By RAY QUIROGA
South Padre Parade
Certain aspects of the digital age are a downright drag.
As a youngster, I spent years residing in a town outside of Chicago where one of my favorite hangouts was a mom and pop record shop called the Turntable, which specialized in selling obscure imports and underground cassettes.
There, sometimes due to the advice of the storeowner or based on the album’s cover art, patrons, including myself, picked up recordings of otherwise obscure artists.
Around 1986 or ’87, I picked up an album by an unknown band at the time with the highly unusual name of Guns & Roses. The album was a Japanese import, and the cover art was so obscene, I dare not even begin to describe it here. But for a teen who had never really seen anything like it, that Anime rendering was excuse enough to justify paying $10 for that album.
By far my fondest memory came when, at the behest of the storeowner who was also the cashier, I picked up an EP from a band of what looked like a bunch of dirty, zit-faced teens whose music proved to be so ridiculously hard, fast, and loud, that when I first began to listen to it, my immediate reaction was to turn it off because I was certain it would beckon the devil. The band was Metallica, the EP was “Jump in the Fire” and to this day I can vividly recall the cover art which portrayed a demon in the bowels of hell with fire smoldering all around him (a kind of Dante’s Inferno type thing). And while the devil may or may not have taken possession of my soul, that little store that sat in a modest strip mall outside of Chicago so long ago taught me a valuable lesson about being receptive to new, maybe even different things – something I think we are losing in this digital age.
Just last week, I was conversing with a local “Old-Timer” who suggested that one of the reasons why the internet is so great is because you can pick and choose the articles you want to read and music you want to listen to based on your likes and interests.
If your favorite artist, for example, produces an entire album’s worth of recordings and you only like the one song they play on the radio, you can purchase that one song. And if there’s an article in a magazine that interests you, you can find that article online instead of purchasing the entire magazine.
One of the innate dangers of this practice is that the consumer loses the opportunity of discovering all the hidden treasures the album, book, or magazine has to offer and that’s pretty much the opposite of what used to be called “broadening your horizons.”
Due to my occupation, I’ve been quite fortunate to talk to many people who I might not have otherwise met, learn things I may not have otherwise known and acquired a taste of things I may never otherwise had an appetite for.
I was reminded of that lesson this past weekend when I attended a masquerade dinner at the Island’s Casa Mariposa which featured Grammy Award winning crooner Carlos Guzman. I’m not the biggest fan of Tejano or Spanish language music, but boy, can his guy put on a show. Not only could he sing, he was charming, witty and engaging on stage. To think that merely three months ago, after committing to the gig at Casa Mariposa, he underwent emergency brain surgery. All this and no teleprompter; heck, I remember catching Guns & Roses in their prime and watching Axl Rose read his own lyrics off a teleprompter.
So broaden your horizons this weekend and come out to Port Isabel’s Shrimp Cook-off, even if you don’t like shrimp. I dare you.