into the convenience age of iPods and touch screen things and a step back into transistor radio static. And goddamnit is it frustrating. And goddamnit I like it that way. Because I know that however much I hate the static, I'll miss it if it ever goes away. Because there's something especially magical about suffering for what you want. Winning a thousand dollars probably feels good, but it probably feels better when you've clawed to get it. I'd like to prove this by winning a thousand dollars sometime soon.

Hearing static doesn't quite qualify as deep suffering, but it's a good reminder that perfection is boring. My new Bose noise-canceling headphones* are sweet, and they make "Chariots of Fire" sound incredible, but I can't use them all the time, because there's an element of intimacy that their 'better sound through research' can't capture. For example, they don't make "Naked as We Came" or Cory Robinson's Sleep Bellum Sonno cassettes sound any cooler. There's definitely an argument to be made for vinyl records. They're big, they're bulky, they're impractical, and they're so perfectly aesthetic it's indescribable. And I think that argument is being made. Vinyl sales are going up. Music reviews punish records for being "too polished." Wavves is popular.

There's definitely a place for clean-cut production and crystal clear mixing, but I doubt it could ever monopolize music. Besides, there's GarageBand now. And a population problem. Lo-fi kids have nothing to worry about. People will always like the Pixies and Joy Division. Bands like Titus Andronicus and Bright Eyes and Best Coast will keep rolling through. Right now, I'm going to go put on my Bon Iver vinyl and hate how it keeps skipping and messing up because FOR SOME REASON IT'S BROKEN. O, the suffering.

*Ok they're Coby headphones, and they're not noise-canceling. I don't have a thousand dollars.

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