When I went to college in Boston in the first half of the Nineties, one of the great temptations of university life was a “Tower binge.”
Tower Records had a big store on Newbury Street, a short walk from campus. I went there for concert tickets; to pick up the free in-house music magazine, Pulse; and every so often, to give in to temptation and buy a bunch of CDs.
I didn’t give in very frequently; I was a dutiful lad. But once in a while I’d go over to Tower and lay on a new supply of music to feed my head.
So would the people I hung out with. One college friend of mine went on a real bender there once, to the tune of a few hundred dollars, if I remember correctly. He still speaks of it with awe — a complete surrender to the twin muses of music and commerce.
(I wonder how many of those CDs he still has. I wonder how many of my Tower purchases *I* still have. Most of ’em, probably.)
I’m reminiscing about this because I just went on the 21st-century, fat-and-40 equivalent of a Tower binge: An Amazon binge.
My local public library doesn’t have much of what I’m interested in exploring. (I noticed a few months ago that it has one book by Ezra Pound about poetry, but two books by J. Edgar Hoover about Communism. That about says it all.)
So, rather than kvetch about it, I finally decided to put up some money and enrich my personal library instead.
Arriving on my doorstep, hopefully not in the rain, snow or sleet, will be:
Hemingway: The Paris Years by Michael Reynolds. (This and the next book were recommended to me in 2007 by a former colleague with a thing for the Lost Generation. I printed out the email with his recommendations, promptly misplaced it, and recently found it again.)
A Draft of XXX Cantos by Ezra Pound.
Skylarking by XTC. (A record produced by one of my favorite musicians, featuring a band I’ve long wanted to explore. Why do I not already own this?)
The Complete Poems, Philip Larkin.
John Berryman: Collected Poems 1937-1971.
Collected Poems: W.H. Auden.
The Complete Poems, Randall Jarrell.
I feel like I’ve just laid on a couple cases of brandy; I expect my new acquisitions to nourish me for years, whenever I want something to pick up and roll around on my tongue for a while.
I also expect that all this poetry will inspire me to write more shitty pastiche-verse of my own … so those of you who read my other blog, Hope Street, might want to steer clear for a while. Gonna be some crimes against terza rima going on over there.
I think I’ll close with this song. It’s not about buying binges, and it’s not on Skylarking. It’s just one of those pet YouTube clips I inflict on other people every chance I get, because it crackles: