Monday, June 15, 2009
The Virgin Megastore in NYC's Union Square is closing. Another record shop bites the dust, having fallen victim to a culture of young people who've fallen in love with pirated music, iTunes and their laptops, which they've turned into their best friends, spending more time with these web-surfing vehicles than with actual human beings.
I'm sorry, but I'm distressed. This is just another example of our youth turning more and more inward. I can't begin to calculate all the time I've spent in my life either at lower Broadway's now-closed Tower Records and the Virgin store. So many hours spent cruising for the latest cool music to buy. So many beautiful women to look at during my single periods, some of whom I actually had the balls to approach. The feeling of being around other people who shared my love of music. The sensory overload of seeing the thousands and thousands of CD's to choose from, listening to samples on the headphones. A place to gather and inhale this incredible art form. So therapeutic, almost Zen-like. The warmth of the store on a frigid Manhattan Winter night. These places are suffering a rapid death, and it's a damned shame.
I am not a fan of modern technology, at least that which is bankrupting many of the things in life I love. It's stripping us of the interpersonal experiences from our daily lives that seem to be fading faster than Steve Jobs' hairline. To be sure, there are no people at the iTunes "store." No one to talk with. No eccentric clerks. No cute women. No racks of discs to flick through my fingers in rapid-fire succession. No energy that comes from being around other like-minded music-lovers. There's no cool NYC experience there whatsoever. No place to go to to simply get lost in the music and bask in the sweet smell of its packaging. Music lovers are now trapped in lifeless, impersonal computer screens. Bazillions of people have traded in true social-networking for the ease and convenience of purchasing music online. Today's kids really have no clue what they've lost. It's just not the same to sit alone in some over-priced coffeehouse with little plugs jammed into your ears as you download the latest Killers CD. It's pretty sad, actually.
Now go ahead and make all the "cranky grandpa" jokes you want. I'm ready. But what I'm not ready for is a culture that will eventually do everything from the comfort of home except have real socialization and intimacy with real live actual people. If this is progress, I'd rather be old school.