RIP Barts CD Cellar

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009 09:32 pm
flwyd: (pentacle disc)
I'm very sad to learn that Barts CD Cellar is closing. This leaves Albums on the Hill, which doesn't have much space, as the only recorded music store in Boulder. The Denver area still has the fine Twist and Shout and Black and Read which both sell non-music items ranging from T-shirts and novelty gifts to RPGs and used porn. Now that I work in Boulder, I'll have to concoct more convoluted excuses for why I just happened to be driving by Black and Read with eighty bucks I absolutely had to spend right then. Denver's also got some smaller music stores, some local and some chain, of varying quality.

Aside from travel, I've probably done more discretionary spending on used CDs than anything else. There were semesters in college where after I paid my university bill (covering tuition, housing, and food), I spent more money on used CDs than everything else combined. I haven't bought any CDs since March because I don't have a good place to put them, but I'd better head to Barts this week to get good deals on stuff that won't be there if I procrastinated.

I don't know which hurt Barts more: Internet music sales or recession economy. For all that's great about the Internet, I love buying used CDs in funky local establishments a lot more than on my computer. The fact that selection is limited means I won't spend too much money buying everything I can think of. The search process means I find something interesting and get really excited, a much bigger "I'm Feeling Lucky!" experience than typing a few words into iTunes. Plus, CDs are a more robust storage mechanism. I'd have been really bummed if I'd lost thousands of dollars when I dropped my hard drive on the floor, but if I drop one of my boxes while moving stuff out of storage, I'll probably just crack a few jewel cases. Sure, CDs can get scratched and otherwise damaged, but that's only losing eight bucks at a time.

Update 9/28/2010: Apparently Bart is back in business on a small scale. Bart's Music Shack is at 236 Pearl St. And the focus is people like me who love finding an interesting used CD that they wouldn't have thought to download.
flwyd: (farts sign - Norway)
LOCATION: The music counter at Black & Read, a store selling used books, movies, CDs, vinyl, board games, and porn. Stacks of jewel cases line the counters. Several signs hang in the store advertising a 15%(?) off sale for used RPG books and board games until mid-January. The need for this sale is demonstrated by several stacks of books on the floor next to the RPG shelves. Taped to the back of the cash register screen are a Westword Best of Denver clipping and a post from an Internet review board complaining about the store's customer service.

MANAGER is in his early thirties, wearing a sport jacket, drinking a margarita (or maybe just mountain dew with ice cubes) from an imitation ornate goblet. EMPLOYEE is in his late 30s, hasn't shaved recently, and is wearing a black T-shirt with an old band logo. EMPLOYEE is digging through the CD drawers to find a customer's selection. (When customers select a stack of jewel cases, there's about a 50% chance the clerks won't be able to find one of the discs.) DUSTIN's name has been changed because I don't remember the actual name.

PHONE: *ring*
MANAGER: Black & Read...
MANAGER: Maybe, can I tell him who's speaking?
MANAGER: Do you want to speak to a Dustin?
EMPLOYEE: Not really.
EMPLOYEE: He calls and asks if we have hip hop records.
MANAGER: All our employees are hung over so we don't have anyone else working on the CD side right now. Could you call back in, say, two hours?

Shortly thereafter, a CUSTOMER asks to look at a book of porn star portraits. CUSTOMER says he might buy it later when he has more money. MANAGER praises the book, saying it's great entertainment if you have drunk roommates. Several CUSTOMERS comment that the book looks interesting. MANAGER speculates that the book hasn't yet sold due to "the dick factor," theorizing that many prospective buyers don't want to own a picture of a few naked men even though they presumably watch hetero porn.

Holiday CarDs

Monday, December 8th, 2008 10:53 pm
flwyd: (pentacle disc)
In honor of winter holiday season, here's my non-standard "Christmas card" offer. Leave a comment with your mailing address and I will send you a personalized mix CD. Indicate your favorite winter holiday(s) so I can properly address the delivery. Comments will be screened so you don't broadcast your address to the world.

If you'd like something specific, please indicate what. Example requests:

  • I really like $band, give me stuff that's kinda like them.
  • I don't usually like $genre or $othergenre. Send me some stuff that's good so I can decide if my horizons are broad enough.
  • Give me a CD with songs about $theme.
  • Give me songs by bands with numbers in their name.
  • Fast and bulbous! The weirder the better, man!

I have over 500 CDs (including some not listed) and over 77 days on iTunes, but my genre coverage is nonuniform. If I can't reasonably fulfill your request, I'll let you know.

If there's a flood of interest, I may not get to your disc in time for your favorite holiday. I promise all will be sent before Chinese New Year. If you'll be moving soon, let me know so I can put your request higher in the queue.

If you're of the holiday card sending persuasion, here's my contact information. My favorite winter holiday is winter solstice, but I enjoy the traditions of all of 'em. I'll gladly accept a CD of your favorite music, an interesting card (hand-drawn or otherwise), or just an email or comment saying some variation of "Happy holidays."

If you're of the holiday gift giving persuasion, don't buy anything for me unless you know I'll really, really enjoy it (i.e., it's quite specific to my interests). I'll be moving all of my stuff in a few months and I don't want to shake my fist in your absence for some object I'm forced to relocate. If you feel you must spend money with me in mind, donate to a non-profit organization you think I'd support (EFF, ACLU, Wikimedia, a shareware or open source program you like, wilderness conservation, true progressive politics...). In return, I promise not to burden you with useless objects (unless we're in a White Elephant together).

flwyd: (pentacle disc)
Writing about music is like dancing about architecture. -- Frank Zappa

Some facts about my music collection:
  • In the past ten years, I have legitimately acquired nearly 500 albums of music.
  • The vast majority of these CDs I purchased used at one of the many fine independent music retailers in the Boulder/Denver area. I hope the RIAA takes note of the fact that when I buy a CD, I'm often inspired to do so by an unauthorized mp3 I downloaded in college.
  • I bring eight CDs to work each day and use the number I listen to as a productivity metric. If I don't spend much time listening to music in a day, I probably didn't spend much time programming. The converse is not necessarily true, though.
  • I select some albums on workday mornings much more often than other albums. In fact, I own CDs I didn't listen to for over four years.
  • I am running out of shelf space to file new CD acquisitions.

In light of the last two items, I decided in May that I should listen to all of my CDs so I could decide which to get rid of and which to listen to more often. Since I didn't think I would remember how I felt about each album five months later, I wrote a very brief review of each album in alphabetic order. Perhaps this 200KB of obsessive compulsion will be useful to someone else on the Internet. If any reviews pique your interest, let me know and I'll try to get you a copy on the condition that you don't use it as an excuse not to patronize your local record store.

Final reflections:
  • I indeed have some albums I'd incorrectly assumed were New Age crap. I also have some albums that are in fact New Age crap. (To be fair, I also have other crap. I bought a hair metal album before I knew what that meant because I liked the band's name.)
  • Symphonic rock covers are neither good symphonic music nor good rock music. With one exception (Us and Them), I have no reason to keep any of this abomination to human ears.
  • I realized halfway through the project that listing genres might help. However, some of the music I like is tough to classify and besides, I didn't want to provide it for just half of the artists. Maybe I'll add them all in a fury of boredom sometime.
  • Sometimes it's hard to come up with something distinct to say about an album. Sometimes this is because the music affects me in nonverbal ways. Sometimes that's because it's yet another Rush album.
  • Some music is very good, but not well suited for getting work done. One key factor is how well I know the album, making it hard for CDs to break into rotation.
  • I would love for rock to make up a smaller percentage of my collection, but I can never remember the names of awesome artists on my ethnic music compilations. Not that record stores usually have much flamenco or Arabic groove in stock.
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