Friday, November 09, 2007


You're not getting some throwaway, flippant foo-foo humor column outta me this week. Heck, no. I'm a hard-hitting journalist, and we hard-hitting journalist types bring you the facts. Look, here's one now:

FACT: On November 20th of this year, Rhino Records is releasing on CD "The Brit Box: UK Indie, Shoegaze, And Brit-Pop Gems of the Last Millennium."

ANOTHER FACT: This is causing me to have a near-stroke.

Once upon a time in college, I was cool. Okay, scratch that, I was never cool. But my record collection sure was. It's easy to pigeonhole people based on their musical tastes, right? Goth, metal, country, rap, jam bands, polka -- stereotypes aplenty. The music we listen to helps define us as people, and how we're defined as people helps solidify our musical taste. It's a symbiotic relationship: man hand-in-hand with his Best Buy Reward Zone card.

Well, I was certainly definable in my college days. But not as a goth or a metalhead or a hippie. No, I was FAR more evolved. My music? Brit Indie. You might not even know it was a genre, and heck, that's okay -- the music's just probably cooler than you.

While most of my college brethren were caught somewhere between Guns 'n' Roses and Nirvana, we were driving hundreds of miles to see our favorite UK indie bands play rare American appearances. We were staying up until 4 a.m. to call record stores in London to place orders. It was a passion, a way of life, and some of the best tunes to ever grace the inside of a CD player.

And now it's been assembled into a tidy nostalgic box set in stores soon for $50. The music that meant SO much to me, the genre that I was a part of and identified who I was as a person... is now retro chic and bargain-binned up for the masses. The music of yesteryear. Which makes me OLD. Outdated, irrelevant, and most of all? Horribly, horribly uncool. I can't believe it, but a $50 box set has officially triggered a mid-life crisis.

Ever since I read about its release, I've been moping. I'm now at least two generations away from cool. This weekend, I looked around the club I DJ at and realized I was by far the oldest person in the room. I'm not saying I'm cob-webby, but clearly, my days of even pretending ineffectively to be cool have passed right on by without me even realizing it.

I needed a recharge. I needed to do something stupid, to feel young again. I needed the warm, sweet embrace of pop culture. I needed... Guitar Hero III.

That's right, the sequel to the video game that both ruled and ruined my life came out last Sunday. And carpal tunnel or no, it was a must-own. Mature fuddy-duddies my age might wait until their next convenient errand run to pick up such a time-waster. (Actually, mature fuddy-duddies have better things to do than play video games in the first place.) Me? I'm hip. I'm happening. At least I wanna be. Hence, I ran down to a 24-hour supercenter place at 4 a.m. after the club closed.

Supercenters at 4 a.m. are the mecca of humor columnists. Let's see... sketchy drug deal-esque event going on in the corner of the parking lot? Check. Trashy family lugging around sleepy looking 5-year-olds in the pitch middle of the night? Check. Serial-rapist-lookin' dude pacing menacingly and muttering to himself at the front door? Check. Awesome.

Eventually I found an employee with the magic key needed to open the video game display case. Only trouble? He was just shy of a thousand years old. Greeeat. Nothing against the elderly, but this guy looked like his idea of a video game was the glaucoma test at the optometrist.

"I need to purchase the game 'Guitar Hero 3,'" I said in a polite but I-know-you-won't-understand voice.

"Yep, you and the rest of the Quad Cities," said the old guy. "What platform you need? X-Box has been selling out tonight. We're out of wireless controllers, though, so you'll have to settle for the standard model. I've heard the battery life in the wireless units is pretty weak, so you're probably better off."

I couldn't believe it. Here I was, stereotyping this clerk like he was an escapee from Shady Acres, and in one breath, he proved what an idiot I was. And just like I stereotyped him, my biggest fear is that one day I'll be stereotyped by some young punk who thinks I'm the old, lame one. I smiled at the clerk and we talked video games all the way to the front of the store.

That guy doesn't realize it, but he didn't just sell me a video game. At the price of being a little humbled, he sold me my optimism back. I don't need a video game to prove my youth and I don't need a box set proving that I'm out of touch. I just need to be me, period. Now excuse me, I've got a guitar solo to go wail on.

No comments: