Dear Dionysus XII

Dear Dionysus XII

Go to end of entry for soundtrack selection to be played whilst reading.

Dear Dionysus,

I recently went through all my old records and zines and show flyers and posters. It brought back a lot of memories for me, some cherished and others rather painful.

Before I met you, my main hobby/vice was collecting records and punk paraphernalia. I was obsessed. I would spend every dime I made at my job on records. I’d scour eBay for hours looking for the ones I wanted, in addition to at least weekly visits to the local records stores.* I was a teenager: I didn’t have any bills or alimony or child support and I hadn’t yet met you, so I had a lot of disposable income. And how I disposed of it, Dionysus.

I had what I like to believe was the most impressive punk rock vinyl library any teenager ever amassed. If I liked a band, I would seek out every last seven inch they ever did, in addition to any compilations they appeared on. One of my favorite compilations was a late 80s ten inch called “Make The Collector Nerd Sweat,”** which had a caricaturist drawing of the proverbial audiophile on the front sweating profusely as he scoured through scores of records.

I related to that; I wanted every punk record there ever was. And I did a pretty fine job of getting close to that goal. Thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of searching resulted in a radical mess of vinyl. I owned records that most people don’t even know exist, records that (this is verified) record store owners have heard of but never even seen because they were so rare. They were my most prized possessions by far.

In hindsight, record collecting was my first drug. I went about it in the same fashion that I would later in copping dope: the hours and hours of looking for the fucking thing, getting the money together to get it (no matter what the price), the long unbearable wait whilst obsessing over what was to come, and that mixture of relief and excitement once it was finally in my greedy little hands.

As far as drugs go though, I must say it’s one of the least harmless I’ve ever done: Record needles are way less sketchy than hypodermic needles, as it turns out.

You know Dionysus, when I originally decided to start this thing, I thought that I would try to go as chronologically as possible–for the sake of cohesiveness. I realize now, however, that the only cohesive element of the past decade is you. Temporality is something I likely don’t have a very solid grasp on, and all of these insane anecdotes and misadventures come flooding back to me of their own accord, completely inconsiderate to my desire for timely order.

So, when they come to me, they’re going to you. Whatever I have to relive on a particular day, you will too. We were always partners, after all, when we were in the thick of it. Ad the truth of it is that these incidents all coexist in a way. It’s difficult to explain exactly, but they all seem to be occurring simultaneously in my mind, as if they’re as real today as they were a year or ten ago.

And that’s seriously fucked, Dionysus.

Sorry about that little administrative segue, love. Where were we? Oh that’s right: records.

I remember the time I made my entire family late for a trip ton Disneyland because I was engaged in a bidding war for a fine slab of wax that I just had to have. I know it sounds selfish, Dionysus, but you have to realize that this was the Crimpshrine/Jawbreaker split 7″ in near mint condition. There were only a thousand pressed, and seven hundred or so of those were almost immediately destroyed.

Of course I won that bad boy, Dionysus. I’ve never had so much fun on It’s A Small World as I did that day. And the cheesy music didn’t even bother me, because I had that record spinning in my head already, drowning it all out.

But then it got to the point where I didn’t really get many new records anymore, because I spent all my money on getting loaded. And then I didn’t even listen to my records, because it was too painful of a reminder of all the music I wasn’t making because I couldn’t hold it together long enough to compose or record or play a show. Finally it got to where I convinced myself that I didn’t really fucking like those bands anyways and those records were just taking up space and dope was a lot cooler so I just sold them.

I didn’t realize it then, but what I was doing was selling off the last of my innocence, the last reminder I had that I wasn’t always a dope sick alcoholic loser and that I used to believe in things that were more important than that next fix.

How could I possibly bear to have that reminder staring me in the face? I couldn’t, Dionysus.

I remember watching this fat fucking shyster behind the record store counter as he thumbed through hundreds of records, each one containing a different memory, a veritable portion of my childhood, before telling me that they weren’t really that good and offering me a price that I knew was lowballed as hell. There were at least fifty records in that stack that were worth more than what he was offering on their own.

And you know what I did? You know what I did with those records that I used to fight for and obsess over and not let anybody else touch? I handed them over for just enough money to get me just enough dope to get me just barely well. The collector nerd wasn’t much of a collector nerd anymore, but he was still sweating, albeit for very different reasons.

I didn’t even think twice about it, Dionysus. In fact, I thanked him graciously. There was no internal dialogue, no mental debate, fucking nothing. And you of all people, the fucking poster boy for music, stood there and laughed as I did it.

Do you remember that? I fucking do. I’ll never forget it, because I’ll probably never get those records back, and even if I do, they won’t be the same ones. They won’t be the ones that meant something to me, that symbolized something that was important to me.

But maybe I don’t want those same ones. Maybe I don’t even want those records period. Maybe it’s time for some new records that don’t carry any personal weight or historical significance at all.

I don’t know Dionysus. But I can tell you this: for the first time in a very, very long time, I can hear the music.

And it sounds wonderful.

</3 Sir Rateval Hurtlinge

P.S. As it turns out, a friend I turned on to Samiam ended up with all my old Samiam records. He actually offered to give them back to me, but I declined. I'm sure he's taking real good care of them.

P.S. I went into one of the record stores I sold a portion of my collection to the next week, and he had one of my erstwhile NOFX records up on the wall for three hundred bucks. I should have felt incensed, ripped off, and enraged, but I didn't; I felt dope sick. So I sold him some more records for a ridiculous price and off I went to get well.

P.P.S. I don't miss most of those records. My tastes matured a great deal since I was a teenager, but a handful are almost like phantom limbs on my record shelf; I can see them, but they’re not there. Specifically, the Crimpshrine Lame Gig Contest LP (first pressing) and the entire Lookouts catalogue. Those still hurt like hell, and I sincerely hope to get them back someday.

*R.I.P. Underdog Records


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