My birthday happened, and now I'm 29. So far, it is much like 28, but it's early in the year. For the last few years I have tried to mark my birthday by doing something that we may not normally do without the added justification of it being a special day. We've been to the opera, mini golfing, to the Academy of Sciences and, this year to Alcatraz. I try to choose something fun, possibly educational and that gives me a bit of a childlike buzz. I'm not someone who often exerts his preferences or choices on others, for good or ill, but on my birthday, I guess it's the one time I feel like I can choose something and express myself. We've seen some cool stuff on my birthday, and had some fun times with friends.
A side effect of this, is that my "it's my day" justification sometimes meshes with my compulsion for records and other media...I often get gift certificates and sometimes some money, and, try as I might (thought not terribly hard)...I usually wind up redeeming and spending what I've been given within a few days from my birthday. While I did use some of the money to get a hair cut, most of it went to this: Two of these were acquired with a gift certificate from Mod Lang Records in El Cerrito (thanks Josh), the others from Amoeba. I hate shopping and rarely don't feel guilty after spending money...even sometimes with redeeming gift certificates...but, there is a great power when you stride in to a record store with the ability to walk out with the things you usually can't. Electric Ladyland by the Jimi Hendrix Experience (lower left) falls in to this category. It's the best Hendrix album, and I really wanted to hear it on vinyl. It's a new pressing, but it's almost impossible to find originals in listenable condition for anything resembling affordable. There's something amazing in hearing one's favorite songs on vinyl for the first time, there's a richness and a fullness, and a warmth that you just don't get from a CD or an mp3 (unless you have a crazy stereo system). That was certainly the case with The Patsy Cline story, a two album collection filled with some of Nissa and my favorite Cline songs that we found in perfect condition for a ridiculously low price at Amoeba. At the sound of the first, faintly crackling strains of "She's Got You" Nissa and I shared a glance and a smile. We've both listened to our Patsy Cline 12 Greatest Hits CD more times than we can probably count, but we had never heard her like that. It was like discovering what we love about her all over again, not bad for $4.99.
I was going to write about all the albums and all the stuff, but that last point was really where I was headed. I'll round out this post with a poem I've always liked, but which was recently brought back to mind by Nissa using it for a school project. It's by Richard Brautigan, from his collection, The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster. I stumbled upon this collection in a volume along with his Trout Fishing in America and In Watermelon Sugar in a bookstore in Madison, WI. I picked it at random and opened it to find this:
Widow's Lament It's not quite cold enough to go borrow some firewood from the neighbors.
The economy and power of those words were enough to make me pick it up and take it home (later, I discovered my parents had had his books on the shelf when I was a kid, so maybe there was some subconscious direction there). Anyway, I suggest him to everyone. This is the poem I was referring to:
I sit here on the perfect end of a star,
watching light pour itself toward me.
The light pours itself through a small hole in the sky.
I'm not very happy, but I can see how things are faraway.