“Damn blast, look at my past,
I’m ripping up my feet over broken glass”
— The Wonder Stuff
Something's amiss at the local Goodwill. Suspicious, even. When I skim its CDs, I find something worth buying — and that never happens in secondhand land, usually so heavy on hairspray gospel and Swedish hambone. Yet somehow I’ve made the following purchases:
Frank Black, “Teenager of the Year” (Post-Pixies masterpiece produced by Pere Ubu’s Eric Drew Feldman; home to “Headache” and “Bad Wicked World”)
Bob Mould, “Bob Mould” (the hubcap LP, a morose touchstone featuring “Anymore Time Between,” “Next Time That You Leave,” “Egoverride” and “I Hate Alternative Rock”)
The Wonder Stuff, “Never Loved Elvis” (I would have had to hitchhike to Amoeba Records to score such manic brilliance, even used, and parted with blood, snot and promises to take it home to hear those Euro-psychedelibonkers epiphanies just once more before I die.)
I couldn’t believe my luck. It was like Dumpster-diving and consistently emerging with a new Maserati. How was this possible in Albany? What anonymous humanitarian donated this bonanza? Was it part of a massive collection, patiently shelved by a Goodwill “curator,” or did all of the stars align somehow, a midlife surge of ex-college-rock DJs, housewives and minivan dads shedding their tangible youth at last?
But it didn’t make sense. Why would anyone dump such well-loved ephemera? What kind of monster outgrows The Wonder Stuff? (When I posted a photo of the album cover to Facebook, my “Like” button got seriously bum-rushed.)
There’s only one possible explanation: the City of Albany is raiding houses, and if anything is discovered beyond Charlie Daniels, Ted Nugent, Barry Manilow and the first two Boston albums, offenders are exiled to concentration camps near Timber Linn Memorial Park or just flat-out executed, their libraries confiscated and destroyed. If you don’t believe me, walk into City Hall and announce, “Boy, do I love the I.R.S.-era R.E.M.” I guarantee you’ll be escorted from the building and never seen again.
I assume there’s a traitor in their midst, someone for whom D.R.I.’s “Dealing with It!” (or Liz Phair’s “Exile in Guyville”) was a radicalizing milestone, and he — or she, let’s not assume here — oversees an operation that re-circulates these orphans into the secondhand jungle, that between gutted VCRs, DVD players, word processors, polyester blazers, spanglebutt jeans, ancient hairdryers and multiple copies of “White Nights” starring Gregory Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov in living, breathing Be Kind Rewind lies the silent roots of cultural revolution.