The first record store I ever really loved was an unforgiving shithole in Adams Morgan, DC, called DC CD. They sold independent music, which wasn’t true of most other places in the city, but they almost certainly didn’t have the album you went there looking for, which meant – to avoid walking away empty-handed after a long Metro ride, I ended up spending hundreds of dollars there on totally random shit by bands I’d heard of but never actually listened to like (memorably) Galaxie 500 or Karate or Low or, failing that, anything that had appealing album art or a cool name.
This was in no way a bad thing.
DC CD closed down sometime in the early aughts, partially because it was really not a very good record store, and by that time I had learned to love some other, shinier and better stocked emporiums – notably Rasputin Records in Berkeley and Plan 9 in Richmond, VA – but I still think of DC CD when I think about how much I miss shopping at record stores. The very best ones were the ones that had just the right imperfections.
Let’s do 20 more songs from the list:
I awake this morning with a disturbing feeling that I am not quite myself. A common enough occurrence, certainly, but this time the impression is not dissociative – that of being “other” or alien – it is a distinct and unshakeable sense that I am somebody else in particular. That I am – to be specific – hip hop impresario-turned-actor/entrepreneur Sean “Puffy” Combs.
Stopping only to reach for my spectacles, I leave the house in a hurry, my addled morning thoughts beginning to coalesce around a fully formed idea: Tonight, I shall make my mark.
But such a bold endeavor requires careful preparation. Hence, today’s agenda:
Note to self: Keep moving until the friction causes electricity.
Note to the musicians: Play louder! For tonight, we go to war, and we will not rest until the rosy glow of dawn blesses our victory. Time may pass, yes, but what use have we for keeping time when we can keep company? The revels of this night shall never end. Never.
Paradoxically, I have no real obligations or worries, but I do have an abundance of alcoholic beverages on my person, which are themselves both an obligation and a concern. And I am destitute. I am penniless and broken, but I am present in myself.
Now, the men come – compelled no doubt by my (outward) confidence. But unless their faces are wrinkled and drawn – broken in a thousand places by the excesses of reckless youth; carious and worn, with pouting lips and sunken eyes like those of Sir Michael Philip Jagger, lead vocalist of The Rolling Stones – then I have no time for them. They hold no interest for me.
Perhaps I have not made myself clear. Picture this:
A wild, orgiastic beat drives us into a state of ecstasy. Crowds of men reach, acquisitively, for my genitals, but I rebuff them with increasing violence. As we begin to give way to the pounding of the drums and the irresistable allure of darkness and chaos, the authorities arrive without warning and attempt, desperately, to hold back the massive storm of flesh and rage and flesh and music that threatens, no – that promises – to envelop us all forever…
Now, the party don’t start ’til I walk in.
The first real rock concert I ever went to (pace The Beach Boys sans Brian Wilson c. 1987 … with my parents) was Perry Farrell’s third Lollapalooza at Charlestown Racetrack, West Virginia, in 1993.
Rage Against the Machine opened, followed by Front 242, Arrested Development, Fishbone, Dinosaur Jr., and Alice in Chains, with Primus as the headliner. I can’t say that any of those bands really went on to be a big part of my life (except probably Dinosaur Jr.) but the experience was more or less ecstatic. Like, the life-affirming, revelatory, kick-ass good time that I had watching bands play for 8 hours at Charlestown Racetrack on August 3, 1993, with my friends Carlos and Charlie and Peter and Alfonso was in a perfect inverse proportion to the grim, sweaty journey into hell that Alfonso’s mother had on that same day – waiting outside the venue amongst a hundred angry, ticketless alterna-punks with hairdos to make sure we were OK and didn’t do drugs or have heatstroke or just drop dead on the spot from the sheer chaos and strangeness of it all. When we found her after Primus’s set, she was in tears and inexplicably standing on the back of a pickup truck frantically waving her arms in the air.
For a couple of years after that I was obsessed with mosh pits (when you are only four feet tall, the mechanics of this are really weird). And crowd-surfing (we called it “swimming”? I’m certain this is true. Fishbone had a song about it). Here are 20 more songs from the list:
Trixie thought more about James. She was so confused: They had Frenched last night, and it had been very sexy, but she was in love with Xavier, who had a mustache. To think, just one week ago, she was afraid that she would never fall in love again because of how her one true love Andy Alistair had died or something of tuberculosis or being lost at sea, and yet now here she was, in love with two men at the same time – one dangerous and erratic but with a mustache and the other kind and nurturing but a bit boring but also handsome and good at Frenching. What was she to do?
She sank deeper into her bubblebath, the bubbles bubbling around her like the stormy chaos of her newly awakened passion. Why couldn’t love be like it was like in the storybooks? She had always believed that love would be a nice thing, like swimming with dolphins, but this was a darker feeling, more primal somehow, as if the dolphins (in this particular metaphor) were sharks, or, like, still dolphins but with shark teeth: sholphins. Darks. Dolpharks. Playful but sharp. But so anyway, then she fell asleep and she had this dream that Xavier was a vampire and that he tried to bite her but then James saved her and his shirt got ripped so that pecs again, but how maybe she had actually wanted to get bitten by the vampire and part of her – a part of her she never knew existed – was maybe just a little bit angry with James for rescuing her. What was that all about? Was she going crazy? So weird.