Friday, March 21, 2014

The Big Dumb Love Of My Husband's Stupid Record Collection

Oh yeah, the other thing...

The last few weeks have produced a buttload of hits for Sarah O'Holla, a librarian who has thankfully understood how awesome her last name is while probably enduring a lifetime of continually canned lines like "Yes, that's my real name" and "Yes, I'll give you a 'holla' back soon."

Sarah is married to a guy named Alex Goldman and he has about 1,500 pieces of vinyl which, as anyone who has a record  collection and has had to move into a new abode know, can be a real pain in the ass during moving day. After one such move, O'Holla pondered "What the fuck is with these things?" while Goldman probably didn't even bat an eye as he carried milk crate after milk crate of such  titles as Adam Ant Friend Or Foe (I'm partial to Strip) and Anthrax's Among The Living.

But rather  than complain about how stupid it is for lugging up all of these pieces of antiquated technology, O'Holla decided to learn a little bit more about the man she married by digging into those crates and checking out the records-one at a time-and record her thoughts on them for her website, My Husband's Stupid Record Collection.

The title alone got record geeks across the country a bit pissed, in a way where I'm almost embarrassed to acknowledge it. Believe me, any record fan with a hint of self-awareness has uttered these same words every time they've lugged up another box of these things, contemplating the need to have a document of something that has already burned a hole in their memory.

For some, just the hint that their passion was "stupid" brought out the fangs, and soon message boards were full of comments suggesting that O'Holla had no right to write about such things, particularly when she doesn't even get the vernacular right. On one post, she's lambasted for calling a gatefold sleeve something other than "gatefold sleeve" and another she's chuckled at for getting transfixed by a locked groove.

Within days of  this, the online media caught wind of the kerfuffle and began reporting on it from a variety of different angles. One of the most prominent was how the record collecting culture is very male driven, to the point where the entire "teacher/student" aspect of how male music nerds attempt to "school" potential ladies into the club. Of course, then the entire notion of how men  never really want the ladies into this exclusive club is introduced and supported by several examples of female critics dishing out examples of how men totally discount a woman's opinion of something, based entirely on their gender rather than their knowledge of the subject matter.

I began to think about my own interactions with women, and I can attest to contributing to  some of this same behavior. I have a  history of trying to "teach" people about new music, and I was probably less subtle about it when I was younger than I am now.

I can think of several examples of relationships  where I made instructional mix tapes, promoting an agenda of music that I thought  was cool, in an attempt to change the person away to whatever music they may have enjoyed previously.

The problem is, as I considered beating myself up over coming across as a snob abuser, was that I didn't exert this kind of behavior  exclusively to women. In fact, there are probably double the number of examples of the teacher/student role within my own gender than any kind of condescending attitude towards music based  on the other person's sex.

In fact, any kind of music instructions towards the ladies was coated with plenty of things like accessibility and lyrical hints, because, let's face  it, a lot of this behavior was based on an idea that you're beginning a  soundtrack of a potential relationship.

Any woman who possessed a modicum of interest in music or displayed a knowledge of facts regarding it was  almost immediately placed on a higher level than any other woman. Think of that scene  in High Fidelity where the bald  dude hooks up with that chick from Roseanne and you've got a good idea of how men tend to melt when faced with a musical equal. It's what we're all secretly striving for inside.

But the Internet is a much different place, and definitely a much crueler one. I can't imagine the amount of straight-up anonymous hatred that O'Holla has  probably endured already, feeding the idea that this discussion is legitimate one, even when it should be nothing more than a defense mechanism created by a bunch of uber-defensive babies with retarded social skills.

Because at the end of the day, that's what a bunch of us music geeks really are.

I looked at O'Holla's blog and thought, how lucky this man is. Not because of  Sarah's physical appearance-she  looks like a normal 32 year old woman and her and Alex seem to make a perfectly adorable couple. No, I was jealous at the fact that his wife took a harebrained  idea over a  few drinks and totally dug into the project.

Her words are wonderfully touched with the ears of a novice, but they also suggest that she possesses a certain amount of passion about the topic. Maybe not  in the same manner that her husband seems to have a penchant for Adam Ant records, but ones in the sense where she considers every title with open ears.

What kind of man or woman wouldn't want a  partner like that? Doesn't every one of us strive to find a partner who loves both the person that we are as well as the road that brought us there? To love  Alex Goldman is to also love Prince Charming.
Photo courtesy of the My Husband's Stupid Record Collection blog.

From a personal standpoint, I would love it if my wife or other partner ever thought of such an idea, and even the thought of their amateur opinions on the subject matter increases the appeal. I love the idea of such observations as being fixated on Adam Ant's guitarist rotund appearance and the white tennis shoes of Anthrax, thereby eliminating any perceived threat of violence, despite what their lyric sheet might suggest.

I'm reminded of the women in my life who taught me a thing or two about music, holding their own with the other snobs to the point where their gender wasn't even a factor because their authority washing away any of the same nonsense being tossed around in O'Holla's direction.

Who knows. Maybe by the time she reaches the "G" section we can move beyond the dialogue of the walls that are needlessly put up because of O'Holla's gender and focus on her reaction as she discovers more about the life of her husband and the music that provided the soundtrack to it.

And from that freedom, we may be able to learn about some music that can become a part of our own lives in the process.

I'm happy to say that, because of the blog's review of The B-52's debut album, there is a metal version of "Rock Lobster" floating around that I music get my hands on.

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