Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Far Out

When it comes to collecting vinyl, when is enough enough? Is there such thing as going too far? And more importantly: If you go too far, are you therefore someone who is "far out"? Or are you just a ginormous loser? And finally: By then will you even know the difference or have any friends who bother making the distinction?

I would describe a fellow named Bob George as having gone quite far out and perhaps (maybe?) too far. Since the 1980s, he has collected over 2 million LPs, the largest collection in the world, according to George. He has housed the whole unholy mass of'em in downtown New York as the ARChive of Contemporary Music, an effort so epic it now has the backing of, among others, David Bowie, Lou Reed, Keith Richards, Todd Rundgren, Jerry Leiber and Youssou N'Dour ("board members"!) In other words, Bob George has gone so far out, he's now in.

This YouTube video of Bob George serves as both a fascinating tour and a cautionary tale. On the one hand, it's a noble, slightly musty Harry Smith-meets-Alan Lomax-type pursuit, done for the good of future civilizations (so aliens might one day discover "A Love Supreme," he says on the ARChive website); on the other, it's High Fidelity-ism taken to his logical and horrifying conclusion. Bob George says he's trying to collect two (2) of every LP he can get his hands on, just for archive's sake. Which means there are two (2) of all eight (8) Loggins & Messina albums. Think about that.
My reaction to this collection's existence probably requires a German word with at least 10 letters in it, a particular frisson of overheated nerd-tastic desire and utter self-loathing. With pure, white-hot jealousy tossed in for good measure. And think of it: It'll only only cost me a $500 a year membership fee or $35 an hour to look through it!

Q: What is the soundtrack of your brain while exploring this collection?

A: Addresss - Rashied Ali Quintent (with James "Blood" Ulmer)

Q: Didn't Prince write a song about this guy?

A: No. But:
Bob George - Prince

Q: I feel inadequate. Should I even continue collecting LPs at this point?

A: What's the Use? - Jamie Lidell

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