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April 20, 2009

Record Store Day 2009: An Obsessive Nerd and His Money Are Soon Parted

Birthed into a harsh and uncaring world, turning two during tough economic times, its very name evoking an ancient storage format: Record Store Day promised great excitement to all music lovers. That includes the jaded and bemused staff of Triskaidekaphobia. Without music, not only would we have been able to subtract about one ton from our 9000 Pounds of Crap when moving, but we’d also gain loads of floor space back in our office suite—space that would come at a premium, for we’d also lose a part of hearts, our souls, NAY, our very pack-rattish beings, as crafted by years of doing the bin search lurch (left-to-right, right-to-left) in countless record stores, VFW posts, and open-air markets around the country.

Last year we had little to celebrate. Our beloved Buffalo, NY was losing another of its few record stores. Home of the Hits, New World Record, and Ruda’s—all gone. It hurt… oh man, did it hurt. Buying online is great, but it’s not the same.

Even though there was a seemingly endless list of awesome goodies for Record Store Day (Walk Among Us on 140 gram? Sold!), our current economic crisis and War Against Things made it doubtful we would attend. The War Against Things means getting fewer things, not more, after all.

Then we saw the Obits 7”.

We love the Obits. These tracks weren’t available digitally. We were going to Record Store Day.

Atlanta has some great record stores, including Criminal Records in the Little Five Points area of the city. It’s like a bigger New World Record or Newbury Comics.

Our plan was simple: strike early, strike quickly. Ignore the temptations of the regular selections. Do not look at the used cds. DO NOT LOOK AT THE USED CDS. Exclusives only.

Getting to Criminal just before opening at 10 a.m., we saw our plan was wise. A huddled mass of music dorks clustered around the front door. The doors opened, and the herd trampled towards the call “Record Store Day exclusives are down here”. What the bulk didn’t hear was “Seven inches are here”—behind the front registers.

Looking at the 7”es was fine until a man, herd leader, asked for a single and was pointed towards the registers. Then a towering wall of music dorks swamped the area, eyes wild, nostrils flaring, as they began communicating with the alphas behind the counter, in their strange, almost nonsensical, calls. “Can I have the Grizzly Bear, a Flaming Lips, and the Sonic Youth?”, “Where’s the Bob Dylans?”, “Do you have the Dr. Dog?”, “Wilco?” &c.

More importantly: we were getting snaked.

Situation amended, precious tiny circles of vinyl payload in hand, we browsed the other selections JUST LIKE WE SAID WE WOULDN’T. Fool! However, using the exercises we’ve learned (count to three slowly, focusing on breathing, picturing ourselves living out of a shopping cart), we were able to resist the siren call of sweet, unpurchased music. Mostly.

Obligatory Chicago-related purchase: Thrill Jockey Records Toreism 12”

Obligatory Chicago-related regretful non-purchase: The Jesus Lizard Inch 7” collection. Awesome, cool idea and packaging. But we already own all of those 7”es. We’re trying to save money. Sorry, guys.

Unintended Benefit of the Obligatory Chicago-related regretful non-purchase: Happy hours spent browsing for it on eBay in the years to come.

Being an anonymous music collector in a new city has its advantages. For example, you’re unlikely to run into that guy who was in that band that was sorta lame that you asked to open for you one time because he was nice but you really have nothing to say to him when you see him. Even better, you’re unlikely to BE that guy who was in that band that was sorta lame that was asked to open for someone once because you were nice but they really have nothing to say to you when they see you. But you do miss the personal touch, a little.

So, one of the best things at Record Store Day? When it came time to check out, the clerk recognized us from before and gave a wry smile. A sort-of “Yeah, I get it” moment: The vinyl, the CD, the showing up to check out 45 minutes after coming into the store to grab one 7” and leaving with three 7”es, a 12” single, and a CD, the whole “it” of buying music at a record store at 10 a.m. before coffee, shaving, or showering because, you know, WHAT IF ALL THE GOOD STUFF IS GONE? Yeah, that.

Thanks, Criminal Records, for making it a good day. You’ll never replace our Home of the Hits, but you make a great replacement.

Oh, the records? They all KICK ASS. Totally worth it. Improved our living conditions by a noticeable margin. Take THAT, economic downturn!

posted at 10:39 AM | find it forever

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