The Ozzy Obsession: Tricks of the EBay Trade

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To Dino Totino, heavy metal music is not simply a genre; it is a lifestyle and world view. His office space is where the he spends most of his time. On a typical Sunday afternoon, the self-proclaimed metal-head sits in a dusty computer chair covered in navy blue distressed fabric. The air around him is heavy and stale, as if the windows have been closed for a long time. A yellowing old-fashioned cathode ray tube monitor sits on his desk with a chunky keyboard in front of it. The EBay website and a YouTube interview of Ozzy Ozbourne is on pause in his tab bar, along with Metallica’s Master of Puppets album playing in the background. Pictures of him with metal artists hang along the back wall of the room. He proceeds to place a bid on EBay, acquiring a limited edition t-shirt of metal artist Ronnie James Dio that will arrive in two weeks.

At only 10 years old, Totino’s brother Aldo introduced him to artists such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Metallica, which inspired him to pick up the electric guitar at 14. Among the metal “Gods” he grew up listening to, there were two musicians in particular that captured his attention when he saw them on stage for the first time; Ozzy Osbourne and his guitarist Randy Rhoads.
Totino
“I was about 17 or 18, and a bunch of us were hanging out in the park, and we heard that the lead singer of Black Sabbath was playing at the St-Denis Theatre,” Totino said. “I had never seen him live before, and he had just got fired from Black Sabbath for his drug abuse, so we ended up getting tickets easily since nobody was interested in seeing a show without his band. I ended up in the first row,” he continued with a big smile. “It changed my life, especially when I saw Randy Rhoads, his new guitarist. I’m a guitar guy, so when Rhoads comes on stage with a polka dot guitar, you know, it was inspiration,” he laughed. “I was hooked to Ozzy and his music ever since, specifically the albums Rhoads played on. Those albums changed metal history forever and it changed me too.”

A year and a half after Totino’s first Ozzy concert, Rhoads died. “I was so mad, I banned seeing Ozzy,” he said. “I kept buying his records, magazines, and kept my tickets, but I missed the “Speak of the Devil” tour and a few others. I regretted not seeing him,” he said, shaking his head of curly hair. “Eventually I got back into him, but [Rhoads’ death] was a major catastrophe at the time. I have seen him five or six times since then.”

I learned soon enough that you can’t keep everything because you’ll go broke.As much as the stuff means to me, it is nice to know I can share it with another metal-head.

The obsession with Randy Rhoads is what sparked Totino to collect memorabilia. “I started out with magazines, and if I saw something in a music shop related to Randy I’d purchase it,” he said. “I’d always keep ticket stubs from other concerts, tour books, anything related to shows I’d seen.” However, in 1999, the obsession peaked. “A friend of mine introduced me to EBay, and I saw everything that was really out there in comparison to what I collected,” he said. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘boy, I got a lot of work to do’.”
“I bought everything Randy at first,” he said. “I never thought that even though he was only with Ozzy for 2 years that they would make so many things related to him. Then when I saw the Ozzy memorabilia on EBay, all hell broke loose,” he chuckled.

For Totino, buying memorabilia is more than just adding to a collection. He spends countless hours on EBay looking for anything related to metal artists, whether it is rare limited edition statues to tour memorabilia from the 1970s. “It started getting out of control, because there was also memorabilia from dozens of heavy metal bands out there,” he continued. “I started buying merchandise from all the different tours, like the “Bark at the Moon” tour of Ozzy’s, statues, records, colored disks, limited edition items, you name it, I had it. It got to a point that I was spending most of my money, my wife even got paranoid. I couldn’t stop, hours and hours into the night I would be bidding. Most of my bulk stuff is Ozzy and Rhoads, but I have memorabilia from many other heavy metal gods.”

Totino realized that there is not only a pleasure in collecting, so he began selling and trading memorabilia as well. “I learned soon enough that you can’t keep everything because you’ll go broke,” he said. “As much as the stuff means to me, it is nice to know I can share it with another metal-head. I buy, I sell, let some things go, trade some.” Metal-heads are found all over the globe, and Totino acquainted a young Ozzy fan in Texas. “One kid in Texas bought a whole bunch of Ozzy stuff off of me,” he said with a smile. “He wanted to make his own Ozzy room, kind of like what I had growing up, and I said what the heck. I enjoyed that stuff for many years, but I couldn’t keep it forever. I would definitely keep the Randy Rhoads stuff though, just because of how much I looked up to him as a guitarist,” he continued. “Of course I’d have to keep all of my autographs and pictures of metal Gods, partially because I can’t sell it if it’s addressed to me. It’s too ‘Dino’,” he laughed. “I can’t forget my flying V guitar too, that’s got to stay.”

Although Totino has sold a lot of his memorabilia, meeting Ozzy Osbourne is one of his dreams, and it has come awfully close. “About 10 years ago, Ozzy was going to be interviewed and my buddy at CFCF 12 asked me if I wanted to get anything signed,” he said. “I immediately told my son Justin, ‘stop doing your homework, go write Ozzy a letter!’, so he did.” Totino pulls out a cartoon of Ozzy Obsourne drawn by his son, pointing at Ozzy’s scribbled autograph. The words “You are great” are written above it in all uppercase letters. “During the interview, he talked about my own son and Sharon Osbourne kept the letter he wrote,” he said, staring at the cartoon in hand. “After the show, Ozzy wanted to do something, so they gave Justin an Ozzy lunchbox and a t-shirt. As an eleven year old, Justin freaked. Maybe I freaked a little more,” he laughed.

“I’ve crossed paths with Ozzy, but I’ve still never met him,” Totino said. “What would I do if I met him? Well, we’d probably sit down and have a bat sandwich.”

Here is the interview where Ozzy sees the letter Totino’s son Justin drew.

Here are pictures of various memorabilia that Totino currently owns. These pictures were not taken in his house (aside from the last 3), but they are replicas online that are the same as what he does own. By clicking on a thumbnail you can look at the rest up close!

Word Document: The Ozzy Obsession (Revised)
Click here to see the article with the slideshow

The Music Industry: Is it really a money-making black hole?

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It is widely known that the music industry is competitive. Musicians may have an idea of how hard it is to obtain a record deal, but what are the real standards once you have been signed? Musicians are often told to give the label what they want, but there is much more to what that statement really means. There are aspects about being a musician that aspiring artists are not aware of until they have sunken deep into the trench of standardization.

Paula Skyers, an independent jazz musician and vocal coach, has had her own taste of the music industry. “Getting a record deal is not the easiest, but that’s not the biggest issue,” Skyers said. “What’s harder is keeping up with what the record label wants you to do once you are signed, and following the rules they’ve set up for you.”

What are these rules? Well, let’s begin with what the industry is really after.

“Most of the time they start you out when you’re young and vulnerable,” Skyers said. “As a 10 year old, the music industry seems like this energetic amazing world where you do what you’ve always dreamed of, but then you’re 20 and you realize, ‘shoot, I’m stuck in this black hole and there’s no way out’, because the industry already owns rights to everything you do, and they just want to keep making money out of you.”

Justin Bieber can be seen as a perfect example of a celebrity who rose to fame at a very young age. At only 12 years old, he was already working with his buddy and mentor Usher, signed to Raymond Braun Media Group (RBMG), a joint company between Usher and Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun. Under their wings, Bieber released several albums and embarked on worldwide tours. While it might appear that he has all the world’s gold, he has less control over his career than one would think.

“I think it comes to a point where you have to sell out. You can’t be successful on your own terms,” Skyers said. “It’s about who has the image, the personality, but more importantly, who’s marketable. Once you sign up with the industry, it’s like your owned by them, and you have to maintain an image that can’t be altered. That’s why all these artists go berserk.”

We’ve seen musicians go berserk on several accounts, namely Britney Spears. After shaving her hair off and attacking the paparazzi back in 2007, it really makes you wonder how intense the pressure can be. According to Metro magazine, Spears has recently rebelled against her management after stating that her music managers were forcing her to act ‘slutty’ in her new music video for “Work Bitch”. In regards to that, she said, “A lot of sex goes into what I do […] I have children, and it’s just hard to play sexy mom while you’re being a pop star as well.”

However, sometimes musicians get caught up in their success; they will do anything to keep their careers alive. “Once you get the money you become addicted, and you will do anything for that fame and response from the public,” Skyers said. “The music doesn’t even matter anymore. It’s about staying up until four in the morning hoping your vocals will sound better during the new take, only to find out the next morning they were auto-tuned anyway. It’s about putting on a show in order to get people’s mouths moving.”

Alongside having an image the industry approves of, the actual creative process of being in a studio diminishes once you are part of a major label. “There’s no room for originality. You’ll come in with a song idea, and it’ll be torn down,” Skyers said. “They’ll give you something and you’ll have to like it, because the contract tells you that you have to.”

Many artists have been subject to this harsh reality in the studio. Kelly Clarkson, who has won several Grammys for her work, has had issues with her record label and head label executive Clive Davis. She wrote a blog post  in response to Clive Davis’ memoir The Soundtrack of My Life, which she insists contains false information about how he treated her. In the blog post she discussed her experience with him, and how he hated her own song, “Because Of You”, which ironically, ended up being one of her biggest singles on her Breakaway album.

“[He] told me verbatim that I was a ‘shitty writer who should be grateful for the gifts that he bestows upon me.’ He continued on about how the song didn’t rhyme and how I should just shut up and sing,” Clarkson wrote. “This was devastating coming from a man who I, as a young girl, considered a musical hero and was so honored to work with. But I continued to fight for the song and the label relented. And it became a worldwide hit. He didn’t include that in the book.”

The industry doesn’t have to butt in and tell you what’s right and what’s wrong. They think they know what the public wants to hear, but do they really? They just want a money-making machine.

Not only are artists rejected for including their own material on an album, but songwriters often don’t get the credit they deserve. “A good friend of mine, Annie, was working in Los Angeles with several songwriters, writing for other artists,” Skyers explained. “They told her she would get writing credits and half of the profit, and was later told she would only get ten percent. She doesn’t even know what the song morphed into or even if her name is on it at all.”

Not only is this true for songwriters, but musicians make barely a fraction through record sales. According to James Scott, writer for Ultimate-Guitar.com, most artists don’t receive credit where it is due when they are part of a major label. “That’s the downside of a major label deal. They’ll give you a lot, but take a lot in return, often from 95-99% of the retail price [of the album] after all deductions,” he stated. “The emerging UK artist that sells 100,000 copies will only make 10,000 from record sales if they’re signed to a big label. They’d literally make more money flipping burgers.”

However, there is some hope for upcoming musicians who refuse to get sucked into the standardization tube. Today, a lot of independent musicians are building their own home studios with simple music editing software programs, even ones equipped with electronic instruments. “If someone is looking to be a musician for the sake of music itself, it’s much better to just do it on their own,” Skyers, who has a mini studio in the comfort of her own home, explained. “With your own equipment, not only can you do whatever you want, you learn the skills, and you don’t have to rely on anyone. It’s raw material that no one can mess with.”

With different media platforms such as YouTube or Facebook, it is easy to put yourself out there without the pressure of a label influencing you. Today, anyone can acquire a camera and learn the basics of recording with the help of online tutorials.

Although it may seem difficult to upload music on YouTube since thousands of people are competing for the same recognition, Skyers suggests otherwise. “You never know who’s going to listen. But, it doesn’t have to be about how many views you have or even how many people are supporting you,” she said. “It should be about the passion you have for your craft. If you’re looking for the money, or the big dream, you might as well sign up for a record label, because it’s not the music you’re after at that point.”

“You can be an independent artist and still have success,” Skyers said. “The industry doesn’t have to butt in and tell you what’s right and what’s wrong. They think they know what the public wants to hear, but do they really? They just want a money-making machine.”

“You don’t have to sell out to sing. It’s possible to be your own person and live your dreams without getting sucked in. You don’t have to go after the big prize to be successful and happy.”

Word Document: The Music Industry
Edited by: Katharine D’Adamo

The Ozzy Obession: Tricks of the EBay Trade

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To Dino Totino, heavy metal music is not simply a genre, it is a lifestyle. His office space is where the he spends most of his time. On a typical Sunday afternoon, the self-proclaimed metal-head sits in a dusty computer chair covered in navy blue distressed fabric. The air around him is heavy and stale, as if the windows have been closed for a long time. A yellowing old-fashioned cathode ray tube monitor sits on his desk with a chunky keyboard in front of it. The EBay website and a YouTube interview of Ozzy Ozbourne is on pause in his tab bar, along with Metallica’s Master of Puppets album playing in the background. Pictures of him with metal artists hang along the back wall of the room. He proceeds to place a bid on EBay, acquiring himself a limited edition t-shirt of metal artist Ronnie James Dio to arrive in two weeks.

At only 10 years old, Totino’s brother Aldo was introducing him to artists such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Metallica, inspiring him to pick up the electric guitar at 14. Among the metal “Gods” he grew up listening to, there was one musician in particular that truly captured his attention the minute he saw him on stage, and that was Ozzy Osbourne.
Totino
“I was about 17 or 18, and a bunch of us were hanging out in the park, and we heard that the lead singer of Black Sabbath [Osbourne] was playing at the St-Denis Theatre,” Totino said. “I had never seen him live because he had just got fired from Black Sabbath, so we ended up getting tickets easily. I ended up in the first row,” he continued with a big smile. “It changed my life, especially when I saw Randy Rhoads. I’m a guitar guy, so when Rhoads comes on stage with a polka dot guitar, you know, it was inspiration,” he laughed. “I was hooked to Ozzy and his music ever since, specifically the albums Rhoades played on. Those albums changed metal history forever and it changed me too.”

A year and a half after Totino’s first Ozzy concert, the legendary guitar player Randy Rhoads died. “I was so mad, I banned seeing Ozzy,” he said. “I kept buying his records, magazines, and kept my tickets, but I missed the Speak of the Devil tour and a few others. I regretted not seeing him,” he said, shaking his head of curly hair. “Eventually I got back into him, but [Rhoads’ death] was a major catastrophe at the time. I have seen him five or six times since then.”

I learned soon enough that you can’t keep everything because you’ll go broke.As much as the stuff means to me, it is nice to know I can share it with another metal-head.

The obsession with Randy Rhoads is what sparked Totino to collect memorabilia. “I started out with magazines, and if I saw something in a music shop related to Randy I’d purchase it,” he said. “I’d always keep ticket stubs from other concerts, tour books, anything related to shows I’d seen.” However, in 1999, the obsession peaked. “A friend of mine introduced me to EBay, and I saw everything that was really out there in comparison to what I collected,” he said. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘boy, I got a lot of work to do’.”

“I bought everything Randy at first,” he said. “I never thought that even though he was only with Ozzy for 2 years that they would make so many things related to him. Then when I saw the Ozzy memorabilia on EBay, all hell broke loose,” he chuckled.

For Totino, buying memorabilia is more than just adding to a collection. He spends countless hours on EBay looking for rare limited edition statues to tour memorabilia from the 1970s. “It started getting out of control, because there was also memorabilia from dozens of heavy metal bands out there,” he continued. “I started buying merchandise from all the different tours, like the Bark at the Moon tour of Ozzy’s, statues, records, colored disks, limited edition items, you name it, I had it. It got to a point that I was spending most of my money, my wife even got paranoid. I couldn’t stop, hours and hours into the night I would be bidding. Most of my bulk stuff is Ozzy and Rhoads, but I have memorabilia from many other heavy metal gods.”
The Ozzy Coffin
Totino realized that there is not only a pleasure in collecting, but selling and trading memorabilia. “I learned soon enough that you can’t keep everything because you’ll go broke,” he said. “As much as the stuff means to me, it is nice to know I can share it with another metal-head. I buy, I sell, let some things go, trade some.” Metal-heads are found all over the globe, and Totino acquainted a young Ozzy fan in Texas. “One kid in Texas bought a whole bunch of Ozzy stuff off of me,” he said with a smile. “He wanted to make his own Ozzy room, kind of like what I had growing up, and I said what the heck. I enjoyed that stuff for many years, but I couldn’t keep it forever. I would definitely keep the Randy Rhoads stuff though, just because of how much I looked up to him as a guitarist,” he continued. “Of course I’d have to keep all of my autographs and pictures with metal Gods, partially because I can’t sell it if it’s addressed to me. It’s too Dino,” he laughed. “I can’t forget my flying V guitar too, that’s got to stay.”

Although Totino has sold a lot of his memorabilia, meeting Ozzy Osbourne is one of his dreams, and it has come awfully close. “About 10 years ago, Ozzy was going to be interviewed and my buddy at CFCF 12 asked me if I wanted to get anything signed,” he said. “I immediately told my son Justin, ‘stop doing your homework, go write Ozzy a letter!’, so he did.” Totino pulls out a cartoon of Ozzy Obsourne drawn by his son, pointing at Ozzy’s scribbled autograph. The words “You are great” are written above it in all uppercase letters. “During the interview, he talked about my own son and Sharon Osbourne kept the letter he wrote,” he said, staring at the cartoon in hand. “After the show, Ozzy wanted to do something, so they gave Justin an Ozzy lunchbox and a t-shirt. As an eleven year old, Justin freaked. Maybe I freaked a little more,” he laughed.

“I’ve crossed paths with Ozzy, but I’ve still never met him,” Totino said. “What would I do if I met him? Well, we’d probably sit down and have a bat sandwich.”

Edited by: Kiana Albanese
Word Document: The Ozzy Obsession

Reliving the Vinyl Era

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A photo essay by Cristina Sanza
View in powerpoint format: Reliving the Vinyl Era

My dad has been collecting vinyls since he was a teenager. While his collection doesn’t contain thousands and thousands of records like many other obsessed record collectors, what really intrigued me is the space where the records are kept, and the numerous stories and memories behind many of his record purchases. Here are some photos I’ve captured of my dad scrambling through his collection, reminiscing his younger years and sharing his stories with me. Now, I will present these stories to you…


Gazing at the Wall
Looking through old records, my father reminisces: “Sometimes you pull out a record, and you don’t realize you even had it in the first place. They get lost in each other, you know? And then the memories just come right back.”


Springsteen Blues: Asbury Park
Holding one of his many Springsteen records in hand, Greetings From Ashbury Park N.J. “Bruce goes all the way back for me. There is no music without Bruce, this was his first release, and probably one of my first vinyl purchases as a kid.”


Help! The Beatles
“Help, I need somebody, help!” my dad sings while picking this one up. After he dances around with the record, he finally stands still so I can get a decent shot.


Hasty Pick-Up
Dad picking up a record with the turntable record player in the background. “I remember the days when you could pick these up three for ten bucks, something like that.”


Wall of Glory
A more close up view of majority of the records in my father’s collection. “Looking at these, I always reminisce my teenage years.”


Page Doll
“I got this bad boy in New York City. Virgin Records, when it was still open, and I had to have it. It’s never going to be opened, it’ll be worth something someday, even then, I don’t know if I’d sell it.”


Heart
“This is actually mom’s record. But I can admit that I enjoyed it myself, so to the collection it goes.”


Don’t Lose My Number
“Su-su-suddio,” my dad says as soon as he sees the bright orange packaging. “Oh wait, I can’t forget this one, Don’t Lose My Number! What a great track.”


Bells of Laughter
My dad starts laughing as he sees this album. “You know the song from The Exorcist? This album has the main song. What a riot that movie was.”


Shoulder Angle, Blurred Shelf
My father searching through his collection in full focus, the shelf out of focus.


Side One: A Pirated Copy
“Back in the day when we would copy albums illegally we used to put labels on them and write what side was which with a sharpie. For this Zeppelin album, I’m guilty.”


Record In Motion
Made in Japan by Deep Purple. Record spinning as it is being pulled out of its sleeve.


Rolling Stones Only Rocked in 89
“I hate the Stones now. I remember when tickets didn’t cost five-hundred dollars. I prefer my Bruce t-shirt…get me my Bruce t-shirt.”


The Record Cave
All the record related magic is actually situated in our very dirty, dusty garage. The cabinet is the music getaway corner. This is the view from afar.

_________________________________________________________________

Records featured:
Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy – The Who
Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. – Bruce Springsteen
Help! – The Beatles
Bad Company – Straight Shooter
Dreamboat Annie – Heart
No Jacket Required – Phil Collins
Tubular Bells – Mike Oldfield
Kashmir – Led Zeppelin (single)
Made In Japan – Deep Purple

Photography and Concept by Cristina Sanza
© 2013