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by Mike Cumella


I love Lo-Fi. Playing a cereal box on my Kenner Close ën Play record player was a defining experience so it is not with much surprise that this seed has grown into a warped branch of my collecting interests. Most think of records as round, black and stiff with little holes in the center but for the last 10 years, I have been fascinated with records that were anything except that. The FLEXI-DISC has had a long but somewhat obscured history probably due to its very disposable nature. So lets take a moment to reflect upon another dead media format as it passes into that great pile of trash culture that America piles higher than any other nation.

My record collecting interests have gone through many evolutionary stages since first beginning as an adolescent. From what was fashionable as a teen, to what was anti-establishment as a young man (which pretended not to be fashionable, but was) to just plain weird stuff (also fashionable) with many sub divisions along the way. I canít even count how many unusual flexis I had seen and dismissed as trash in those early years. Why would I want a paper record which advertised the merits of a fire alarm from the 1950ís when there were several more Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd records I had yet to hear? Oh how unenlightened I was!

After realizing the limitations of collecting based on the SOUND of a record, I started to move towards the LOOK. The playable audio of these flexis was only one part of the package which often was a means to some other end. Whether it was to get you to buy this cereal, visit this luxury retirement home, buy this car or realize what a great guy Nixon was, these flexi-discs were an inexpensive way to reach consumers and get them to do something, buy something or react in a certain way.

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As I started to collect these unusual items, I soon realized that this was a very much undocumented area of recording that was never fully chronicled and could lead me on a voyage of discovery that I could spend a lifetime pursuing. Like knowledge itself, I realized that the more I discovered, the more there was to look for. I realized that one could never amass all the examples of these artifacts and therein would lie the fun. I have found a few books on the subject but it has been mostly through talking with other esoteric collectors and those who were directly involved in the business that a chronicle is slowly revealing itself. But the question remainsÖWho cares?!

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