Rant: Five Weeks without a turntable

I’d always wondered what I’d grab on my way out the door if the house ever caught fire.

Now, with the wife and the cat safely outside, eleven p.m. on a cold, December, Colorado night, getting my answer didn’t seem nearly as satisfying, or romantic, as I’d hoped. Hopping on one leg down the hallway, wallet and keys in the backpack on my arm, trying to put on my jacket and a boot simultaneously, it all became unceremoniously clear:

1) Wife’s new Martin acoustic. A no-brainer.

2) My ’96 PRS CU24. Also a no-brainer.

3) Laptop (WITH power cord). My connection to the world.

That was it. As we stood outside in the 10-degree F. weather for more than two hours, surrounded by emergency vehicles of all shapes and sizes, I realized that my two-week winter vacation (scheduled to start the next day, which I’d planned to spend writing and recording for the new album) was shot.

And I was right. That two weeks would be spent living in a local hotel, driving to the house each day, checking on the cleanup crews, talking with insurance agents (who were all on vacation for the holidays, naturally), wandering around town trying not to spend money frivolously, wishing, just WISHING I had my kitchen back so I could make a simple sandwich in the privacy of my own home without having to place an order, wait for the food, wait for the check, wait for the waiter to return with my card and the check, figure the tip, and try, just TRY to get out for less than $20, only to head back to the hotel for a late afternoon/early evening mind-numbing cocktail and prayers to the Hotel Gods that tonight’s new neighbors would not have small children who were excited to see the historic train, located some fifty feet away.

To be expected, no doubt.

But what I’d NOT expected was that today, more than Five Weeks later, on my birthday, no less, I’d STILL be without albums and turntable! As it stands at this very moment, all 600 or so LP’s are safely stored in an upstairs closet, where cleanup crews could not find them proudly displayed and accidentally send them crashing to the floor as they tried to move an entire 7-foot tall book case loaded down with precious vinyl.

“Better safe than sorry,” said I, and took it upon myself to make no fewer than 23 trips up and down the fifteen stairs to hide them safely out of sight and mind, protected from the clumsy fingers of the unannointed.

And let me tell you, Five Weeks is a long time.

Long enough to grow numb to the silence-enshrouded dinners. Long enough to forget the joy of arranging and rearranging. Long enough, in fact, to forget what I even have in the collection at all.

But today marked the end of cleanup crews. The end of painters, plastic drop cloths, and unexpected visits from clean and sober folks who talk way too loudly. Not quite the end of insurance paperwork, but we don’t live in a perfect world. Not yet.

And yet now, with freedom on the horizon, it occurs to me that there’s No Better Time than the present to rearrange our living situation. “If EVER there was a time to make those changes, it’s NOW, BEFORE making that second batch of 23 flights up and down the stairs with armloads of albums.” While I can’t bear the thought of another single day without being able to listen to my vinyl, at the same time, I can’t seem to decide on the best way to store them so they’re all at EYE LEVEL, within reasonable proximity to the turntable.

Prologue: the vinyl, back in action, a few days after this rant.

This, of course, is to say nothing of the issue of arranging the albums themselves. I’ve never been an “alphabetical” kind of guy… how can the Beatles and Black Sabbath be neighbors? Back in the day, I always arranged by emotional state. One of my favorite on-screen moments is John Cusack’s character in High Fidelity… arranging his albums autobiographically. And Dick, walking through the stacks of LP’s, as if in a trance, trying desperately to sound cool… “I could help you… uh… man… if you want…” or something like that. I’m not going to google the script right this moment.

My point, if there can possibly be one on a night like tonight, is that I’m tired, and I want to listen to my records again. But there are miles to go before I drop the needle on the wax again. Maybe this weekend? (Maybe tomorrow, maybe next summer… Girl, I just don’t know…)

Bottom line: Life without vinyl sucks. Life with vinyl, but without the means to play it, is treacherous. And life with a ton of vinyl that you love, that was NOT destroyed in the house fire, that is stashed away in the closet at the top of the stairs waiting for you to come bring it back into rotation, is, somehow, divine.