Record Store Tales

#884: The Long Walk Home

RECORD STORE TALES #884: The Long Walk Home

In theory, it should have taken 15 minutes for us to walk home from school.

Cross the busy Ottawa Street with the crossing guard.  Down Ottawa, left on Crosby and then right on Secord.  All the way down Secord to Hickson, Inlet and home.  Sometimes if my dad was driving home from work at the same time, he’d see us walking and pick us up.

The reality was, we usually took a lot longer.  My dad used to say that we “dawdled home”.  Most of the time, we trudged it on foot.  We began at the start in clumps of kids, who would peel off singly or in pairs for their own homes as we walked the route.

The other day I was driving that way, and decided to take a spin down Secord and the old route.  The roads were slushy and the snowbanks were high, and suddenly I had a flashback.  Why does it seem like we were always walking home in the middle of winter?  Those are the most powerful memories.  Dodging snowballs thrown by other kids, trudging through deep snow trying to make a “short cut”.  Coming home soaked and cold.  Eating some Scotch broth for lunch and then back to school for the afternoon.  I’ve driven that way lots of times, but only this one time — in the winter, with snowbanks at kid-level — did I have a flashback.

One of the only shields from the cruel outside world that I had as a kid was music.  At the moment I was driving, suddenly the power chords in “Little Death (Mary Mary)” by the Barstool Prophets hit the speakers.  “I would have loved this song as a kid,” I said aloud.

I never knew who my friends were back in those days.  A kid who claimed to be my friend one week would be a bully the next week.  There were one or two kids I knew I could trust, like Allan Runstedtler.  He was too nice and smart a kid to get caught up in that stuff, but he walked home from school in the opposite direction.  There was nobody else I could count on to stick up for me.  KK was just as likely to be throwing the snowballs at me.  Ian Johnson used to get under my skin.  “Name five songs by Iron Maiden,” he would say, instead of just teaching me about Iron Maiden like my real friends did.  But my real friends, from my neighbourhood, didn’t go to that shitty Catholic school.

The thing that I was discovering was that music like Iron Maiden made me feel good.  It made me feel temporarily bulletproof.  Something about those proud, defiant power chords.  I felt more capable of projecting pride and defiance if I had Iron Maiden behind me.  Helix, Kiss, Judas Priest — these were the bands that kept me trudging through the snow while being pelted from behind.

The Barstool Prophets song had the same effect.  As the flashbacks hit me, the guitar riff of “Little Death” pushed back against them.  Yes, I would have loved the song as a kid, had time travel existed back then.  Still working on my flux capacitor, but I’m getting there.  It’s strange, but sometimes I sit there and imagine if I had been able to allow my past self to hear certain songs.  I imagine my younger self’s reaction.  It makes me emotional.  That’s the only kind of time travel I’m able to do.  I didn’t have a bad childhood by any means, but man those bullies did a number on me.  I made it well into my 30s before being able to assess the damage that followed me right into adulthood.  I think the hardest part was not knowing who I could trust.  As it turns out, almost nobody.  By the end of the eighth grade, only Allan hadn’t picked on me.  And then I was rid of them forever as I changed school systems.

I would try to memorize songs as best as I could so I could keep them in my head while I was at school.  The teachers were part of the problem and the defiant nature of heavy metal music was, shall we say, not appreciated by Mrs. Powers.  I don’t think she commended its aesthetics, nor song titles like “Hotter Than Hell“.  She wasn’t one of my supporters as the grade school days drew to a close.  Nor was Ian Johnson, Kenny Lawrence, Kevin Kirby or any of my supposed “friends” in class.  My only friends in that cold depressing classroom were the songs by Helix and Kiss in my head.  I drew guitars in art class.

There’s a flashback for you.  Ian Johnson may have mockingly quizzed me on how many Iron Maiden songs I could name, but he vastly underestimated just what that music meant to me.  A year later he cut his hair short and was into something else.  My love affair with music never ended and only grew with me through time.  The Barstool Prophets have just shared a serious emotional moment with me, which allows them automatic entry into my soul’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  It’s a pretty serious honour.  Please takes your seats with the other immortals enshrined within.  Graham Greer, Glenn Forrester, Al Morier, and Bobby Tamas — otherwise known as the Barstool Prophets — welcome to the hallowed Hall of Fame!

 

#882: The Day KK Came Back

RECORD STORE TALES #882: The Day KK Came Back

Working retail means you can’t control who you see on a day-to-day basis.  Faces from the past are part of the job.  Teachers, old neighbours, bullies, and so on.  Sometimes it’s not a face you really cared to see again.  For example, there was this one kid named Terry Moulton from grade school.  He was known as a burnout even in grade eight.  The word in class is that he would skip to go and smoke pot with his dad.  One day I was working and who should show up to sell me some used CDs but Terry.  He recognized me.  I’m not so good with faces from the that long ago, but I remembered the name.  I made him a generous offer on the discs, and asked for his ID.  We had to ask for ID in order to buy anything used from the public.  Part of theft prevention.  Of course Terry didn’t have any ID so I skipped that part for him as a favour.  I asked for his address and he didn’t even have a fixed address.  I broke a few bi-laws by buying discs from him that day.

My journal records another encounter with a forgotten face from the Catholic school days.

Kevin Kirby’s name was ingrained in my memory even if I didn’t recognize his face.  Kirby was into metal when none of the other kids were.  He had Black Sabbath, Van Halen and Ozzy records thanks to an older sister.  He was my “friend” I guess.  Friends by circumstance, not by choice?  Frenemies?  He copied my homework.  He pushed me around.  He made fun of me.  Once he picked on me, and I fought back, so he cried to his mom about it.  His mom called the school.

According to my journal the last time I saw him was in 2004.


Date: 2004/08/04

An interesting day, thus far.

A couple assholes, but not many in general.

Saw Jessica, waved hello.*

Then a dude with a mullet came in. Bought a CD. Asked if I remembered him. He knew my name. Kevin Kirby it was…guy who used to pick on me in grade eight. Nice to see ya, pal.


He might have been into good music, but he was a prick to me in our last year of school together.  Don’t care if I ever see him again.

 

Yours Truly

* Jessica was Money Mart Girl who I had a crush on.  

 

#881: The Return of the Record Store Tales

RECORD STORE TALES #881: The Return of the Record Store Tales

A minor announcement, but an announcement nonetheless!  As of this chapter, for all of my stories going forward, I have decided to retire the name Getting More Tale.  I am returning to the original moniker of Record Store Tales.

It’s really always intended to be considered one body of work.

One of the most important parts of the original Record Store Tales was the “ending” — quitting the store in Part 320.  That series of events was one I was really anxious to tell, so when the time felt right, I got it done and wrapped Record Store Tales up in a lil’ bow.  I then broadened the scope of my stories with the “sequel” series Getting More Tale (title suggested by Aaron of the KMA).

Getting More Tale has often dipped back into the Record Store days for subject matter, as well as childhood, and the 15 years since I quit.  I’ve also told stories about technology and historic records.  The sky was the limit when I changed the name to Getting More Tale…but I have always identified as a “Record Store guy”.  Even if it has been 15 years since I last worked behind a counter…once a Record Store guy, always a Record Store guy.

The 12 years I spent in the store were 12 of the defining years of my life, from the highest highs to the lowest lows.  But to quote a song, “It’s My Life” and calling the whole she-bang “Record Store Tales” feels right.  Even if roughly half the stories have nothing to do with working in a store, “you are what you is”.  Today I may be a guy who works in the steel industry, but I will always be a guy who managed a Record Store, and proud of it!

So there you have it; the lines shall no longer be blurred.  The ongoing story of Mike LeBrain, former Record Store manager, obsessive music collector and all-around open book, shall henceforce be known once more as the Record Store Tales.*

The content is not changing one iota.  I have the next 10 chapters locked and loaded, with subject matter covering the whole gamut.  Childhood musical flashbacks, working behind the counter in the glory years, school daze, old tech, bad dates, toys, and maybe even some controversy.  I continue to be excited to bring you stories that you seem to enjoy!  It has been been over six years since I “wrapped up” Record Store Tales.  There was backlash to the ending.  But that only emboldened me.  My writing has improved ten-fold since.  I’m proud to fly the flag of Record Store Tales again.

Thanks for reading all these years!  It has been an organic experience and for nine years you have been an integral part of it.  Let’s go forward, shall we?

To be continued….

* I won’t be going back and re-naming anything, I will just be carrying on the numbering system will the title Record Store Tales.  

The Author Reads series – Record Store Tales Part 7: A S****y Story

Since starting the Facebook Live streams, I thought maybe doing a reading of some of my own stories would be fun. The reaction was mixed but some of the comments are below.

Comments:

  • “I thought this stream would be about music but it is about poop and toilet paper. Pleasant surprise.” – Buried on Mars
  • “Story time with Bum Face?…This is gonna be a long stream.” – Uncle Meat
  • “The greatest story ever!!” – Chris

The live stream went down as only live streams could, spontaneously and hilariously.  I tried re-recording the reading to get better quality but that was impossible.  The only solution is to use the original live stream reading from the night of April 3 2020.  Since that was done on live video, you get the video of it as well as a bonus.

Please enjoy the slightly edited reading below!

RECORD STORE TALES Part 7:  A Shitty Story

 

Read the original text story below by clicking here!

* Pardon the mirrored video.  Still trying to fix that.
** The Starfleet captain’s uniform is me trying to come with different shirts each week.

#825: Klassic Kwote – Carnival of Souls

GETTING MORE TALE #825:  Klassic Kwote – Carnival of Souls

 

We were encouraged to put stickers on CDs to draw attention to them at the Record Store.  When Kiss’ Carnival of Souls was released in 1997, I put a sticker on there that read “FINAL ALBUM WITH BRUCE & ERIC”.  Because why not.  Other stores did things like that.  Stickers are fun.  Bosses didn’t like my stickers, but I was the store manager and I wanted to make stickers.

A dude picked up the CD and asked me, “What does this mean?  Final album with Bruce and Eric?”

I didn’t know how to respond so I simply answered, “It’s the final album with Bruce & Eric.”

“Oh OK,” he said and put it down.

Ask a stupid question?

 

 

#812: Klassic Kwote – Hanson

You can imagine how hard it is finding music for people who have no idea what they’re looking for.

“Yeah, the guy wears a cowboy hat in the video.”

Can I get a little more information?

“Yeah, it was a white hat.”

Alan Jackson?  I don’t fucking know!

One day a customer walked in to T-Rev’s store and asked for a new band.  They had a new song out called “MMMBop”.

His description, which Trevor had to somehow use to figure out what band he wanted, was as follows:

“It’s a new band.  They sound like Michael Jackson.  But white.”

Hanson, ladies and gentlemen!  The white Michael Jacksons!

 

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!