SO the last entry garnered a generous response, while my wild re-telling of our jaunt through Big Sur appears to have been generally ignored. Clearly, eggs are more popular than travelogues, which I frankly should have expected. Of course, I have, from time to time, tackled the subject of eggs in the form of a travelogue
. But I guess my own weird habits aren't necessarily anyone else's business.
My obsession with a music store, however, is clearly something with which I should burden you. This tale involves my recent dealings with The Record Exchange
Some 25 years ago I happened into a storefront dive in a strip center not far from my home in Charlotte, NC. The strip backed up to a government-constructed shantytown called Grier Village, then the second poorest neighborhood in Charlotte, and it had been built exclusively for the newest cut-rate grocery chain, 3 Guys, which saved money by, among other things, using packing crates for display rather than installing shelving and displays. It was called The Record Exchange.
If I remember correctly, they moved in shortly before or after the 3 Guys closed (they didn't last long; merchandise moved out the door so fast, the patrons scarcely had time to pay for it). I seem to think that I was told (or overheard someone saying) that this was the second store, the original being somewhere in Virginia, and then later on hearing that the Charlotte location had been demoted to third, second NC location, behind a location in Raleigh. The place was dear to my heart, not least because the prices were terrific. In those days, of course, it was all vinyl; they did some trade in cassettes, and they had a case full of 8-tracks, but this was a roost ruled by album rock. (Again, there was some classical and Jazz and what not, but those were more or less obligatory sections.) You could pick up a disc for as low as a quarter (for a beat-up best-of compilation of crap nobody wants to hear), but most of the albums seemed to go for four to six bucks, some higher, depending on condition, rarity, etc. This is where I got all my Yes albums (and Yes, I had them all), the Billy Joel's Songs in the Attic
, the Mahavishnu Orchestra's Birds of Fire
, and a double dozen other rarities and weirdities that I could scarcely begin to tell you about. They also specialized in the kind of audiophile obssessives that had gone out of fashion in a bygone age: half-speed masters, numbered pressings, double-grade vinyl pressings, virgin vinyl pressings, and mint-condition discs, all of which were kept behind glass and priced out of my range.
Years later, when I went off to Grad school for an abortive attempt at getting an MA, I gave my entire collection away to a pal who was a genius audiophile and could appreciate most of it. For years after that my music collection consisted of a mutty collection of cassettes bought from discount bins and bootlegged from friends and college libraries. Later, after I had landed a career-kinda job and the Wifey and I had settled in together, I began re-building my collection, this time in the form of CD's. About six years ago, after we had bought our house, we invested (300 bucks) in an Aiawa stero system that included a turntable, and we have kept a small collection of vinyl cobbled from what remained at either of our folks' places.
Then, not too many years ago, I re-discovered The Record Exchange. They had moved into a slot in Park Road Shopping Center, a venerable strip center over in a relatively affluent part of town, and it was staffed by a trio of relatively hip kids who knew their stuff and
my stuff. Which is to say they knew the local indie scene, the new label stuff, and had a pretty good knowledge of good old rock 'n' roll. They laughed at my jokes, especially ones like "I'm buying (insert 60's artist), (insert indie ingenue), and Leo Kottke; that
shows you what kind of a geek I
am." And the prices were higher than they had been, of course, but still cheaper than you could get stuff in a regular store or online. And still, there was that mysterious little joy of looking thought a buncha white elephants before stumbling on a true and decided gem. Hey! Born to Run
on vinyl! How cool is that?
So I got Born to Run
on vinyl, and a bunch of other oddities, like a showcase of the Warner Bros micro division in Burbank, entitled, enticingly, The Entire Burbank Catalogue
, and dics and dics and discs, someof which came here, got one spin, and went back there. It was all great fun.
Then I went by one day, some weeks back, with a handful of discs the Wifey and I had agreed should be exchanged, and they were closed. The note on the door said they hoped to re-open soon under new management, but there was not indicator of when that might be.
Fast forward to this past weekend: we were in the neighborhood, stopping by the Mexican bakery where they make the best cakes in the universe, and trotted up to see if they had opened yet. No, but the sign had been ammended: opening Monday, Aug 14th.
I went by Monday, and the sign had been again amended: Monday scratched out, opening Tuesday, the 15th. So I couldn't go back then, because my sister and her husband and all, and the eggs, which for the record turned out delicious,* and yesterday the Wifey had the day off since it was her birthday, so we spent the day lazing about, buying art for the house, and eventually going out for barbeque. So today I went.
The kids, who I had seen bustling about the place the 2 times we went by before they opened, were not there. The guy who was there seemed okay at first, but was close-mouthed and weird later on. He said they couldn't give store credit as the operation is brand new. (How that
works, I know not.) He made it clear that my only option was cash, and then waited for me to weigh the options. (Dude, WTF!?
Give the the freakin' cash then!) He didn't laugh at my joke. (He didn't take the Maroon 5 CD. "Why not?" I asked. "It's scratched." "Really?" Beat, beat, beat, beat. "I thought maybe you just didn't like it." Nothin'. I gave up after that.) The amount I got was kind of paltry for the number of CD's (and one DVD) I sold them, and he didn't seem cognizent of, much less interested in, my purchase. (A monster Simon and Garfunkel compilation and a Chet Baker album I had heard good things about.) I got 20 bucks and spent 27.
So they may be dead to me. I haven't decided. Several variables are yet to be dropped into place. (Will the kids be back? When will they start offering store credit? Will that equal 23% greater than cash value (like it used to)? Will I feel good about going there, or will going there start making me feel like a mook.
It's a long road ahead.
*I went a little overboard on the mustard and vinegar, so the filling turned out a little runnier than I would have liked. So they were not as pretty as they might have been, but they were a hit nonetheless. Everyone who had one went back for a second and a third (and sometimes a fourth).