Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Lost Art of Buying a Disc

Today I arrived for my haircut appointment early, so I killed some time by going to one of Chicago's most famous record stores where way too many surly employees congregate around the counter eating organic crap and talking about Yo La Tengo records. To be honest, there was a surplus of workers, they were milling around not working, and one guy was eating some apple wedges, but they were really friendly. Perhaps in this economy, they figured they couldn't afford the crummy customer service. It is true, however, that back in the day one could ask for something commercial like U2, and the punks would actually laugh at you! Laughing!

In any event, I really needed the new Built To Spill and the new Muse records because I've been having trouble illegally downloading decent copies of both. Yes, I was actually forced to go to the record store, to pry myself off my computer chair, unearth my arm out of the bag of Bugles, and actually take my sorry ass into the record shop, and I'm so glad I did! Not only did they have both those discs, but I got two of the three James Gang records on vinyl that I wanted for $2.99 and $1.99 respectively!

Now, I've already done a blog about working at a record shop and how it was the best job I've ever had, but I really did get nostalgic for the good old days. I remember every Christmas we used to drink Baileys and coffee (alcohol and caffeine being my two favorite drugs and ingested simultaneously is even better) and we would exchange gifts, which were almost always box sets of albums. Not only did I long for the days when I worked in a record shop, but I really got off on the experience of buying a disc.

Seeing that your illegal download has finished compressing or whatever the fuck and hitting play just doesn't compare to the anticipation involved in unwrapping the album on the way to the car, popping it in the player, and driving home while leafing through the paperwork. That is all part of the experience, and technology is compromising so many of life's little pleasures. It won't be long before the joy of your trip to the edge of the driveway in your robe to fetch the paper, pulling off the plastic tube, smelling that newspaper smell, and hearing the ruffling as you fan it out while sipping on your coffee will all be things of the past. Pretty soon you'll just click your fricking yahoo news, or whatever, and call it a day - and call it news.*

ANYWAY, I asked the woman helping me at the well-known Chicago record shop if they were hiring to earn a little extra scratch, and yes, to relive some glory days, and she said, "We're not hiring right now, but I could give you an application?" I smiled and said to the kind and pleasant looking, Rubenesque gal on the opposite end of the counter, "That's exactly what we told people when they were looking for work when I was working at a record shop in the mid to late 1990's!" She smiled as if to say, "whatever," but not in a mean way.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.
*Does it kind of look like this woman is trying to stop this guy from reading so they could engage in a little mid-morning delight, and does this cat not look like what Rick Springfield looks like these days when his mug pops up on VH1 talking about his one major hit?


JerseySjov said...

i love buying cds. there was a really pompous little record shop that would look down on me for buying hip hop cds and pop punk compilations.
now when i go back i have cred because i buy things from the dollar bin based on how interesting the cover art is, usually "indie" stuff.

HeatherLynn said...


It's been forever since I've bought an actual disk, I do miss what you describe, the tearing the cellophane off with your teeth on the way to the car....trying to get those ridiculously sticky hologram-ish tape things off the cracks....THey make it like fort Knox to get those things out, but oh, when you do...what joy!

I used to work at "the video store"...and I imagine it's very much like the record store. Kind of like "Clerks" and "Empire Records" combined was my experience....man i loved that job!

Naturally Netflix and Family Video ran my little hole in the wall store out of business, but oh what memories i have there!

You've inspired me, perhaps I'll go to the record store this week and pick something up....


Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

Jov: I discovered Mercury Rev because I was abolutely captivated by the cover art. Here's a link to a review where I talk about that, if you give a rat's ass. : )


Lynny: Yes! Go forth and buy CDs the real way like we did before that little Napster twerp with the backwards hat made us all mp3 grubbing music whores!

Jenni said...

We have a record store in Minneapolis called The Electric Fetus. It's been awhile since I've been there, I do however remember them carrying other things besides records, like bongs and one hitters, which always gave me pause.

I downloaded the new Pete Yorn/Scarlett Johanson album "Break Up" yesterday and I LOVE it...Maybe I'll take a trip to the fetus today to see if I can snag it on vinyl.

P.S. The thing that concerns me more than anything in that picture is the gigantic croissant and the fact that there's only one of them. She's not looking for some mid-morning delight, she's getting ready to strangle him so she can have the flakey, buttery goodness all to herself.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

Jenni: I want to check out that store! Also, you're kind of nuts for thinking that she's about to kill that poor sap.