Okay, I went around to a few record stores in hvd sq today, looking for Stooges marginalia and whatever else might turn up. Here, as anywhere, there are two kinds of record stores: Big chain stores, and little cramped places.

The little cramped places have less selection, but they usually have used records (out of print stuff, mmm . . .), and best of all they have long-haired, ill-groomed, geeky-looking people behind the counter who, like, really care waaayy too much about records. I dig those people. I'm on their wavelength. In CD Spins on Church Street, they were playing Sister Lovers by Big Star when I went in there today (it was on "Holocaust"). How cool is that! Yeah, I was basically suicidal by the time I left the store, but never mind. It's a cool record to be into. And that's cool. I few weeks ago, I bought a Kingsmen compilation there, and the guy behind the counter said "Whoa! Cool! I didn't know we had that!" Another time I bought a recent reissue of The Snake by Shane MacGowan, which has a couple more songs on it than the import I got when it was released; I discussed this issue with the guy who rang it up, and he grokked, he understood why I was buying a second copy of a record I already had. These people don't always have the smoldering eyes of fanaticism, but they like stuff and they're not ashamed of it. Far better the light of fanaticism than no light at all. In Your Ear on Mount Auburn Street is even cooler, because they've been around much longer. It's basically a midden in a basement, and they've still got a lot of vinyl. CD Spins has no vinyl because they're only a couple of years old.

Not all tiny little record stores are staffed by ill-groomed freaks who know who played bass on which Stooges record (my people), but the odds are good.

Then you've got Newbury Comics (which is a record store chain here in New England), HMV, Tower, etc. The only Tower I ever go to is actually okay: It's in Burlington, MA, half a mile from a vast Sun Microsystems campus. It might be the vast geekiness of Sun being so close, or it might be the suburban thing, but they don't give me a hipper-than-thou vibe when I go in there. Even the teenage hipsters in the Newbury Comics across the parking lot from that Tower are . . . tolerable. Usually.

But if you give a flying fuck about music and/or you're not a goddamn affectless teenage hipster yourself, don't expect the morons at HMV or Newbury Comics in Harvard Square to treat you like a goddamn human being. I bought a Modern Lovers thing in Newbury Comics today (Live at the Longbranch and More, very cool; I'll have to do a writeup) and the benoseringed bimbo behind the counter laughed at it and rolled her eyes. Um, what? Hello? Hey, I can deal with that. I've been treated worse by inferiors and lived.

It was The HMV Incident that really set me off. (8/25/00: see Update below) They were playing some kind of groovy techno thing over the speakers, except it didn't suck! It just didn't suck at all. In fact, I liked it: It was just percolating and bloopitting and blopitting along and it was very pretty. So when I went up to the counter with my chosen item (Head On, late Stooges: The usual Detroit Rehearsal Tapes material, and one and a half more CDs worth of stuff it turned out I've already got, dammit, but mislabeled), uh, as I was saying, I went up to the counter to buy this record, and there was this, like, trés world-weary young sophisticate back there, and darned if he hadn't just seen it all and done it all and retired to devote the remainder of his natural span to hair care and expensive eyeglasses (and to operating a cash register in a record store, of course: A common hobby among the glitterati of Europe and Japan). One of these kids who's just so bored by it all, eh? One of those dead-eyed, affectless, fashionable ones. So I asked him the name of the record that was playing. I said, in a clear and pleasant voice, "What is the name of this record? It's like, techno, but it doesn't suck."

He gazed at a point above my left shoulder, and very quietly replied "Unnnmdnfh ndhmf".

Heh. Okay, so I said, "It sounded like you said the word 'Underworld'. Is that correct?"


"Is that correct? 'Underworld'?"


" 'Underworld'. Is that the name of the people who made the record, or is that the name of the record itself?"

"Umfnmd . . . rcfd".

"The people who made the record?"

"Ymnfnf". He was getting quieter and quieter, almost visibly receding.

"Was that a 'yes'? If so, what is the name of the record?"

He clammed up. I couldn't get him to respond to any stimuli at all after that. I think the polite thing for me to have done there would have been to climb over the counter and pound his delicately coiffed head against the floor half a dozen times. He was taller than me and probably weighed as much, but he didn't seem to have the killer instinct. I betcha I coulda kicked his ass.

The depressing thing is that in a proper record store, walking up the counter with Stooges marginalia is as good as bringing them cookies. This is what record stores are all about. This poor idiot, this dismal hipster working in a record store 'cause he's too cool to work at the 7-11, has about as much business being in a record store as my grandparents have. He was totally. . . fucking . . . clueless. Probably never even heard of the Stooges. And with a chip on his shoulder. Jesus Christ.

Maybe I'll stomp him next time. Nah, the counter's too high. I'd get stuck climbing over it and look like an ass.

Update 8/25/00 regarding the HMV Incident: I was back there this evening and the same kid was behind the counter. He still looked like an ass, but he behaved very normally and pleasantly. I suspect he just had a hangover the first time, and that's perfectly understandable. I'm leaving the above writeup intact because it seems to amuse people and all, but we should bear in mind that it does a grave injustice to the Young Man with Stupid Eyeglasses.

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