The time has come to take the leap to an iPod and one of those cute little docking stations. After eleven years of service, our Sony MegaStorage 50+1 CD jukebox with five speakers and the coveted Variable Attenuation Control System, whatever the hell that means, has gone brain dead. The on/off button only actuates Cassette A. It beckons, “Come out, come out, it’s time to play!” But in response, Cassette A flashes a message across the panel, saying, “Eject,” and then the unit shuts itself off. Before that happens, there’s no selecting another function: the radio tuner or CD player. No command button has any command. It’s a case of electronic recalcitrance that came about vengefully and without warning. So we’re playing CDs in the laptop and listening to the radio in the kitchen. As for the basket of cassette tapes, we don’t even know what’s in there any more.
Last night I took the fifty CDs out of the Sony and put them in their cases and thought about all my old vinyl discs that have disappeared from this world and all the old record players and hi-fi’s that have come and gone. When we bought this Sony for about $400, we were moving up from cassette tape to CD. Now that CD is an outmoded format, I’m wondering what to do with items like the one that’s hand-labeled “The Teenage Emigrant,” by or perhaps from Frank and Kieran Coyne, which no one domiciled within these walls has ever listened to. There’s also the Michigan Opera Theater’s “Casualties of Love” preview of the 2008-2009 season. The cover offers no clue as to the selections on the platter, at least not by name although there are small inset photos, one showing a woman with a rose in her teeth, another with a butterfly, and another with a baby and a lily, and yet another with a vial of poison, and I know it’s poison because no one would pour balsamic vinegar into her mouth with that abandon. Some season at the Opera!
It would be no easier to part with “NPR Driveway Moments: Radio Stories That Won’t Let You Go,” which came home with Susan and may never have been played. On the other hand, this is the perfect opportunity to conserve our meager resources by putting Janice Kapp Perry and Joy Saunders Lundberg’s “I Walk by Faith: Values for Youth” on an ice floe and watching it drift away toward the North Pole.
But here I am ridiculing my wife’s choices. The strangest thing that has come into our collection through my hands is Phillip Kent Bimstein’s “Garland Hirschi’s Cows,” which samples a southern Utah farmer’s voice talking about his cows over a goofy, repeated electronic rhythm. At least, that’s what I remember, having only listened to it twice. Janos Starker’s solo cello recordings haven’t been played too much, either, and the same is true for Hilary Hahn’s Bach partitas and sonatas—although looking at the cover reminds me that we witnessed the sixteen-year-old prodigy perform the Brahms concerto early in 1997, demonstrating impressive fluency, and Amy the Philosopher, who had accompanied us with her young son, said afterwards, “I was thinking she probably hasn’t even had sex yet.”
While I might not have the CD around here too much longer, I still possess the ticket stub from that concert, but it only mentions “Andrew Massey, Conductor” and offers no word on whether young Hilary had taken up with a horn player.