Great Moments in Mix CDs

As I’m winding up work this morning, a law student who has worked in my office as a clerk since the beginning of summer left me a mix CD entitled “Music that Craig Likes?” She and I have been friendly enough, but we’ve never talked about music or pop culture or anything like that. Certainly not about anything of enough substance that would give anyone a sufficient lead to go and pick out 15 songs that are likely to be up my alley. Skeptical, I put the CD in.

The results: fabulous. Mostly old school punk – Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Stiff Little Fingers, The Damned, and more mainstream stuff like the Ramones and the Clash – but also some nice 80s and 90s flavor like Billy Bragg, Nick Cave and the Pixies. To top it off, she ended it all with “The Breaks” by Kurtis Blow because, hell, just because.

All stuff I love, but mostly stuff I last had on Memorex tapes circa 1990 and lost somewhere between then and real adulthood. If she had merely parroted my current record collection she would have gotten points for coming up with a good profile. Putting together stuff I (a) love; and (b) have lost turned what merely could have been a fabulous mix CD into a transcendent one.

Is this law clerk some sort of mind reader or, as another coworker said a few minutes ago, do I merely give off a super obvious aging hipster vibe? I don’t think it’s the latter. In fact, I’ve always assumed most people who meet me figure that I’m an old fart who generally wants people off his lawn. Which is true, of course, but either way doesn’t lead anyone to think that I’d actually enjoy a CD full of punk.

But I do enjoy it, and I suppose the lesson here, such as there is one, is that you just never know, ya know?

Craig Calcaterra

Craig is the author of the daily baseball (and other things) newsletter, Cup of Coffee. He writes about other things at He lives in New Albany, Ohio with his wife, two kids, and many cats.

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