I was in Los Angeles on Record Store Day, but I didn’t go anywhere near a record store on Saturday. This is the second year I’ve been out of town with my publications students on the annual event. And though both times, 2015 in Denver, and 2016 in L.A. I made a point of getting to record stores, but also studiously avoided RSD. Why? Too much hype over too few records of interest, too costly, and too big a pain in the ass. I saw the releases, and I don’t feel like I missed out on a thing.
We always fly into our convention on Thursday, with nothing to do until the evening, so we packed our students off to Hollywood, specifically all the tourista stuff on Hollywood Blvd. Walk of Fame, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the highly anticipated Museum of Death, all the good stuff. My partner and I turned the kids loose for three hours, went to have lunch and the topic of Amoeba Music came up. Amoeba Music is one of the largest new/used media stores in the country, and it turned out only a 20 minute walk from California Pizza Kitchen.
I walked over to Sunset Blvd and checked it out, without expectations. It is, without question, huge. I could have spent hours there, but I didn’t. Lots of new and reissued vinyl. Though I don’t necessarily avoid the sealed new stuff, I always have more fun looking at vintage records. Not as much of this in the neatly organized vinyl sections. Rather there are lots of end caps and sections labeled “new arrivals” I pawed through a few of these sections and found a few albums: 1971’s Randy Newman Live, Back to the Bars by Todd Rundgren, with its Hipgnosis cover, and White City by Pete Townshend. I paid less than thirteen bucks for the lot–all good condition with nice covers.
On Friday afternoon, as my students were participating in write-off competitions, Patti and I walked down to the Last Bookstore. We’d talked about doing this in planning for our convention activities. It was about two thirds of a mile from the convention hotel. It was a gorgeous LA late afternoon so we made the trek. I knew they had a selection of used vinyl as well as lots of new and used books, so I was anxious to see. Honestly it was disappointing. Much less than Amoeba-or for that matter High Voltage or Easy Street or most Puget Sound area used record stores. Generally less interesting stuff too. I did pick up a very nice copy of Elegy by the Nice with it’s gorgeous Hipgnosis cover. I’ve wanted a nice copy of this anthology for some time. I also grabbed a copy of Argybargy, the 1980 record by the British band Squeeze. I always liked their music and wanted to try out an album.Together they were twelve bucks in nice condition. I also picked up a copy of Patti Smith’s memoir, Just Kids, which I am very immersed in. It’s a great read.
A very enjoyable trip to L.A. My students enjoyed it. I was truly surprised at the beauty of downtown Los Angeles. We traipsed around large sections of it and I was impressed. The records were nice, but kind of an unplanned bonus. That I avoided Record Store Day, with all its craziness, made it that much better.