Sunday, January 11, 2009

Out with the Old, In with the Old

Shopping at Wal-Mart is number one on my list of dread activities. This feeling seems to be shared by every other male of the species. You can see them all - the dour cart pushers, muttering to themselves, or spouting low volume invective at their wives. I don't go for the outward hostility, at least I don't think I do. Ask my wife. But I do have a very tangible feeling at some point, usually about 20 minutes into the superstore session, where I feel my internal organs sink. What I imagine is a trapdoor opening beneath them sending them speedily down the chute of misery.

A trip to Wal-Mart was on our schedule for yesterday. Prepared for the worst, we went our separate ways, my wife to the store proper, me and the boys towards the media section. I never get anything at the store. It's usually cheaper online. How can I buy a book at Barnes & Noble for $10 more than I know it's priced on Amazon? The answer is I can't. But yesterday, Wal-Mart had a $5 rack of DVDs and we went to town. The purchases - School of Rock, Almost Famous, Fargo, Shawshank Redemption and an Airplane/Top Secret combo.

I think I see what's going on. Pushing everyone to Blu-Ray players and discs means getting rid of that old regular DVD technology. It'll work; it always does. One of my sons bought Pineapple Express for $30. OK, it was his money. I've seen this all before, when CDs arrived on the scene and LPs were forced out. For those who have read the blog with any consistency, you know I'm still in the record buying business. When CDs came, the long-player was almost 40 years old. Everyone had a turntable and records. There was a business goal to get rid of store inventory, but no inherent reason for people to shed themselves of their personal collections. You'd hear people say, "I won't be able to get needles," or "CDs are cool." Well, CDs were alright, portability alone giving them value. But the disappearance of turntable technology? Damn, you can buy parts for Model T's for cryin' out loud. It was the perfect business and media joint venture. Don't keep those scratchy old albums. Progress!

I made out fine. Not only was record buying a much less crowded experience, but friends gave me their entire record collections. Sure, I would have to weed out the Loverboy discs, but there were always great additions - instant Kingston Trio collections, live sets of Lester Young, Otis Redding originals, Beach Boy albums on Brother Records. My already large collection has doubled over these years.
And now what do we read? 2008 was the rebirth of records? Manufacturers are issuing new releases in album form and college kids have discovered the joy of spinning vinyl. Hey, I could have told you playing a record and reading liner notes on a full-size album cover was fun. My wholesale acquiring of records from friends may peter out as their children find that they want their folks old Beatles and Led Zeppelin albums. That's fine. I'll survive.
For now, I'm happily taking all DVDs. Just don't tell anyone that Blu-Ray players play old DVDs and play that at near Blu-Ray quality. That'll just screw up my plans.

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