Thanks to the dual obstacles of being out of town and a certain punk rock icon not getting back to me in time, I find myself in the super-fun position of trying to pull an article out of thin air, while dealing with the cruel California sun and the realization that I simply cannot drink like I used to. Yikes.
I started thinking about how I lived in this beautiful state five years ago and what I might have written for a music column back then, had I gotten a chance. It occurred to me that, five years ago, I worked in a record store called Streetlight Records and, as with any job, I took away from it some valuable life lessons.
People have a tentative grasp of the alphabet…at best.
A young woman once approached me and announced she had looked all over the store, but couldn't locate anything by the Beastie Boys. "I don't think you have any," she said. Knowing this was absolutely impossible, I steeled my patience and told her she could find them in the hip-hop section. Her nose scrunched in a depressing mix of anger and confusion. "Well, I know that," she said. "I just didn't know if you'd file it under first or last name." As my blood boiled and I nearly wept, I very calmly explained that Beastie Boys wasn't a name and, even if it was, she surely could have found them filed under B.
There is no "The" section. Anywhere.
If I ever again have to explain to some jag-wagon that The Beatles wouldn't be filed under T, I'll kill myself.
Singing at people isn't doing anybody any favors.
As much as standing there and asking for me to find a song based on your awful, "Oooh, baby!" was helpful, have you ever heard of a thing called Google?
They totally still make vinyl…promise.
No sir, it's not impossible to find vinyl. No sir, Nazareth's Hair of the Dog is not rare, you can find it in most thrift stores. Yes sir, I understand that you believe your warped and scratched eight-billionth pressing of Sticky Fingers was important to you, but I'm afraid I can't offer you any more than a dime for it. In fact, if I wasn't sure you'd totally murder me for any reason at all, I wouldn't even have offered you that much.
Don't mess with metal heads!
There's a pretty big difference between Converge and Celtic Frost, and God help you if you don't know what it is. Suffice it to say that it's no picnic to be shouted at by some pasty dude in a Cryptic Slaughter shirt because you dared to suggest he might like Botch. Look, if you really need to have ammo to discuss this stuff, pick up something by Vital Remains, take a deep breath and try your best to understand what the hell is going on.
Frank Zappa completionists have never boned anyone.
Wow. You've got a bootleg cassette of that time Zappa and the Mothers of Invention performed all of We're Only in it For the Money front to back? And you'd be willing to transfer it to CD and sell it to us for 80 bucks? Cool. Well, why don't you just leave us the number of the YMCA you're staying at, and we'll get back to you…on opposite day!
People who work in record stores are snobs!
We can't help it! And we're not trying to be unhelpful. It's just that a funny thing happens when you have unrestricted access to so much music: you become a dick. Names are dropped, street dates are broken and we keep all the good stuff for ourselves. It's not because we're trying to make things hard for you; we do these things because working in a record store for minimum wage is, unlike other jobs, next to godliness. Oh, and because, yes, we are better than you.