Friday, August 04, 2006

Mainlining With A Laser Needle

He's a lot gutsier than I am
Well, after a deep funk followed by a head and chest cold that left me temporarily partially deaf, I'm back to pontificate. Haven't quite got over the illness (or my loss of hearing), but I got some industrial-strength prescription drugs on my side so let's see if I can work this lack of auditory stimuli to my advantage. To paraphrase Pink Floyd, blog on, you crazy diamond.

Among the recent purchases I've made is a book, The R. Crumb Handbook. Aside from a
mighty-lak-a-rose CD of Crumb music he's made with several bands over the years (which I am listening to while composing this) included with the tome, the book is a fascinating read on the life and times of (as he somewhat jokingly dubbed himself) America's Favorite Underground Cartoonist (Every Picture A Masterpiece!) and how he's adjusted living in this world he's stuck in.

One portion of this book that had intrigued me was how he has a compulsive need to collect old blues 78's (he has, arguably, one of the biggest private collections in the world). Between that, watching the Zigoff documentary Crumb and Harvey Pekar's American Splendor (another artist who feels compelled to collect, his drug of choice being jazz 78's), it got me thinking about my own collection of DVDs. While I don't begin to rival the core of DVD Verdict's members, it is a lot larger than the average layman's movies on disc assortment. Yet I always am on the lookout for more. I can now relate to the collecting bug. I insist it's a "hobby", as I do have a true love for film (I had about the same number of VHS tapes at one time, before that it was Super 8) and I do pride myself in my ability to find hard-to-find discs and/or getting something at a bargain, yet I wonder if there's ever gonna come the day where I'll say "enough is enough - I got all the film I'll ever want to watch, fer cripesakes!"

The thing that pushed it over the edge into Questioning Myself About This was when I started to think of my DVD collection as an "investment." Now before I started collecting DVDs I never had anything of real worth and when I started to collect I did so with one eye towards Handing Down The Collection To My Progeny (namely, my grandchildren). It's when I started tracking the collection on three different websites that it started to hit home that I had Something Of Value. I'd gleefully enter in my latest discs at DVD Spot, where you can (among other things) see what the MSRP Value of your collection vs. what you actually paid for those bits of plastic and shiny stuff. "lessee." I'd say to myself "hmmm...oh wow - my collection has jumped up $1500.00 in value! I'm hot taters now!"

And so it went, adding to the collection until last night, when I added my current haul and immediately checked the worth of the collection. That's when the Lil' Smokestack in my brain said "Oh Gawd! You're a speculator! You know, those guys that ruin any field of collecting they get their grubby paws into! Remember the Action Figure market? Good gravy, remember what they did to Magic: The Gathering? What are you thinking, man?"

Leave it to my lovely wife Becky to snap me back to reality. I asked her about it and she came back with "well, have you bought any movies you don't like?"
"Well," I stuttered, "I just sold a few I didn't care for anymore..."
"I mean ones that you didn't like when you bought them?"
"No, why would I do that?"
"Because," she went on in her infinite wisdom, "that's what speculators do. They don't care if they like what they buy, as long as it appreciates in value over time."
Boy, I love her. Once again, Becky performs the feat that makes her invaluable to me: telling me something I already know that I need to hear again. I gave her a big kiss and thanked her.

After we talked, I breathed a sigh of relief and went to look over my collection. I finally came to the conclusion that hobbies (the normal, legal kind) are just harmless, highly organized and motivated obsessions. If it floats yer boat and keeps you sane, that's good enough. I went to bed that night and before I drifted off, I realized that does my heart good to know that, in some corner of every person's life, they go a bit nuts over something.

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