Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Books And Records

I repeat myself. I've told certain stories and even non-stories so often to so many people I have forgotten what I've said to who and in what context. I walk down a street with my partner, we pass a house and I say So-and-so used to live there. I know, she responds, you've told me. And not once, I've probably mentioned it every time we pass the damn place. It's not like I even had the best times there, it's simply personal trivia, and that means there's a lot of it.
    Our friend Joe tells me and another pal the same crazy stories. We know we yell, and laugh. He scowls and mutters about how he bores us with the same old stories. We love those same old stories and we love Joe so it all works out.
    I'm trying to write a block of text everyday and so far I've gotten through forty days. I started with recollections of my childhood but now I have forgotten what I have already written. I don't want to slog back through my archives to see if I've mentioned a certain event. The one that sprang to mind today was when my brother brought home certain albums when we were teenagers. How our eyes lit up when the stylus hit the vinyl. The records that most visibly affected us were the ones you would think, The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, The MC5, typical teen rock blow out. We would come home after perusing the second hand book and record shop. I'd hit the books and John would dig through the records. Most often he would just take his records to his room where the stereo was and listen on his own, maybe with me hovering around the door. Once in a while the listening was a collective agreement. Have I told you this story before ? How our eyes lit up when we first heard the first chords of some certain album ? Have I told you how John would look for records and I would bring home slim dog eared volumes of poetry ? I loved that so much, being fourteen and browsing second hand books. It must have been 1983 or so, we rediscovered a shop that our big cousin brought us to in downtown Montreal years before. His name is John also and he took his little cousins on a tour of certain spots, McGill campus with it's sculptures and this store. We must have been under ten. That was a great afternoon.
    Well, as budding long hairs we found that shop again and I'd veer left to the books and my brother would go straight to the records. Silently we'd browse in our own corners. Sometimes I'd have to wait for him and sometimes he had to wait for me. If I dared buy an album it was one that was somehow associated with the fantasy books I loved. I brought home Gentle Giant and King Crimson, occasionally something more obscure. Progressive rock was everywhere in those days, every second hand album under five dollars, I'd usually spend three bucks. One book I still have, a book that has stayed with me and has changed the way I look at books cost me forty cents. It's a small anthology of concrete poetry, beat up and resonating with charm. John didn't care much for what books I bought, but he was taken by my enthusiasm and though he wasn't much of a reader back then he would hold a book in esteem if I couldn't shut up about it.
    I have told some of these stories before. I've bored younger people to tears about having had to gamble money on a record. I've told you before about books and rock and my brother. I'll tell you again. My friend Joe says I should draw these stories of me and my brother and our forays into rock music and weird art. Drawing stories is not like telling them straight up with words. It's tedious and I don't feel like it right now. It's enough I've made it to forty days with a daily writing habit. Let me get through eight months and I'll see what I want to draw. I'll be ready then too, to do something I've always been kind of ashamed to do, and that's draw the same drawing over and over again. Scratching the itch. I can't wait for that. Just take my favourite motifs and shamelessly work then until I reach clarity.