Last week, in the basement of an estate sale, I discovered a box of old vinyl records. Mostly classic rock from the ’60s and ’70s. I picked up the whole box for $2. But then my mind went morbid. I started thinking about my ever-expanding vinyl collection, my inevitable death, and the fact that my children will be left behind to inherit a world certain to descend into environmental apocalypse within the next 50 years.
I got to wondering – will my vinyl collection hold any value in this apocalyptic world? And if so, will my children be able to barter my vinyl collection for fresh water?
I’ve been addictively buying punk on vinyl for more than 30 years. I’m slightly embarrassed to say that hundreds of dollars leave my bank account every month for records. I’ve always assumed that one day I would pass this collection down to my children and that they’d be able to go to college, or buy a house, or do whatever – I don’t judge! But now I worry. Clearly, if the world were to stay as is, my vinyl would have infinite value. But has global warming thwarted my plans?
“It’s really going to depend on whether Cock Sparrer has any fans 50 years from now,” said Chris Banko, the director of product merchandising at Golden Oldies in Chicago. “It also depends on whether or not people still care about the warm enveloping sound of vinyl after the oceans rise, the global conveyor belt reverses direction, and mass human migration gets underway. Perhaps MP3s would be an easier medium to enjoy in that situation … if there’s still electricity.”
That made sense, but it didn’t make me feel good about squandering my kids’ inheritance on records when I could have been investing in an impenetrable fortress for stockpiling food and weapons.
“It’ll also probably depend on how subservient, or dominant, your children are when approaching local warlords and attempting to barter your vinyl,” added Banko. “There really are a lot of factors to consider.”
Confused, I decided to approach another expert, Mark Richards, co-founder of re-issue label Dark Basement Records.
“You’re buying records as an investment in your kids’ future? That’s just fucking stupid, man,” he told me.
But that’s not what we were told growing up. Baseball cards, comics, concert posters, records – all this stuff was supposed be worth something someday! I guess they never foresaw the coming environmental apocalypse.
“I don’t know. It’s possible your kids could find a small, protected society somewhere that places great value on vinyl records, and has, like, rigged up an old bicycle to a turntable or something,” said Richards. “Maybe in that case, a record might be equivalent to a gallon of water. Shit, man, who knows? This is depressing. Get the hell out of my office.”
Well, that gave me some hope. I guess the answer is that value is abstract and we can never really predict what future apocalyptic societies will ascribe value to. It could be something as ludicrous as paper. But maybe it’ll be vinyl records. In that case, my kids will be just fine … at the very least they can melt them down and use the petroleum as fuel for their scrap metal dune buggy.
Buy a Hard Times shirt, sure to be a valuable commodity in a post apocalypse society!
Article by Aaron Semer