Self-LP

I’ll make a deal with you, Spam cutlet. You don’t bring me any books this weekend, and I won’t make fun of you for bringing me books this weekend. Is that fair, or is it?

Hard though it may be to believe, this weekend coming is Memorial Day Weekend, and the Newberry will be kuh-losed. Locked up tight. Not letting anybody in. Shut for the holiday. How many more ways can I say this before I just give in and hire the snipers for the roof?

Yes, there WILL be weddings going on. But the bridesmaids will be unable to carry boxes of books in those amazing dresses, and if YOU want the groomsmen carrying your collectibles into the building, I can only say that I do not.

The probable outcome if you drop off books is that they will sit on the dock until they are rained on or stolen. I know: as long as you clean out those bookcases on the second floor, what actually becomes of the books is not your problem. But after you went to all that trouble to get the banana boxes and pack them with books and then haul them in, it would be a pity, wouldn’t it, if they wound up being used as a foundation for somebody’s cardboard condo in a quiet corner of the park. Or would it? I’m thinking about some of the political books you’ve been dropping off lately, and that would be about as much as any of those authors ever did for the homeless.

And the records, oh jellybean aspic! What if your ancestral collection of 101 Strings collections wound up getting soaked ina downpour? Don’t you know that all those easy listening albums are making a comeback? And what about those audiodiscs you and your family made every Christmas, wishing Grandma and Grandpa the best of the holidays and Gerald put down the cat it doesn’t need to meow on the record and come back here Judy Sue, we’re not done yet, and Horace, stop rattling your present from Aunt Ruth? Don’t you feel those need to be preserved for posterity?

By the way, I have had a few remarks made about Friday’s column concerning records that never made it onto the Billboard charts, and, yes, I know there are even more I haven’t discussed yet. I always have a few LPs that teach touch typing (I don’t know how) and several that teach you how to take dictation. Last year, goodness knows, we had an instructional album on how to become a ventriloquist. This can’t have been easy, from a record, but this is what we had to do, kids, before YouTube.

I get instructional records on sending Morse code, and I have had some of those primitive karaoke records: LPs that had the musical tracks of current hits without the singing, so YOU could provide the lyrics. Once (and only once so far) I got one of those disc jockey interview records, where a celebrity answered questions which were provided on a separate sheet. The disc jockey cued up the record, and read the lines on the sheet, and it sounded just like Elvis or John and Paul were right there in the studio being interviewed. (I don’t remember now whose interview we had, but I guarantee it wasn’t Elvis, John, or Paul.)

We were given a small collection of records that were made for an industrial background music machine, records that played at 16 RPM and sat on a special machine that would just feed 8 hours of continuous music into the factory. (The same company did this for offices and retail stores, but the music, I am told, was much blander than what they made for blue collar workers.) We also had one of those instructional records which came with a special beep to tell someone when to advance the picture on the slide projector.

All of these things can be done now by computer, of course, but I think I can point out one feature that made the old way better. Nowadays, once you’re done with the typing instructions or the karaoke session, you can’t give it to a Book Fair. Even on Memorial Day.

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