Monday, May 5, 2008

My Record Player’s Final Throes…

I had a total fangirl moment this weekend when I found out that I get to read with Frank Portman, author of King Dork, in San Francisco at InsideStoryTime on July 17th. Frank Portman is also known as Dr. Frank, the frontman for the Mr. T Experience (or MTX), one of the pop punk Lookout! Records bands that I totally adored in high school. I had a minor “omigod I love you!” freak out and hopefully Frank is not completely dreading meeting me (I swear, I will remain calm and cool in person).

Of course this inspired me to break out my MTX records on Sunday when I needed fun music to clean to. For the most part the music I loved junior and senior year of high school is on vinyl. I believe that it all started because of a Bikini Kill seven inch the summer before junior year. You could only get those particular songs on seven inch, so I dragged my parent’s record player, tuner, and speakers out of the basement (along with Mom’s Billie Holiday record) and set it up next to my CD player which would gather dust over the next couple years because I quickly decided that records were way cooler than CDs.

I attained an amazing bunch of early 90’s riot grrrl and punk vinyl online at some point, though I’m not entirely sure how this occurred because it was 1995 and pre-eBay, must have been through the riot grrrl message board on AOL. I think it was somebody paring back their record collection before going to college. I would do this when I moved and come to sorely regret it (the Apocalypse Hoboken and Oblivion albums that are now out of print, not to mention Minor Threat’s Out of Step, *sigh*). Anyway that started my collection and Earwax Records built it.

Ah, Earwax Records. Oak Park, Illinois’s punk and indie rock record store that lasted about a year. *Shakes head.* That store belonged in Wicker Park or maybe Logan Square near the Fireside, but Oak Park? It was a nice attempt to make the OP hip and me and my friends sure appreciated it, but I think the ten or so of us might have been their only customers. But we hung out there after school daily. I remember Mike and Tom begging for jobs, but since the owners couldn’t afford to pay employees, they just spent all their free time there and acted as volunteers. Since we were the best customers, we basically had the run of the joint. They let me hold a benefit there for the Midwest Girl Fest, a riot grrrl convention of sorts that I was collaborating on. Sadly, no one showed up. Maybe because of poor promotion on our part or more likely, no one wanted to come out to the burbs.

Anyway the folks at Earwax (Brendan was the guy’s name and for some reason I am totally blanking on the girl’s even though I thought she was so awesome and had a total girl crush on her) were largely responsible for my record collection. They turned me on to so many cool bands. I walked in knowing Rancid, NOFX and Screeching Weasel and left with records by Propagandhi, The Queers, Tilt and MTX. And who else would make sure I had the new 7 Year Bitch album on vinyl the day it came out? And Sleater-Kinney’s first EP before anyone had even year of them? The latest Oblivion seven inch? Yeah, I got all of it at Earwax and most of it on vinyl. As I mentioned, I thought vinyl was cooler (and still do despite it being impossible to listen to in a car and difficult to transfer to an iPod), but it was also cheaper than CDs by a couple bucks. With the amount of music I consumed, my limited income from working as a bagger at Dominicks was stretched thin between all I spent at Earwax and shows at the Fireside and gas for my car and then my “get the hell out of Oak Park a.s.a.p.” savings fund.

I got my own record player for high school graduation. I’m sure I was one of the few class of 1997 graduates who was thrilled to get a record player and a typewriter instead of a computer. The record player is not pre-amped, so it has to be run through a tuner, which meant lugging my parents’ big old tuner and speakers to college and all my subsequent apartments. When I returned to Oak Park in 2000, I got a stereo that came with a record player component. It was much more compact and modern. When the CD player died on that stereo a couple years ago, I just hooked up the record player to my old roommate’s stereo through the video aux and it’s been working out fine. Then, yesterday, bad things happened.

As I mentioned, I was in need of fun music to get me through cleaning and I really, really, really wanted to hear MTX’s Love Is Dead. So I put the pretty blue vinyl on, pressed start, and attended to putting away the last record I’d been listening to (The Bronx first self-titled LP, also good cleaning music). I swear I heard the proper things happening when I first pressed start, but then there was no music. I pressed start again, repeatedly, then manually tried lifting the arm, but the record would not spin. After some swearing, tapping, moving, shifting, unplugging and replugging, still no luck. I begrudgingly put on a Replacements CD instead, reassuring myself that Scott would be able to fix it. He has to be able to fix it. There are probably twenty amazing albums that I only have on vinyl, not to mention all the things that I prefer to listen to on vinyl because, dammit, it sounds better.

Scott looked at me skeptically when I told him my record player was in need of fixing. I’m sure he wonders why I think he can fix everything when his area of expertise is fixing cars, but dammit, he fixed the leak in my foundation and he took apart and fixed my DVD player when my Total Cardio Kick DVD got stuck in there. The look he gave me did not assure me that he could fix my record player, though. I told myself, maybe he can figure out how to make the old record player work with one of our stereos then. Or maybe Mom will buy me another record player for my birthday. *Sigh*, anyone know of any sites where she could get one cheap? I remember hearing that records are trendy again.

Then I was awakened by an awful sound at 4:30 am. It didn’t sound like a noise my cats could make, but I was afraid one of them was badly ill or injured so I stumbled downstairs. Before I could make it to the basement where they spend the night, I realized the sound was coming from my stereo, more specifically from the record player. Unable to figure out what to do, I simply unplugged it and wandered back to bed wondering how long it had been making that sound. I’d heard something that I’d assumed was cats playing around 12:30...

It took me half an hour to fall back to sleep because of a killer headache and the birds outside chirping away (yeah, not one of my favorite things about spring, can’t they wait for a more reasonable hour?), so I was tired and in a rush to get to work this morning and still have not investigated the demonic sounds from the record player. I’m not sure if this was its attempt to tell me it is still alive and fixable or if these were the sounds of its agonizing and painful death. I’m not particularly hopefully, so yeah, if anyone knows where I can get a record player cheap, I’d be grateful. I’m not sure I can wait until my birthday in July for a new one…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know at circuit city they go for about 200$