Vinyl Hunt (#fridayflash)

Another restless night for Jed – the third in a row since his vacation began.  That Amana AC in his bedroom window awakened him numerous times the last few nights.  The thing was alive and evil, especially on energy saver mode.  Quiet for a while with that soothing white noise and then out of nowhere, a violent hiccup followed by a gagging, gurgling sound.  The AC snored.  It did.  And he couldn’t live without it on these humid New England nights with dew-points in the 70′s.  The Amana wasn’t the only thing that disturbed his sleep.  In the middle of his third or fourth mini-dream, his Samsung Instinct alarm sounded.  It was 5:45, when Jed would normally get up to go to work and he had forgotten once again to deactivate the alarm the night before.  He was on vacation after all.  But it wouldn’t have mattered.  He couldn’t deactivate Ella the cat.  She walked on his back at the first sign of light, licked his arm, purred in his ear and then crashed her head hard into his ribs demanding to be petted.  And she wanted her water bowl filled with fresh Poland Springs from the bottle on the night stand.  She jumped down off the bed and strolled to the water bowl and moved it adroitly with her paw to prove it was empty.  She doesn’t meow – ever.   She eats downstairs in the kitchen and will only drink water upstairs in Jed’s bedroom, and only Poland Springs.  She’d rather dehydrate than touch tap water.  A finicky one that cat.

Jed now out of bed felt light-headed.  He needed a cup of coffee but had run out the day before, leaving him no choice but to rush out for a cup at the local coffee shop.  When he got there, he ordered an extra-large with milk and no sugar.  The coffee served in a styrofoam cup burned his tongue upon first sip and was a little bitter, as if the coffee had been on the burner for a few hours.

Back in the car, Jed noticed he’d left his new Canon PowerShot on the front seat and he had an idea.  He had this urge to go hunting, or fishing.  He had been hunting a few times, but had only shot at  some ducks and scared them away.  He hadn’t killed anything except some beer cans and bottles.  He loved to fish but hadn’t in years and had no gear.  But he was armed with a camera and decided to go hunting in the arboretum just a few miles away.

To the Arb.  What’s that, a yard sale?  It’s early, too early.  Should I stop?  I wonder if they have any records?  Probably not.  Maybe?  I’ll stop.  No, they’re still setting up.  I don’t want to scare them.  Records.  I don’t see any.  I’m slowing down.  Crap, they’re looking at me like I’m a drive by shooter.  I can’t stop now.

Looks like rain.  What’s on the radio? Sports talk.  Oh no they’re talking hockey.  Where’s my Oldies station?  Somebody’s been messing with the presets.  Scan.  This is too complicated.  Alright, plan B – CD.  Some twang from a Nashville guitar, maybe it’s a lap steel, it almost sounds Hawaiian.  Let’s crank this up.  What if I roll down the windows and drive back to the yard sale?  They’d probably call the cops.   But I want some records or rare books.  They just might have a signed first edition Faulkner or some sonically superior seldom played classical or jazz pressing – maybe some Duke Ellington or Miles or an eclectic collection of Stravinsky.

Hey, there’s my personal arboretum parking space.  I need another coffee.  Where is it?  I just had it.  Dag, I left it on the roof of the car back at the coffee shop.  It’s too late now.    I’m already here and I’m not going back.  Onward to the conifer trail.   I’m hunting for color – anything interesting.  Maybe I’ll spot a ivory-billed woodpecker.  Green.  Everything is green.  No color contrast.  Got to get off the conifer trail.

Off in the distance.  Something is moving.  Looks poisonous.  A coral snake maybe. Drat, it’s only a slightly decomposed Skittles wrapper.  I’ll still shoot it.  Need a snake stick to pin its head so I can have closer look, but better not get too close – it might be a venom spitting Skittle snake with a rainbow colored rattle.  I’m off the beaten path and onto the sidewalk near the bus 51 stop.  And something has caught my eye again.  This could be the big one, the one I won’t let get away.  I’m going to real it in.  Newport.  I could never smoke menthols, I just couldn’t.  My dad smoked Kools, the king of menthol.  Kool burn.  Crushed empty box of Newport 100′s , with droplets of moisture inside the cellophane.  Faded aqua like a memory from my first Newport Jazz concert – sweet jazz in the air mixed with the smell of sulfur and brine like a fine wine just starting to open up.

Records.  Wonder if they have any jazz?  Don’t want CD’s.  If they have CD’s, I’ll walk away.  I will.  I want cheap, rare vinyl.  The splendor of spinning plastic. Snap, skip, scratch – POP.  I need a coffee and a smoke.  Wait, I don’t smoke.  I’m going to that yard sale, if that’s what it is.  Could be a garage, carport, or rummage sale.  Or maybe they’re just moving and it’s not a sale at all.  Need to find the conifer path.  Wow, a Red-winged blackbird.  Such a beautiful bird in flight, black with a blur of red.  Looks like a fighter plane as it goes into a dive.  I follow the sweet melodic call of the Black-capped Chickadee, an elusive bird I’ve only ever seen in the Sibley guide.  I think this is it.  Yes, there’s the Larch tree waving branches of alert spidery needles. I’m back on track.

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CD vs. Vinyl

CD or Vinyl? Vinyl sounds better on some recordings. DJs can scratch vinyl for sound, but not CDs. The size of LP cover art and the quality of liner notes are superior to the tiny CD package. These days, vinyl can be bought dirt cheap at yard sales and thrift shops.

If you ditched your turntable years ago, you can buy one for $100 U.S. or less, and some come with LP ripping software. I use RIP VINYL; it’s a no-frills, inexpensive software download and an absolute snap to use.  Converting your LPs or cassettes to a digital format, like MP3 or WAV, is time consuming, but gratifying.

Back to the comparison, CD’s are portable, require less care, sound better on most recordings, not all, and are virtually free of those cracks, pops, hisses and fuzzy scratchy noises associated with used vinyl.  CDs are fairly cheap now, and cost about what albums did in the early 90’s when the LP format began the steep fall to obsolescence. It’s close, but I give the edge to Vinyl.

David Gilmour [ more from ...