This being the traditional season of offense and blasphemy, I feel like I shouldn't miss out on the holiday spirit. So here goes with a few words of outright heresy with which to mark the Yuletide this year:
Don't buy Apple iTunes gift cards.
That's right. No matter how hectic your X-mas Eve or how emphatically you hear pleas from young Noah and Britney, moms and dads, grandfathers and grandmothers, aunts and uncles, older and wiser sisters and brothers should not purchase gift cards that only encourage young people to buy music with DRM, music that has no where to go but planned obsolescence.
Those of us who were early adopters know a little bit about mortality. Three computers, five computers -- it sounds like a lot to begin with. But we, who have taken a few ailing iPods to the Apple store and who have laid a few hard drives to rest, know that having a limited number of downloads represents a relatively short lease on musical life when compared to the half century or century of pleasure that collectors of vinyl experience.
Apple will make millions of dollars on gift cards without your help this year. Here's my advice for what to do instead: go retro; buy vinyl. They are still people making the stuff, and there are lots of happy people to sell the old tunes to you.
I took some pictures at LA's own Record Surplus yesterday to show what all you lovers of cold, hard pseudo-music currency are missing out on.
Now, a holiday story to get all you shoppers in the right mood: when I was a teenager, I had a friend, Alice Burkner, who exchanged Frank Sinatra albums with her family. The way I heard it, that was pretty much it for their Christmas gift exchange. No one-upmanship, no status presents, no bigger gift in a bigger box.
There are apparently a lot of different Frank Sinatra records, with some remarkable album cover art, so there was always plenty of Ol' Blue Eyes to go around underneath the tree. Of course, if they exchanged the same albums, that was okay too.
How I envied Alice Burkner! While the rest of us were swapping soap and candles and ugly sweaters and crystal snowmen and -- eventually -- gift cards, they could enjoy "Songs for Young Lovers" and "Minute Masters" and "No One Cares" and "In the Wee Small Hours" from The Voice.
So this Christmas, you can say, "I Did It My Way," by purchasing music that will last.