through the night curtains…

Rocking the lil’ bebe to sleep, I find myself more aware then ever of the shining of lights through the windows. It seems that wherever one lives in the city, there always manages to be some bright light that finds its way to your eyes at night, some errant porch light or street lamp. This sort of pollution is just another reason to flee the city (as if the EMF dangers from cell-phone transmitters and Wi-fi aren’t enough)! It reminds me of the glory days of our honeymoon, three weeks spent on the shore of Harvey’s Lake in VT. At night, it was night. It would be so dark that if you woke up in the middle of the night, you could spend some time trying to get your eyes to adjust so you could see your way around the house, but it just wouldn’t work. And dead silent. And it was a 10 minute drive before you could even consider using your cell-phone. Man, we certainly felt at ease there. Relaxed, healthy and just plain content. One day, we’ll find ourselves in such a spot again, for good.

Another advantage of rural VT is the lack of sprawl at the edge of town. We just returned from a trip to a little town about 30 minutes north of here, St Helens. It is an adorable little town of about 10,000. Adorable, that is, once you get to “old town” and don’t stray to far from there. Around that, it’s tract houses and Wal-marts and Quizno’s out at the highway. How does every town of any good size have the same gross sprawl around the edge: Car Dealerships, the exact same restaurants as every other town, endless thoughtlessly designed plywood houses and Wal-marts? There is so little variety in that which people want and buy and eat. It is a sad thing for me that the most memorable thing from my brief drive through the South was that they had Waffle House’s on the highways, and I’d never seen one before. It is a dull and boring aspect of our culture and this drive for homogenization sucks the heart out of our communities.

Maybe it would be better if there were more record stores, but those seem to be vanishing, I imagine to make way for more Starbucks (so that everyone in the world can drink the exact same coffee with never a variation… who cares if they alter traditional drinks, burn their coffee and put way too much sugar in all their drinks. At least everytime you order your watery, burnt, sugared-up nightmare, it will be exactly the same as the last one)!

But I am digressing! I just really wanted to complain about the closing of record stores. You see, Ozone3 just closed. I hadn’t ever shopped there (guilty!), but it was the last in the 15-yearish line of 5 stores that were: Outer Limits, Ooze, Ozone, Ozone UK and Ozone3. Coupled with the closing of Tower Records (I know, not quite the same, but they had such a history and, in 1998 when I started collecting DVD’s, they were about the only place I could find them), Django’s, Ozone UK and this talk of the NW Music Millennium store closing. It is a sad sight. I think of all the stores I frequented in my younger days: Longhair, Dudley’s Route 66, Budget, Bird’s, Crystalship… All are long, long gone. I wonder about the notion that the increase in music downloads is killing the brick and mortar stores? I guess it could be, I buy very little music via download, but most of it I do buy through the internet. I have moved away from buying much music in person (except for the Burnside Street Music Millennium, I love that place), because no one in Portland seems to have a really high quality metal selection, except for Anthem Records .

Oh, and in other news, my “book” page was a silly idea. I decided this because my wife invited me to join, so from now on, any book stuff I come up with will go there… As will the “Books” link in the sidebar. But speaking of books, the Rare Book room got in two of the 3 Lovecraft that I feel I really need to own: first printings of The Dunwich Horror and Tales From the Cthulhu Mythos! It was quite exciting as I ended up buying (at a reasonably good price) the Dunwich Horror, a dust jacket that I’ve been wanting for a long time… The Tales book though… I had never even seen the jacket before, so that was quite exciting, but they put $225 on it, which was a tad more than I was willing to spend. Of course, it sold in barely over a week… Here is what I didn’t manage to acquire…

Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos

2 Responses to “through the night curtains…”

  1. Thud on July 24, 2007 02:34

    We lost two of the record shops in Blacksburg where I used to buy all my music. One is a vacant storefront now, the other is a restaurant. The shop that opened while my brother was here has moved to a less-accessible location and has never had anyone in it any time I’ve visited.

    The new albums are priced at around $17-$18 each, the same way they are in practically other small record shop. I think the distributors have helped kill the small shops; I understand they can’t buy the albums wholesale for what Wal-Mart and Best Buy sell retail. Or something like that. So that’s one blow against them.

    The other one, of course, is that the music industry refused to innovate. These stores could have all had Disc-on-Demand kiosks where you could get out-of-print or unusual music without having to wait; listening stations where you could browse an entire catalog of music. Even if you could do that alone online the sense of community would have put feet in stores.

    Instead the labels decided to treat paying customers like criminals and sought legislation to protect their aging business model. It’s not really the indie store’s fault. They’re just the canary in the coal mine.

  2. Ashley on July 25, 2007 02:51

    The discs on demand is a good idea. I imagine that if we tend to cart around 10,000 songs on our computers, any small record store could have hundreds of thousands and just burn cd’s for people. It would be easy to figure out who gets the royalties, too! Sadly, it would also put a bit too much choice in what people buy, so the major label’s and the RIAA probably wouldn’t go for it.

    In terms of the high prices, that is another plus for selling used music. I used to work in a record store that was new and used, the used stuff we would sell for 4 times what we paid for it and that margin allowed us to mark up new cd’s by only 2-3 dollars. It worked well for customers because they could either by new things for cheaper than anywhere else in town, or used things for even less, and it worked well for us too.

    That store is still around.

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