long, Long time ago, when i was still in junior high, when i lived in Smithville, i met a guy, don’t remember how, who became one of my best friends. he was older, worked for the railroad (a common occupation in S’ville at the time), and so his hours were rather erratic, but we shared a lot of the same interests.
i used to hang out til all hours of the morning talking – something my mother never quite understood – about books, comics, films – trust me, there weren’t a lot of SF&F fans in my patch o’ Texas.
he taught me how to listen to music. he was – probably still is – an audiofile. before an album was put on the turntable, you cleaned the record, you cleaned the turntable, you cleaned the needle, and then you Listened.
you didn’t talk, or read, or sing along, or even tap your feet.
You. Fucking. Listened. and nothing else.
taught me how to really appreciate music.
the album was listened to once, a cassette tape being made of the album at the same time. (first person i knew who had the equipment to transfer music directly from album to cassette. the rest of us had to sit there with a tape recorder in front of the speakers – or the radio – and hope nobody talked or interrupted us.) *
once that cassette was made, that was the everyday listening copy, and you could talk, whatever while that was being played. but albums were sacred things – music in as perfect and direct a pipeline from creator to listener as you could get.
hell, i still remember one of the best gifts i got in those years. he brought out the album, and recorded me a first generation copy of “Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds”. generally, i got second gen tape copies. but as a present, i got a first gen. that fuckin’ meant something.
he was the first guy i knew who had a video recorder – a betamax. i was with him when he got it, and why he got it is an indication of what kind of geeks we were.
so he’d been thinking about getting one, but hadn’t committed yet. this would’ve been May 23, 1977. KTBC, the CBS affiliate out of Austin announced they would have a clip from “Star Wars” on their 10:30 PM news the next night, in advance of the premiere of “Star Wars” the next day. the afternoon of the 24th, we made a mad, barely-touching-the-road trip to San Antonio to his credit union so he could get a loan for the betamax, then an equally speedy trip back to Austin to pick the betamax up – i think at Montgomery Ward, then back to S’ville so he could unbox it, set it up, figure out how to use it, so he could record that clip.
it was the Millennium Falcon/Tie fighters fight as they escape the Death Star, and we watched it at least 30 times that night. we were back in Austin at the Capitol Plaza Cinema, first showing of “Star Wars” that next day… we got out, bought tickets for the second showing. got out of that one, bought tickets for the third showing, and finally went home after having our minds completely blown three times.
we did the same ‘three-showings-in-one-day” for “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. we went to a lot of movies together.
i went to college, albeit briefly, ended up in Dallas, we lost touch, and he eventually ended up in Fort Worth, and we kinda sorta got in touch with each other again, but a lot of years had passed, and a lot of mileage, and it didn’t quite click like it used to. some of the asshole/dumbshit things i did pissed him off – and rightly so – and we fell out of touch again.
periodically i’ve reached out to him since i’ve been back in Austin/Pflugerville, and we’ve talked a little, but it still isn’t the same, and he shows little interest in maintaining contact.
but i’ve reached out again, left a message on his voice mail, hopefully he’ll call me back. i sure do miss him.
* (favorite story about that… my friend Ricki was recording “Red Octopus” by Jefferson Starship onto tape. there was a disturbance, he dealt with it, and kept recording. we loved that tape – middle of first side, you hear his mother yelling from downstairs, “Ricki! Ricki”, then Ricki’s reply. “Mother, shut the hell up!”)
listening to: Spanish Train – Chris de Burgh