Saturday, 16 December 2017



Stats Guy and I, charter members of the Tuesday Night Beer Club, have been close friends for some 35 years. He is a confirmed bachelor, and a packrat, but most of all a packrat. I have not been inside his apartment in over a decade. A couple of months ago he said he’d ordered some new bookshelves. I offered my assembly services because the task seemed like a good excuse to get inside his warren and see for myself the books, music and films he hoards. I imagine the floors are bowed. I am relieved that I don’t rent the unit directly beneath his place.

While medicine chests, closets and underwear drawers are strictly off limits, I’m the type of guest who will, given half a chance, examine your libraries of movies, magazines, literature and music. I’m a spine reader, different from a chiropractor. I won’t judge if you possess The da Vinci Code instead of The Confessions, but I will make a mental note. ABBA’s Gold over Endless Summer by the Beach Boys? Hmm. Which solo Beatle’s works drew you? I’m on the hunt for a slight slice of insight into you.

Netflix Derek and I have been close friends for maybe five years. Our homes are around the corner from each other’s. He’s one of those people who reinforced the hidden magic of existence for me: you meet a stranger and feel a bond and realize that this other person will ultimately become a confederate and confidante. You recognize a friend, a kindred soul even as you shake hands with someone you’ve never met before. He loves cars and I love songs about cars. We’re not that different.

My take on life here at the Crooked 9 is that any item or box that leaves the house permanently is a good, good thing. Godspeed. Conversely, whatever enters - groceries, cigarettes and beer aside – is bad. Last weekend Netflix Derek telephoned to say he was de-cluttering and would I enjoy flipping through two banker’s boxes of his 70s vinyl before he dispatched them to a better place, elsewhere. Would I? Would I! There’s always space for an overlooked musical gem or two but not much room for greedy acquisitiveness. I want to get rid of stuff too.

Whilst cherry-picking Netflix Derek’s herd cull I realized that if we’d known each other in high school or university, we’d have spent a lot of hours discussing music together. Our tastes back then would’ve overlapped significantly with enough deviation to argue about. I’ll see your Electric Chairs and raise you the Vibrators.

Sound is remarkable voodoo. You can sense it, but you can’t see it, touch it or taste it. Music is a time machine. Because of graphic design and packaging, sometimes you don’t even have to hear it. I’ve got two cardboard bins of Netflix Derek’s memories on the living room carpet by the stereo. What these sleeves, slip-sliding away, evoke for him, I can’t begin to guess. Maybe Lust for Life and Johnny the Fox remind him of downshifting, ripping his MG along the back roads beyond the outskirts of Edmonton. The Kick Inside might summon up a long gone girl and an unforgettable summer.

What intrigues is plausible synchronicity. It’s entirely possible that one night years ago we were both spinning Coney Island Baby at the exact same time, three provinces apart. My mental scrapbook which accompanies that album as a phantom insert would be entirely different from Netflix Derek’s, fewer pages, maybe many more. I don’t know and I suspect I never will. My favourite song on it is ‘Charlie’s Girl’ and I’ll bet he preferred another track and anyway, speculation is moot because Lou’s since been consigned to the delete bin. The big question for me is: what did he keep? I need to know. I’ll be an invitee at his place New Year’s Eve, a midnight snooper; a new year and a new opportunity knocking.

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