Sunday, February 21, 2010

Do all fat men look alike? Bison, Chris Walter, and a Vancouver record store note

Waiting for a bus to take me away from the Bison gig the other night - see my new interview with Bison here - I found myself approached by a punk who asked me if I was "one of the geniuses that work at Audiopile," a commercial drive record store where I sometimes shop. It's possible that he had simply seen me chatting there with someone and mistaken me for staff, but I've got the sneaking suspicion that he mistook me for the proprietor, the spelling of whose name is likely either Geoff or Jeff (given the nature of this post, I won't be calling him to ask!). Now it is true, that Geoff/Jeff and myself share certain attributes: we both have facial hair, we both are gettin' kinda baldish up top, and we're both record geeks. But we also have various dissimilarities: Geoff/Jeff has blondish-brown hair, whereas mine is quite dark; Geoff/Jeff wears spectacles, whereas I do not; Geoff/Jeff's facial hair emphasizes his moustache, while mine is all piled on my chin; and I'm a bit taller. Based on past experiences, I suspect the main reason buddy mistook me for G/J is that I am fat, and he is fat: it is really the strongest common denominator.

It is passing strange to me that this is turning into a repeated experience. It started a few years ago, when Chris Walter - with whom I also have a new interview in The Skinny - at a book signing, mistook me for punker/ fellow writer Ty Stranglehold, since - other than our both being, as Ty himself would later put it when we chuckled at Chris' error at the Cobalt - "white and large," we look pretty much nothing alike. Chris was in the process of inscribing a book to me at the time - I still have it, with "To Ty" crossed out by Chris when I caught him. Since then I have also been mistaken for the guitarist for Aging Youth Gang, back when I had long hair - and while it was nice to be complemented on "my" cool playing, again, I look, to my mind, nothing like that dude - maybe a bit moreso than the other two characters above, but still not really. (Granted, I did kinda mistake that dude for Tad Doyle once, tho' not to his face; and fuggit, that guy LOOKS a lot more like Tad than I do either of them, and they both are guitarists. I think it's a bit more defensible). I seem to dimly recall someone asking me at a concert if I was Alex Varty, once, too. So what the fuck, folks: do you all have a "fat file" in your brain where you dump people with this attribute, sometimes getting them jumbled up?

By the way, Audiopile had an interesting box of records the other day - a damaged collection someone sold them, the covers of which had gotten soaked and thence mildewy. The covers simply must be trashed, but they can easily be replaced with generic sleeves, and what mildew is on the records - with generous applications of record cleaning solution and a groove-sensitive scrub with a chamois or microfibre cloth - can be easily gotten rid of; not all of them even have mildew in the vinyl, which is generally in VG shape. Once the gunk is off, a bit of smell lingers, but the sound is great, and of course, Geoff/Jeff was selling them very cheaply. I pillaged the box for almost every Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen LP I care about. The only one I couldn't snag was a Freewheelin' with one of the misprinted front covers (tho' all the proper songs), which was in fact salvageable enough to be worth selling as a collector's item - which G/J and I both noted; I fully understand his desire to sell it for more. Also scored some Tim Buckley, John Hammond, Sonny Terry, Big Bill Broonzy, a jugband/washboard anthology, and other cool folky stuff that I am very happy to have gotten on the cheap. More significantly for y'all, there were, left behind by me, a few lesser Dylans (including obscure stuff like Self-Portrait), a rare Lenny Breau, and cool albums by Dave Van Ronk, The Fugs (later stuff, as well as a scarce Ed Sanders solo LP), Son House, and more. There was even a Dead Boys album in the box that I passed on, because it was too badly damaged for me (and I'm just not that hungry for Dead Boys vinyl at present). Not likely that you'll find these sorts of things on the cheap anywhere else anytime soon, and as long as it's the music in the grooves that matters, and not having the artifact in the original cover - this is a great opportunity to beef up your collection without goin' broke.

On another note, for people interested in early folk, blues, and folk blues, at Carson Books and Records, on the 3400 block of West Broadway, there are still quite a few records selling - presently at a 30% discount, and modestly priced to begin with - from an extrordinary collection Tim Carson, the proprietor, picked up awhile ago, from which I snagged early Bascom Lamar Lunsford, Reverend Gary Davis, Roscoe Holcomb, and several anthologies on labels like Yazoo, Folkways, and especially Rounder. There's lots left, also including some cool bluegrass, country, and world music; to my recollection, the entirety of a sizable Bill Monroe collection was still on the shelf. Also, sometimes - depending when you go there - you might even be treated to DJ MJB, Al Mader, spinning and selling records (tho' you might want to be there when Tim's there, if you have questions about what else came in with that collection - he has the more authoritative knowledge). I don't know how many followers of this blog are into oldtimey stuff, but while Tim has his 30% off sale going, it's a great opportunity to get your hands on some real gems at a very decent price.

And geez, folks - to return to the original point - can you, like, start mistaking me for Richard Meltzer or Lester Bangs or someone? It would be far more flattering to have "music writer" on my file, rather than "fat dude." And Bangs was kind of chubby, wasn't he?

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