Tuesday, February 01, 2005

CDs Nuts

Technology, she is incredible.

Growing up witnesses to the radical transformation from Nintendo Ice Hockey to NHLPA '93 on Sega Genesis, nobody in the neigborhood could get over the miraculous breakthrough.

But that all seems so primitive now, doesn't it? Dudn't it? I mean, would you ever have suspected that just a decade later you'd be able to watch a TiVo-ed television show without commercials while burning homemade compact discs of a 20-year-old concert on your desktop, while transferring those same files to a portable Walkman of sorts that holds 2,000 of your handpicked favorite songs, while surfing the ol' world wide web sans wires on your roommate's laptop computer, all while screening calls on a cellular telephone?

File sharing, instant messaging and electronic mail, online maps and directions and even an omniscient operator you can access with the touch of a button should you get lost on the way to Grandmama's house, free porn just a mouseclick away...

And I think to myself, what a wonderful fucking world.

For someone who "digs music" a la Russell Hammond on a Topeka rooftop, technology has provided countless Holy Grails for improving how and where we listen to music. For some reason, though, I resisted change for a long time. The year was 1999, and scores of techie Northwestern kids were burning concerts we had just seen onto discs left and right. Donnie and I were still stuck in the Maxell XL II Days, heading to Long Island's recently-deceased Prime Cuts Music Emporium for the latest shipment of Phish and Grateful Dead shows.

I didn't trust burned CDs just yet, and I had spent so much time collecting and dubbing hundreds of tapes that I didn't want to render that collection obsolete so quickly. Plus, there was a limited stock of what could be burned, mostly new shows: CD Kids weren't learning the history of the band, they were skimming the frosting off the top of the cupcake. I felt the tapes put me in the kitchen, chef's hat and all.

In the spring of 2000, this kid in my house burned me my first Phish show on disc, 12/2/99, probably my favorite show ever. And it sounded fucking awesome. No hiss. No flipping sides. The ability to skip over that Bouncin'. These things are sweet. Donnie and I decided to move on dot org. Count us on on this CD business...

Fast forward about five years and a thousand discs, and the technological advances are startling. Now you can go to any number of sites in order to download whatever the hell you're into. Just take one particular site, archive.org. Here, you can not only access hundreds of bands and tens of thousands of shows, but you can download 'em free of charge and enjoy their deliciousness for hours.

(The Archive incredibly stores nearly 2,800 Dead shows, available for listens or for keeps, any fuckin' show in the annals at your disposal. And that includes the unintentionally hilarious 9/24/88 Rainforest Benefit at MSG that featured special guests Darryl Hall and John Oates fronting for the Dead on Every Time You Go Away and What's Goin' On (best version this side of Rod Tidwell). Actually, it's pretty good music in addition to being surreal and funny...and the Man Smart, Women Smarter from that show is fantastic.)

Obviously it's been a long time since the turn of the millenium, and CDs and mp3s are now the preferred methods of most people who listen to music. But I still pine for the days of the tapes, and sometimes I get so nostalgic that I have Ace Cowboy Tape Listening Weeks, breaking out the cassettes for a fortnight of exclusive tape-driven aural pleasure inside the home.

The longstanding debate concerning tapes vs. CDs, in fact, inspired one of my best-crafted parodies (if I can say so myself). I once envisioned one of my favorite fictional military heros as the evil trader strenuously arguing the merits of discs in an e-mail to TJ in OH and Tits McGillicuty some years back. I really strive to put Colonel Nathan R. Jessup in every day situations at all costs: could be a great indie movie one day.

So, for shits and giggles, here's a bit of Kaffee v. Jessup, Tapes v. CDs (and yes, this might not make a lick of sense to 85 percent of you, but...eat shit, I don't care. This is comedy.):

"Son, we live in a world that burns discs, and those discs have to be taped by longhairs with mikes. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Languedoc? I have a greater FTP site than you can possibly fathom. You weep for the guy who yells 'in Vermont, you do what you want' into your feed and you curse the tapers. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that the Tape's death, while tragic, probably spread music. And my file-sharing existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, spreads music.

You don't want fuzzy hisses, because deep down, in places you don't talk about at shows, you want my CDs in your stereo, you need my CDs in your stereo. We use words like burner, DAT, and shorten. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent improving something aurally. You use them as trade for your extra. I have neither the time nor the molly to explain myself to a spun-out wookie who rises and sleeps under the very blanket of gooballs that I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said 'heady nuggets' and went on your way. Otherwise I suggest you pick up a pack of 50 blanks and grab a chair. Either way, I don't give a damn, what you think you're entitled to."

"Did you order the Live Phish?"

"I did the job you sent me to do."

"Did you order the Live Phish?"

"You're goddamn right I did."


At 11:23 AM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

I'm having font issues today...this is a slightly different font than Slack's normal shit, and I have no idea how to fix it. Yaaaay!

At 12:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant Work!!!

At 12:02 PM, Blogger Phiul said...

2 Crowe references and a link showing the old school days of show collecting (that cool dude sitting in the chair having his hair blown back by the amazing music he must be listening to (I'm guessing he's listening to the Ice>Kung>Ice from 12/30/95 fwiw)), makes this a great post.

What I laugh about now thinking back to the tape days is if there was a REALLY special show that was a DAUD1 or DAUD2 taped on some really crispy mics, you might decide to up the tape quality to a Maxell XLIIS. I always thought of those shows as my "Special Reserve" shows. 06/22/94 was on S tapes and I treasured those fuckers.

At 12:12 PM, Blogger Bart Starbux said...

Ten hut! There's a Bullet on deck. Great work.

At 12:36 PM, Blogger Army Archerd said...

So Ace, do you prefer CDs or Tapes?

At 12:45 PM, Blogger Jason Mulgrew said...


At 12:46 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Oh Bobby, you know you can't get me on that stuff...but seriously, do you like Casey Casem or Rick Dees?

Tits, love the guy in the chair...he is more prominently featured on the XL II S tapes I think, or they upgraded his look or something. Good call on bringing that up -- I almost linked to a picture of an S series tape, but then decided to find a regular one. Gotta be true to the art. I'm on drugs!

Bux, good to see ya back in town. Stick around, stay awhile...two bathtubs in one, baby.

At 1:08 PM, Blogger John Howard said...

It's actually hard to find good porn for free...or at least, that's what I've heard.

At 3:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Without a doubt the best posting to date i have read. You are my American Idol! Gosh that was better then sex last night. You may be younger, def wiser and sure as shit, fucking funny as hell.


At 3:11 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

You're too kind, Fluffy...

At 5:11 PM, Blogger Matty Mac said...

Okay, so, becuase of this post I have almost completely ignored my work and spent the day downloading music. Now my iPod is full and I got nothing done today. I couldn't be happier.

Oh, and my C: drive on my work laptop is now full as well. I wonder what the conversation with my IT Dept is going to be like tomorrow.

Me: Um, I need more memory.
IT dork: Why?
Me: Well, you see, I, uh, yeah. I, well, you know. I just need it okay, I have a lot of stuff to save and shit. Just do it dammit.

(notice how I said I "spent" my day downloading rather than saying "waste" my day? Definitely not a waste.

Thanks Ace.

At 2:18 PM, Blogger ahren said...

best post ever

At 7:50 PM, Blogger Justin said...

I was embarassed because as a victim of my own accord, I had never attended a Phish show before 1999. My first show was in 1999, and I had been a fan before that for months.

We have that in common...

At 9:32 PM, Anonymous Pay per head bookmaking said...

I just read your first line that goes: "Technology, she is incredible? and I wonder why do you think technology is a female and not male??


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