Trials and Tribulations (III)

I already vented in part I and part II of this ongoing series on collecting insanity, but I’m far from finished.

(21) The Long-Assed CD Booklet: That’s the one you get all too rarely, but when you do, you need an incredible amount of training to actually get it out of the standard-sized jewelcase. That thing is three times as thick as any other (also because it includes the entire back catalog of that label … plus lots of landscape photos) and was stuck into limited space meant for a booklet with 6 pages max. Got it out? Good! Now try getting it back in again.

(22) Spine-Align: You know, the jewelcase spine the title is printed on? Top to bottom? Bottom to top? Any standard in sight? Do the labels care? Nope. When crawling around in front of my shelves I constantly have to do the “My dog has Parkinson’s” act. Head turns right, head turns left, head turns right. If I don’t find a CD within about 4 minutes I have to stop in order to avoid leaking spine fluid. Add to that the tiny print on some of these spines and you understand why some collectors want to have some CDs registered as weapons of mass destruction.

(23) Completely Incomplete Recordings: What’s up with those? Is the word “complete” such a difficult word to understand? Why do you think people have invented the prefix “In-“? For fun? I don’t know how often the complete turns into “Complete (when ignoring 1952-1955)” or “Complete (recordings that we own)” or “Complete (before we over-baked the master)” or “Complete (when shelving it between the other recordings you have of that artist)”.

(24) “We Wrap, Therefore We Are”: I don’t buy single CDs. When I shop, I bleed my wallet dry and return home with anywhere between 5 and 30 CDs. The problem is that each and every one of them is wrapped in plastic. I’ve even had CDs wrapped in two layers of the stuff. So, you get home and the first hour (if not more) is spent freeing the CDs and polluting the environment. That’s not always so easy though. The small strips supposed to help you get the plastic off often rip or just don’t work, the CDs are wrapped so tightly that only a knife will help, or there are so many stickers on there (on the plastic wrapping or beneath) that unwrapping the CD becomes a herculean task. Sucks.

(25) “Don’t Touch”: When I actually refrain from ordering online and visit a real-world store I expect to be allowed to look at and touch a CD or boxed set. Here in Germany, in most stores and malls, the CDs are either encased in some stupid theft-protection plastic cases (that hide most of the recording info on the back of the CD and/or prevent you from getting the booklet out altogether) or, in the case of boxed sets, are locked away in some glass vitrine. I’ve simply given up shopping in those places because finding a salesperson and actually getting him/her to provide access to the CD is just too cumbersome. Besides, shopping online is usually cheaper anyway.

(26) The Zombie Salesperson: Here in Germany most malls go for cheap(est) labor … if they hire anyone at all. So, when asking about the new reissue of the rare 1955 Duke Ellington concert you get totally empty stares. “Ellington? If you want the new Madonna, it’s over there. – But I’m looking for Duke Ellington. One of the most famous composers of the 20th century! – Listen, if you want to cause trouble, I can call shop security. So, just get the new Madonna and LEAVE, please.” Or try finding a salesperson. It’s easy. Just yell “Thief!” and watch them all pop up from their hiding places behind remote shelves and counters or come running out of the bathroom. This game is also fun if you are not actively looking for a salesperson.

(27) Labyrinthine Product Display: Let’s say you do find a store that is well-stocked, which is difficult enough nowadays – then try finding something in there. The other day I was looking for the new Herbie Hancock and found it in … wait … “Instrumental Music”. The zombie sales person placed it there, one that can’t read. Besides the fact that the CD is horrible (shortest review I could come up with), it also features Christina Aguilera (yikes!), John Mayer (groan) and a load of others. On second thought, one could call Aguilera an instrument. Of mass destruction.

(28) “Muzak for Torso Murderers”: If I go to a shop to look for Bahrenboim’s recent Bach recordings, I do NOT want to be bombarded with death metal screaming from the shop’s speaker system. Conversely, I do not want to hear Mariah Carey blaring incessantly when trying, for hours, to find a Bill Evans trio recording from the 50s. In summation, I do not want to leave the shop with ears bleeding, no matter what I’m looking for. To ruin 2005 completely, my favorite mall has installed a 20-screen 2000-watt multimedia wall to make sure I also get epileptic seizures when shopping there.

(29) The Mystery Double-Sided CD: I have a few of those. Those are the ones which need to be turned around to reveal a second side, maybe even one with multimedia stuff on there (CD one side, DVD the other). That’s cool because I get extras for free, but the problem is that those are not labeled (after all, we do not want to print on the playing surface). So, you pop that one into your CD player with the wrong playing surface up and out of the speakers comes white noise at two times 600 watts. Or you stick the audio side into your DVD player and it locks up (unless you have one that eats everything). It’s basically a Catch-22 situation, unless you are able to read the info on the CD’s inner ring, info that was printed using a one-pixel white-line font. Good luck.

(30) Roller Coaster Prices: That’s the one I hate the most. You buy a new CD when it comes out and two days later it’s down by 30%. Or you wait until you think it might be cheaper and it turns out that that was only the case in week one of release. Or you finally track down a cheap copy halfway across the planet only to find out that your local store has just reduced that very recording and is now offering it $5 cheaper than the Japanese store you bought it from. In the latter case, you can now wait 3 weeks for delivery from Japan and be irritated in the meantime about not waiting for the reduction at your local store.

This was supposed to wrap up my 30-item series on things that can drive collectors crazy. The problem is that I still have at least 10 more items. Should I continue? Part IV.

Posted by Volkher Hofmann

Volkher Hofmann (deus62) has been blogging on and off since the 1990s and is all that is left. He loves music, literature, drumming and, most of all, real life. He thinks the open web is much more important than social networks, closed-in ecosystems and other severely commercialized online endeavors.

  1. Please do continue. Enjoy reading it.


  2. Yes, please continue.


  3. Yes! Please continue! It’s really great reading about all these things you find frustrating. I fell the same way about almost every single one of them (some I’m just not hardcore a collector enough to understand). Most people won’t put up with my own whining about these such things but I can tell you that I thoroughly enjoy hearing your rants.


  4. I’ll publish the rest of it in the near future. Up next some other things that have been in the pipeline for a little too long. And, guys and gals, thanks for reading along.


  5. Hi Volkher,

    What a treat it was to hear from you.. I included your design in the group we’re discussing because I find it elegant and functional. How nice of you to share with us your thoughts about it and for the future.

    Thank you, sincerely,.


    Successful Blog


  6. Thanks, Liz!

    I hope the discussion isn’t over when I drop by again tomorrow. 😉

    As a reminder, the link: Successful Blog


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