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The Indisputable Matt Maxwell Presents:



So I just saw a Twitter entry (no, I can’t bear to call them “tweets”) from an acquaintance in San Francisco basically asking why the majority of web-surfers use Internet Explorer, which is clunky, big, prone to security exploits and generally not an elegant set of tools.

Well, surprise, IE is free. It comes bundled with Windows, which is the prevalent OS out there. People use it not because it’s great, but because it’s convenient. This is not a celebration of the wonders of IE, nor is it a damnation of its damnability. This is a fact. People like convenience. Hell, they love it. Convenience made America great. Give it to me 24/7 where I can choose one product from a giant pile of products when I want to. I don’t want to wait. I don’t want deferred gratification. I want to stream that album now. Download that movie to my X-box posthaste, Internet!

What I want when I want. Granted, this may be coming to a close for physical items with the New New Economy we’re all living through now.

Now I’m just as bad as the next guy when it comes to this sort of thing. I won’t kid you. Pre-ordering a CD? I won’t do it. Who wants to think about what they’re going to want in three months, assuming it comes out on time? Hell, in three months, I may not want to listen to that band anymore. But I gotta, ‘cause I put my money down already at that exclusive CD store that I shop at, since I can’t find the CDs I want down at the local record store, or at Borders.

Collectors, they’ll pre-order a CD, assuming they can hear about it ahead of time. Well, maybe. They’re gonna have to know exactly what it is and when it comes out and all that. But then, collectors are not regular people. They collect. They obtain. They have an area of expertise and work within it. And yeah, they’ll go far out of their way to find hidden troves of treasure.

This is not a bad thing, or a dig on collectors. I went through collecting phases on a lot of things. Electric Light Orchestra albums, for instance. Spacemen 3 after that (boy did that get expensive after awhile). Issues of UNCANNY X-MEN (I stopped when I hit the run of issues that was costing me ten bucks per back in 1983. There’s love and then there’s ruinous obsession.) I keep an eye out for certain comics now (Toth of late, but replacing my old, missing THB comics would be nice) but I’m not out there actively rummaging around every fifty cent bin at shows. I’m not a collector. I’m a consumer.

Most people, by the by, are consumers, of varying levels of participation. Most of them could be labeled “casual.” They see something they like, they snag it. They might be looking for something, but not always sure of what they’re looking for until they see it. It’s a matter of convenience. They’re Internet Explorer users of aesthetic consumption. I’ll happily put myself in that category. Sure, I’ll go look in out of the way places for neat, new stuff, but I don’t make a lifestyle out of it. It’s something that gets indulged when there’s an opportunity to do so, but I can hardly set aside a lot of time to.

I’m the type of customer that CD stores hate, since I’m just usually coming in to see what’s available, poking around here and there, with nothing particular in mind but I’ll know it when I hear it. Probably should poke around MySpace pages for new music, but man, who has the time. And with the price of discs these days, I’d go broke pretty fast if I bit on everything I just kinda sorta liked. Reading through catalogues doesn’t really help when you can’t hear it: “There’s a new band in town, but you can’t get the sound from a story in a magazine.” Some wiseguy said that. Okay, it was Billy Joel.

Guys at CD stores are always telling me about the great big listing of Every CD That’s Coming Out that they can’t ever get people to look at. Okay, the hardcore look at ‘em, but when someone off the street gets that big book waved in their face, they say “I gotta read this just to buy my comics? Why can’t I just browse the stock?”

Rats. I meant to say “CDs” there. Totally not a Freudian slip there.

Anyways, why can’t they just browse the stock? Probably because stock costs money and space, and neither of those are infinite resources in any store I can think of. You can’t stock everything. It’s just not possible, so shop owners stock what they think will sell. This is why I can’t find the collected instrumental singles of Roy Montgomery some two years after the disc came out, and thanks to a limited print run and dearth or re-listing options, it’s not going to magically show up somewhere in my range of vision.

If I’d been sifting through the entire Big Catalog of Everything, perhaps I’d have seen it and remembered that I wanted that. But maybe another cover would have been shinier or more enticing.

I’ve been told that I really should read through and order from the Big Catalog of Everything at my local music store. I can’t really get excited about it, though. I figure most of what I want will end up at a place like Amoeba in the East Bay, or the one in the Haight if I want to cross the bridge. I mean, I’m a patient guy. I can shop there once every couple of months or so. I’m going into town anyways to do that. Why do I need to be the guy who stocks the shelves at the local place? Maybe that’s a selfish attitude. I can live with that assessment.

But man, if you can’t give me a reason to shop through the Big Catalog of Everything, then how are you going to convince a newcomer to do the same? “Welcome to your local CD store, here’s your homework!”

Collectors dig homework. They spend time on the internet working on it and sifting through stuff. Regular people, and oddly, I consider myself in this category, even given my weird tastes (Flying Saucer Attack in the background at this moment agrees) do not want a hobby that’s also a lifestyle. Regular people just want to enjoy the stuff, right? They want a portable package with a whole chunk of entertainment inside that won’t be embarrassing to be seen reading. Luckily, all music looks the same when it’s coming out of an iPod.


I’ll be in Portland this Friday for The Stumptown Comics Festival. Looking forward to it. Stumptown was the first comic show that I actually sold anything at, a few months before MURDER MOON actually came out. It’s a great place (spent many a summer there as a kid) and an even better comics town (more comics talent and comic stores than you can shake a dead Dire Wraith at). I’m hoping that I don’t catch travel sickness this time around and spend Saturday night shivering in bed, clutching the sheets while the fever runs up and down my spine.

That just plain sucked. And I missed Mediterranean food. If I pass on falafel and hummus, you know I’m good and sick.

I’ll have the usual assortment of books for sale and five-minute-stories (probably) free for the asking. Hell, the tradition started there, before I figured out that it was actually going to be a tradition. No time to generate other salable merchandise. I know you’re disappointed, but try to keep it in check.

I’ll try to continue my amusing twitter stream from the show. Follow it at Highway_62 on Twitter, won’t you? Well, follow it if Twitter happens to be up on any particular moment that is. Seems like it’s been pretty dicey lately. 

Matt Maxwell

Visit CWR at Unsungheroes!





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