Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
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Play it Again (and Again)
2006-01-05 05:11
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Hey, I forgot to tell you what happened to me at the barber shop last weekend. So I've been meaning to get my hair cut for more than a minute now, and as some of you know, even though I live in the Bronx, I still troop out to Brooklyn to see my old barber, Efrain Torres. I got up the energy last Saturday morning and made it to Brooklyn just after noon. The shop is run by a father and son (Ray and Macho) and my guy has a chair there too. A new woman has set up shop in the back to do stylings for the ladies, and she was all of a piece: her hair was colored dark-red/purple, and she wore about four different shades of maroon, including black slacks with red roses patterned up and down the legs.

Well, everyone was in high spirits what with New Year's Eve being that night and all. They had some bottles of booze ready to go for later on and were already dipping into the danish cookies that were laid out. The radio was playing old salsa tunes from the 1950's and '60s. A trio of beefy kids around my age--early-to-mid-thirties--were hanging around waiting to get their heads cut. They were old friends of Macho's and everyone was gas-bagging back-and-forth (they ordered Cuban sandwichs for lunch, and one of the guys, just along for the ride, made himself useful by sweeping up periodically). You know how conversation flows in the company of men. You go from rapid bursts of commentary--and in a barber shop, a good deal of bragging and boasting--to dead silence and back again.

As I was waiting my turn, I leafed through a magazine. Conversation had ceased, and everyone was either busy working or lost in their own thoughts. Suddenly, without really being aware of why, I put my magazine down and really started listening to a guitar solo on the radio that had been cooking for at least 30 seconds already. The music snapped up my attention without me being completely aware of it. The room seemed especially still, and not a moment later, Ray says, "Damn, this guy can play." Quickly, everyone else agreed, appreciating the fine musicianship. "Yo, this dude is ill." The rush of words from everyone was a real release. It was a small, but beautiful moment, a real guy thing. A group of guys coming together--not even consciously--by a piece of music, admiring it in silence, then breaking the tension, and clammoring about how great it was. Man, the power of music is just incredible isn't it?

Comments
2006-01-05 06:12:09
1.   The Mick 536
Makes me want to watch Barbershop or Shampoo.
2006-01-05 06:25:03
2.   unpopster
Alex,

Speaking of playing the guitar, this reminds me of the time that I met David Wells...

Back in '98, I worked at a major record label and one of the releases that I was working on was the great Ry Cooder collection of Cuban music, the Buena Vista Social Club. For those not familiar with these releases, Ry Cooder visited Cuba and collected the Afro-Cuban All-Stars, a group of legends from the tiny island that produced some of the most beautiful latin guitar-driven music you'd ever hear.

Well, to make a long story short, David Wells happened to be a close friend of one of my colleagues at the label. One day, David decided to stop by her office to say hello. I immediately decided to grab all the CD's from the Buena Vista collection, put them in a jiffy pouch along with a short note and my business card, and wrote Bernie Williams' name on the package. I walked over to David and asked him politely to pass the CDs on to Bernie, since I knew that bernie was a great guitar player, especially Latin guitar. David reluctantly obliged.

I never heard from Bernie or got any confirmation that he ever received the CD's.

Anyone want to speculate what Wells did with the package? My bet is that he opened it, noticed that Metallica wasn't one of the CD's, and threw it in the trash.

2006-01-05 07:21:43
3.   Cliff Corcoran
Okay, two responses.

1) Alex, any idea who or what you were listening to at the barbershop?

2) Unpopster, you had a better chance of Bernie getting those CDs had you simply sealed that package and mailed it to the Stadium. A much better chance. Might have even gotten a response from Bernie as well.

2006-01-05 07:26:28
4.   Alex Belth
Cliff, man, you know I don't. I know some of the latin/jazz guys like Mongo Santamaria, Eddie and Charlie Palmieri, Willie Bobo, Willie Colon, and Joe Cuba, but I didn't recognize hardly any of the cuts I heard that day. Thinking back on it now, I wish I had asked the older cats at the shop more about who was playing and what because these tracks were great. But I was just in one of those--rare for me--non-talkative moods...

You should check out Willie Bobo though. He played timpales, first with Tito Puente in New York, and then later, Mongo brought him out to San Francisco, in the mid-to-late fifties, where he played often with Cal Tjader. He eventually went solo, and his records have a lot of pop covers. They released "Uno, Dos, Tres," and "Spanish Grease" as a double cd a few years ago. That is a really good place to start...the songs remind me of Amsterdamn avenue when I was a kid in the late 70s and early 80s (even though the records are from the 60s).

2006-01-05 07:33:50
5.   Felix Heredia
Alex,

You have gone on a Journey Within.

2006-01-05 08:04:37
6.   joe in boston
Alex, great column. A couple thoughts come to mind immediately:

1. That column is precisely why BB is the first thing I read when I log on in the AM.

2. That day you experienced sounds like one of the joys of living in/near the city. That stuff just never seems to happen in the 'burbs.

3. In this hip-hop/rap world, how hard is it "find" those kind of experiences? No one seems to care or listen to anything else ? I teach high school and I'm 45. When I was a kid, it seemed like kids (other kids in my high school) were into EVERYTHING ! From Led Zep to Buddy Rich to Earth, Wind and Fire to Stones to Woody Herman. "Course, I was one of those "band geeks" into Maynard Fergeson, Chick Corea, etc.

It seems like at my high school (where I teach), all these suburban white kids listen to is hip/hop. Awful.

2006-01-05 08:10:33
7.   jkay
Alex,

There is a good barber on 231st if you do not want to trek to Bklyn. There is a writeup on this barber shop in the current edition of the Riverdale Press.

2006-01-05 08:24:27
8.   Alex Belth
Joe,
I can't speak about what kids are really listening to these days, though I am part of the first (second really) generation who grew up with rap music. I do know that you were part of a special time growing up in that commercial radio played such a wide variety of music. These days, regular radio is all pre-programmed and no matter what format you listen to, you are basically hearing the same cuts over and over again.

So there is less of a mixing of different contemporary styles. So these days, you have to hunt a little bit for more alternative music, and it seems like the genres are more varied that ever. It's not enough that you listen to "electronic music," but what category do you mean? Drum and bass, House, Deep House, Jungle, Techno? And that's not even Rock'n'Roll, or whatever Rock has morphed into these days. There are so many choices it's staggering. At the same time, you really have to be plugged-in to these worlds in order to follow them, because you just ain't going to hear it on the radio.

I've listened a little bit to XM radio, and although they've got everything compartmentalized too, at least there is some choice music to hear.

The thing with rap music is that now, it's mostly just pop music and dance music, and that's what kids are generally into. It's funny, but as mediocre as I think a lot of what you'd hear is, rap is very much like Rock'n'Roll in that it really seperates the generations. There aren't many guys your age--especially, not not soley white guys--that I know that like rap records.

Of course, white kids listening to black music is nothing new. It's as old as Jazz, and then R&B. "Animal House" in the 50s, groups like the Stones, etc. White kids idolizing, and in many manys, idealizing black music is a great American tradition. The fact that you see kids listening to rap to the exclusion of everything else I think is as much a product of the coroporate way that MTV and the radio stations work nowadays as much as anything else.

Face it, you grew up during a special time as far as American pop music was concerned. Then again, I grew up during the Golden Age of rap music (1986-1994). It's not to say that this isn't currently a great period for some kind of music, but I'm not in touch enough to know what that would be. But the bottom line is, the more money that is involved, the less chances these big companies--and I'd include movie studios in this too--who make records and sell and play records, are going to be truly creative. These companies are run by executives who are looking at the bottom line. Which isn't to romantically suggest that in the "old days" they weren't trying to make money--of course they were. But when things are starting out for southern R&B with Stax records in the sixties, or with Def Jam and rap records in the early eighties, there is a lot of experimenting and creative pioneering going on.

Once they make it big, it's really hard to maintain the same level of quality.

2006-01-05 08:42:58
9.   sabernar
The sad state of current music is one of the reasons that I've been stocking up on old jazz albums (i.e. vinyl). I like waking up on a Sunday morning, leafing through the vinyl, and maybe choosing a Coltrane or Lockjaw Davis or Getz or Sinatra or whatever, and listen as the needle slowly winds it's way to the center of the album. The snaps and crackles, the experience of having to get up and flip the album to the 2nd side, it really makes one appreciate the music so much more.
2006-01-05 08:51:45
10.   Shawn Clap
My drummer & I met David Wells at a Circle Jerks show at Irving Plaza in like 2001 or 2002. It was the winter when he came back to the Yanks. He was there to see the opening act (some awful girl band). Being a dirty punkrock show, no one knew (or cared) about David Wells.

He was alone at the bar so we sat with him, welcomed him back to NY, had a drink and gave him our CD. He emailed a few days later and said he dug it, especially the song "Britney Spears Must Die!"

Nice guy and apparently knows good music when he hears it! Ha!

www.hellfireboysclub.tk

2006-01-05 10:03:19
11.   vockins
I was in Blue and Gold on 7th between 1st and 2nd about nine years ago, on a weekend. It was appropriately crowded for an East Village bar on the weekend. The crowd wasn't as diverse as say, the UN General Assembly or anything, but it was a pretty mixed bag. Everyone's in their own world, enjoying their conversation, working, etc. A typical, normal bar scene.

Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" came on the jukebox. One of the guys playing pool became motivated to play air guitar on a pool cue with Tony Iommi. The guy had a lot of hair and gave a pretty convincing performance (although, in retrospect, he looked more like Geezer Butler than Iommi. whatever), so much so that his buddy, also blessed with a great deal of hair, was motivated to join him on air drums, holding two pool cues as drum sticks. He came in with the first Bill Ward fill - TCHAK/BOOM/TCHAK/BOOM/TCHAK/BOOM/TCHAK - hair flying.

These guys had the entire bar's attention by now. In four seconds!

So those familiar with the song know that the riff repeats once after the Ward intro fill. Then the whole of the bar, the entire bar, every single patron to the man, came in with:

"HAS HE LOST HIS MIND

CAN HE SEE, OR IS HE BLIND?"

It was absolutely deafening. One guy started doing a Frankenstein routine. Everyone was cramping up laughing in between verses. People started coming in off the street, either confused or elated.

One of my favorite NYC moments for sure.

2006-01-05 10:10:41
12.   murphy
transcendent music moment:

a few years ago, i was doing an exercise with a 3rd grade class. we would listen to an INSTRUMENTAL piece of music with our heads covered and the lights off, and when it was over, we'd write down what the song made us imagine, and, then, share our responses. on this APRIL morning, after hearing a piece, i had three students (sitting no closer then 15 ft to one another) write down the following:

student 1: driving to my grandma's on thanksgiving.
student 2: november
student 3: thanksgiving dinner.

the name of the piece (by a completely unknown artist the kids would have never heard): thanksgiving. something in the song (with no words!) communicated the idea so clearly that it got through to kids.

as a white kid who grew up in the burbs (and i am 28 to give you guys some perspective on when) teaching music to a largely latino middle school population in Brooklyn, i think i can offer up some well-researched comments.

1) while children do not generally develop their own taste in music (rather its sold to them by BET, MTV, Hot97 etc - or their friends who watch BET, MTV etc), this can be manipulated and used to one's (my) advantage. see: kids will listen to anything they feel knowledgable about. if you tell them everything there is to know about Queen or David Bowie, they will give it an honest go, and, more likely than not, enjoy it. if you throw something at them with no prior knowledge, they will assume (especially when played by a white guy twice their age ;)) that the music will suck, and, thus, hate it. it's all about framing the music in some sort of experience. sure, we are all more comfortable with/interested in things familiar, but kids are especially succeptable (sp?) to media/prior knowledge experiences.

2) i think it's important for kids to understand music in a non-genre-identity fashion. they need to understand that there are other things that should determine their reaction/eventual classification of music. groups like outkast and the flaming lips (especially yoshmi battles the pink robots) really help this along.

3) kids will listen to any song in which the vocals are loudest, drums are second loudest, and has great all-around fidelity.

4) parents: play your kids EVERYTHING. make my job easier.

if anyone ever wants to talk about this stuff (because i could endlessly), drop me a line.

2006-01-05 10:40:32
13.   joe in boston
Murphy - great story !

Alex, interesting comments. Good "food for thought". Growing up in the 70s for me (as I look back) WAS a great time for music, whether it was on the radio (Rock, Jazz, great college stations in the area, etc) or on albums. All we talked about was music it seemed like. Who was this bands drummer, what the album cover looked like, what song did they open up (in concert). I'm not sure kids do that as much any more.

Someone recently wrote a great editorial up here (I think it was in the Boston Globe). In it, they wrote about the downside of IPods. You lose certain cool things like finding a rare song on the other side of the album that you just LOVE (and never would have listened to if you just downloaded the one song that you like), the layout, meaning or order of the tracks, the artwork in album/CD covers, etc....

Food for thought.

2006-01-05 10:52:45
14.   vockins
"All we talked about was music it seemed like. Who was this bands drummer, what the album cover looked like, what song did they open up (in concert). I'm not sure kids do that as much any more."

They do! Often!

2006-01-05 10:54:02
15.   Alex Belth
Yeah, Joe, the days of albums are long gone...same in the comedy field too. Kids have so much more to talk about these days...the Internet, video games, music videos, downloads, i-pods, etc. I mean, it's such a different world, with so much more stimulus.

Great post Murph. Thanks for that.

2006-01-05 10:54:08
16.   Alex Belth
Yeah, Joe, the days of albums are long gone...same in the comedy field too. Kids have so much more to talk about these days...the Internet, video games, music videos, downloads, i-pods, etc. I mean, it's such a different world, with so much more stimulus.

Great post Murph. Thanks for that.

2006-01-05 11:06:55
17.   joe in boston
Yeah Vockins, I guess you're right. I teach in a pretty wealthy, all white suburb of Boston. I also teach Math, so my contact with the music world isn't what it used to be. The majority of my kids are way to into the people in People magazine if you know what I mean....
2006-01-05 11:11:23
18.   joe in boston
'Course I meant "too" and not "to"... us math teachers are somewhat literate...
2006-01-05 11:18:06
19.   Cliff Corcoran
A counter to Joe's iPod musing: though I don't own an iPod, I do listen to MP3s on shuffle on my laptop and on my non-Apple MP3 player, and do so largely so that the shuffle function will dig up tracks I wouldn't have otherwise put on. I'm a huge fan of the album format, but my record collection has grown to such a size, and grows at such a rate, that I have trouble really internalizing album-sized bites of new things I pick up, so I load them all into shuffle (the full albums) and let it find the gems for me. I find it much easier to get hooked on a new artist that way. Once a shuffle-picked track piques my interest, then I break out the corresponding album proper.
2006-01-05 11:33:31
20.   murphy
it's the same way in the city, joe (kids diggin on celebrity rather musician).

glad to see this discussed here today (thanks, alex). i just worked a bit of it into a discussion with a seventh grade class.

as a mp3 person, i am with cliff (but i DO own an iPod). i generally still DO listen to full albums, but it gets difficult when you are trying to take in a whole bunch of stuff. for example: i am trying to plow through everybody's "best of 05" lists, and it's tricky to commit the time to listening all 40someodd albums. so i make a playlist of all of them and listen to it on shuffle. if something grabs my ear, i make a point of it to listen to that record as a whole at the next chance i get.

that being said, though, i am still an album guy through and through.

2006-01-05 12:07:26
21.   joe in boston
I remember coming home with an Edgar Winter album, "They only come out at night" I think, with a cover that made my mom and dad sit me down for a "talk". I think Johnny Winter - albino - was on the cover with makeup on. They were worried about me ! I think some Alice Cooper and David Bowie, and of course KISS, had them very worried..... Good memories !
2006-01-05 12:47:06
22.   vockins
joe in boston:

I used to teach in Manhattan and Westchester. I had plenty of kids from both places that were not only talking about great music, but were making great music. Maybe I was lucky. One kid got signed (and subsequently dropped) by Bad Boy, and I ran into another that was on tour while I was out on tour myself!

There were plenty of Us magazine type students, too, but no more than I remember from when I was in high school.

I've only got one problem with the kids - they're not freaking me out! I'm twice their age. Everybody looks like the kids I went to high school with. They've got tshirts on of bands I listened to in high school - that their parents listened to! That's not right.

Kids - get to work on freaking me out already!

2006-01-05 13:06:43
23.   brockdc
Alex and Joe,

As a good friend of mine (a huge old-school hip-hop head) says, when referring to the sad state of art, "Everything good and true gets co-opted." I think, to a large degree, he's right. Though hip-hop has always been known for braggadocio in its lyrics, part of its essence has been corrupted by corporate necessity, i.e., the bottom line. Like you said, Alex, major record companies are far less likely to take a risk on an unproven sound than they are on, say, a new and shitty P.Diddy CD.

This is unfortunate, though there are still many avenues for music afficionados to get their fix these days. I listen to Rhapsody online. Though it does compartmentalize genres (indie rock, underground hip-hop, et. al), it's a good way to hear not just little known artists, but also b-sides and rarities of more prominent artists as well.

I heart Bronx Banter.

2006-01-05 13:29:55
24.   Sliced Bread
Alex, your story reminds me of my favorite barber shop music experience which occurred several years ago when I was living in Los Angeles.

I was loyal to a Mexican barber shop in my hipster neighborhood, Silver Lake (smack between Dodger Stadium and the Hollywood sign), but there was absolutely nothing L.A. hipster about this place.

It was near the end of a shopping center, wedged between a Kentucky Fried Chicken joint, and some drugstore chain.

Ten bucks for a great haircut, and access to a library of National Geographic magazines dating back to the late 1960's.

I looked forward to waiting for my turn in the chair, half-listening to the usual barber shop b.s., and flipping through the National Geographic time capsules.

All the barbers were Mexican, and I think only one of them spoke English. My favorite barber (who sported a pompadour) did not speak English, but he faked it well enough, and I sort of comprehended enough Spanglish that we could make barbersop small talk.

They had an old cassette deck in the place that apparently would only play Mexican mariachi music (or some sub-genre of mariachi). I was advised that this trusty machine would probably reject or eat any tape containing something other than "old school" mariachi.

After going to this shop for about a year, I learned that my favorite barber had been a boxer when he was young. I saw pictures of his pretty wife, and beautiful daughter. We could barely converse, but I considered him a friend.

One day, maybe two years into patronizing this barber shop, I was in the chair, and the Mexican music was playing as always in the background, and I noticed there was a singer accompanying the band.

The singer had a strong voice, and seemed to be doing a fine job on this mariachi ballad.

I was impressed enough to ask my barber who was the singer on the tape, somebody famous? No, it was him, (at least that's what he told me!) in a rare vocal performance with his mariachi band.

Back in NY now, my Hells Kitchen barber doesn't sing, not that I know of, but you never know what hidden talents your barber might have, unless you ask.

2006-01-05 14:10:06
25.   NetShrine
Man, the shit you miss when you are follically challenged!
2006-01-05 14:20:14
26.   sabernar
I agree with the whole losing-the-album problem in this day and age. Personally, when I download music, I ONLY download albums. Downloading to individual songs just doesn't seem 'right' to me somehow. I rarely play my Powerbook on shuffle except on the rarest occasion (i.e. background music to a party). Then again, I'm the guy up above who said he buys and listens to old vinyl as often as I can. (I've been loving finding the odd great song on the B side of an album, or better yet, I've bought a couple of large lots of jazz albums on ebay for < $2/album and have found some great old albums of guys I've never heard of and never would have bought before). And in case you're wondering, I'm 35 years old.
2006-01-05 14:28:11
27.   vockins
Sounds like Alex and Cliff might have to organize a Bronx Banter field trip to Princeton Record Exchange or the WFMU fair.
2006-01-05 15:04:44
28.   Upperdeck
Excellent stuff, guys.

Vockins, I was just going to tell everyone about WFMU. I grew up in the 'burbs. Had terrible taste in music untill I found WFMU. Anyone who's not familiar with it should check it out. You can listen from anywhere.
www.wfmu.org

2006-01-05 17:24:01
29.   Max
As usual, Alex delivers some dynamite reading and stimulates a wonderful exchange in the comments here.

With that said, even though I agree with some of the specific points raised here regarding modern radio and the decline of albums, I still tend to roll my eyes at the "music isn't as good as it was in the old days" schtick.

There have been endless variants on this type of moaning in many art and entertainment categories (music, movies, TV, etc)...the worst of it comes from baby boomers (and I'm at the tail end of that category) who seem hopelessly obsessed with the music of their youth. The big music labels have certainly done their part to make a lot of popular music less interesting, but generational narcissism has played its part as well.

I'm with Alex in feeling that '86-'94 was the peak of hip hop (though I might even move the timeline back, because I loved the 12 inch singles and the gradual breakdown of racial barriers in musical genres that fermented then), but as bad as all the faux "hard" stuff has been for rap, I still find there are nuggets out there...even entire albums (not as many as in the "old days" I admit). I'm as enamored with Kanye and Outkast now as I was with the Jungle Brothers and Rakim back in the day.

And there are artists in all types of genres still producing good entire CDs...I still buy a lot of CDs and download just as many albums online as well.

It's fascinating to watch my daughter's music library evolve as she continues to download stuff to her new iPod. Everything from old Queen and bon Jovi (yuck) to Jay-Z and various R&B pop songs. She's young enough that she doesn't know what she's NOT supposed to listen to from a genre perspective. And she likes the be-bop and '70s and '80s R&B and Hank Williams and gospel and other weird stuff the grown-ups listen to from time to time as well.

I suspect that will change as she evolves into late teenhood, but I would love to see her eclecticism and tolerance for multiple musical genres and cultures continue, rather than embracing the insularity of a particular sub-genre (alt-rock, death metal, gangsta rap) just for the sake of being cool. I'm still amazed at some of the coded racism I see in comments from people in my generation about the merits of hip-hop, which has been a lively genre of music for over 20 years.

2006-01-05 17:50:44
30.   Nick from Washington Heights
Max, if I coulda said what you said, I woulda.
2006-01-05 18:11:34
31.   Strike4
Man's love of music and barber shops have always gone together. Must be how barber shop quartets got so popular. Of course, male bonding and music leads to singing together, witness "Afternoon Delight" in Anchorman.
2006-01-05 18:33:34
32.   Alex Belth
WFMU is indeed something to check out if you haven't already and are seriously interested in exploring new worlds of music. I first heard about it when I worked for the Coen brothers in the mid-90s and Ethan and his wife had tons of stickers and magnets all over the place. FMU had a relatively weak signal I think coming out of New Jersey, but once I became aware of it, I noticed that they had a real following.

My good friend Steve Stein, aka Steinski, who co-produced the legendary DJ cut-and-paste "Lesson" records in the 1980s, is great pals with a lot of the FMU heads. He's done mix shows for them and the whole bit. Stein's got a sick record collection, you know, over 20,000 vinyl lps, or something ri-fuggin-diculous like that. I asked him once what he's going to do with all of them once he's no longer with us--and in his early fifties, I don't expect him to be going nowhere's for a good while--and he said, it was already taken care of. He is going to donate it all to FMU. That shows you the type of devotion the station attracts. It's the afficiando's spot, and a real cultural force for music.

Again, I'm not speaking as much from first-hand experience listening to the station as I am in how monumental the place has been for a bunch of people I know. But judging from their takes, the place is a veritable goldmine, especially for new or obscure or weird records you may have never heard.

I have been to the WFMU record shows in New York several times, and boy, you can go broke there in a minute. I've got a good friend who co-runs one of the more exclusive hip-hop, rare-soul and groove record shops in New York, and he and his guys are always at that show, which has something for everyone interested in records, not simply rap fans. In fact, last show I went to--this must have been four or five years ago now--I picked up a Tom Terrific Seaver spoken word album for cheap simply because I liked the cover (the record itself is dull as dirt).

Princeton Record Exchange? Man, my boy Stein goes out there for the day, brings his knee pads and goes to work, digging in the crates. I have to admit, I'm not record digger. First of all, even though I've got a decent record collection, I spend all my extra loot on baseball books these days. Secondly, man, real record heads are just a breed apart. I remember going to A-1 Records in the east village in 1996 with my friend Mike from uptown who introduced me to that whole scene. So we go in there, and I look through a couple of bins, make some conversation with one of the guys working behind the counter, and I was basically done. Too much dust for me, bro. But man, Mike got down on his knees and went through all of the crates on the floor, spent an hour combing through them, and comes up with a $2 copy of BDP's "By Any Means Necessary."

And he would have been happy going through all that work for bubkus. Right then and there I knew I'd never be a real record head. Me, I'm just into the music. I don't need the artifact, I just want to hear the shit.

2006-01-05 19:38:01
33.   vockins
Re: record collecting

1. Just this year I noticed I was recognizing, and being recognized, by people in record stores/flea markets in Los Angeles that I had seen in record stores/flea markets in Portland, Cleveland, Austin, etc. I felt like maybe I needed a twelve step program after realizing that. Then I found a mono "Axis: Bold As Love" and an Ethiopians record and I kept digging.

2. I recommend the movie "Scratch" for anybody that wants a window into turntablism, record collecting, and breaks. That movie made my Mom a hip hop fan. I love the scene where the kid drops the needle on the first track on ZZ Top's "Tejas", leaves it for about fifteen seconds to piss off/confuse the crowd, then cuts to the break and brings the house down. So cool.

3. Also highly recommended is the documentary "Desperate Man Blues" about Joe Bussard, king of the record collectors. Actually, I think that the name of the doumentary might be something else, but the DVD is called "Desperate Man Blues". Bussard has the finest 78 collection in the land. A real character.

4. Princeton Record Exchange is A-1, but there's a great store in Danbury, CT called Trash American Style that has great turnover, fair prices, and is all over the board in selection.

I'm gonna quit typing before I get my ip banned. I can talk records longer than I can talk Yankees, and this ain't "Record Collector Banter".

2006-01-05 19:52:09
34.   murphy
holy shit, alex! you're friends with stein?!?! i play lessons 1-3 for my kids every year at school.

also: i have literally spent over $5000 at the princeton record exchange since college.

2006-01-05 19:58:46
35.   Max
Re #30, Nick, thanks for the props.

vockins, you read my mind. I was just thinking about Alex's comments about record heads, because I've flirted with being one but could never really get into the collector mentality...even though I've seen a lot of vinyl and breathed in a lot of dust. I was just never into buying something for the sake of having it...at some level, whatever I buy has to be listenable. All the jazz guys and the endless alternate takes they have to have of a performance...too much.

I thought about "Ghost World" and Steve Buscemi and the pathetic lot of 78 collectors in the movie...but I also thought of "Scratch", and the love of vinyl expressed by so many cool turntablists. I swear I got chills watching DJ Shadow communicate the passion of what he does.

Anyway, you're right though...this ain't Vinyl Banter, so we need to let Alex reclaim this space for baseball. :-)

2006-01-05 20:42:23
36.   Jen
WFMU rocks! A friend of the family is on a show on Sundays, The Glen Jones Radio Programme featuring X-Ray Burns (he's X-Ray). I also recommend Greasy Kids Stuff on Saturday mornings if you're in the mood for kid's music that adults will also like.
2006-01-06 05:09:24
37.   Rob S
"With that said, even though I agree with some of the specific points raised here regarding modern radio and the decline of albums, I still tend to roll my eyes at the "music isn't as good as it was in the old days" schtick."

Yes, yes. I suspect that I'm older than many of you (54) but in my experience there is always something good going on musically. The thing is that you need to find it for yourself, because (normal) radio sure isn't going to do it for you. The WFMUs of the world are a great help.

One of the great things about the 60s was the local bands on tiny little labels (Sam the Sham, Count 5's "Psychotic Reaction") that suddenly became Top Ten. As has been stated here, there is too much $ involved now for that to happen, due in part to the fact that the audience is so much bigger. Guns'n'Roses (with what, 3 albums?) sold more albums than the Beatles.

Pitchers & catchers in 5 weeks!

2006-01-06 06:18:23
38.   Alex Belth
Murph, shoot me an e-mail and I'll see if I can't hook you up with some Steinski stuff...I'll let you know what he's up to these days, etc.
2006-01-06 10:41:02
39.   Upperdeck
BTW You can listen to WFMU from anywhere. They have an excellent website where you can listen online or download shows.
2006-01-06 11:20:55
40.   its430
Here's another two cents:

This business about listening to entire records versus singles and playlists is interesting on many fronts. Of course there is the generational aspect: For records and cassette tapes it was much harder to isolate and repeat individual tracks. CDs and MP3s make that much easier which is both good and bad. However, I think once you have committed yourself to either a specific artist/genre you become interested in finding those little nuggets of rare and interesting tracks one way or another. The iTunes music store is just a way to find an artist/genre to further explore.

Just while reading this discussion, the symmetry between this (above) topic and whether the radio has value anymore became a little clearer to me. Check this out: According to the older folks (sorry) old-school radio (and the occasional barbershop today) was good for finding those unknown bands right? In other words, in listening to the radio you were looking for new music. I would agree, the newer (ClearChannel) way of radio business has changed radically, probably for the worst. Because, now people just listen to the radio for their favorite spoonfed songs.

There is still hope and opportunity though. Podcasts, MP3 blogs, those crazy parties where people are invited to act as dj with their iPods, and even baseball discussion boards can prove useful in continuing the search for quality, personally appealing music. Don't give up on the radio either, as WFMU and my personal favorite, KEXP out of Seattle (www.kexp.org), can attest.

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