14 August 2008

Kicking It Old Style

Did I mention that I got a chain letter the other day? No, not an email. That would hardly be worth talking about. I received, in the post, a real, live, actual, hard copy, Xeroxed, mailing-labelled, stuffed-in-envelope-and-stamped chain letter. This was the kind that if I mailed a single dollar to the first six people on the list I would end up with a kajillion bucks. If only. I marvelled at it for a moment. The time that person took to send out this letter. The care that went into it. The fact that they bought (or had access to) a mailing list (that actually had my home address and not my mailbox...which kind of freaked me out) and used it for a chain letter, of all things. I smiled as I walked it over to the recycling bin. Sorry. Someone is going to end up being a few bucks short of their kajillion.

There's something to be said for an old-fashioned chain letter going out in this day and age. It was sweet. Nostalgic. Beyond retro. Touchingly personal, in a creepy sort of way. It made me think back to the old days, before cell phones and emails. When getting the mail was a big deal. You never knew if an auntie had sent you a Just Because card with some cash in it. Today, it's all bills and junk. Everything is electronic. And I realized there are people out there who have never known a time without all this technology. The days when we colored in books and not on the computer. I kind of feel sorry for them.

For whatever reason, the musical bug bit me this morning. On my new fangled computer, I went to work putting together a digital playlist for my iPod. It's so easy now. I remember the art and skill it took to put together a mixed tape back in the day. Timing your turntable and testing your reflexes on the "Record" button. Oh, I was good. I made one David Bowie mix that was so sublime someone stole it before I could dupe it for friends. Of course, I never kept notes or a list for those tapes. It was an organic process. You had to feel it. I kind of think I've missed my true calling, which would be working for an alternative version of K-Tel making compilations. Instead, it's a hobby. Nothing makes me happier on the treadmill or in traffic than punk followed by disco, soul, rap, 70s glitter rock and a few newbies thrown in the mix to help me bop along my way. It makes me want to pass a note in the hall. Cut class. Make out in public. Stay out past curfew. Pimp beer. Tease my hair and whip out the liquid eyeliner. Ah, those were the days. Before you could get black nail polish just anywhere. When you could walk into a thrift shop with ten-dollars and walk out with a wardrobe. Before there was a Madonna ruining our airwaves (sure, it's kitschy now; back then, it was an audible atrocity). Now, look at the messes that are in.

Last night, I was talking with a friend I've known since junior high (for two hours; how high school is that?!?), catching up on our lives. We spoke of how young we still feel. How old our parents were at our age. How happy we are to be out of a "planned community" and to have survived our youth in one piece. Without rehab. Or criminal records. While we were having our chat, my mind wandered down memory lane to Tempo Records and Tommy's for fries (two totally different ends of the avenue, so it was a long walk...and was it Tommy's or Tommie's?). Working at Magic Mountain. Making sure you had a cool job there. White Reeboks and Season Passes. God. You couldn't pay me to go there now. But I do fondly recall the Contempo dance floor and many a weekend spent on it.

There was a time when music defined you more than anything else. Fights were had over it. Much beloved bands were abandonned when the masses took a liking to them. Poseurs. You had to back up what you wrote on your Pee-Chee. It was serious business. Then, LPs warped. Tapes tangled. CDs were replaced with the computer. It's just not the same.

I hear you can hook your turntable up to your computer and download your LPs to iTunes. The new fangled old style. I'm too lazy for that at the moment. I just buy the singles and put needle to vinyl when I want to hear the whole album. Lying on the floor with my head toward the speakers. Singing along with Ian or David. I can't believe that Beth still has my Adam and the Ants records that she borrowed to tape in the ninth grade. The whole collection. Do you know how many special orders at Tempo that took? I hope she's enjoyed them over the years. I wonder if she'll turn up on Facebook? I'd still like those back. You can't get liner notes on iTunes.

Here's the playlist I concocted this morning. I'm not going to say that this is my best. No. That honor goes to the disco dance party mix I made a few years ago. A dual CD compilation that will have your ass shakin'. Enjoy this anyway.

Hitsville Uk - The Clash
To Have and to Have Not - Billy Bragg
Sole Salvation - The English Beat
Ain't No Other Man - Christina Aguilera
Do You Wanna Hold Me? - Bow Wow Wow
Baby I'm a Star - Prince
Got to Be Real - Cheryl Lynn
God Is a DJ - P!nk
Philadelphia Freedom - Elton John
Silver - Echo & the Bunnymen
Digital - Joy Division
Brick House - The Commodores
Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin' - Journey
DJ - David Bowie
My Baby Just Cares for Me - Nina Simone
Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones
Blood Sugar Sex Magik - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Poem With No Rhyme - Mads Langer
Beautiful Child - Rufus Wainwright
(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais - The Clash
Cretin Hop - The Ramones
Los Angeles - X
Love Gets Dangerous - Billy Bragg
Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division
Lips Like Sugar - Echo & The Bunnymen
Hip Hop Is Dead - Nas featuring Will.I.Am
Clash City Rockers - The Clash
Any Way You Want It - Journey
Judy Is a Punk - The Ramones
Transmission - Joy Division
Me Ever Changing Moods - The Style Council
Oh What a World - Rufus Wainwright
Kite - U2
California Love - 2Pac, Dr. Dre & Roger Troutman
Devil Doll (Demo) - X
Blitzkreig Bop - The Ramones
Bend & Break - Keane
Red Hill Mining Town - U2
This Is England - The Clash
Shine - Mads Langer (admittedly, this one doesn't really fit the punk-themed mix, but it is just so damn good, I put it on everything)

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