Record Store Tales

Sunday Special: Remembrance Day

 

Sunday Chuckle will return next week.  This Sunday, we remember the sacrifices made by those who served their countries.  For me in particular, it’s my Grandfather and his brother who fought against the Nazis in World War II that I like to remember.  As dark forces encircle the world today, let us not forget those currently serving who are keeping us free.

Here are our past stories regarding Remembrance Day, please give them a click and a read.

Thanks Grandpa Winter and Uncle Gar.  You helped make the world a better place!

“Gar” and “Sam” Winter

#660: It Was Six Years Ago Today…

GETTING MORE TALE #660: It Was Six Years Ago Today…

…that Mikeladano.com launched!  Some of you have been here since the beginning. (Hi Aaron! Hi Craig! Hi mom! Hi old boss from the store!)

It all began on March 9 2012, with Record Store Tales Part 1: The Beginning – “Run to the Hills”. Record Store Tales grew to 320 chapters, continued today in Getting More Tale. And here we are at #660!

Thank you for reading these past six years. If you’re new and you like what you see, why not go back and check out the whole story from the beginning? It’s an epic tale of slinging the rock in Kitchener Ontario, from the front lines of a Record Store. 12 years in the trenches resulted in an older, wiser man with stories of legendary music, infamous parties, trials, Tribble-lations, retribution and vindication. It is the rise, fall, and resurrection of yours truly. And who am I? Just a guy with some great stories.

These are the Record Store Tales. Thank you for reading!

 

RECORD STORE TALES

Parts 1 – 50
Parts 51 – 100
Parts 101 – 150
Parts 151 – 200
Parts 201 – 250
Parts 251 – 300
Parts 301 – 320

[Re-Post] Part 241: Halloween, KISS style!

Not really a part of the The KISS RE-REVIEW SERIES, just a re-post from Record Store Tales!  Happy Halloween kiddoes!

RECORD STORE TALES Part 241:  Halloween, KISS style!

Our annual inventory count fell on October 31.  For five years straight, I never got to dress up, hand out candy, or do anything fun on Halloween because I was too busy counting discs and CD towers!  However in the early days, this wasn’t the case.  Halloween 1996 was actually a pretty good one.

Like most malls, our mall had a few Halloween contests.  T-Rev entered the store in the Pumpkin Carving category.  He and I came up with the plan to do a Kiss pumpkin.  T-Rev, the store owner’s brother, and myself gathered in my mom’s workshop in the basement. My mom had plenty of paint, and I was good at drawing the Kiss makeup designs.  T-Rev had the idea to make the pumpkin Gene Simmons, and figured out how to make a pumpkin tongue stick out.  I must say he did an amazing job.

The first step was to spray paint the pumpkin white.  One of the guys did the cutting.  Then, I drew the Demon design with a black magic marker.  We thought the nose needed to be more three-dimensional, so I cut it out a bit.  Together, we began colouring in Gene’s makeup.  We needed something to define the eyes of Gene, and T-Rev thought of using pumpkin seeds.  We added a wig, and voila!

T-Rev propped Gene up on the magazine stand outside the store.  Immediately we started getting compliments, and the response was pretty unanimous:  We had done the best job in the entire mall.

Unfortunately, the judges didn’t base their ratings on who had done the best job.  They were only marking the results, whether the store employees did the pumpkins themselves or not!  A store that hired a professional carver won first place.  We came in second.  There was no prize for second.  T-Rev and I considered that to be cheating.  Cheatie-cheatertons.

The contest was over, and not too soon:  the pumpkin had begun to rot, as pumpkins do.  That didn’t stop a customer from coming in on November 1st and offering him $10 for it.  T-Rev accepted his gracious offer, even though the thing would be turning horrific in a day or two.  A fool and his money, right T-Rev?

By 1997, the store had moved out of the mall.  This was our last pumpkin carving contest, but at least we had the satisfaction of winning the popular vote.  As far as I’m concerned, we went out on top.  My personal consolation prize was later on, Halloween 2006.  By this time I had moved on to United Rentals.  They took Halloween very, very seriously at United Rentals!  I dressed up as Paul Stanley, and this time, I finally won first prize!

Part 255: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas [Reblog]

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

I thought it would be fun to re-post old  chapters of Record Store Tales that you may have missed. Enjoy this Holly-Jolly re-post!

 

RECORD STORE TALES Part 255: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

December 24th.  One of our busiest days of the year.  Not the busiest though – that would often fall on the last Saturday before Christmas, on the 23rd, or our annual Boxing Day sale on the 26th.  Nearly two months of buildup and hard work, and it’s all over in what feels like a blink!

The 24th could sometimes be a fun day to work.  Not all customers were your typical cranky shopper, although we certainly saw those too.  Many of our Christmas Eve customers were simply killing time.  Some were spending their Christmas money a little bit early.  Some didn’t care what day it was, particularly those who came in to sell CDs for cash.

Yes, many people did come in to sell even on Christmas Eve.  A few were looking for credit to buy gifts, some were just looking for money to buy a Christmas dime bag.  Either way it was always a busy day, and we were kept moving on our feet.  Many dollars exchanged hands on the 24th.

I recall Christmas music was in such demand that a few years I was left with 4 or 5 Christmas CDs left in stock.  Often these would be the ones that always sat, year after year, unwanted, unsold.  As a person who’s never liked Christmas music, I could never understand the NEED to have it, just to listen to it once a year.  To me, that’s what the radio was for.  But I wasn’t there to try to analyze the wants and desires of the people.  My job was to sell them whatever crap we had left.

The 24th was a messy day.  Usually you could count on snow getting tracked in on the carpets (which were only cleaned a few weeks prior – why??).  Also, most customers could not seem to put discs back where they found them.  This was a combination of poor shelf design, customers who didn’t give a shit, parents that don’t watch their children as they tear the store apart, and people who didn’t know the alphabet.  Discs would be everywhere by the end of it all, scattered hither and yon, with no rhyme or reason as to why they were left there.

I always wore a suit and tie on Christmas Eve.  This was a tradition begun by the boss and owner in the early 1990’s, but I was the only one who carried on this tradition.  The first time we did the suits T-Rev said, “I like it, it makes me feel important!”  People do treat you a little differently when you’re wearing a tie.

After all the rushes of customers died down, we’d start hanging the signs in preparation for the big Boxing Day sale on the 26th.  Buy 3 Get 1 Free!  Or something like that.  Not good with any other special offers though, so people would have something to bitch about.  “Why can’t you stamp my card too?”  Etc. etc.

One year (’96 or ’97) after close at 6 pm, the boss told me to stay late and help him hang these signs.  They were big banners for our Boxing Day sale.  He climbed a ladder to clip these huge hanging signs from the ceiling.  I was there on the floor in my tie trying to hold the sign aloft as he worked.  Then he dropped a clip to the ground and we couldn’t see where it landed.  And apparently we didn’t have any spares.

On hands and knees I searched and searched.  We even got out a flashlight to try to find the damned thing.  No luck!  Meanwhile the clock ticked and ticked.  6:30.  6:45.  7:00.  The parking lot outside was quickly resembling a frozen ghost town, as people raced home to begin their own festivities.

Just as I found the damn clip on the ground, the phone rang.  Normally I wouldn’t answer the phone this late after close on Christmas Eve, but my boss answered, and it was my mom.

“When are you sending my son home to enjoy his Christmas Eve dinner with his family?” she chided.

“Oh I’m sorry Mrs. Ladano!” my boss responded.  “We’re almost done.  You’ll have him soon.”

I think if my mom hadn’t called, we would have been there all night hanging those stupid signs!

At home there was plenty of hot food to enjoy, as I let my body relax after a long day of serious hard work.  Thankfully I did not have to work Boxing Day, probably the longest most tiring day of the whole year.  I therefore had two whole days to relax, watch movies, and spend time with the family.

On that note, I wish all of you a Merry  Christmas.  Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, be safe and warm this season.  And most important I hope you all make it home on time and don’t have to stay late hanging signs!

 

 

#534: Klassic Kwote – “b4-4”

GETTING MORE TALE #534: Klassic Kwote – “b4-4”

Unfortunate Canadians will recall boy band b4-4 (also known as Before Four). They were a trio, had two brothers in the group, made two albums and faded away quietly.

Courtesy of former store owner (now road manager for Steve Earle) Mike Lukacs, here’s a classic quote that shoulda been in Record Store Tales:

“Back in the record store days, some people came in the store looking for these guys’ CD. One of the dudes that worked for me asked them why they wanted such garbage. ‘They are our sons’ replied the people…”

Whoops!

b44

Part 150: Smells Like Presents [Reblog]

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

I thought it would be fun going forward to re-post old chapters of Record Store Tales that you may have missed. Enjoy this Christmas-themed re-post!

RECORD STORE TALES Part 150:  Smells Like Presents

Our original computerized inventory system forced us to manually type in every album title ourselves.  Out of sheer boredom, often we’d shake it up a bit.  For example, just for laughs, we’d often input Alanis Morissette’s album Jagged Little Pill in the system as Jagged Little Pillow.  Or whatever.

When we saw this Celine Dion Christmas album come in, somebody came up with a clever custom title for our system.  Remember that Marilyn Manson album, Smells Like Children?  Take a look at the Celine Dion album cover.  You’ll understand why we used to call this one Smells Like Presents!

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R.I.P. Sunrise Records, Fairview mall

#528.5: Klassik Kwote of the day – “Side Project”

The Foo Fighters took a break in 2001.  Their new album, to come later as One By One, was not going well.  The band were infighting, and the album was put on hold.  Around that time, Josh Homme hooked up with his old buddy Dave Grohl and invited him to play on the new Queens of the Stone Age album.  Dave was growing wearing of frontman duties in his own band and was happy to just be a drummer again for a little while.

The resultant QOTSA album, Songs for the Deaf, was a smash hit.  Dave Grohl’s presence brought them a higher profile than before, but it was also just a flat-out kick ass record.

One of our store managers, Joe “Big Nose” was a Queens of the Stone Age fan going back to Kyuss.  Though I was not there personally when this happened, Joe likely had an internal meltdown when a customer asked:

“Hey, do you have that new side project of Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters?”

I bet there was steam coming out of Joe’s ears!

#350 The Year in Review / Top Five of 2014 (and 2004)

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RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#350 The Year in Review / Top Five of 2014

Another year come and gone!  Am I older and wiser?  I think so, musically speaking anyway!  It was a great year for music (and a baffling year too, hello Scott Stapp and Phil Rudd)!  Narrowing down my favourites to a Top Five wasn’t all that difficult once I thought about it.  There were some clear contenders so it was more about sorting out the order.  I’ll save the Top Five(s) for last.

I lost two friends this year, both of whom went way too soon.  Both had moved out of town long ago (one out of the country), but we recently reconnected via social media.  Warren was the guy who helped get me started on this crazy journey of writing, being the first to publish me.  George, an old friend from childhood, helped me discover Kiss.  Both left this earth in 2014, and the world is sadder for it.  Rest in peace boys.

That aside, my proudest writing achievement was finally finishing the Record Store Tales.  I had so much fun sharing those stories over the years.  I took my time ending it; I was having a good time.  But I knew there were people who wouldn’t like it; that’s happened before.   Again I’ll apologize to the two who complained, for any offence I caused them.  These two guys were friends from the store, but neither had really expressed any support for what I was doing, and I don’t think they particularly liked it.  I never had anything bad to say about either of them, but I get that they might not like things I had to say about their friends; I totally get that.  I also get that they had different experiences at the Record Store than I did.  That’s fine.  I want to be clear that my experience was mine alone.  I cannot speak for anyone but myself.  (Interesting footnote though:  Back in Part 170, I mentioned that our accountant Jonathan used to talk about who he trusted at the store, and who he didn’t.  One of the people he never trusted was one of those two guys, because of his personal friendship with the higher-ups.  Just a footnote.)

Anyway, I don’t want to focus on the negative.  I did some rough calculations and by reckoning, the number of Record Store Tales that were negative towards the store was only about 16%.

So!  Onto the lists!  My Top Ten Favourite Record Store Tales of 2014:

Part 258: Uncle Meat
Part 264: Garbage Removal Machine
Part 265: A Nightmare on Cocknuckles Street Redux: Special Edition
Part 269: CD Singles (of every variety) featuring T-Rev
Part 270: Star Trek vs. Star Wars
Part 281: People of Walmart
Part 285: Chinese Democracy
Part 289: Tom’s Frozen Beater
Part 319: The Musical Crimes of LeBrain (by Mrs. LeBrain)
Part 320: End of the Line #2 (The Last Straw)

And my of course Top Five Abums of 2014:

5. FLYING COLORSSecond Nature
4. PINK FLOYDThe Endless River
3. HELIXBastard of the Blues
2. ACE FREHLEYSpace Invader
1. JUDAS PRIESTRedeemer of Souls

As an added bonus, I also found my Top Five Albums of 2004 among my journals!  For shits n’ giggles, here is a “bonus” installment of Record Store Tales for you!  And Happy New Year to ya!

BONUS RECORD STORE TALES Part 350:
Top Five of 2004

5. BRANT BJORKLocal Angel
4. PEARL JAMLive at Benaroya Hall: October 22, 2003
3. THE KILLERSHot Fuss
2. THE HIVES – Tyrannosaurus Hives
1. MARILLIONMarbles

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Stay tuned for more Top Lists of 2014 in the days ahead!

 

[Re-Post] Part 236: Thanksgiving 2005, featuring special guest Mrs. LeBrain!

My Grandmother reminded us of this story today. I thought I’d repost it for the new readers who missed it last year. Happy Thanksgiving!


RECORD STORE TALES Part 236:  Thanksgiving 2005

Miserable at the record store, and mere weeks away from giving my notice, I still somehow managed to swing Thanksgiving weekend off.  The family tradition back then was Thanksgiving at the cottage with my aunt and uncle, grandma and sister.  Complicating things for me this Thanksgiving was that I had started dating Jen, the future Mrs. LeBrain.  She was alone that weekend, because her parents were spending Thanksgiving in Ottawa.  I felt that she was somebody special, and I wanted to somehow have Thanksgiving with her, but also my family.  The only catch was that we’d been together less than a month, and she’d never met anybody from my family before.  Ever.

As this story is a bit of an indictment against myself, I’ll let her take it from here.

LeBrain told me that his parents and his sister would be staying in this peaceful cabin by the lake.  He didn’t tell me about anyone else.  It had been a long time since I met a suitor’s parents.  A sister too?  Well that was uncharted territory to say the least.

As we approached the cottage through the woods, my anxiety started to increase.  The car stopped and my heart began beating in my throat as I looked into the cottage’s big front window.

Mike’s mom and dad, sister, and her boyfriend were waiting at the window!  So were his aunt, uncle, grandmother, and the disapproving family dog!

After introductions, Mike walked me to his bedroom where I’d be staying while he was sleeping on the couch.  The door closed behind me, and what I saw on the wall was a vision to haunt me, and to one day tell our future grandchildren about.  It was a gun rack, made with actual deer parts, holding a gun.

“Maybe this online dating thing is a bad idea!”

GUN RACK

Gun rack given to me by my Grandfather

It’s only a pellet gun.  Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!

Part 320: End of the Line #6: The Birth of LeBrain

RECORD STORE TALES Part 320: End of the Line #6: The Birth of LeBrain

I discovered quickly that listening to rock radio in an office was much better than listening to CDs in the Record Store. They really hounded me about my in-store music selections.  With the radio, nobody yells at me about the music. I could just enjoy it as I worked, and the music has not been lame!  Just this week, I rocked out to Judas Priest’s “Painkiller” and Savatage’s “Hall of the Mountain King” at work on the radio.  Last week it was Slayer.  I doubt I ever played any of those songs in the Record Store.  Traffic reports are an added bonus.

Our office has its radio set to 107.5 Dave FM, and it is through them that I met new friends such as Marko Fox, Craig Fee, Simon McGhee, Patrick Dynamite, and more. It is there that I became “LeBrain”.  There was a daily contest…a near legendary contest…called the 4 O’Clock 4-Play.  Every day at 4:00, Craig would play four songs with a common theme.  Guess the theme, win the prize.  I started winning frequently, and had started submitting my own 4-Play quizzes for the show.  They numbered in the hundreds, I am certain.  Some have never been used.  Craig told me he had an email folder filled with my 4-Plays that hadn’t been used yet.

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Craig Fee with some beard douchebag.

This led to features on the station such as “Stump LeBrain Week”, where I was in the studio every day for a week as listeners tried to stump me. (The only day I was not in the studio was the Wednesday, where I was live on air with Marko at Chicopee ski club.)  Other listeners sent in their own 4-Plays specifically to stump me, and Craig picked his five favourites.  That was followed by LeBrainuary – an entire month of my own musical 4-Plays.  They also did a final LeBrain Week before they finally shut the contest down.

I still hear about that contest.  Every once in a while I meet someone new who knows me only as “LeBrain” from the radio.  There was one at Sausagefest this year.  I always get asked, “When are they bringing that contest back?  It was awesome.”  I wish I knew!  I’ve bugged Craig about it too.

While it lasted, it was awesome. I became a D-grade local celebrity! But I wanted more. I pestered and bugged Craig Fee daily. I sent him my reviews, early chapters of the Record Store Tales, rock news, rants, anything and everything!

You know what happened next. It was the “lightbulb moment”.  Craig said the magic words: “You need to start your own blog.”  

And so I did, and that’s why you’re reading this today.

I knew immediately I wanted to finally publish the Record Store Tales.  I started writing them over 10 years ago.  I originally envisioned a book version of Record Store Tales.  I started writing it with that in mind, but most of it hasn’t been used, because I felt some chapters were a little too off-topic.   Instead I mined my extensive journals to create new content.  It took about 2 1/2 years to post all of the Record Store Tales, at an average of one every three days.

So here we are, at the end. I knew this day would come eventually. I thought at most I’d come up with 100 installments, tops.  Having said that, the number of stories that I chose not to tell exceeds this body of work greatly.  Believe it or not, I decided to be nice.  There are many things done and many things said that have been left out.  I’ve tried to be candid and maintain my own integrity, and just tell the story of a very cool time in my life.  Not everybody gets to work in a record store.

Positives and negatives aside, the writing experience for me has been mostly healthy, sometimes cathartic, and immensely fun. I hope you have had fun too.

Thank you for your support, inspiration, kind words and contributions: Mrs. LeBrain, Craig, Marko, Aaron, Uncle Meat, Iron Tom Sharpe (Meaford’s greatest athlete), T-Rev, Lemon Kurri, my parents, and everyone else who has ever contributed or told me not to stop.

A huge thanks to the owner at the old Record Store. You gave me a chance and taught me so much.  You have my number.

Sincerest apologies to those I have hurt or offended.

Finally, thanks to YOU – the people who have read this stuff, whether you were a one-timer or a regular. I thrive on feedback and you made this a very rewarding experience.

I hope you’ll stick around, as we launch the Post-Record Store Tales (official title to be announced soon) and continue on with the awesome reviews! Live long…and prosper.

The End.

SPOCK