Beer and Pavement

Collections

Posted in Intersections by SM on April 7, 2010

No matter how many records I buy, I can’t fill this void.

When I was younger, I collected baseball cards. I bought some complete sets and some valuable rookie cards1. I kept my cards in plastic sheets, locked in binders. To an outsider, my collection was an obsession. To someone who obsessed over baseball cards, my collection was a nice, little hobby. I collected those cards to fill time, shoe boxes, and to connect me with a community of collectors. I suppose the hobby filled a void, a void only Eric Davis could fill.

The same can be said about my two current collections. I collect beers and music with the same tempered affection2 with which I collected baseball cards in order to fill some sort of void or need/want. Collections do not rule me or put me into great debt. They are hobbies that provide me some enjoyment and something about which to talk. If that so-called void is filled, that’s OK too.

The music collection has gone on for a while. I gathered cassette tapes and records in my early days throughout the eighties3. This eventually shifted to CD’s as labels switched formats. Aside from the random 7″ or LP, I gathered hundreds of CD’s4. I also collected concert experiences which included ticket stubs, t-shirts, or just memories. As the LP came back into fashion, I’ve come full circle in limiting my collection to just vinyl5.

The beer thing hasn’t been a hobby until the past couple of years. Sure, age and availability was a factor, but I didn’t really get into craft beer until I started trying more kinds of beer, spending a little more for something a lot better6. Now, I even have a beer cellar7 where some beers have sat for nearly two years. Some bottles contain beer that is actively evolving into a drinkable beverage8. And I collect through drinking9, not just holding. There are beer dinners and tastings. I break open something that’s been sitting around all the time. Beer is to be consumed not contained.

The key to collecting is the enjoyment. It’s not the conquest or filling an emptiness. It’s not compensation for something you’re lacking. A collection is only worthwhile if you can enjoy it.

That’s why I’ve taken more to the collecting of experiences rather than things. With music, I love the experience of placing the needle on the record only to get up twenty minutes later to flip the record and do it again. Although I love the ritual of playing an LP, nothing beats a great live show. Similarly, sampling a rare beer at a nice beer-centric bar with a buddy makes it all the more enjoyable. I also don’t believe in holding onto a beer too long just for the sake of the collection. If it’s been in the cellar for a couple of weeks10, it needs to be consumed.

With boys and men, the quantity is often the goal. We one-up each other all the time with the number of beers in our cellar or records on the shelf. Whole rooms are dedicated to collections. This, however, is not usually my goal. Sure, I am running out of room for records, CD’s, t-shirts11, etc. And there are more beers in my cellar than I can realistically consume on my own over the next several months. Any collection is about quantity, but the key is not to let that rule your life.

More importantly, a collection is about quality. I only buy the records I believe are good and that I actually want to hear12. I choose rock shows that I really want to see12. The beers I buy anymore are primarily because I know the style and/or brewery is good. I only want my collections to represent what I feel is the best. Quality also has its limits. I don’t own every record I want or think I should have13. There just isn’t room in my basement nor wallet to buy all those records. Same goes for the beer. Most of the beer I can’t have costs almost as much to ship as it does just to buy. So, I temper my beer mania and join a group order now and again or go without14.

If the size or character of a collection is too much, it ceases to be enjoyable. I’ve gone through periods where this was the case. Most of the credit card debt in my life is directly attributable to spending sprees at record stores, sometimes for a bunch of material I don’t even listen to anymore15. At times, my beer cellar is overflowing with beers of a shelf-life of six months or less. I’ve since learned to limit these sorts of brews as I stock up on beers that can stand to sit on a shelf for a year or two.

I could go on and on about the specifics of my collections. I could inventory my entire vinyl stockpile, but I won’t16. I could do as the guy below did and record my beer cellar7 for all to see, but I won’t do that either.

My collections pale in comparison to those mentioned above, but I’m OK with that. My music and beer collections are what I can handle. It’s all I need for enjoyment outside of my family and friends. There’s still that Flaming Lips t-shirt from 1995 to remind me of one of the two or three best shows I’ve ever seen. All of my Dogfish Head 120-minute IPA’s have been consumed and savored17. There are records still to play and some beers to drink in the near future. The enjoyment is not over.

Consume your collections. Don’t let them consume you. That’s what I’m trying to do anyway.

Notes:
1Eric Davis was my favorite. Too bad he was so injury-prone.
2I don’t love them any less than the next guy. I have just learned to control my obsessions.
3Of which I have almost none. Between selling them to used record shops and being redistributed to my family, I have very little to show for this period of my life.
4Which, oddly enough, are kept in binders much like those still holding my baseball cards.
5And the digital downloads which accompany the vinyl.
6This is the obstacle for everyone to get over when starting a hobby in craft beer. You will spend more than $4 for a sixer of a good beer. You may even spend $10 for a bomber which is the equivalent of two beers. Think about that for a moment, PBR drinker.
7Really, it’s just a closet under the stairs. Did I mention this before?
8Homebrewing represents something I was never able to do with music: create my own.
9as evidenced by my expanding belly.
10Or up to two years if the beer is cellar-able. This would primarily be anything imperial, stouts, barley wines, certain Belgian brews, Lambics, etc. Beers to drink ASAP, for me, are primarily low ABV and highly hopped. Hops lose their potency as a beer ages.
11I recently retired a pile of rock concert t’s to a bin for my daughter to have when she gets older. How cool will it be when Lucia shows up in art class with an Archers of Loaf t-shirt featuring the hockey player from Vs. the Greatest of All-Time EP? Actually, no one will get it. I better just hang on to that one.
12Although, this does not always work out.
13I really wanted that vinyl copy of Gentlemen I found on eBay last year.
14Or empty the local shelves.
15Shuffle reveals embarrassing material all the time.
16There is nothing wrong with Nardy’s list. I am amazed not at just the breadth of his collection, but the depth as well. He not only has one Marvin Gaye album, but three; Led Zeppelin occupies six spots; and the Beatles – yes, those Beatles – provide 12 LP’s. I’ve seen it in-person. It’s quite impressive.
17I’ll get more.

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6 Responses

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  1. carriethewade said, on April 10, 2010 at 4:27 am

    yesterday I spent the afternoon making a spreadsheet of artists with at least one full album on my itunes for the purpose of a music exchange with a forum buddy in CA.
    It was a thrilling experience.
    I have around 500 distinct artists so far (not counting all my goddamn stray tracks–pesky bastards, I imagine if I counted them it would double my artist count). At 22 years of age I think this bodes well for my future of collecting. I dream of some future when I can actually afford to pay for records and not steal complete discographies.

    Do you ever think about what form your music collection might take had you had access to the internet and pirating from a younger age?
    Do you think this would make you a more compulsive collector of albums?
    Would it change how you collect?
    Do you just order albums and “hope that they’re worth your investment?”
    Do you “like the gamble” of not knowing fully what you’re purchasing or whether you’ll like it, particularly as time wears on?
    Do you ever get a record because “you feel like you should have it as a collector” but not because you particularly love it?

    that wasn’t meant to be a HRO style question conclusion…I just got real curious about your collection.
    “With boys and men, the quantity is often the goal. We one-up each other all the time with the number of beers in our cellar or records on the shelf.”
    This is a weird statement. Is quantitative collecting gendered? Last time I checked I’m not a dude and I’m definitely a quantitative collector and always have been. Of course, I’m generally considered a fairly unusual female (1).

    Or am I just kind of a masculine/androgynous chick (2)?

    1-I go lots of places by myself unbothered like shows, long walks at night, restaurants, and the bathroom
    2-apparently I give off a bi-sexual vibe. I hear this is on account of my alt-prowess and indecent/bawdy sense of humor(3)
    3-That was too much information.

    Now you’ve got me pondering my gender identity…THANKS. Way to go, Femin-MR.
    Gonna go put on a dress and some lipstick so I can feel more “female.”

  2. builderofcoalitions said, on April 10, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Feel like you’ve been “reading” HRO too much lately and that maybe it’s having an “influence” on your writing. (I should really give this up before I start.)

    OK. Here we go…

    Do you ever think about what form your music collection might take had you had access to the internet and pirating from a younger age? – Oh, yeah. I think I just missed that trend by months. It always made me feel dirty to get music for free. Of course, I bought promo CD’s at my local dealer like they were heroin (or some really addictive equivalent). I certainly would have way more music than I currently do, but it might not be as discerning a collection.

    Do you think this would make you a more compulsive collector of albums? – Sure. One thing that slows my collecting is the money. I’ve let it get out of hand and had to lay off the record buying for a while. This causes me to miss some really great releases, but it allows me to pay my mortgage and feed my child.

    Would it change how you collect? – I certainly wouldn’t be as concerned with physical artifacts. I’ve bought some albums solely based on the artwork. Also, as I eluded to earlier, I might gather a lot more music that just takes up space on my iPod.

    Do you just order albums and “hope that they’re worth your investment?” – I do this, but I’m a little more careful these days. I try to listen to snippets here and there, even read some reviews in order to get a taste. Anymore, it’s just a feeling I get when I read one piece on a band. Then I jaunt on over to Insound, order like three albums I know will be good and one I’ll take a chance on.

    Do you “like the gamble” of not knowing fully what you’re purchasing or whether you’ll like it, particularly as time wears on? – I do. The best part is finding an album I didn’t expect would have a huge effect on me. Take that Japandroids record. I bought that mainly because I read they were touring with Sonic Youth and that they were a two-piece. Bands who tour with SY are at the very least interesting. The fact that they were a two-piece (of guitar and drums) convinced me they would rawk. I had no idea that it would turn out to be one of my favorite albums in a long, long time.

    Do you ever get a record because “you feel like you should have it as a collector” but not because you particularly love it? – Yeah, but I learned a long time ago not to concern myself with “essential” albums. One could spend a lifetime collecting only LP’s recorded prior to their birth, but would you be missing something? I prefer buying new music with a used older album or a reissue mixed in. Now that I try to buy vinyl exclusively, it’s made me a much more thoughtful consumer. My sister has a really comprehensive collection. She loads up on all the essential albums. She may have every Dylan record to date (in some form or another). I tend to buy new stuff, but she has done a nice job of collecting all those albums one is supposed to have. (I don’t know. Did I even answer that question? Was that coherent?)

    Is quantitative collecting gendered? – Quantitative collecting is more a symptom of capitalism, over-consumption. I guess it’s not completely gendered. I think what I was getting at is that guys are always trying to compensate for their lack of “manliness”. Bigger is better. I’ve just never really met a woman/girl who brags about the number of shows or records in their back pocket…unless they’re obnoxious – like “boy” obnoxious. You know, the constant one-upmanship of indie rock conversation. To me, that’s more of a pissing contest. I guess you can piss too.

  3. carriethewade said, on April 10, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Oh good answers…thanks for enlightening me/letting me pick your brain.

  4. girlscoutheroin said, on April 11, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    i was a rabid collector from probably 1975 – 1996.

    rabid as in “i hope the floor doesnt cave in under the weight of my collection”

    one day, it was like the clouds parted and i saw jeebus – i decided to sell it all

    one of the biggest full body rushes of my life – so liberating

    (the fact that i made 100 metric fuck-tons of money selling it all didnt hurt).

    i dont mean to be a dick, but when you think about it, collecting anything is completely fucked up.

    disclosure: i have 120 GB of mp3’s, half of which i havent even listened too…so dont think i have overlooked that fact.

    “when you point a fnger at someone else, 3 fingers point right back at you”

  5. […] down the street with 4-wheel drive was offering a trip to the store. I told him that’s why I have a cellar. He kept on […]


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