Liberator! Part 10

Tim had a point to prove and a gospel to spread. He had seen the light, he could feel the liberation surging through his veins. He was reborn! He scanned the slightly tatty leaflet on both sides, then pasted the images into a document. Within an hour, he had a hundred sheets of double-sided print stacked in the tray of his printer. He then proceeded to take the pile and fold each A4 sheet in half to produce four sides of A5. The quality was pretty good, and while obviously not an original, first-generation copy, and the background had been darkened slightly on account of the source document being an off-white shade, the text was perfectly legible. Over the next few weeks, he circulated them as widely a he possibly could, leaving them in public places – pubs, the library, on trains and busses, even tucking them into and between books in various book shops, with particular focus on the self-help sections, in the hope of replicating for others the circumstances in which he first discovered the life-changing publication.

Walking down the high street, a girl stopped him with an extended arm. a leaflet advertising a new eatery or somesuch held toward him in her hand.

‘I’ll take one of yours in exchange for one of mine,’ Tim said flamboyantly.

The girl looked perplexed and probably agreed out of bewilderment, at which point Tim took one of her flyers and shoved one of the ‘Liberate Yourself’ handouts, folded in half, that he had been carrying in his pocket into her small hand.

Happy and confident that he had made some gesture toward altering the life praxis of another lost individual caught on the wheels of contemporary culture, Tim headed home with a spring in his step.

Arriving home his mood altered dramatically. The place was empty and unkempt. The surfaces were dusty and dirty dishes were piled high in the sink. The shower’s plughole was clogged with hair, wet towels lay in a heap beside the shower and unwashed clothes littered the floors throughout the residence. An odour resembling hot dogs permeated the whole bedroom. It had been a month since Amy had left and she hadn’t come back, hadn’t called him or made any form of contact, she had simply cut him out. Slumping on the greasy settee, a discarded pizza box and a clanking pike of empty beer cans about his feet, Tim felt tired, physically and emotionally drained. He rubbed his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. His skin felt rough and dry, his eyes sensitive and watery. He was exhausted, and this was reflected in his sallow appearance. No-one had called him in weeks. He couldn’t bring himself to check his emails or his Facebook profile. The last time had broken his rule and snuck himself a tentative sign-in the bottom had dropped out of his world when he saw there was nothing: no messages, no emails, no comments, not even a pathetic poke. Two months missing and the world hadn’t noticed his absence.

The realisation hit with a sickening thud and a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. Tim had gained nothing, learned nothing. He had simply replaced one set of rules with another, bound himself with new ties. Having cut the shackles of technological totalitarianism, he had embraced another equally restrictive mode of living, only this time one with even less sense of connection and community than the dislocated confusion of culture he had existed in before. Instead of finding freedom, he has enslaved himself once more, and this time, without any of the support mechanisms that ostensibly held together the web of mainstream society, he was alone. Was he to blame, or was it the instructions he was following? Had he interpreted them correctly? The world wasn’t changing enough to accommodate his alternative lifestyle, wouldn’t allow him to reject it without it rejecting him in return. The fact he didn’t need it was immaterial: society needed him a whole lot less than he needed hit.

If you want to truly liberate yourself, stay in bed. Do not go to work. Do not phone in sick. Just do nothing, and enjoy. If no-one contacts you to query your whereabouts after a week, you may as well kill yourself.

Tim knew what he had to do. He knew who his friends were alright.

 

 

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk 

Record Store Day Bonanza…But For Whom?

I’ve spent many a long hour lamenting the demise of the independent record shop. Even second-hand shops are hard to come by now, and record fairs just aren’t as common or popular as they used to be. That I’ve had jobs in both new and second-hand stores means I have particularly fond memories, but mostly, I miss the record-shopping experience. Browsing on-line just isn’t the same, even with the tailored ‘recommendations’ sites like Amazon make. There’s just no substitute for being there, rifling through the stock and picking something out just because it looks interesting, or because the dude behind the counter’s playing something that’s completely incredible and you can’t leave the shop till it’s in your possession.

While the number of record shops may be rapidly diminishing and articles are published daily decrying the death of physical formats, the collector’s market is unquestionably alive and well and positively thriving. it’s just a matter of sourcing the goods, and the fact that physical copies are produced in smaller runs.

Of course, it’s far better in economic terms to produce fewer units and have them sell out than it is to massively overestimate potential sales – just as it’s better for a band to play a small venue and sell it out than to play to a half-empty bigger venue. But when it comes to Record Store Day, people go a little crazy. Perhaps in part this is due to the incredibly limited runs of unusual pressings by acts with large and devoted fanbases, and that’s something that’s always going to get the collectors in a frenzy – myself included.

So I rocked up at Jumbo in Leeds at a little after 10am to discover a queue containing a good forty or fifty people. ‘Fuck that’, I thought. Life’s too short for queueing, and besides, I’m plain lousy at killing time. Electing to give it twenty minutes or so, I cut back out onto the Headrow and made my way towards Crash, only to discover the situation there was the same, only worse. Much as I love vinyl and record collecting and music in general, I’m not so desperate as to stand halfway round the block just to get into a record shop on the off-chance they might have something I’m after, so I headed up New Briggate to the second-hand record store Relics, who used to have a sister shop in York called Cassidy’s. I have fond memories of Cassidy’s and picked up some great items in there, including my copy of the Throbbing Gristle ‘Five Albums’ Box Set (which despite the being a little battered, was still a steal at forty-five quid), and Relics is similarly likely to have unusual nuggets tucked in the racks.

Rifling stock beats the crap out of standing in line, but in the end I decided to pass on the few bits I was contemplating and get back on my rather more specific mission. Tom my dismay, the queue outside Crash had grown, so I legged it back to Jumbo where there queue had gone and the simple in / out barrier was facilitating a free flow of customers, even if they were three deep at the counter. I had only half a dozen items on my list – I wasn’t out to buy for the sake of it, and I had only limited funds – and they’d all gone. It was as though a plague of locusts had descended on the place. I left empty-handed. It was 10:30.

So, back to Crash, where I joined the queue. As I waited, I wondered if I’d have fared better if I’d just joined the queue in the first place, or if I’d just arrived earlier (not that 10am was exactly late). The guy in front of me suggested perhaps not: one of his mates had turned up at 6am, and there had been others there before that: some had even queued from 10pm the night before. The guy on the door informed us that there had been no fewer than 90 people waiting outside when they opened the doors. I can’t think that there are any records I’d be that desperate to get my hands on, and in my experience, most titles crop up at a reasonable price at some point (there was a time in the 90s I’d have happily paid fifty nicker for a copy of The Last of the Baby Boomers by La Costa Rasa, if only I could have found a copy. 2002, a copy surfaced on eBay and I bagged it for £2.50 as the sole bidder). Many of those in front of me were clutching Jumbo bags that were bursting at the seams.

Half an hour later, I was granted entry to the tiny emporium, and struck silver, but not quite gold, in that I failed to secure a copy of the Interpol 12” (300 copies on red vinyl) or Nirvana’s Hormoaning reissue, and they were out of the 10”by The Black Angels. I didn’t even ask about the 10” of The Queen is Dead or the latest Earth LP (only 150 copies for the UK), but did manage to bag myself the Joy Division / New Order 12”, a copy of the single by Prurient, plus the British Sea Power double 7” set for my mate. None of these items was cheap, but I figured it made sense to up the prices in the hope that the goods would go to genuine collectors rather than carpetbaggers who’d swoop in and buy an armful just to flog ‘em on eBay, forcing the desperate completists to pay through the nose. It seems only fair that the labels and – hopefully – the artists should benefit from the buying bonanza.

Alas, on arrival home I discovered that all of the titles I’d failed to get were already on eBay, and numerous copies of each had already sold as Buy It Now sales for well above the retail price (while noting with a small degree of satisfaction that the Joy Division 12”, which I’d considered steep at £15 was selling for anything from £30 to £60, while some fool had shelled out a full ton on the thing.

I’ve resisted the temptation to plug the gaps in my collection and spend money I haven’t got bidding on these items. Six months hence, or maybe later, when the initial flurry of redistribution has died down, or the popularity of some of the bands has diminished, I expect I’ll find them for a price closer to the initial retail price. If not, I’ll live. After all, it’s only rock ‘n’ roll (and I’m all about the music, man, and not capitalist greed).

And if you’re loving my work (or want to give me some records) there’s more of the same (only different) at christophernosnibor.co.uk