My own. My love. My precious.

Photo: Kelsey Ohira

May 12, 2014. The day it all began. Three major events happened in my life on May the 12th:

1. My violent hatred towards the USPS was born.
2. I spent the most I ever have, till this very day, on a yellow cab (footnote 1).
3. A divine pair of Technics SL1200 Mk.II turntables entered my life.

Well, they didn't exactly enter my life, per se. They were left on my (then) doorstep in West Harlem, which may give you some insight on #1. More on that later. I need to calm myself. (Sips Earl Grey vehemently in straightjacket.)

By this point in my life, I had spent every night of the past few months staying up late researching DJ tables. The process of almost making an offer on an eBay listing but convincing myself not to, became a torturous daily routine. I'd bid on single listings early in the game thinking to myself, "If it stops at $200 and I win, it was meant to be. If not, a mysterious force in the universe is urging me not to." And of course, I wouldn't bid again and the bidding wars would eventually double or triple in price, so I'd tell myself the table and I were simply star-crossed.

In my mind, turntables were—and still are—as unique and particular as wands or dragon eggs or dark, powerful rings. I wouldn't dare force that kind of magical bond. It would just happen.

Of course, I was also doing everything in my power to realistically facilitate this major event, too. I had a slew of jobs: my main job was as a Project Manager at ArtistShare (a crowd-funding jazz label); but I also worked part-time as a cheesemonger downtown, as a music copyist for the Gil Evans estate, and as a weekend caretaker for a blind couple in Times Square—not to mention the 19 hellish credits of schoolwork that semester. All this to save up for a decent analog setup, a reliable production desk, and maybe a good Scotch or two.

Months passed. Impatience and uncertainty began to cloud my judgment. I was involved in countless bidding wars, but would still chicken out at the very end of each one. Psychotic. One night, to satiate the beast, I purchased my very first records ever: a lot of six VG/VG+ Bee Gees LPs plus a bonus Sgt. Pepper Soundtrack. A week later, I remember sitting in my closet of a room, turntable-less, with six beautiful records that I had absolutely no way of listening to.

Suddenly I knew. I had to do it. I had to pull the trigger. Barry Gibbs's eyes were telling me to. Why had I allowed this dull turntable-less pain to go on for so long? I look over to Gibbs for more guidance, but nothing.

So there I am, once again, wildly prowling through eBay. Heart stops. Breath stops. Eyes lock. A pair of Technics SL1200 Mk.IIs so clearly destined to be mine. It came to me. My own. My love. My own. My precious.

One is a bold fire-truck red, with a touch of glossy finish. The other is a pale matte sea-foam green, my immediate favorite. (Accompanied by a fire-truck red faceplate, for matching purposes.) Iconic eye candy. I take a moment to worship the legend that is the Technics SL1200 Mk.II. Both are outfitted with Chinese calligraphy patterned slip mats. I'm part Chinese. It's obviously a sign. A thousand for the pair. I make an offer. Receive a counter. I make another offer. Receive another counter. We settle on $925 including shipping, and the next day they're in the mail. My precious. Who said you couldn't buy happiness?

I'm on a roll. I complete my setup by picking up some Stokyo Dr. Suzuki x Technics 7" Slipmats, Shure M44G's, Technics headshells, a DJ Tech X10 mixer, a Rane SL2 box, and a set of glow-in-the-dark Serato vinyl. My set up is nearly ready, but I'm still that idiot with literally everything but turntables. I'm lost. Is this how the people of Gondor felt under the watch of Steward Denethor II, son of Ecthelion II? Not a great feeling.

One miserably long week later, I'm downtown, cheesemongering and simultaneously checking my phone for tracking updates (footnote 2). Refresh. Nothing. Refresh. Nothing. Refresh. Hours of my life I will never get back. Refresh. Delivered, Left With Doorman!?! What? It's West Harlem. I don't have a doorman. It's New York City. I don't know my neighbors. Heart stops. Breath stops. Eyes lock. Roommates out of town. Panic sets. Worst case scenario mode activates. My precious.

Something innocent and beautiful dies inside me. Mainly, my neutrality towards the USPS. I'm an animal. Minutes later, I'm in a cab. A yellow taxi cab. It's almost rush hour. For a hundred dollar bill and a smile, he steps on the gas and puts both our lives in his hands. Kind man. Survival of the turntable is essential. USPS on the phone. They have no idea, they have no answers, they have no place in my heart. USPS. Curse it and crush it. We hates it forever. My thoughts, exactly.

Forty-five minutes passes. Cab stops. I'm racing down my street. Primal. Heart pounding. Breath racing. Eyes frantically searching. I could slay a billion orcs and maybe one Nazgûl if they stood between me and my package. What I would do for a Technics SL1200 Mk.II. Multiply that by two. You do not want to test me.

Stop. In front of my apartment, I see it. My precious. A fat, 55 lb, wrinkly cardboard cube with my name on it. It survived. I survived. Happiness. Regained faith in humanity. All of it comes back to me. I'm a kind Smeagol. After a painful six-flight walk up, a shot of horse tranquilizer, and some more Earl Grey in the straightjacket, I open my prize. My precious. Unharmed, carefully packed by my analog guardian angels. From then on, I've lived happily ever after.

And that is the story of how the Technics SL1200 Mk.IIs entered my life thanks to the Bee Gees, my kind ex-neighbors who I will never know, and the most expensive, reckless cab ride of my life.

May 12, 2014. The day it all began.

Footnote 1. That's saying a lot for a New Yorker. In my defense, competitively priced car services (like Uber and Lyft) weren't yet at their peak as they are now.

Footnote 2. I'm a certified food handler in the state of New York, so there's no need to question my hygienic practices.

volvic's picture

Take it from an old hand, similar story, struggling student worked the whole summer to purchase an LP-12, made a deposit told store to set it up, will pick it up in a day. The store closes; bankruptcy. Where is my table? A week later sister store (never even knew there was a sister store) calls to tell me my table was at THEIR store and ready for pickup. Happy camper means I don't have to break in to old store and look for my table or $$ equivalent. Table was reliable for over 20 years never once going out of tune, when one fateful day I decided to sell it on ebay, which I did. Two weeks later the owner sends me a photo of MY table with a new SME V tonearm mounted and new power supply. My heart sank and was filled with regret. We all have a history with our tables, they are there for us and always ready to spin. Never sell a table you have a history with. 10 years later still regret selling it.

Kirsten's picture

I have a similar story, involving a Technics SL-10 shipping from Canada. I bought it from an angry Russian in Quebec and it arrived wrapped in his dirty laundry and it was mine, all mine!

fetuso's picture

So you went from no TT to buying 2. Do you play them both? How do they sound?

dalethorn's picture

I thought the story ("violent hatred") would end with the merchandise not delivered, or damaged etc. But apparently it did get delivered. I wish I had that luck. The USPS doesn't deliver packages to my condo complex even though our doors are on the street. Then to top it off, they scan items as 'delivered' and then take them back, leaving a non-delivery notice in the mailbox. I am in awe of their ability to do whatever they like.

HJC001's picture

First, nice pic of two turntables. Love DJing. Second; story, your writing, Ms. Dagdagan, HOOKED me. As much as I (TRULY) enjoy reprints of 15-, 25-, or 35-year old articles, learning the insights of the magazine's founders, THIS piece is much more like something for which I'd re-subscribe.

Eoldschool's picture

Jana , if you get a chance, you should talk with your colleague Michael Fremer regarding things vinyl and analog. He is a master of such things. I too can be of some help with that and affordable fine audio, but Michael has lots more experience in turntables and such than I do despite my being a lover of vinyl for many a year.

As for the Technics tables you got, $925 for two SL1200 Mk2s in excellent condition is a deal. You did good! Around here just one of those in the same condition fetches around $1100. Of course, the new SL1200 anniversary model is many times that amount, but it’s also a different build though looks the same.
How much vinyl do you have Jana?

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Wonderful writing, Jana. A beautiful mixture of hilarity and angst. Brava.


cgh's picture

Too angsty yo! Missed picking up my froyo reading this, yo.

Just kiddin'. Anyway, all seriousness, I quit my Technics some time ago. Getting my Transfiguration Proteus retipped every few months was getting expensive and sheah. So one day, basically outta money, I decide to walk to the local brick and mortar, pick up a cheap cartridge. That's when I walk by this Sharper Image store. It was a hot day, so I go in to cool down in the air. Not wanting them to think that I was loitering, I try out one of these massage chairs. Off the hook, yo! Things got shiatsu and sheah.

Anyway, that was the day it all started for me. My home medics back massage chair. My love.

Still miss my Technics. Sheah, you hear that new DJ Shadow with Run the Jewels? Punching baby bears? I saw that on Silicon Valley. Good show. Anyway, if I still had my Technics with my Proteus I'd listen to that kind sheah. Anyway, back to my coursera. I'm working on some big data and machine learning sheah. Gonna work at google.

Allen Fant's picture

Fun times- Jana.
keep writing!