Skip to main content

Spin Me Once, Shame on You

A few years ago I subscribed to a monthly record club, Vinyl Me, Please. It's a curated experience that includes their special monthly vinyl selection, a work of art, and a cocktail recipe meant to go with the selection. I gave myself a year subscription for Christmas. Years after leaving New York the feeling that new music was difficult to come by was continuing to grow. In NYC music just seemed to permeate the place. This was my hopeful attempt to bring music into my life that I was unlikely to find on my own. It worked for the most part. Lee Scratch Perry's Super Ape had been on my list for a while, and J Dilla's Donuts is one of those that I repeatedly believed I'd already purchased because I should have. The rest veered towards what I'll call indie rock, belonging to micro-genres I couldn't name. The only problem is that I've filed the records away and I can't remember the names of all the artists. The final record was Black Sabbath's Paranoid, at which point I decided perhaps they were not curating for me after all and chose not to renew.

I did continue to buy the occasional one-off, they've had a few really lovely re-reissues. Each time that I've made one of these purchases I receive an email the following month that they are preparing the that month's shipment. In other words they auto-subscribe me after I make a single purchase. Each time I've written back immediately to cancel the purchase, until this past month. The email came during the holiday weekend and I didn't notice until days later; too late to cancel the purchase. I was annoyed for a couple reasons. This month's selection is Biggie's Ready to Die. He, as well as Tupac, are artists that I've kinda avoided. It's a mixture of black masculinity that feels stifling and the casual misogyny that makes me more uncomfortable. Although I can't imagine it, if there were music that was asthetically appealing, viscerally compelling, and racist, I don't think I'd find myself dancing. But Biggie is hard for me not to dance to. I feel like it should revile me at times but the beats are classic and never really having listened to Biggie for more than a single at a time while dancing or spinning he’s objectively brilliant but in service of …? My way of dealing with the discomfort of knowing that the shit that should give me pause makes my ass move has just been to not buy it. But now I own it, and that's something better unpacked later.

The real problem is this auto-renewing thing; the idea that after I make a purchase I need to remember to cancel to avoid them sending the next record. They offer a three month subscription at a reduced cost, the year subscription costs even less per record. Initially I assumed that the auto-renewal after a purchase was a glitch now I think it's a feature, that serves them. I can't imagine any consumer knowing that she will want the monthly selection choosing to pay the full per record cost. It's possible but why? In the end the annoyance is familiar, it's borne from predatory capitalism. If you live in a city with a cable monopoly, you're probably familiar with the feeling. It's a form of capitalism that is responsive just enough and centers itself over the consumer. This is a relatively minor form of predatory capitalism, not like the oil companies doing all they can to halt progress on renewables as the Earth melts; or telecoms bribing local officials to stop community based internet service. I even wonder how many of their customers have been affected by this. It's striking because it's such an unexpected reminder of how pervasive this culture is that even this boutique record service is susceptible to its allure.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why Are We Expending So Much Energy on Something Barely Half of Black People Want?

Presidential contenders are being asked about their support for reparations. One could be forgiven for assuming that reparations has broad support within the Black community, it seems like an easy bet. But only slightly more than half of Black people support the idea. So why has the idea suddenly gained so much traction? Neither Yvette Carnell nor Antonio Moore, originators of #ADOS (American descendants of slaves) have the following to drive a topic supported by less than a quarter of Americans into the national conversation. I suspect that it has everything to do with Bernie Sanders, the obvious frontrunner since announcing, and the ongoing attempt to portray him as racially blind and unaware. When asked directly about his support of reparations in 2016, Sanders answered, "Its likelihood of getting through congress is nil. Second of all I think it would be very divisive." He then went on to explain how his policies would have a disproportionate positive effect on the Blac…

The Intersectional Swiftboat Waltz

This past week the Working Families Parties endorsed Elizabeth Warren in the democratic primary. It's a somewhat obscure thing, in terms of national politics. WFP is a nominally left party started in New York state. In New York rather than run their own candidates they endorse Democrats. The choice of the centrist Warren over Sanders isn't without precedent. They endorsed Joe Crowley over Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, and Andrew Cuomo over Zephyr Teachout. The entire affair is only relevant for what it suggests that we can expect from the rest of the primary.

When the endorsement was announced, members asked leadership to release the breakdown of votes, as they did in 2015 when the party endorsed Sanders. Leadership refused, saying something about preserving the integrity of the vote. What was obvious, where the 56 person leadership/advisory board had a vote equal to that of the 10,000+ membership, is that the leaders had heavily favored Warren while the members went to Sanders. I…

If You Love Your People, Set It Free (or How an Identitarian Came To Prefer Universal Policy Over Identity Politics)

This post is late because I was in LA last week, where I made a point of walking as much as possible to enjoy my audiobook. Although I still have 20/20 vision I have been slow to accept that aging has made it more difficult to read, making it feel increasingly like a chore. In fully embracing this I've finally started looking for audiobooks I might find engaging enough to not be constantly distracted. For my trip I chose Mehrsa Baradaran's The Color of Money, which looks at the persistence of the racial wealth gap in the US.  It was incredibly striking and depressing listening to The Color of Money while accidentally walking through encampments of the unhoused, watching new encampments sprout up in the short time that I was there. This is who we've always been. If you have any doubt, the history recounted in The Color of Money makes it clear that capitalism has always been about extracting wealth from Black people and keeping poor people poor. On checking into Twitter I wa…