RSTs Mk II: Getting More Tale

#688: The Mom Con

Happy birthday mom!

GETTING MORE TALE #688: The Mom Con

Was chatting it up with Superdekes over at Arena Rock the other day.  He mentioned putting his two daughters through university.  What a great dad.  My parents were similarly good to me.  They paid my way.  My mom paid for my textbooks.  Some of them could get really expensive.  You’d be looking at over $100 each for some.  I kept many of them.  My Astronomy texts are still beautiful though outdated.  I am fairly sure I still have my English translation of Herodotus’ The Histories (c. 440 BC) somewhere.

My first year of university, she came with me to the book store to help me find everything.  Good thing she did, as it was an intimidating prospect for a first timer.  One of my history courses had four novels assigned.  I got all four, but only after class started did I learn that you didn’t need all four, you only had to choose one of the four.  Rookie mistake.  In the years that followed, we all learned to wait until class actually began before you bought every single book.  Some might be optional.  It was Russian history, and I chose Ivan Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons (1880).  Not what you’d call a page turner but I worked my way through it.  It introduced me to the concept of nihilism (which I still don’t really fathom) and that helped me at least understand The Big Lebowski later on.  So I chalk that as a “win”.

The parents took good care of me through school, loaning me the car most of the time.  On Thursday nights I only had an hour and a half between classes so I would go to my grandma’s house in Waterloo for dinner.  Porkchops with mushroom soup.

I worked my way through my history degree, but in my final year I tried to pull one over on my mom.

My buddy Peter introduced me to Beavis and Butt-head a year prior.  In Frankemuth, Michigan he rented a VCR just to tape some MTV broadcasts of the show.  We didn’t get it in Canada (unless you had satellite).  So when I saw the Beavis and Butt-head Ensucklopedia (1994) just sitting there in the actual school bookstore, I had to buy it.  The mere sighting of Beavis and Butt-head sitting there in a school text book store was too hilarious for me to ignore.

Mom used to tell me, “Just put your books on your credit card, give me the receipt, and I will reimburse you with a cheque.”  It was a sweet deal so why not throw Beavis and Butt-head there in the pile?

Well there was no pulling the wool over mom’s eyes.  Of course she looked at the itemised receipt and questioned me.

“I’m not paying for Beavis and Butt-head!” she said, and true to her word, gave me a cheque for the total minus that book.

I tried!

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#687: Chronic Complainers

GETTING MORE TALE #687: Chronic Complainers

There will always be people who relish complaining.  Maybe they feel that life wronged them somewhere.  Perhaps they got up on the wrong side of the bed.  Some people are just miserable and like to spread the misery.  Others are just cheapskates.  Whatever the category, we saw ‘em all at the Record Store.

If you don’t like a store, why do you shop there?  Chronic complainers had many grievances, but were still coming on a regular basis.  It’s not like we were the only game in town.  We weren’t the cheapest either.  So why did the chronic complainers like to make our lives misery?  Every retail job has “horror stories”, but those are amplified in a buy-and-sell environment.

I think a lot of people used to have the wrong about idea about what a “used CD store” was all about.  One of the old managers, Joe, used to say we were nothing but a “glorified garage sale” disguised as a store.  A lot of complainers seemed to see it that way too.  They wanted to haggle.  They wanted a better deal than what was on the sticker.

Me personally, when I walk into a store, I don’t assume every price is negotiable.  Some people do.  I still know people who love to haggle.  At the store, we all hated when customers tried.  Only the owner had any real authority to haggle, and he didn’t work at a cash register.

We carried a small selection of new CDs in addition to our used stock.  Some folks loved to whine about pricing.  Chronic complainers would tell you that “Walmart has the new Metallica for cheaper than you.”  Great, super, thanks for the help.  You know that an indy shop can’t compete with Walmart’s buying power, right?  Their costs were much less than ours, and there was no way to beat them.  Why didn’t you just buy Metallica at Walmart when you were there if the prices are so great?

Selection was another subject for complaint.  We might have had 10,000 used CDs in stock but complainers loved to point out what we didn’t have.  “This is the only Zeppelin you have?” they’d ask as they held up a copy of Encomium – A Tribute to Led Zeppelin.  “You never have any good Zeppelin.  When are you getting more?”  I’d explain that you can never predict when a specific used CD would be traded in, but I could put them on a waiting list.  “Nah, I’ll just check back.”  Well, then don’t complain when someone else snags the next Zeppelin before you.

We had a pretty good system for a waiting list.  It was all computerized so if something particular came in, it would automatically get flagged.  We could also have stock sent from other stores to pick up locally.  There was one woman that only came in during our first summer open…a chronic complainer that eventually fucked off.  She always had a complaint, every visit.  You don’t have this, you don’t have that, why is this taking so long?  She ordered in a CD from another store, didn’t pick it up on time, and by the time she came in (a month later), it was gone.  I remember telling the staff, “Keep this one on hold.  She’s really mean.  Give her extra time.”  Eventually though I had to put the album out and sell it.  I know that we called and left a message that she only had a week left to pick it up.  She still came in too late, and that’s when she ripped me a new one.

“I had to drive an hour to get here!” she complained.

“Would our Waterloo location be more convenient for you?” I asked, trying to be helpful but also hoping to dump this annoying customer on another store.

“NO!” she exclaimed.

Maybe you should have called in to see if the CD was still here before you made the trip.  I would have.  I think that was her last visit, and it was one customer I was happy to lose.  The owner probably wouldn’t like to hear me say that, but he didn’t have to deal with her.

When I was running our website in the early 2000s, I received a complaint about one of our locations that would not refund some used CDs.  I called the manager up to get her side of the story before I responded.  She said that the guy was yelling and screaming and wouldn’t let her finish a sentence, as she was trying to explain the return policy.  Some customers treated our female employees like dirt, preferring to deal with males.  I got the sense that this complainer was one of them.  He threatened to go to the Chamber of Commerce, but he didn’t get his refund.

There were also chronic complainers who primarily just sold CDs to us.  They wanted a lot more for their CDs than you can offer, and sometimes even act insulted about it.  When you wouldn’t give in to them (because you’re not allowed), they’d be grumpy about it, to put it mildly.  There was one construction worker that came in regularly who was my first surly nemesis.  (And no, he never sold me any Village People albums.)  Then there was the prick that worked at CD Plus down the street.  He kept coming in over and over again to sell, even though he complained each time.  He had tiger-striped hair.  What an annoying fuck he was.  I sure was glad when CD Plus shut down operations and I never saw him again.  (The former CD Plus owner, David Cubitt, still has his mullet but now sells beer for a living.)  Whatever that fucking tiger-stripe guy’s name was, I couldn’t stand dealing with his arrogance.

Tiger-stripe loved to argue.  He quizzed me about what kind of CDs we would pay the most for.  At the time, the Beatles’ original albums were expensive and in demand on CD, so that was one.  “We’ll pay top dollar for the Beatles, they’re still very popular.”

“Why the Beatles?  Neil Diamond has sold more albums than the Beatles.”

Yeah, not the point man.  You could buy a Neil Diamond CD brand new for half the price of a Beatles CD at that time, and he knew that.  His store made their coin selling “super saver” titles.

Any time he brought in a bunch of discs, he would only sell a handful of them and keep all the best ones.  If he could get more for them elsewhere, why was he coming to us at all?

The constant negativity of the chronic complainers could become a real drag on your day.

If you catch yourself complaining regularly at a favourite establishment, maybe it’s not a favourite after all, and maybe the problem is you.

#686: Puke!

GETTING MORE TALE #686: Puke!

 

Almost everybody hates puking.  It’s one of the most unpleasant bodily functions, and everyone does it.  Especially rock stars!  I remember reading an interview with the rock band Kix in Hit Parader magazine.  On the subject of tour stories, one of the guitarists was sick during one show.  He had a puke bucket at side stage, but he missed and the puke ended up hitting an electric fan, which splattered the vomit all over the drummer.  “But he felt better for about half a song!”

On the less funny side, too many rock stars died after choking on their own vomit.  Jimi Hendrix and John Bonham come to mind.  It’s a tragic way to go, when the rock and roll lifestyle eats its own young.  Unfortunately the lessons are not always learned and rock and roll continues to be littered with tragedy.

But let’s keep it light this time.

I have always been a power-puker.  I wake up the neighborhood.  I’ve never puked on stage like the guy from Kix, but I do have a couple rock and roll stories.

At Sausagefest several years ago, I pushed it one step too far.  Not with alcohol, but with food.  That last sausage was a little undercooked and it didn’t feel right in my stomach. I was OK though the Saturday night countdown, and I went to bed after the music ended.  I slept in my car that year, and I started feeling sick after a very brief sleep.

I woke up and I knew I was going to puke.  I got out the car and walked towards the middle of the field.  I didn’t want to puke near anybody’s tent.  I could hear that some of the guys were still up and partying, but I couldn’t see anything.  And then, I released the hounds:

BRAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUGHHHHHHAAAAHHHHH!

BORRRUGHHHHHEEEEERRRRRRRHHHHHEEEH!

PLAGHHHOUUGGGGGHHHHHEAAAAAAR!

“You OK there buddy?” I could hear Tom asking from somewhere in the dark.

“Yeah I just ate too much,” I responded as I recovered.  “Can you get me a bottle of water from my car?”

Tom made sure I was OK, and I slept great after that.  I have no idea how late those guys stayed up, but I know that some years I have woken up in the morning only to find Uncle Meat and Bucky still hadn’t gone to sleep!  There I was going for my morning shit, and these guys were still hanging by the fire.

It happened again a few years later, after Thanksgiving dinner at the cottage.  I blame my mom for this one.  She laid out way too much food, including tables full of chocolate and candy.  As I did at Sausagefest, I ate too much.  I woke up in the middle of the night again, knowing I was going to puke.  I didn’t want to wake anyone in that small cottage so I went outside to the back yard.  Then, once again, I released the evil from my stomach.

BRAAHHHHGGGGGHHHHRRRRRRRRTTT!

BLUUUGGGGGGPPPPPPFFFFFFFFFFFF.

HUUUAAAAAAHHHHHHHGGGGG!

I walked back into the cottage to find that I did in fact wake everyone, despite my best efforts not to.

Here’s the funny thing.  In both cases, the puddle of puke was gone in the morning.  Eaten by wild animals?  Hope they enjoyed the meal!

 

#685: First Signs of Sausagefest

GETTING MORE TALE #685: First Signs of Sausagefest

To quote Bon Jon Bovi, it feels somethin’ like summertime.

Ever since my first time back in ’06, summer is about Sausagefest.  It’s just a month away now and I can already feel the cool waters of the Beaver River on my feet.

It has been hot in Ontario this past week.  I have been sporting my hair long, but the sweaty heat is a severe deterrent.  I originally wanted to try have bangin’ long hair at Sausagefest for the first time this summer.  That’s not gonna happen.  I have surrendered to the summer.  The hair is gone.  The first sign of Sausagefest has arrived:  my shaved head.

 

Before & After

Other preparations are under way.  Several weeks ago, Uncle Meat gave me the list of songs for me to introduce.  I’m very excited because the ideas started poppin’ right away.  I have been gathering funny audio bits for almost a year now, but I have pared them all down to the funniest.  I learned from last year when I took everything to excess, and I think this time I have distilled all my stuff down to the crème de la crème. Trimmed away a lot of fat.

Just as, I hope, the Lamb Lord will be trimming the fat on his massive side of lamb for the BBQ once again.

Now that the hair decision has been made, I have been pondering some new purchases for this year’s Fest.

This will be the last Sausagefest for the old Pontiac.  I’ll be getting something bigger in the fall.  Space in the car is an issue, since I drive two people and all their stuff.  But I want to make room for this baby below.

Someone brought Jon Snow’s sword one year, and I have been known to sport a machete on my belt.  This year, perhaps a more practical weapon would be something that could light our way in the darkness after sunset:  a Kylo Ren lightsaber.

These beauty “weapons” are dropping in price, and wouldn’t it be super cool to have one as a nightlight? It would sure beat glow sticks. Not a small investment, however, and you wouldn’t want it to get damaged up there.

What do you think, LeBrain readers?  Is this a worthy investment?  Stand up and be counted in the poll below.

Keep in mind I could use that money for many other, more practical things.  New shoes.  New glasses.  A new tent. New Guns N’ Roses and Def Leppard box sets.

Check back and see where the poll leads and take part in the discussion in the comments.

Back to work on my recordings for song intros. Can’t wait to see the reactions this time.

 


From last year’s recordings

#684: Can Helium Make Me a Better Singer?

GETTING MORE TALE #684: Can Helium Make Me a Better Singer?

Short answer:  No.

Slightly longer answer:  Below.

 

Want to know more about the element helium (He)? Then watch Sir Martyn Poliakoff’s excellent video. He does not approve of how I wasted helium!

 

Want the real song? Here you go.

#683: I (Don’t) Wanna Be Elected

GETTING MORE TALE #683: I (Don’t) Wanna Be Elected

It’s election season again!  The climate today is nastier than ever, even here in Ontario, Canada.  We don’t have Trump, but we do have something called Doug Ford.  The last name should be familiar to you.  He’s the brother of the late crackhead Toronto mayor Rob Ford. Remember that guy?

The important thing is getting out to the polls and having your say.  If you do not vote, then I don’t want to hear a peep outta you later on.  Not a peep.

Voting is paramount, but unlike Alice Cooper, I do not want to be elected.  I can’t imagine what it’s like to put your name out there, only to have the media dig for all your old skeletons.  We’re seeing candidates apologizing for things they said and did a decade ago.  At least the media wouldn’t have to dig far for my dirt.  One look at Record Store Tales Part 7: A Shitty Story, and they’d hang me out to dry with the laundry.

No thanks!

Some rock stars have thrown their hats in this brutal ring.  Kid Rock has recently floated the idea.  We’ll see if he ever puts his money where his mouth is.  Not all who tried can rely on their fame for an easy win.

Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic gave elections a shot in 2009.  He didn’t win, but he did run for Wahkiakum County Clerk to make a point.  The state of Washington’s laws allow you to run for office for any political party — even fictional ones.  Krist made one up and ran.  We hope being in Nirvana was good enough for the bassist.

Wyclef Jean wanted to run for President of Haiti in 2010, but wasn’t taken seriously because he doesn’t live there or speak the local languages well enough.  He put in the paperwork, but did not qualify.  A former American Idol, Clay Aiken, got a little further.  Aiken ran for congress in North Carolina.  He won the Democratic primary by a hair with 40% of the vote, but did not win the seat.  Can’t fault the guy for trying.  It takes guts!

Yet, there are a handful of success stories.

In 2005, Martha Reeves (of the Vandellas) ran for and won a seat on Detroit’s city council. Jon Fishman of Phish got himself elected to city council of Lincolnville, Maine, making him perhaps the only rock drummer ever to win an election.

The most successful musician turned politician in history would have to be Sonny Bono, hands down.  He was elected mayor of Palm Springs in 1988, and was even mentioned as the mayor in a Beavis and Butt-head music video with Cher!  (“We need a chick that used to be married to some dork, and now she’s all wild and stuff.”)  After this, he served in the US House of Representatives, from 1994 until his death in 1998.

Unfortunately, Alice Cooper has never run for political office.  That’s a shame.

There are more, but politics are not for everybody.  At least we all get to vote.

But how?  Where do you toss your one vote?  Some feel the best way to stop “Ford Nation” from turning Ontario into a mini-Trumpistan is to vote for the New Democrats (or NDP) party.  Others feel Doug Ford is the only choice for an economically troubled province, laid to waste by 15 years of Liberal mismanagement, handouts and scandals.

Choose wisely.

When I turned 18, my first election was provincial.  I had been working my first retail job at a grocery store, and the issue that I chose to cast my vote on was Sunday shopping.  Working at the store, Sundays were the only guaranteed day off and I wasn’t eager to start working them.  The NDP party led by Bob Rae promised they would not allow Sunday shopping in Ontario.  I voted NDP for the first and so far only time.  Rae won, and almost immediately, made Sunday shopping legal.

Fool me once…shame on you?

We have some excellent candidates in my riding, including Amy Fee (wife of Craig) on the Progressive Conservative side, and former boxer Fitz Vanderpool for the NDP.  But the truth is, I can’t wait to cast my vote and get it over with.  Do you know how many political calls we had last night?  Had to be at least 10.

I’m sick of elections.  Wanna be elected?  No friggin’ way.

 

 

#682: Shady Street

GETTING MORE TALE #682: Shady Street

I like where I live.  It’s quiet.  There’s lots of green.  There’s a park across the street.  In the summer, baseball teams play there.  Most people here are seniors.  Not a lot goes on.  I’m probably the loudest neighbour, and that’s not saying much.  You can usually catch me cruising home after work, some Kiss on the car stereo.  That aside, there’s only a little noise pollution.

Down at the end of the street, let’s call it “Shady Street”, there is a meandering roadway that leads to a dead end.  This is my favourite place for morning walks.  The tree cover keeps it cool, and you never have to worry about traffic.  Therefore it’s a perfect stroll for hard rock on the earbuds.  Because it’s so secluded, you can throw in some air guitar if you have a good song going.  Nobody’s going to see you.  There’s nothing down there.

Well, almost nothing.

At the very end, right next to the dead end sign, is an old security camera.  It has been there for years.  To the left, a single long driveway dotted with multiple imposing “NO TRESPASSING” signs.  At the top of that long driveway, a large house with seemingly no occupants.  Many years ago, I read a story about a grow operation that was busted on Shady Street.  I assumed it had to be that house.  In the yellow pages, the address is listed as “Shady Street Electronics”.  But you rarely saw any customers, or inhabitants for that matter, going down to the very end of Shady Street.

Clearly suspicious, but the grow operation was a long time ago.  Walks down Shady Street have continued to be pleasant, with or without the earbuds.  Air guitar is still optional.

This spring, however, I have observed some unusual activity.

Two weeks ago, a group of three teenagers on bicycles sped down Shady Street and did not turn around at the end.  What would three teenagers on bikes be in such a rush to do down the dead end road?  It struck me as odd immediately.  I’ve never seen that before.

Last week, I crossed paths with a dirty guy on a bike heading down there, carrying a large black garbage bag.

I wonder if that house at the end of Shady Street is back in business again.

This is my neighbourhood, and I’m going to take my walks where I take my walks.  But I might leave my earbuds at home next time, if traffic is indeed picking up….

 

 

#681: Bad Lessons

GETTING MORE TALE #681: Bad Lessons

Parents of the 80s were always concerned about the impressions that their kids were getting from music videos.  Objectifying women?  Drug and alcohol use?  Absolutely a concern.  But what about other misleading lessons from the music video age?

 

Bad Lesson #1:  You can play guitar with gloves on!

You’re guilty, Blackie Lawless from W.A.S.P.!  You too, Jeff Pilson of Dokken!  You both played your instruments in music videos while wearing full leather gloves.  As children, we simply assumed if it got cold outside, you could continue to play your guitar with gloves on.  I’m not talking fingerless gloves, but full coverage.

It doesn’t really look cold in that Dokken video for “Burning Like a Flame”. Why the gloves, Jeff? George Lynch isn’t even wearing a shirt.

 

Bad Lesson #2:  Great hair just happens.

How many music videos of the 80s showed the band members doing up their hair?  None!  Probably due to the “hairspray” stigma of the 80s. Some videos showed the band members literally getting out of bed, with hair intact.  I assumed that once you grew your hair long enough and had it cut by a professional, it would just automatically look cool every morning.  Naturally, I had bad hair for years.  Thanks, rock stars.  Don’t be embarrassed by your hair care products!

 

Bad Lesson #3:  Guitars are eeeeasy to play!

Since we didn’t fully comprehend that music videos were mimed, and not an actual performance, we assumed guitars were easy to play!  After all, they made it look so easy!  C.C. DeVille could jump around and swing his guitar everywhere without missing a note.  Others would just…hit their guitars…and the song played on!  Paul Stanley seemed to play his without even touching it.  You can imagine how we felt when we actually bought our first guitars ourselves.  Hitting it didn’t play a song, it just made a hitting sound.  We were lied to!

Players like DeVille and Jeff Labar of Cinderella also made it look far too easy to swing your guitars over your shoulders.  We damaged some necks and some ceilings trying to imitate these guys.  We learned you had to buy strap locks or watch your guitar get launched skyward.

 

Bad Lesson #4:  Adulthood involves walking the streets at night with your boyz.

As young impressionable kids, we didn’t know what adulthood was really about.  We saw our dads go to work every day.  Mom worked hard too.  But what about before they met and got married and settled down to have kids?  What was life like at that stage?  Judging by Dokken, Journey or Motley Crue videos, adulthood meant walking around town a lot with your buds.  Some bands even cruised in cars!  Is this what growing up looked like?


“Don’t Go Away Mad” (by the most Mötleyest of Crües) is guilty on two counts: plenty of downtown walkin’, and Vince waking up with hair perfectly coiffed.

 

Bad Lesson #5:  Getting arrested is no big deal!

David Lee Roth was led away in handcuffs in the “Panama” music video.  Bobby Dall of Poison got arrested in one of their clips, too.  Let’s not forget Sammy Hagar getting busted for speeding in “I Can’t Drive 55”.   But it’s all good – the guys were all there at the end of the songs.  No big deal!

 

 

It was never the alcohol, or devil worship, or women that made rock videos dangerous. Turns out it was the mundane stuff. Who knew long hair was so hard to upkeep? They never told us that. How naive we were!

 

 

#680: The End of an Era

It was the year 2000.  Not just the dawn of a new century, but a new store.  Even though I was a store manager myself, I only found out about the expansion through the grapevine.

We were at a party when Tom said to me, “You’re going to be so relieved when the new store opens.”

What?…what new store??

“They didn’t tell you?  I can’t believe they didn’t tell you.  Yeah, they’re opening up a new store and moving head office with it.  The head office people are finally going to be out of your hair when they move it.”

“Head office” was a little room in the back of my store.

Nope, nobody told me!  In fact, nobody ever told me in any official capacity.  Even when they had started building the place and deciding who would staff it, nobody ever officially told me.  Even as they chose staff members from my own crew to run it, they didn’t tell me.  Communication at the Record Store was dysfunctional.  I heard again in passing from one of my employees that was being sent there, as if I already knew.  This pissed me off, but Tom was right.  I was hugely relieved to have the head office people moving out.  Good riddance; now they could go and micromanage somebody else!

Life was peachy for a couple years.  I had them out of my hair, and I took over the back office when I began running the store website.

All things end, and in 2003, they moved me to the new store as well.  Sales were down at my old store, and I had some problematic staff members.  So they shuffled around managers and I took over the other store.  I hated working there.  It may have been new, but it never felt like “home” like my old store did.  They told me that being comfortable wasn’t a good thing.

I didn’t enjoy managing the second store like I did the first, and I hated the location.  It was smaller.  There was no room behind the counter and I was always bashing into things.  It had fewer listening stations.  I missed my old regular customers, and being micromanaged again sucked!

I finally left in 2006 and the store soldiered on with a new manager.  But again, nothing lasts forever.  In the Brave New World that is music retail, a lot of record stores bit the dust.  Now it’s 2018, and an era is coming to an end.  The store that I uncomfortably managed is closing this year.  Even though working there was not fun, it’s still a sad day for me.  It might never have felt like home, but it kind of was for three years.  Huge chunks of my CD collection came from that store.  My mint Black Sabbath Black Box, my Queen 3″ singles, and a Japanese import Deep Purple box set* all came from that location.  So did dozens of Record Store Tales.

As the sun sets on my old store, it’s bittersweet.  Not a lot of great memories there, but sadness just the same.  Any time a record store closes, it’s a loss for music fans.  The inventory will be consolidated with another store that is moving to a bigger location, but it’s hard not to see it as another one biting the dust.

 

 

 

* Review forthcoming.

#679: Cancer Chronicles 12

The good news is that Jen’s recovery has been amazing. She virtually back to full strength and still getting stronger.

Thank God for this, because I don’t think we could handle any more bad news on top of what we already have.

Our other loved one who has cancer is…not doing well.  Surgery was successful but more spread has been found.  This news is fresh and we do not know the path forward.

The future is unknown.  There are new experimental treatments that might be effective.

We are trying to continue our lives as normally as possible.  Sausagefest is less than two months away.  Cottage season has begun.  We don’t want to live our lives in a cocoon and our loved one doesn’t want us to either.  But we are in a state of shell-shock and knowing how to feel or what to think is just not happening right now.