Confessions of a Vinyl Addict, Part 1
(This is the first in an occasional, sporadic and perhaps-never ending series of confessions by Al Perlman)
My name is Al. I’m a vinyl addict.
Last year, I thought I had it beaten. I had turned 50, quit my job and decided to move to a smaller house. It was time to downsize. No one really needs 12,000 records, right? I went through each record one by one and decided which would stay and which would go. I was ruthless. If a record wasn’t in nice condition it was gone. If it was not an original pressing, buh bye. The goal was to pare the collection to a reasonable number. What’s reasonable? I don’t know exactly, but certainly no more than 2,000 records, tops. Really, who even has time to listen to that many records?
I began by selling my doubles on eBay. It was fun, I made a little money and it passed the time while I tried to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. And getting rid of the doubles was easy. No tough decisions: Whatever I sold I still had and, of course, I always kept the copy that was in better condition. My addiction was under control. I was getting rid of records. More important, I was not buying records. No records stores, no purchases on eBay, no record shows on the weekends.
Then I decided to do this Web site and email newsletter. Why? I was looking for something to do that matched my passions and talents and interests and I’m naturally entrepreneurial and I thought of this idea and figured it would be fun. To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t tell you right now whether I think this will be a small business or just a big hobby.
I can tell you this, however. It has triggered a fever in me. The record collecting fever. Big time. How couldn’t it? All day long I’m sitting at the computer watching records being bought and sold. Records with beautiful covers in near mint condition with labels like Blue Note and Prestige and Norgran and Riverside and artists like Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley and Sonny Stitt and on and on and on and on and on.
eBay is insidious. Maybe even evil. It is an addict’s worst nightmare.
Back in the day, before CDs, I used to go to at least three or four record stores a week. It was my hobby and I loved it. Then records became passé and many of the stores disappeared and at first it was frustrating but then I got used to it and the obsession waned and I was okay. Then came the downsizing idea and I really thought the addiction was gone for good.
But eBay is right there on my computer in my home, where my wife sleeps and my children come to play with their toys. And all the records I ever dreamed of – and some I’d never even heard of – are just a click away. And every day for the past three months I’ve been watching and longing.
At some point I couldn’t take it anymore. I gave in and now, once again, I’m hooked. I’ve bought hundreds of records in the past two months. My room is filled with boxes. I’m buying records I already own, buying batches of records hoping there will be a hidden gem, paying obscene amounts I would never shell out in a store.
A few weeks ago a copy of Paul Chambers’ Whims of Chambers on Blue Note sold on eBay for more than $400. Last week another copy came on. I bid $300 and won. It was a steal, right? But it was $300 for one record. I already have 12,000 records and I already have Whims of Chambers. But it was only $300 for a $400 record. That’s how it works, doesn’t it, when you’re hooked?
I confess all of this not because I am looking for sympathy and not because I am looking for pity.
What am I looking for?
Records, of course.