The Eposide Of The Weird Record Store

Words and photo by: Telegraphy

 I woke up today with a bad hang over after a night of hard producing in Ionosonde's tiny studio closet. After stepping out of bed nearly crushing a old 78 rpm record on the floor, I decided to take a trip to my favorite used record shop in Detroit. The pounding of my hung-over head said, "No, think of your future!",  but all the while my wallet said, "Yes. Yes! Think of us, you didn't spend us on alcohol last night". Giving in to the temptation, I unknowingly stepped on that poor 78 record anyways. CRACK!!!!!

 Having now a legitimate reason to go,  I raced towards downtown. Like the late (very late) arriving winter weather here in Detroit - the construction season in downtown was early (very early). Taking alternate rout after alternate rout felt like a race coarse but instead of winning the scantily clad girl at the end, you win a free parking spot. Sweet!!

 Grabbing a cup of tea at the coffee house across the street, I noticed that the ambiance of this place felt weird. Now I've been in this establishment before. I know what the 
baristas are like (lousy attitudes - but with a smile). But something was array. First they had set up a "Your host will seat you " sign right beside the bar (In a coffee house - Really?) I stood waiting in line patiently and then the host, will call her "The Host" came up to the well crafted hand painted sign (by one of the art student baristras) She looked at me as if she is ready to seat me. I signaled to her in semaphore that I'm in line for the bar to get a "too go" tea. She signaled a response in her own unique (I'm college student and I'm special, kind of way) "Make a new line over here! NOW !!!!".  After growing a new head, because the old one was ripped off by "The Host" I finally made got up to the bar. "Huh, earl grey tea to go please" I said to one of (cordial, in their own way) barista, with a hint of defeat in my already small voice. The  barista took the $20 I pasted her had a weird look in her eyes and said, "Do you have anything smaller?". With reluctance,  thinking why would a busy place like this would need a smaller bill. I felt around each pocket, tring to find exact change using pocket change. Spending a great deal of time amusing costumers behind me in my act of monetary desperation,  I speedy made my way out the door only to have the  barista yell out," Hey you for got your earl grey!"

  At the record store across the street (which will remain un-named to protect the innocent), I waited for the proprietor to unlock the golden gates of this sonic heaven at the early hour of 11:00 am. Finally.  I was greeted  with the owner and his adolescent pit bull sternly staring me down as he unlocks the automatic locked front door. Saying nothing at all to me, not even a hello, he quickly slams door behind him leaving me awkwardly standing their outside the door as more costumers gather behind me with puzzled looks in their eyes as to say, "Aren't you going in or what ?" . Grabbing the well warn brass knob, I gingerly pushed the powder blue door O.P.E.N., only to be blocked by the proprietors pit bull.....barking at me as if I were an intruder. "Don't fear little one, I'm only here to purchase 78 rpm records" I mur mured  under my breath in a clam, mellow consciousness.

 A little back story......A few years ago I learned about this place from the local free news paper. Yes, news papers still exist. Walking in there one day I asked kindly weather or not they had any old 78 records laying around. They pointed me to the deep dark, mildew ridden basement where only a few 40 watt light bulbs lit stacks and stacks of milk crates filled with Bakelite disks. They had thousands of 78's. A goldmine if you ask me. One could spend weeks down there perusing  this vast collection. Like an underground hidden government facility, this place is only known to those who ask nicely. I was clearly one of the very few given access to this highly secretive underground record bunker. So every now and then I would visit this record store, ask the owner kindly to go down stairs and "look". Without a problem, he always agreed.

 So back in the store with an alert bit bull grinning as to show his choice of  weaponry (nicely sharpened K-9's). I made my way up to the back counter where all transactions take place. Weaving around several center isles of record bins in this 6 by 9 powder blue colored, hole in the wall style record shop maned by thirty somethings. With minimal shwag or prized record finds on the wall ( don't want to disrupt the customers concentration) the silence from the stores off hours was being banished from one of two 33 rpm record players starting up with the familiar crackle of a needle being dropped.  The first record of the day, a mid 80's synth pop track. With synthesized syncopated kick drum beats pumping over the second hand speakers (garage sale specials if you ask me). I went up to the guy who's more or less the second in command. I always had a hunch that these guys were Startrekies stuck in the wrong profession. They weren't that sociable. The owner - well the owner was like most others. I mean,  have you ever met a happy and easy to talk with store owner? Ah yes, these two space fighters of the S.S. intergalactic record shop space command is setting course for warp disco drive. Asking him nicely to go into the basement as I have always done before, because he and I seem to get along quite well in the past. Thinking to my self, "It's cool, he knows me".

 A very "Snooky" pregnant kind of pause past, second in command guy turns to fearless leader with attack pit bull at his side and say's hesitantly as if unshure to sell anything to me, "Do we still have those 78's in the basement?" Another long pause. "I think we put those storage somewhere" the owner said with another unsure tone. "You think?" I thought to myself. O.K.! Freeze this holodeck simulation. "You guy's realy don't want to sell me 78's do you? " Thinking again to myself as sweat pours down each of their faces with liar written all over. Then as an act of kindness, second in command guy nervously hofs under his fabulist breath, "but, we have some in the corner over here". "Great "I said, "do you mind if I look at them?" Mumbling indecipherables between each other as if tho speaking in record shop klingon. "O.K.? I take that as a yes".

 Digging through the top milk crate I find a couple of 78's that I'm satisfied with. One of those already had a price sticker of $1. You see this record shop doesn't price it's collection of 78's - only LP's and 45's you'll find prices on them. Not many young people my age are interested in 78's. You'll only find Hipsters in this record shop rummaging through 1960's rock and 80's pop records. So, as always I had to give my 78's to the counter guy who then will apprise them. Hiding behind their trendy Apple laptop's, they tap into a highly sophisticated record store pricing network where other record shopies use there appraisal powers to judge on the exact price of a particular record. With vast computing power at his finger tips, he logs into this underground world of the "Darknet"  to ultimately figure out the price to charge me (ah yeah, Ebay).

 O.K. here yea go! he said with a commanding voice (which was a change from before). $1 for this one $2 for this and $5 for this one and....Oh yeah $70 for this. The shock wave from my gaw dropping on their trendy powder blue floor, rippled through the gently disturbed customers with there noises deep within the  record bins. "How much did you say? " with a perplexed look on my face. "Ah - $70 " he said with a clam, (nothings wrong because everyone can afford that kind of money) type of voice. I pulled out the wad of change money I received from that $20 I spent at the coffee house across the street. Anticipating earlier to use that money to buy a few "Cheap 78's" Ha ha ha, not here ! Using a soft, liberally shocked voice, I pleaded to him, " I didn't bring enough money. I can only afford the $1, $2, and $5 record. With a thunderous voice of Zeus he shouted "THEN DON'T COME HERE AGAIN!!!". Instead of being Liberally shocked, I was now Bolshevik Communist shocked.  He then went on a rage, "We get a lot of your type around here. Ballers and high rollers that flash big money." With a straight face he specifies ,  "They have us price 78's and only buy the cheapest ones" "78's ARE EXPENSIVE !!"  The customers with there noise in the record bins, over heard his commandment of "Tho shall not shop here again" stuck their noise even deeper into the bins. I payed the $8 and ran out with my tail between my legs. Being more or less embarrassed to the fact that most of the customers in the record shop were a group of hot woman being subject to a scene of this weirdo guy receiving a sharp tongue.

 Leaving the stores parking lot, I turned on the cars radio. Tuning to the local NPR station, the first words uttered from the announcer was, "It's national Record Store Day. Happy Record Store Day".                                   


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