Featured Music: Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Revolution Will Be Televised (in Black and White)

Feel the Digital Music Revolution has passed you by? It probably has, but don’t sweat it.


I was once like you, afraid that if I didn’t join the Digital Music Revolution, I’d miss out on a bunch of cool free crap — cool free music to play on my cell phone, cool free videos to watch on my laptop, cool free friends with whom I could commiserate over the state of music. But after a recent excursion into the cyberworld, I can say with unwavering certainty that if you’re like me (old, crotchety, aware of the existence of vinyl rock records), you’re not missing a damn thing.
Throughout my time on this planet, many cultural phenomena have passed me by. My skin remains free of tattoos; except for with my butt, I have never ridden a skateboard; and, while I once had an earring, I won’t say that I was 0.0001 percent as cool as pretty much anyone else you know, adult or infant, who’s ever had one. My stud was bright green (the lady at the mall talked me into getting a paste version of my birthstone, an emerald), and when I removed it after two weeks, the tiny plastic gem had turned my ear lobe into a small crimson Vietnam of pain. On the onset of the Revolution — in my book, the day I saw a woman older than both of my grandmothers put together wearing an iPod at the gym — I was determined to get caught up in the movement. Then days passed. Weeks. Months. I didn’t buy an iPod. I didn’t start a blog. I didn’t successfully download a song off the internet — legally or illegally.
Then nearly all of my traditional audio equipment went on the fritz at around the same time (car radio, portable c.d. player, laptop), and I was thrust into the fray.
A lifelong gamer, I thought, “What the hell. I’ll go digital. It’s about time.” Since I couldn’t afford an iPod and didn’t have the self-esteem to create a cyber-doppelganger, my tour of duty began with downloading music. Not on my laptop (it was sick), but on a family computer.
The (illegal) online vendor I visited was the one with the best reputation among the music-loving digerati I knew. A veritable smorgasbord of both audio and video delicacies, Kazaa was surprisingly easy to navigate and relatively painless to use. Did the site have most of the songs I wanted? No. (Hair-metal and old-school rap don’t seem to be popular genres. Still, no “Captain Nemo”? No “S&M”? No “Let It Roll”? Oh, the humanity!) Did Kazaa slow the family computer to a crawl? Yes. (No one told me that once you’ve downloaded a song — say, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” by Warrant — other rippers across the globe, unwittingly, may be directed by the vendor’s software to download your copy.) Did Kazaa introduce several dozen viruses into the family network? More than likely.
But the black-marketeer also reacquainted me with some great sounds I hadn’t heard in a while — Iron Maiden, Big Daddy Kane, Ratt (yes!). Too bad I didn’t realize until after I had downloaded, like, 50 tunes that the family computer was not fitted to transfer them to blank polycarbonate disc. The only way I could listen to my downloads was by sitting at the computer — I spend 90 hours a week sitting at an f’in computer; the last thing I want to do when I’m done working is sit in front of an f’in computer. Not without a tinge of heartbreak, I eventually scraped the songs I had cleanly stolen and moved on to another front of the Revolution. Though I still hadn’t saved up enough money to get my grubby mitts on an iPod, I was now feeling more confident cruising cyberspace. I made the seemingly logical decision to become part of an online community.
MySpace.com is like one big nightclub — sans cover charge — in which the patrons are actually willing to get to know one another. The best part: Unlike at a bar, you can prevent annoying shit-heels from entering your personal space with the click of a mouse.
Among all the stuff to do on MySpace.com — like chat, blog, or cruise for sex (virtual or otherwise) — listening to music seems to be the most popular pastime. A mess of well-known Fort Worth bands have presences there, including Coma Rally, Collin Herring, Flickerstick, Darth Vato, and The Theater Fire. Better yet, a lot of unknown Fort Worth bands also have addresses. A simple search for acts and performers across all genres within 10 miles of the 76107 zip code turns up a few hundred names. Most of their music sucks massively, but some (amazingly) doesn’t.
To listen to the music, you have to a.) be a member and b.) have a computer outfitted with the appropriate software.
This is where it gets weird. Not the downloading software part; that’s easy. I mean becoming a member. The questions on the obligatory questionnaire seem innocuous — name, e-mail address, date of birth, marital status. I filled ’em out honestly, pressed “submit,” and was then confronted by my new home page. The web site’s gremlins had unceremoniously transformed my cold, hard data into a quasi-personal ad. I don’t know, but only someone looking for love in all the wrong places would really give a shit that Anthony Mariani is 34 years old, single, and a Gemini.
Feeling more lame than normal, I decided to post some sort of description of myself, just ’cause. Under the heading “About me,” I wrote that “I’m the associate editor of Fort Worth Weekly, an independently owned alternative-press publication. Visit us online at www.fwweekly.com.” Under “Who I’d like to meet,” I wrote: “Bands/performers of all genres from Fort Worth/Tarrant County/Denton ONLY are encouraged to send hard copies of discs or internet links to music to me, either here or the office (1204-B West Seventh Street, Fort Worth, TX 76102). I can’t promise we’ll write about you, but I can say that we will give your music an unprejudiced listen. Thank you.”
It’s been more than two days since the post. Not a single response has trickled in. (The resemblance to the real-world community in which I live is striking. I apparently can’t make friends in cyberspace, either.)
The good news is that since I began life as a foot soldier in the Digital Music Revolution, I’ve saved about 250 bucks. The cheapest model of iPod cost $99. A new car radio: $200.
Roll the car windows down, people. You’ll all be glad to know I’m back in 1999, where I belong.

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