I love living in the future

Posted: April 15, 2016 in music
Tags: , , , , , ,

When I first encountered email in the workplace, I had coworkers in their 40s and 50s who said, “I hate email!” A generation later, I have a coworker who wasn’t even born then who says, “I hate email!”

The people from the past were suspicious of change. My colleague in the present – a good guy, whom I will call WALL-E – is irritated by clicks. You have to click too many things to create and send an email. This, apparently, is an outrage.

WALL-E prefers Slack. You can see all of your fellow Slackers on one screen. You click a name and type your message. I spent my first week on Slack pretending to be a rogue AI. People said I sounded smarter than I usually did.

The only advantage I see to Slack is that it discourages messages of more than a sentence or two. This is an advantage if your attention span collapses under the weight of a paragraph fatter than this one.

At a meeting recently, I was seated beside WALL-E. We were unexpectedly asked to write something on a sheet of paper. WALL-E, who was armed only with his phone, politely asked if he could borrow one of my pencils. He had trouble positioning the pencil among his fingers. He laboriously wrote a line, then said, “That’s the first thing I’ve written in like a year and a half!”

The next day, I gave him one of my father’s unused pencils of the type that helped us defeat the Nazis, plus a crayon of the same vintage that’s thick enough to draw graffiti on trains. Guess what? WALL-E was delighted.

I’m writing this on the eve of my new favorite holiday, Record Store Day. Every record store in Portland is gearing up for massive crowds tomorrow. There will be vinyl. Technology marches on…and, it seems, in a circle.

See you kids on Slack!

Random Pick of the Day
Rihanna, Good Girl Gone Bad (2007)
Rihanna and Lady Gaga have similar voices: not too high, not too wide, not too warm. Rihanna’s voice is more flexible – for example, when she sings a rock song, which the Ga cannot – but her attitude is different. Sometimes she seems to be narrating someone else’s life; sometimes she seems bored. Lady Gaga has her faults, but almost everything she does is about her. She’s never bored.

Good Girl Gone Bad is a solid album (Rihanna’s third) that improves with every listen. You have to learn her quirks, the way you learn a pitcher with a fastball and a sneaky slider. The hit was “Umbrella,” with a guest appearance by Jay-Z. In 2007, you couldn’t record anything without Jay-Z, even if you were recording an audio book of Wuthering Heights. I like “Umbrella” and “Breakin’ Dishes”: “I don’t know who you think I am/But I really don’t give a damn right now.” What the girl groups of the 1960s, white or black, could’ve done with that one!

Random Pan of the Day
Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour (2014)
The man has a beautiful voice and, on the album cover, exquisite eyelashes. “Stay with Me” was the hit. The first four tracks were as far as I got. If you have trouble sleeping even after you drape black-out curtains over the windows and wear ear plugs and a face mask, apply a layer of In the Lonely Hour.


  1. seasidedave says:

    I cannot wait for you to describe the look on WALL-E’s face when you present him with a vintage, non-posted postcard and to hear about how you described it to him as a historic method of communication. You might explain to him how that pencil (formerly in your dad’s collection) can be used to create messages on the postcard. Introduce him to the concept of postage stamps…but stretch out the introduction of these ideas over enough time so as to not overload him….Keep those circles forming!

  2. Do you still own much vinyl, Steve? Downsizing here in Seabrook Villas I’m looking to off-load much of my collection to a records shop in Newcastle. To list what I was offering, I found an online site http://www.discogs.com, which allowed me to easily create a database of titles and export into a cvs file.

    • Run-DMSteve says:

      Sir: I own no vinyl at all, except for some souvenirs from childhood that are too scratched to play. I sold the last of my records when I realized that I hadn’t played any in a year and besides, I had no turntable to play them on. Taking them to the records shop was an emotional moment. I wasn’t sure I could do it. But afterwards I felt good — a very bearable lightness of being. I kept the list of all my records, but I don’t look at it.

      How many records do you own?

      Discogs.com looks like a great place. I’ll give it four paws up!

      • The Rock/Jazz albums are on Discogs – about 150. However, the much larger section (not yet on the site) are ‘classical’ – about 650.

      • Run-DMSteve says:

        Wait just one moment, sir. You can’t say “classical” and expect to escape further scrutiny. Early music? Baroque? Romantic? Modern classical? Classical Gas?

      • (I hate the term ‘classical’)

        Primarily 20th century and mostly American, British and Scandinavian (William Schuman, Walter Piston, Roy Harris et al; Robert Simpson, Havergal Brian, Michael Tippett and co.; Carl Nielsen, Jean Sibelius and Vagn Holmboe ooh family). Majority orchestral, but some opera, chamber and solo piano music. Even some spoken word (James Joyce, William Shakespeare, H P Lovecraft).

        But yes some baroque and romantic era.

        Questions for you:

        1. What composer does this bring to mind? Whoof.

        2. And what about? Whoof, whoof, whoof, whoof.

        1. Bach.

        2. Offenbach!

      • Run-DMSteve says:

        Is that the hoariest joke in classical music? It’s funny, though.

        Why do you hate “classical”? In a hundred years, Talking Heads will be “classical.” I’m afraid my appreciation for symphonic and chamber music (doesn’t advance past Brahms. And Brahms is kind of out there for me.

        Explain “Vagn Holmboe ooh family.”

        Please tell me that William Shatner provides the voice talent on the Lovecraft spoken word record!

      • I hate the term ‘classical’ because it is so vague – actual in my lexicon Talking Heads are already classical!

        Vagn Holmboe was a Danish composer and ‘ooh family’ means “and family” although ‘og family’ is probably better. (You need to hear some Holmboe symphonies or string quartets)

        The Lovecraft is read by David (Illya Kuryakin) McCallum; not William Shatner, the horror in in the story not the narration.

      • Run-DMSteve says:

        I don’t believe you about your Danish composer and his ooh-ooh child family. I’m not listening to any of that stuff. It’s some kind of con.

        Illya Kuryakin? Now that’s different!

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