Saturday, December 27, 2008

mix tapes, mix cds, and playlists

back when i was in middle school, cassette tape was the medium for purchased music. tape players were the method of playing owned music. and after i had collected twenty or thirty tapes, cd's came into my life. the compact disc was louder, cleaner sounding, and best of all it was able to perfectly rewind or fast forward to the beginning of each song. the problem with cds was their high cost. $17.99 + tax to a person who made only $20.00/week allowance is not feasable. that allowance paid for clothes, shoes, entertainment, and contributed to savings.

the only way to satisfy my starving hunger for new music was to purchase cds, and blank tapes, then record the CD to the tape. afterwards the cd would be returned to the music store (an opened cd could not be returned for a refund, only store credit). you were allowed to return cds 3 times, so the third time was normally a cd that i knew i wanted to keep. remember that this time period did not have the option to listen to an artist's music online, there was no itunes music store or usually cds were purchased blindly, based on the cover.

usually a cd contained 1-3 songs that were listenable. thus, the ultimate listening experience came from mix tapes. having a tape with good song after good song required lots of time and effort. choosing the songs normally took the least time, it was the recording process that required not only constant attention, but also calculations.

this time period is where i remember mixes at their height, at least in my little world bubble.

shortly after, computers and internet came into my world of music. mp3, cd-r drives, napster, downloads, uploads, wav converters, and blank cds threw everything into orbit. the method to buy a cd, record the good songs to tape, return the cd, and repeat was now obsolete. with napster + a cd writer possibilities were endless. however, time seemed to always be spent downloading and hoarding, instead of listening and creating. time spent making quality mix tapes was time that could have been better spent discovering the next artist. instead of creating and sharing a great mix, an instant message was sent "hey friend, download this artist. you'll love them."

i made a ton of mix cds for myself, they took virtually no time and energy. however, since they were so effortlessly crafted, the quality of my mix cds were far inferior to the quality of my mix tapes. the idea that if i really wanted to, i could sit down and pound out the ultimate mix cd as i had every resource at the click of my mouse button. i never ended up making that ultimate mix. i just continued to create crappy mixes (in 15 minutes). i did stick to one rule, always put the best song on track number 9. i'm not sure where that came from, but i've formed a philosophy about track 9 and will discuss that at a later date.

ff to today, and cds are obsolete. the playlist is the new cd which was the new cassette. everyone has an ipod, strike that, everyone has more than one ipod. shuffle, iphone, ipod classic, ipod nano, and the list marches into the sunset. there is no use for a cd that only contains 15 songs, when the smallest ipod carries 250.

yet the trend continues, and this is where my sadness increasingly grows. when it was too much time and effort to make a mix, beautiful mixes were created. now that infinitely more resources are at our fingertips, it brings me down to think that i can count the number of good playlists given to me in the past 3-4 years on one hand. three of those quality playlists are a traditional birthday-present mix given to me by michael, a dj who creates compilations for the world famous pacha, and spins records weekly at establishments in the LA area.

it all boils down to a quote i've used one too many times:
"What may be done at any time will be done at no time." - scottish proverb

Monday, December 22, 2008


every once in a while i look at my bedroom, and think to myself... why do i have so many computers. immediately afterward i take a picture and grin.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

i'm losing my edge

lcd soundsystem has a few songs that just make me smile. when tracks like daft punk is playing at my house, yr city's a sucker, and all my friends start playing on my ipod i have to listen to them through to the end.

one song i've always had quite a strong affinity for is losing my edge.

the song starts out mellow, and simple. james murphy starts off talking about the kids, and how they are coming up -surpassing him. and you feel that this song is about james losing his edge. until he says "but i was there". that's when one eyebrow raises and you wonder, is this song really about him losing his edge?!

"I'm losing my edge to the kids whose footsteps I hear when they get on the decks."

slowly he talks about how he's old, and not 'cool'. but he gets it. and the kids who think that he's losing his edge, still think he's losing his edge.

I hear that you and your band have sold your guitars and bought turntables.
I hear that you and your band have sold your turntables and bought guitars.

the song is just under 8 minutes long. you didn't notice it, but ever so gradually the music and the vocals are picking up steam.

"I hear everybody that you know is more relevant than everybody that I know."

the song continues to crescendo, and the lyrics start to mention artists, locations, and events that shaped the music we have today. the picture is painted so clearly towards the end of the song. james, who's never clean shaven, probably cuts his own hair, and has the physic of a computer programmer standing over a skinny tattooed 22 year old wearing tight pants, a tight vintage 'ironic' shirt, and neat accessories from european countries, a hipster.

and then it ends. the song soothes out, and you realize that there's no hate here. this isn't in the same fashion of tupac vs. biggie. this is simply a demand for some respect.

"But I'm losing my edge to better-looking people with better ideas and more talent.
And they're actually really, really nice."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

tired of being sexy

friday night we spent the eve with CSS (cansei de ser sexy), the most popular band out of brazil *citation needed.

lovefoxxx, the lead singer, rocked the show!! she combines crazy, cute, high-energy, and "i'm gonna climb on to the table, and dance my ass off till i die" in a fantastic combination.

the other band members consist of a guy who looks like cheech. he plays the bass, and sings background vocals on almost every song. then there's the drummer, and three females who act as guitarists/ketarists/cowbellist/keyboardist.

the encore consisted of 3 super tracks: air painter, let's make love and listen to death from above, and alala.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


around four years ago google did something that changed my life. gmail.

aside from the fact that gmail incorporated google's revolutionary search engine for all of your previously sent and recieved messages, there was the size factor: 1000MB (1 gig)! at the time my yahoo account yielded a 25MB capacity, and worse yet my hotmail account had 10MB. not only did gmail offer enormous storage, but that size was guaranteed to increase.

when i log in today, this is the message i see:
"You are currently using 1690 MB (23%) of your 7271 MB"

it's comforting to know that i have not only have space to spare, it's growing. i don't need spend my precious time debating if i want to keep or toss any number of emails.

another thing that gmail boasted was a "smart" spam filter. every other mail provider bragged about intelligent spam filters -which worked as well as a screen door on a submarine. important messages from known contacts were diverted away from the inbox, while adds for horny hot teens were delivered to my inbox.

over four years later and i'm just starting to appreciate gmail's intelligent spam filter. to date, there's anywhere from 600-800 spam emails in my gmail account's spam section at any given time. since gmail automatically deletes spam messages that are over 30 days old. that means that i receive on average 23 spam emails each day. however, before composing this post, i didn't even know this as no spam emails make it into my inbox. yep, their spam detection is just that good.

before gmail, i was the spam filter. i logged into my email inbox, to see 30 new messages each day. after i was done sending the 27 spam messages to my junk box i was almost too tired to read the emails that weren't from spammers. of course, if i had the time to do so i'd go into the junk folder afterward just to make sure that none of my wanted emails landed in the unwanted junk folder, because every week or so i'd lose an important email.

i'm constantly reminded just how much i depend on the gmail spam filter. sometimes the things that work best for you, are the ones that you never notice.

i don't want to disregard all of the awesome features that gmail has incorporated like gchat and aim in your inbox, labels, filters, colors, themes, the list goes on. but i see the results of those things daily.