Courses Fragments

Stories Behind CD Collections in China

——–To Do: Adding Pictures——–

Everyone loves music.

Living in different times, we have various approaches to get music. People born in 60’s might spend time on radios, the 70s’ may be buying tapes. As an 80’s, I was buying CDs.

Storys were different in China when I was a teenager. Due to the regulation for importing cultural commodities, it was tough to buy western tapes or CDs.

So we have to deal with those difficulties, which we call disk panning named after gold panning.

Some merchants found a way to import western CDs as plastic waste. To persuade the China Customs what they are importing is nothing but trashes, they have to break those brand new discs by cutting a small hole on them. Most of those cut disks will lose some song tracks, but some lucky CDS will remain undamaged, which are very rare. What we do is trying to find such rare disks amongst thousands of damaged disks.

That is how I find my Nirvana CD.

This CD was my precious, everybody at school envies me because of this CD.

I listened to it hundreds of times, and the most unforgettable moment was that my girlfriend—- who was not my girlfriend yet at that time, and I were sitting together beside the river, and listen to this CD together.

My girlfriends and I are still big fans of Nirvana and any Rock music. Whenever we go, we always buy some CDs from those local music stores.

My story was boring, but my goal is to give you the impression how tough it was to buy music in China. Now I’m going to tell you another story, which is about my friend who is collecting vinyl for decades, which is more dramatic and hilarious.

We were classmates when we were in college, which is located in a small city in China. My friend’s problem is, there was only one store selling vinyl in that city, and he has already bought anything he like from that store.

So, he must buy new vinyl from other cities. Lucky him, our school was providing a chance to go to Shanghai for academic purpose. He was so excited because he knew there are many awesome vinyl stores in Shanghai, and he heard that vinyl are so cheap in Shanghai. How cheap? Only 20 CNY for each disk, which is around 3 dollars!

Ok, he took his lifesaving, which is about 200 Chinese bucks, was planning to buy 10 pieces of vinyl.

Finally, we arrived Shanghai. At one night, after our academic event, he jumped onto a bus toward that store, with around 210 China Yuan.

He was not familiar with the city, and that was 2008, we don’t have smartphones guiding people to destinations. So his trouble was, he was on the right route of bus but to-warding a wrong direction.

When he realized his problem, he couldn’t simply take another bus go back to that store because… the bus company was already stopped working…

He can only go to the store by Taxi. That’s not bad, how expensive could taking a Taxi be? 30 bucks? Obviously, he underestimated the price of the Taxi fee in such a big city. It turns out that he spent over 80 CNY on this journey.

That’s fine, he said to himself: The expense of Taxi going back to the hotel will only take around 50 CNY, which means I can still buy 3-4 pieces of vinyl.

However, what he said to me 2 hours later was: Those filthy sellers only sell music from an infamous artist for 20 CNY. The price of any disk from an artist whose name you have heard of will be above 50CNY.

However, due to the rarity of this opportunity, he bought two disks which are from artists he really likes, which cost him 110 CNY.

Only having 20 CNY left in his pocket, how could he go back to our hotel? Nothing can stop a shameless boy. He just jump into a Taxi like nothing happen, and when he saw the number on the Taximeter was over 20 CNY, he said to the driver: Sorry, but, I only have 20 bucks, I don’t know how far from here to that hotel, you can drop me off here, but I’m afraid I cannot survive to tomorrow without your help.

Unsurprisingly, the driver was pissed off. However, the driver was a warmhearted person, so while severely criticizing him, the drive sends him to our hotel for only 20 bucks.

That’s not the end of the story. On the train going back to our city, he told his story to our other classmates while showing his new collection to others. And when we arrived our city, he forgot to take his new collection with him.

Like the story said, All left in vain.

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