Friday, June 01, 2007

A Box at the Door...

There is nothing better than getting home from work and finding a UPS or Fedex package waiting for you. It’s an undeniable truth that getting packages in the mail is an uplifting experience no matter who you are. My little girl is only five and she is already of this mindset. She bums out if she discovers that the package isn’t for her, but can’t wait until I get home to see what’s inside.

For me, it more than likely became an irrational thing back when you had to mailorder skateboards from surf shops out in California (we lived on the East coast). You’d have to fill out the little order form, go to the post office to get a money order, and actually MAIL it. It was an absolutely agonizing two week process. Every moment from the time you dropped the envelope in the mailbox until your new skate arrived was spent obsessing about it. As the two weeks ticked by, me and all my friends began keeping a watchful eye out for the fabled “UPS Guy”. Me and the rest of my crowd knew all the UPS guys. We’d wave down the UPS guy as we skated down the street and ask him if he had a package for you or one of your friends whom you knew had an outstanding skateboard order pending. It was an awesome rush when he’d give you an affirmative response. It was sort of like Eddie Murphy’s “…the ice cream man is coming!!!” routine. You became Paul Revere hauling ass down the road to find your buddy and tell them the UPS guy had a package heading towards their home, and it might actually be sitting on the front door step at that moment!

Nowadays, the most frequently received package at the Alva household is music from This makes for a doubly good package. I love buying music. With the hour each way commute to work I have now, music is what I do (I’ve had Keith Richards “Main Offender” in the player for the entire week and it is sublime). Yesterday, I came home to discover a Fedex package waiting for me. The size of the box indicated it was too big for a CD order. I opened it to discover it contained an LP version of the Arctic Monkey’s “Favourite Worst Nightmare”. My friend Fred Wilson has been raving about these guys for a long time. I’ve heard a few tracks before, but hadn’t purchased anything by them to date. To say Fred is a huge music fan is the understatement of the century. When discussing music with my other friends when Fred’s name comes up, I always tell them that Fred drinks from the fire hose when it comes to music consumption. Fred can also buoy one’s spirit when it comes to rock and rolls vibrancy, especially if like me, you’re convinced of its eminent demise. Fred is convinced that the Arctic Monkey’s are proof that rock is alive and well and had threatened to send a copy of their work to me as prove of it (like me and many other of my friends, Fred does not steal music). True to his word, he sent along not just a CD copy, but a vinyl copy. What a most excellent and thoughtful surprise.

What was so cool about discovering the LP inside the box was actually seeing an album cover of artwork after so much time. This record has a great cover jacket too. I’m a CD guy and have been for a long time, so seeing a good ol' record jacket was even more of an uplifting experience than getting a CD. It was like getting that skateboard delivered by the UPS guy all over again. After gazing at it for a bit, I decided to set it aside so that I can absorb it all in proper fashion tonight with a glass of wine once the kid’s in bed. I hope it’s as good as he says it is. I hope it restores in me a little bit of optimism.

THIS is what the music experience was once about. It was a special activity, especially the first time you tore that cellophane wrapper off and dropped the needle on that virgin scratch free disc. Fred’s younger brother Jackson buys a great deal of vinyl. I am always envious when he blogs about a major score at the local vinyl shop. He brings home ten or twelve LP’s at a time and gets to sit down at his turntable and rip that cellophane off and go through the ancient ritual that once was listening to a new record over and over.

Fred’s a big believer in the future or digital music. Often times I’m at odds with his thoughts on mass consumption of the art form, but one thing is for sure, the guy simply loves music. He loves it as much as his brothers and I do. It’s evident that he’s familiar with the things of which I've written above. Call it nostalgia if you want, but it’s very real nostalgia to me. It’s a shame that our lives are so busy with all that they are, because for just one day, I’d like to do what we used to do thirty years ago when we were know-it-all, not-a-care-in-the-world teenagers, and sit around a turntable in someone’s basement, crack SEVERAL cold ones, and just spin records.

Thanks Fred, you are the man.

Rock is dead, long live rock!


At 9:42 PM, June 01, 2007, Blogger Scott Edward Anderson said...

I, too, wax nostalgic for those days when you would open a new LP and pop it freshly on the turntable. The anticipation, the album art. Simply amazing.

Recently, I bought my first albums on iTunes (Wilco, Modest Mouse, Feist, and the Arctic Monkeys disc to which you refer). It felt strange, but I was in the mood to buy a bunch of new music (I'll confess Fred Wilson's site had something to do with it; his enthusiasm is infectious.)

My local CD/vinyl store wanted 16.99 for the same music I could buy at Amazon for 12.99. But iTunes would transfer the music to my library immediately upon purchase -- for 9.99 an album. 9.99! I couldn't justify the 16.99 purchase, no matter how much I wanted to support my local friend (I buy a lot of used music discs from him). And I'd have to wait a minimum of 24 hours to get it from Amazon. iTunes? Charge the card and it's downloading.

The experience, however, was a letdown. I was so excited about the prospect of having the music, but I haven't had the time to get it out of my computer and into something I can actually listen to. Not the same experience at all; disappointing to say the least.

My last real experience with vinyl was a "record nite" my wife and I had with some new friends 15 years ago. Just two pairs of newlyweds who had moved into houses next to each other. What better way to get to know one another than to bring ten favorite cuts each to share and alternate? What an amazing evening. Nostalgia, indeed.

Thanks for taking me back.

At 11:10 PM, June 01, 2007, Blogger Jackson said...

Oh man......

You've left me speachless.

I will say that though it took a few spins, I have taken to Arctic Monkey's. It helps to listen to them with The Drunken Fool over a few of those same cold ones.

At 6:26 AM, June 02, 2007, Anonymous mediaeater said...

I got the Monkeys record on wax and most new releases that way.

The best trend is that they come with a code to download them as well. So when you get the new LCD Soundsystem and Arcade Fire records they also come with the mp3s. A no braniner.

It is all about the wax. (see link to collection.) It is also great to beable to see influence in action via the detail of blogs.

I love that Fred sells records. All those marketers wasting time trying to influnce indie kids on indie blogs who are largely cash poor and time rich when its all about the cash rich time poor
who rely on 'word of mouth' from folks who they value their point of view.

gosh i love this interweb thing.

At 10:33 AM, June 02, 2007, Anonymous ric said...

Fred Wilson, cool. Vinyl, cool. Arctic Monkeys, v. cool.

Is this "Mad Dog" Alva who was ripping backyard swimming pools when I was still skateboarding?

At 8:11 AM, June 03, 2007, Anonymous carl rahn griffith said...

one of the most well-received gifts i have bought my wife in recent years was the record player I bought for her last christmas.

she'd been collecting vinyl over a number of years but ironically had nothing to play them on - that didn't seem to matter; she primarily wanted the tactile experience of handling a record, enjoying the artwork, etc.

but, it's nice to spin a disc now and then - and it means I can now also play some of my old punk singles, much to her dismay, lol .... ;-)

still, we've a long way to go to match her cousin's collection (business) ...

oh, and the excellent group i constantly tell fred about - the hair - also have a vinyl single out - get it, it's rather great - and as per your arctic monkeys vinyl experience, new music on vinyl is a rather splendid indulgence in these all-too binary/digital times ...

have a listen to them - and buy the vinyl/binary from the link above.

At 2:36 PM, June 04, 2007, Blogger Jackson said...

I sent Fred an e-mail saying:

1959 Les Paul Gold Tops are dead.....I'll be waiting by my mailbox......

At 4:00 PM, June 04, 2007, Blogger Tony Alva said...

Scott E.,

You get what what I sayin' and I'm glad to hear it's not just me and Jackson. Buying music was a big deal back in the wax days. It was special. Now, it means nothing. Sad, so sad.


Your collection is most impressive. You sir are a god.


No, sorry to disappoint, but I am NOT the real Mad Dog TA from Dogtown, but as you can tell from my profile pic, I wanted nothing more than to be him when I was but a young boy of 15. While I could never claim that my shredding skillz were as good as his, I was no slouch either. It took a lot of balls back then to skate and I was never in short supply.


Similar experience with the lovely Mrs. Alva. During one of Jackson's visits to the Alva house, he convinced me to buy a turntable and it was the first piece of A/V gear she was actually excited that I bought. Together we have a pretty decent collection of wax that we can now spin at our leasure.


Focusrite and Neumann are dead, Long live Focusrite and Neumann!

At 12:40 AM, September 05, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...



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