Wednesday, February 04, 2004

blast from the past

One of the things I love about used items is finding traces of a previous owner. It gives a sense of history to the item. If you're lucky, you'll find out what that person was thinking while they used the item.

Take my copy of Stevie Wonder's classic 1973 album, Innervisions, the one with Higher Ground and Living For The City. Picked it up in a $1 record bin in Detroit a few years ago. There are two spots on the jacket where an earlier owner wrote information on when they purchased it, each spot with the same information (symbols noted in square brackets):

Jag 5. LP #440. [circle with a dot in the middle] in [Omega symbol] (30th of Omega; 21st of August, 1975). [crescent moon] in [one wavy line on top of another] (just minutes past full). [an "I" with an arrow pointing right through the middle] rising (when purchased, appox. 17:15 E.D.T.)

What do the symbols mean? Was the owner heavily into astronomy, astrology or a faith? What were the 439 other albums they owned? Why and where did they buy this album that summer day in '75? What does Jag 5 refer to?

There's one other tidbit - "got it for $3.98, at least $1.00 below list". So, our owner knew a bargain when they saw one (though I got a better one 25 years on).

For a lark, I picked up the October 1969 issue of Macleans while stocking up on British music mags over the weekend. The cover stories are:
"How Trudeau's Inner Circle Runs Canada"
"Would You Believe...Saskatoon"
"What Men (And Women) Do When They're Bored (I suspect this ties into the cover photo, a young couple kissing)
"Redraw The Map of Canada and Win $500"

The latter was a contest to redraw the boundaries of Canada, based on your feelings on how these divisions should reflect "today's realities". The magazine included 3 examples - one with 8 regions (North Columbia, Alsaskman, Ontario, York, Montreal, Quebec, Newfoundland and Atlantica), one without Quebec, where the country is split in two but connected by a "Polish Corridor" customs-free highway through the Eastern Townships and Maine, and and a map where all but Quebec are incorporate as 4 new states of the US.

The previous owner of the magazine, an 18-year old, wrote his choice but forgot to send it in. It's revealing for how his views are not far off from those being put forward by Canada's mayors today. He liked the first map option, for these reasons:

The main feature I like is the separation of our great metropolitan centres. This will allow them to govern their affairs without entangling the rest of the provinces in putting their taxes for these cities. And I believe Quebec has a future in Canada, but I wonder about the large prairies.

Sound familiar? I wondered if someone wrote this in at a later date, but the family name matches that on the subscription label on the front. - JB