“The Erotic Love of Plastic” by Jenell Kesler
I’ve always thought that there was a romance to playing a record, but it’s more, it’s seductive, it’s like foreplay, sending shivers of anticipation down my spin, while my fingers move in delicate arches of familiarity, leading to total rapture … and I tell you true, there’s nothing better on this earth than the first note that filters out though my speakers as I softly exhale, letting the rest wash over me.
That’s it, you’ve made your choice long before your hand reaches for that cardboard gatefold … your hand’s been moving in the direction of that particular album all day, you just haven’t realized it. And now, now you’re holding it in the palm of your hand, you slide off the plastic sleeve feeling a keen sense of nakedness, and running your hand over the jacket you can actually fell the album resting motionless inside. Your fingers caress tiny splits in the seam like lovers enjoying the defects of time, and the gentleness of years of caressing. The moment lingers almost imperceptibly, then without warning the jackets been laid down, and you’re standing there with the inner sleeve aching for removal … but still you hold back, feeling the weight of the plastic, lingering in the intoxicating smell wafting through air, a trembling smell of vinyl and paper that’s like no other, and you exhale for the first time. Now your hand slides into the paper liner, your forefinger finds the center hole instinctively, with the tip of your finger sending back countless bits of half forgotten memories. Is the hole smooth and well loved, or is it a bit rough, having been too small for the spindle, requiring a quick run of a blade to open things up for a comfortable setting [?]; all this instantly brings back the nature of the first time you played the record, and your sense of wonder and excitement is ever-mounting.
With the record withdrawn, bare and fragile, balanced ever so precariously, you flip it, you know you shouldn’t, but you just can’t help yourself, it’s what you do … relishing in the Id’s secret desire to shatter this unmeasurable love, yet biting your lip all the while. Of course it’s alright to blow on the record, we all do, it’s our way of touching the untouchable. Then with the care of a first caress you place the record on the platter, press the control and start the rotation while lifting the damp viscous cueing lever, which in turn lifts the tone arm, and then while holding your breath you lower that arm to the precise spot, your tongue on the tip of your lip as the needle pops finding the groove. Then it’s just a matter of lowering the dustcover, stepping back every so gently so as not to disturb the interplay of machine, vinyl, stylus, and sound, taking your seat, eyes transfixed by the glow of the amplifier, the jump of analog volume needles, and escape into the unconscious nether regions of delicious sound.