You may have heard of me. I'm the Last Person in the World Not to Have a CD Player.
It's not easy being me, the U.S. equivalent of a Japanese soldier holed up on a Philippine island, not knowing the war is over, making do with grubs and berries and patiently waiting for reinforcements. Except in my case no relief will come. For I watched as one by one my friends and relatives fell victim to the CD lie, gullibly mulling over 4X oversampling versus 8X, pondering exactly how many bits were best, arguing changer or player, player or changer (and if changer, what then? carousel or cartridge? platter or drawer?).
My picture is up in Circuit City employee lounges across the country. My father worries that I'm not quite right. My best friend is embarrassed for me. My workmates refuse to visit. (Somehow, "Wanna come over and listen to my Elvis Costello wax cylinders?" doesn't excite them.)
What they don't know is that I have very good reasons for not owning a CD player. Here are some of them:
Lasers in the house are a bad idea. Can anyone convince you that you won't come home from work one day to find everything in your living room -- couch, throw pillows, pictures on the wall, cat -- cut neatly in half because you forgot to shut the little CD player drawer?
The packaging is dangerous. Those plastic jewel boxes are notorious for breaking fingernails and scratching hands in their reluctance to give up their contents. Has anyone ever injured himself on a record sleeve? And once you get the CD out you're in danger of slicing off a digit on its razor-sharp edge. They look like Cuisinart blades.
Record companies are mean to people who don't buy CD players. When compact discs first came out music critics would talk about the "bonus tracks" that were on them. People like me were quick to realize that record companies weren't putting special tracks on CDs, they were taking ordinary tracks off vinyl. Records now have "penalty tracks." I don't forget stuff like that and neither should you.
CD players don't have enough moving parts. Scientists and engineers would have us believe that moving parts are bad but I think everyone knows that's not true. Moving parts tell you that something is working (which is why your wristwatch should always have a second hand). I like to watch tiny cassette wheels, the spinning of reel to reel tapes and the hypnotic dance of the LP record. I never did like the Close 'n' Play -- "Close it, it plays. Open it, it stops." In this age of glasnost do we need such secrecy?
CD players will be obsolete soon. How soon? As soon as I buy one. The day after I get mine out of its box Sony will announce the latest in high fidelity: albums in the form of tiny gelatin capsules suspended in a bath of gaseous mercury, creating a sound so precise you can hear Keith Richards's arteries hardening on "Steel Wheels." And then I'll be the last person not to have one of those.
CD players cause warts. No they don't. I'm just kidding. But that's the sort of insane thing you're driven to say when you're the Last Person on Earth Not to Have a CD Player. Excuse me while I slip a tape into my eight-track.