Lamps and Stuff

My latest addiction is “Stuff I’ve Been Reading,” Nick Hornby’s column for The Believer. I know: It's very hipster/nerdy of me to be reading this stuff; you might even think I live in nerdy Brooklyn. But, I swear, I live in Jersey City, and I have completely sincere and profound reasons for reading The Believer and "Stuff."

Not only does it remind me of how much I admire and enjoy Hornby’s writing—he’s clear, deep, funny, and extremely likable even when he’s being snarky and clever—but it also fuels my passion for reading. And when I read, I feel like a better person: stronger, smarter, healthier, whatever. Profound, see?

When I read, I at least feel like I have something to say. When I read, I’m happy.

You should check it out. In the preface to Housekeeping vs. the Dirt, the second of four published collections of “Stuff,” Hornby reminds us that reading addresses many of our needs, none more important than simple pleasure. Read the books you like, and don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn't enjoy Moby Dick or The Hunger Games or whatever.

There’s something to be learned here, even for you know-it-all audiophiles.

As these things go, I was prompted to search online for more of Hornby’s Believer work. And, at, I found out about Love Songs for Lamps. Compiled by Calvin Johnson, founder of K Records and perhaps best known for his work in Dub Narcotic Sound System, Love Songs for Lamps is a mixtape. A real one—on a cassette, you know?

I’ve tried explaining my fondness for cassettes, in person and in print, at least 500 times now, but I've never said it as well as The Believer:

Cassettes—people love them. They want them. Cassettes are cuddly. They are Star Wars while CDs are Battlestar Galactica (MP3s, of course, are The Matrix.) They come in colors; you can collect them and trade them. Hang them on your wall. Use them as Valentines. You don’t have a cassette player? Go buy one at a thrift store for three dollars. Join the fun. Join the cassette party and tape over all of your roommate’s favorite music. Here is a selection of contemporary artists who have, for whatever wise reason, decided to release their work as cassette-only. No CD version, no LP. No 8-track. These bands don’t come with managers, publicists, booking agents, or publishing deals, so no one told them not to make cassettes. Nor are they concerned with their “draw” or “following,” and they won’t bore you with endless discussions about their “careers.” They’re just doing their thing, baby. Dig it.

Want to see the selection of contemporary artists who have, for whatever reason, decided to release their work as cassette-only? Click right here. I figured this would be fun for the cassette lovers (and haters) out there. If you don’t like it, don’t listen. Thank Nick Hornby and The Believer.