Monday, January 5, 2009

Collecting thoughts

I had never seen the Damn Yankees green LP cover before. Paul Lukas, old college friend and creator of Uni Watch, took me to Sound Fix, a record store in Williamsburg a few weeks back and they had a small $1 box by checkout. Not too much that caught my eye, until I spotted Gwen Verdon looking over her shoulder bathed in a sea of green.

Most collectors, I assume, get the same pang I get when something new comes forward. It's a sort of ESP - you simply know at your now tingling core that what is in front of you isn't in your possession. So with the green cover. I only have the red version.

Thoughts on collecting are as varied as the people who collect. Everyone collects and each approach is unique. Some jump from interest to interest quickly, which to me subverts the entire ethos behind collecting. It takes endurance. Then again, there is no separating how one collects from their value system. I have collected the same things since I was a kid - baseball cards, books and records. Of course, that makes those items worthy of collection and, in a general way, define me.

My approach has always been more on accumulating, less on rarity and "mintness." Finding the green cover is a perfect example of that. OK, I did look on eBay to see if it was a true find, and it is pricier than the red. That the copy I have is less than perfect and has a split cover makes it no less valuable in my eyes. A few years back I bought a lot of Porter Wagoner records and the former owner had written on each cover the date and place of purchase. Rather than diminish their value, this increased their worth. Thinking of the person behind the albums, diligently recording for his own mental database the history of his purchases struck a chord with me. I too am someone who marks their time by what and when they got stuff.

There's a scene in High Fidelity where the main character reorders his record collection autobiographically to chart the course he'd taken. Isn't that what collecting is, really, reflecting on what we were and what we hope to be?

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