Turntable & Blue Light, an introduction

I will never stop buying records. Vinyl pretty much trumps all. It's imperfect, scratches easily, skips if you walk too hard across the floor, and gets bent in your old dank living room or basement or wherever you've forgotten about it. But then you pull it out and it's like being 13, only without the braces and without the dyed goth hair and hot pink lipstick.

That awesome sound of the needle hitting the black (or red or blue or purple or green), the red light that comes on when you click the knob on, that s-w-e-e-e-e-t unreal so babe scratch of the needle along the gloomy grooves. It’s moody, temperamental and everything music should be, always changing its sound, every listen different. You can hold it in your hands, touch it, hug it, kiss it, open and unwrap it, feel its dark body against yours. Records are dark because they are real, they are things, objects that become charged with the feelings and impressions of everything around them. They’re bloody and warm, and bring it all back. You can live inside a record, inside its large covers and black, shiny orb…it’s a planet, and when you gently place it on the soft mat, it comes home in a way few things do anymore.

When I moved from San Francisco to New York, my turntable got busted. I tried taking it apart, readjusting the big rubber band, putting the base back, hard, willing it to work. It just wouldn’t turn. It was gone.

It took me a whole year to replace it: a combination of moving to New York – being broke, sublet-living and then 275-square-foot (if I’m lucky) studio-living, and semi-jobless – and simple inertia (or, the depression of just having moved to New York). I struggled in my tiny apartment to listen to music, with its one ridiculous square room, and miasmic noise from all the other apartments in the building (I could hear this woman sneezing and her boyfriend coughing through the vent) and prayed that I would find an apartment that would allow me to return to my previous state of being able to enjoy music. I would sit around for countless hours wondering if my apartment was bigger than a jail cell, and wondering why I was shelling out a thousand-plus for it.

Then I found it. The Shangri-La, the answer to all my problems in New York. This amazing, beautiful paradise of an apartment – and I could afford it (I had by this time acquired a JOB, which entailed working 17 hours a day, but at least I had a place to go every day, and every night, and every day…). It was decorated in classic 70s style, with a gorgeous linoleum floor in the kitchen and light fixtures from the most aesthetically challenged era in our history. And it had a lovely, hardwood-floored center room, which was perfect.

I moved in in August of 2003, and the move pretty much ended the Dark Days of my first year in New York. The move to the livable apartment gave me, pretty much, well, the will to actually live. Don’t let anyone tell you moving to New York won’t kill you. It will, but then, you’ll be reborn in a way you never thought possible, and it is all worth it.

So, for the next period of time, I became obsessed with decorating my apartment, but specifically, with regard to setting up a fine place to listen to music – and especially, my old records, which had sat, unplayed and unloved, in a dingy cardboard box that said, U-Haul, Go U-Haul! Every single Bowie, Zeppelin, and Sabbath album - along with Mama Cass, Appetite for Destruction, Nothing's Shocking and some heart-kept treasures from the 80s, which I’ll keep to myself, was lonely. And I did it – I finally purchased a new turntable. A beautiful, shiny Stanton, complete with its lovely landing pad, and its scrawled and swirly “Stanton,” white script on black felt. And with it, and for it, the first new records I bought: Extended Revelations for the Psychic Weaklings of the Western Civilization and Welcome to the Infant Freebase, The Soundtrack of Our Lives, and five beautiful John Coltrane albums. And I have continued to feed it with more records, year after year.

That is how the name for the magazine came to be – in my living room, I have my Stanton, my “The Man Who Fell To Earth” poster, an Aladdin Sane poster, a lava lamp, a blue Tibetan wall hanging and my pirate and skull beads from New Orleans, and my sweet, sweet record collection – and two blue light bulbs in the fabulous fake crystal chandelier hanging down, over this blessed of all blessed rooms.