Thursday, February 22, 2007

I Am a DJ and I Am What I Play....

I was a rock n roll DJ.

A few years ago, my friends Melanie and Kate were waitresses and DJs at Lucky Strike, the only cool and semi inexpensive place left to eat in SoHo. I would go and watch Melanie spin her vinyl collection and it dawned on me that I had tons of vinyl myself. I approached the manager and told him that I had TONS of DJ experience (lie #1) and I would bring tons of people in to the place if he hired me (Lie #2). He called me to fill in for someone the next day.

DJing at Lucky Strike was great because you could pretty much play what you wanted, so in one night I would go from Billie Holiday to Outkast to Neil Diamond to The Damned and back again. DJing is like playing the game Chain Reaction. If I am playing a Howard Jones 80s classic but want to get to a heavy Black Sabbath number, there are a few steps one can take: Howard Jones - Joe Jackson -Elvis Costello - The Clash - The Dickies - Black Sabbath. Conversely, if I am playing Weezer but want to get to the Dolly Parton/Kenny Rogers classic "Islands in the Stream" one has to get creative: Weezer - The Muffs - AC/DC - Lynyrd Skynyrd - Steve Miller - Paul Simon - Parton/Rogers. It all really appeals to my sense of order and logic. (Not surprisingly, High Fidelity is one of my favorite books, as it would be for any obsessive record collector).

The other great thing about DJing was that I essentially got paid to sit around with my friends, play music, smoke cigarettes, eat food, and get drunk. All of my friends worked in this place and enough of my friends stopped by that it was a pretty jovial work environment. I met Jimmy Jatho who now works at the UCB in LA and who is a good frined of mine at Lucky Strike, and Mike Myers was a regular as well -- he would sit in the DJ booth and help pick out songs.

I occasionally DJ'd elsewhere -- friends hired me for parties and such. I even worked the big clubs once in a while which was nerve-racking -- at Lucky Strike nobody really cares if thiings go silent for a moment, or a record skips, but in a large club with a killer sound system those kind of errors are a nightmare.

I haven't DJ'd in a long time -- I still have over 600 vinyl records, many I still have from my youth , and I can't quite bear to get rid of them even though they take up too much space and I don't play them as often as I should. I keep thinking I will eventually DJ again or that I will eventually live in a place where I can dedicate a room to my old school albums.

(Tangential Note: Buying albums as a kid was a thrilling experience -- there were pictures and liner notes and all sorts of extras. There used to a huge record store on my corner in SoHo and I would peruse the albums and save my allowance to buy one. Packaging doesn't mean much in this era of the electronic download, and I think that is a shame. Once upon a time, album covers were a way for a band to convey their image and who they were which made buying albums very exciting.)


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