Sunday, December 19, 2010

Clef notes and Nor Cal

For some reason whenever I’m in San Fransisco with my dad we go music shopping. We’d rummage through endless piles of misplaced talent and cast away dreams salvaging only the best we could find in a whole half hour. We were maniacs and it showed. We used to go to the Tower Records not too far from the marina. The seagulls squawked and pacific mists would dissolve with California sun. We always seemed to go in the afternoon. The place was great, layers and layers of world and local tunes. Rock and Pop for days with whispers of bluegrass in the back. I’d chase names I knew, covers I liked, and radio tunes. My dad went straight for the classical. Back then there were two tower records stores. One massive house of music accompanied but a smaller more digestible store offering orchestras and opera. He always started there and joined me next door to do the heavy lifting. We’d fill a grocery store sized hand basket to the brim and cruise the isles. Checkouts were great. Cashiers earning their wages and a satisfied but impatient pops taking his time to listen to each and every sales pitch. He’d always wind up with a shirt neither of us would ever wear. He would laugh and I would shake my head approvingly. We would share songs on the way home and talk about old time greats. Alas all good times change. The internet got a hold of the music industry and soon our sacred Tower Records feel into bankruptcy. Both Stores.

So we adapted and starting going to Amoeba Records in the Height Ashbury region. The streets are lined with the crazy and the carefree. Hippie history and laid back dogs. Kids laughing and parents remembering. It’s a cool vibe down there. The store only makes it better. Huge and less organized it starts out with a row of check out counters and opens up with an enormous foreground of shiny cd’s. The ceilings are high and the corners sport big fisheye mirrors. With those things you can see the whole place with your back to it. A sight my ears can enjoy. It’s a different spot but the same game with the same rules. “Go until your hands are full, see you in a half hour.” The blues section is real deep there. All the way to the right you’ll find the rocking chairs and whiskey drinkers. The heavy hearts and the badass smiles. On the upper level there’s sizeable room where they still sell vinyls. I don’t have a record player so I don’t bother. I bet I’d have fun in there. The people always seem stoked. After a ride through the reggae and the peek at the jazz I’ll meet up with a struggling but happy father. I do the lifting these days. We glance at some new releases and have a gander at the gadgets before confronting an innocent cashier. He still listens to the promotions and we still get a shirt.

Our retail aftermath sounds like the rolling stones and storytelling. Rides home are painted orange and glow strong from the sea. We sing the afternoon to sleep.

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