340 meters per second

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.

&mdash Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

Monday, July 11, 2005

I dig my job, part II

I've always needed music around me when I work: whether it was Paula Abdul and Milli Vanilli humming in the background when I mopped the floor at Capitaine Qu├ębec, or the Tragically Hip blaring out of my walkman while I mowed the lawns in my old neighbourhood, my first jobs were defined--at least in hindsight--by their musical accompaniment. It's not exactly a revelation that music can dramatically change someone's mood or that an unpleasant--or just plain tiresome--situation can be improved if you add some tunes to the mix. Still, the degree to which my productivity increases and my ability to focus improves if I have some carefully-selected background music supporting and directing my thoughts never ceases to amaze me.

When I started working delivery jobs, it was like a dream come true: I was actually getting paid to drive around listening to music--does it get much better? Middle of August, a strong odour of Italian take-out roiling out from the back seat, the Red House Painters or Luscious Jackson carrying me through the night... bliss.

I don't sit behind a dashboard any more, I sit behind a desk. I tear through spreadsheet grids, not street grids and I get paper cuts instead of burns. I still listen to music at work though, and the selection process has never been more difficult.

When I was driving, I had to watch what I put in: too mellow and I risked zoning out, losing the adrenaline-soaked edge that kept me one step ahead of the flurry of orders coming in. On the other hand if the music I had in was too aggressive, too fast, too loud... well, the crumpled-up wad of speeding tickets under the passenger seat was proof positive that when it comes to adrenaline, one can get too much of a good thing.

Now that I'm behind a desk all day, in a relatively quiet work environment, surrounded by other people who may or may not share my tastes, I have other concerns: will this annoy my colleagues? Will it distact anyone? Can I tune it out if I need to focus on a particular task? If I'm stressed, will it relax me? If I'm drowsy after lunch, will it energize me? For criminey's sake, it's almost as hard as the job itself...

Thank the skies above for Miles Davis (warning: the site plays music right away). C.'s boxed set has found a home-away-from-home on my desk: I think Volume II is my favourite for work, but Kind of Blue and Birth of the Cool are on steady rotation as well. I can't really say anything critical about these records--someone once said that Birth of the Cool is "the Sgt. Pepper's of jazz" and I think they're halfway right: Sgt. Pepper's is the Birth of the Cool of rock'n roll.

* * *

It's funny, I intended this post to be about how much I love my new job and I managed to get completely sidetracked and still make my point. Productive digressions make me giggle.

* * *

While writing this, I went poking through my old directories of mix tapes and found some real antiques. For the record, this mix--whispered onto magnetic tape a half-dozen times, each copy wearing out faster than the previous--earned me more than a few run-ins with Johnny Law. Originally titled It's A Love Affair..., this mix was the second in a series of "Black Monday" compilations I put together. If you're of a particular demographic, you'll get the reference; if you're not--well, I'd only sound like an idiot and a relic if I tried to explain.

Reading over the list, I find myself cringing at some songs (At least Raggadeath were Canadian, but 311? There's just no good excuse for that. I don't even want to talk about Smokin' Suckas--I blame the dry-ice machine and $7 pitchers of draft) and fervently trying to download others (the "Temple" remix is particularly good, and I don't even like the Sisters.)

Anyway, for your edification and amusement, here it is. Rip it, pop it, gun it:

Ministry, Jesus Built My Hotrod (Red Line / White Line Mix)
Butthole Surfers, Who Was In My Room Last Night?
Smashing Pumpkins, Zero
L7, Shitlist
NOFX, Don't Call Me White
Bad Religion, Against The Grain
Ramones, Spider-Man
Operation Ivy, One Of These Days
Propagandhi, Ska Sucks
Grim Skunk, La Vache
Rancid, Time Bomb
Smokin' Suckas Wit' Logic, Mutha Made 'Em
Raggadeth, One Life
311, Down
Rage Against The Machine, People Of The Sun
Jane's Addiction, Stop!
Sisters Of Mercy, Temple Of Love (Touched by the Hand of Ofra Haza)
Korn, Shoots & Ladders
Prong, Rude Awakening
Ministry, So What?
Nine Inch Nails, Wish
Filter, Hey Man, Nice Shot (Sawed-Off Edit)
Pop Will Eat Itself, Ich Bin Ein Auslander
Korn, Wicked (Tear The Roof Off Mix)


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