Last week, I began the arduous process of going through the Aquarian’s photo file.
I’ve had more than my fair share of experience in those looming filing cabinets over the years. The walls of the editorial office have old press shots taped up of everyone from Napalm Death to Count Basie to Trouble. Every time someone dies, like when Whitney Houston died, or Clarence Clemons, or whoever else we need to cover that week who’s kicked off, I march back to see what we have in the photo file. Sometimes something, sometimes nothing. Sometimes old crop marks are there from when the picture was originally used in an issue back in the day. I like seeing that.
Long story short, we’re getting rid of the photo file. Not my choice, not one I agree with, but not one I can’t really come up with a logical argument against either, except that the photo file rules. Of the tens if not hundreds of thousands of pictures in there, probably one percent of the material in the non-artist-exclusive folders—that is, the ones that just contain a bunch of different people, as opposed to the “Led Zeppelin” folder or the “Bon Jovi” folder—is or will ever be relevant to what we do again, and most if not all of that is obtainable more easily from Google Images in a format that won’t require us to fire up or repair our shitty scanner that’s been broken for a year. Don’t need to fix what you never use.
But I’m not letting the photo file out the door without one last rummage. Sorry, I’m just not. Which brings us back to where we started: Me, thumbing through folder after folder of “Ab-Ae” and “Ce-Ci” and so forth.
Mostly I’m just looking for things I want to keep, bands I like, etc., but there are pictures in there that go back to the ‘80s, so I don’t know what I might find from that era. Either way, as the mandate handed down is to make room for some yet-nebulous future plan I neither understand nor am comfortable speculating on, I feel like I at least owe it to the spiky-haired local punk bands and the unending stream of interchangeable major label pretty-girl singer-songwriters contained in those files to give them one more look before they—a longstanding reminder of the Aquarian’s history and, I think, a testament to the endurance of this paper in the face of an industry that would probably have written us off already more times than I can count if it could—get turned into soylent green or whatever the fuck will happen to them.
Disposable culture. Hazards of the golden age.
Last Friday, I found an old picture of Alabama Thunderpussy taken by the guitar player’s future-wife with a Man’s Ruin Records logo stamped in the bottom corner. That probably doesn’t mean shit to you if you’re reading this, but it meant something to me, and I can’t help but wonder what all these shots I’m passing by on my way to the next bit of (what I consider to be) treasure might mean to someone else.
Who the hell knows.
Sometimes I feel like there’s some appeal of the future we’re living in that I’ve completely missed. Like I was born into the wrong demographic.
Yeah, that really is how I’m ending the column this week.