Put The Needle On The Record
by The Finn
I’d been back in the States for a few months and had blown the majority of my meager savings on stupid things like rent, beer and a few CD’s. So I needed a job. Preferably something that would pay me vast sums for just reading on the couch and drinking coffee. I looked around for a few days but got sick and tired of being turned away because of the way I looked. After a handful of rejections in one afternoon, I decided to stop by the local Tower Records and pick some things up. When I got there, I saw that they had an old fashioned “Help Wanted” sign in the window and thought to myself that it must’ve been fate.
I have always loved record stores. Big ones, small ones, even the ones that look like junk shops. I love the smell of old cardboard and the dusty, stale air that you only find in a record store. I love the sound of the needle as it clicks into the groove. And I love the people who work in record stores. The stoners and the serious musicians, the artists and the critics. The guys who’ll quote you the first and last names of everyone who played a session with Miles Davis in ’65. The longhair who smells of something long dead that works your last nerve with his consistent talk of Sabbath. Freaks, every last one of ‘em. But they were my kind of freaks.
Naturally, I thought that Tower would be a perfect fit. Rows upon rows of vinyl and CD’s. Stacks of cassette’s that went on as far as the eye could see. So many posters plastered to the walls that the walls themselves were now several inches thicker. And some of the funkiest and most fun people I’ve ever worked with. Arnold, the Mayan. Vanilla Sue, the gypsy princess who delighted in scribbling posters to announce new releases. Pete the Fireman, who was as serious a Deadhead as they come, but also a volunteer firefighter. And Jack, the security guard who wandered around all day with a can of Pepsi in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other. He never checked bags and robbed the store blind until he was finally caught and dismissed.
I loved that damn job. I got paid to goof around all day and stock shelves. Pulling out things I wanted and hiding them in the back until payday. I never really helped anyone find anything because we were never expected to be nice to the customers. I would head over to the video section of the store and flirt mercilessly with the manager until she needed a place to stay and she moved into our group house. We played and partied and all came into work the next day hungover and smiling. It was the most fun crew I ever ran with.
I was walking around town last night with the baby on my shoulders. He and I had been singing “Whoo Hoo” by the 220.127.116.11.’s for about three blocks when I finally decided to pop into the Tower on Broad Street and pick up a copy of the album. At least that way, I figured, I could share the pain with my wife when I wasn’t home. And when we got to the entrance I was shocked by the signs on the door. “Bankruptcy Sale” glared at me in looming letters five feet tall. “Everything Must Go!” and “All Sales Are Final” pasted on every non-horizontal surface. Tower had finally succumbed like most of the smaller record stores in town.
My wife and I used to make most of a day of poking around record stores. We’d hit up Spaceboy first, then Repo, off to Tower and finally A.K.A. Spaceboy closed up in August, A.K.A. moved uptown and now Tower is gone. I’d always wanted to include the baby once he got big enough to have musical interests that didn’t include Lazy Town or Thomas the Tank Engine. And it looks like we won’t get that chance.
thefinn likes to wake up early on Sunday mornings and play music for his son. Archives