For years, I’d always carry a couple of copies of T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats with me everywhere I’d go. If I met someone cool that had never read it, I’d give it to them, insisting that they’d love it. Yes, I am that guy.
This album makes me wonder if I should be carrying CD-Rs around with me. Not that I’ve never done that before— I was the guy at my gym that gave out hard copies of Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album.
Emmylou Harris- The Boxer (Simon & Garfunkel cover)
In the midst of the rhinestone cowboy country era, Emmylou put out a straight bluegrass record called Roses in the Snow. It featured a mix of vintage gospel and contemporary singer/songwriter selections, and the players included Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and some really spectacular work by Ricky Skaggs. It sounds like a slam dunk with 30+ years of hindsight, but it was a brave move for an artist who was not yet the legend we all know and love today.
Also, all of you vinyl-loving folks can probably find a nice copy of it for under 5 bucks in any decent-sized used record shop. I should probably come up with a list of these ubiquitous bargain records— at Record Store Day, there was a re-pressing of Patti Smith’s Horses, for only 20 dollars! … or you know, for 5 bucks at VG+, two bins to the right.
I was a big geek when I was a kid, and make no mistake: that’s when the geeking was tough. Junior High was damned near fatal. I had equal fascination with the blossoming girls in my classes and with Saga of the Swamp Thing. I was tormented by my own hormones, yet also by my love of Transformers. I used what money I could get together to buy the new Dark Knight Returns books, and a 50th anniversary edition of The Hobbit, with color plates and all kinds of extra Elvish runes, all while sneaking peeks at my older brother’s Playboys. My bedroom walls were plastered with pictures of Michael Jordan, Garfield, Star Wars, and maps, dozens of maps, all inserts from my subscription to National Geographic. There were alternate perspective maps of the world, relief maps of the Atlantic Ocean floor, maps of the Moon. And behind my bedroom door there was a beer poster of those three models wearing swimsuits that combined to form a single Budweiser logo.
To be a geek is to live in conflict, to pursue all those intellectual and fantastical ideals, while still desiring the same base, tangible human existence as everyone else. Amidst this conflict, there was always an unmistakeable pang of shame, because being different always draws ridicule at that age. That was the price of geekdom, I suppose, and being a true eccentric always takes courage, a courage which I probably don’t have in me today.
You see, I’m not a geek anymore. Oh, I’m still a little eccentric and awkward, but in socially acceptable ways. I like some sci-fi and fantasy, but those things can never inspire the level of devotion that they did when they were social suicide. I will never go to Radio Shack and ogle the Tandy 1000’s with the same fervor. I look back on my geek years, and I marvel at my own courage, and at the courage of my small cadre of geeky acquaintances (for what geek truly has friends?). I couldn’t do that today— it’s entirely too difficult.
So for all of you adult “geeks”, with your sexy aliens and your sexy vampires, with your designer horn rims and Green Lantern movies: perhaps it’s time to let it go. Maybe you were a geek like me way back when, and maybe you’re someone who’s just caught on to tech/sci-fi/fantasy recently. It doesn’t matter, really. We’re all adults, and those things are no longer the profound social challenges they were at age 12. They’re just things we’re interested in, topics for discussion and perhaps study. You’re now computer users, not computer geeks; sci-fi fans, not sci-fi geeks.
Don’t let it get you down, though. By becoming a functional adult that still gets to goof around on computers and have a little MMORPG fun, you’re living every little geek’s dream.