Legendary Klopeks

#993: IAM

RECORD STORE TALES #993: IAM

Rest in peace, Shannon Larratt.  Rest in peace, Rachel Larratt.  Both gone now, hopefully to a better place.

In the decades before the WordPress community, there was one place I could go to feel like I belonged.  In 1999, a Toronto native named Shannon Larratt created a community.  He called it “IAM” – “I am” – and it was a place for tattooed and/or pierced individuals to feel welcome.  You might remember Shannon and Rachel from their brief cameo in the Kevin Smith movie Clerks II.  Remember the “freaks”?  That was Shannon and Rachel.

I joined in the year 2000 and began making new friends, close and far.  Sarge was on there.  The Legendary Klopeks were on there.  The Lizardman was on there.  Dan Slessor from Kerrang Magazine, though Kerrang was still in his future.  It was growing, and growing fast.

IAM was different.  Shannon ensured it was not just a safe place, but also a cool place.  You could pay for a membership, or just submit stories and photos for credit.  I did both, but mostly paid, because I wanted to support the community, as did most people.  It’s hard to describe just what made it so special.  It was set as my home page on my browser.  I even had an app in the toolbar that notified me when I had new IAM messages.  I’d open my window and in front of me would be a grid of photos — the most recent IAM profiles that posted updates, in the form of a blog or photos.  It was always exciting to see a friend or girl that I liked post an update!  Or someone who had not been around a while.

There was one character named Raynutz.  He had no visible piercings or tattoos (the one and only qualifier for membership), and his was the very very last profile on the grid (which you could skip through page by page).  This meant it was one of the oldest since his first post was his only post.  All he had was a mullet and a pair of Ray-Bans.  Nobody knew the story behind Raynutz.  I always suspected it was a joke test account made by Shannon, but he would never tell.  Raynutz became pure legend by not interacting with people at all.  Hundreds of messages were sent to his inbox; nobody received a reply.  This eventually led to Shannon selling a “Raynutz Ate My Balls” T-shirt.

Sarge told me he knew the identity of Raynutz, but could never reveal it.

The Raynutz Ate My Balls shirt eventually inspired Sarge to create the popular Purp Ate My Balls shirt, with my face on it.  I went by the name “Purpendicular” after a favourite Deep Purple album.  At one point, I deleted my account after a bad day at work, but I received so many “what happened?” emails that I decided to come back.  I decided on a fresh start with the name “Dewey Finn”, named after Jack Black’s character in School of Rock.  As such, I decided to create a discussion forum called “School of Rock” where each day I would prepare “lessons” for the “class”.  Obscure rock trivia stuff, like listing all the Black Sabbath singers right down to Dave Walker and Rob Halford.  It became so popular that the School of Rock forum was one of the site’s most popular, third only to Shannon’s and my own personal journals!  At least for a couple weeks, I topped the charts!  I learned quickly that keeping up that pace was impossible and eventually I slid down the charts, but usually remained in the top 20.  It was fun and a precursor to becoming LeBrain.

What about that journal?  You guessed it — those journal entries formed the basis of many of the original (and ongoing) Record Store Tales.  Unfortunately I lost many of them when I deleted my Purpendicular profile and started Dewey Finn, and I wish I hadn’t.  I posted reviews, record reviews, and all sorts of personal stuff that I wish I still had.  Incriminating evidence against the people at the Record Store who were making life miserable for me.  Actual records of the days that “the bully” decided not to speak to me for three weeks at a time.  Customer stories galore.  Writings of what I was listening to and when.  I had so much good shit in there!  I posted minimum five times per day, with lists, pictures or stories.  One of my biggest regrets is hitting that delete button.  I remember Shannon wrote some funny code into it.  When you confirmed you wanted to delete your IAM page, the text came back, “Your IAM page is now deleted, throw your computer in the garbage.”

They had big BMEcons in Toronto.  People would come from all around the world.  They’d get tattooed, pierced, suspended, drunk, high, who knows!  I didn’t go, but I do know it was a good time with music and fellowship.

My interaction with Shannon was minimal, and none with Rachel, who continued on with the site after he passed.  Now I have heard that Rachel is gone too.  It seems surreal.  We lost Sarge earlier this year too.  Fortunately most of us are still around.  Mike, Liz, Shoe, and RooRaaah (those are all real names not aliases) are still my friends.  Shoe used to live in England, and now resides in Toronto, but I still have an old mix tape that she sent me from the UK back in 2002 or 2003.  Mix TAPE.

The only elephant remaining in the room might be the question “didja meet any girls there?”  I refer you to Record Store Tales #909:  2000 Dates and the girl I dubbed “Guelph #2”!  There were others — the girl that dumped me while I was in a hotel room in Barrie Ontario was an IAM girl.  The last of them was Thunder Bay Girl, who I swear to this day probably dumped all the hundreds of cassettes that I gave her into the landfill.  I was 30 and she was in her early 20s and I was learning that age did matter.  It was a lot of fun hanging out with these girls with hardware in their nips but I was emotionally in an unhappy place and I eventually realized that dating these young goth girls wasn’t the answer.

Here’s something interesting though.  In those IAM days, I thought that I hadn’t really figured out who I was yet.  But there I was the whole time:  the music-mad journaling guy, documenting the minutia of life.  And the Record Store Tales will continue on.

Part 273: Purp Ate My Balls Redux: Special Edition

RECORD STORE TALES Part 273:
Purp Ate My Balls Redux: Special Edition

I am thrilled to have discovered all the missing pictures of the infamous “Purp Ate My Balls” gallery.  This isn’t everyone who owned the shirt, just the ones who took pictures.

What’s the “Purp Ate My Balls” shirt?  Well, to quote the original story, Part 227:

10 years ago my online handle was “Purpendicular.”  (Gee, where did I get that name from?)  ”Purp” made a good short-form nickname.  For whatever reason…and believe me I wish I could remember…Sarge decided to make and give out 40 or 50 “Purp Ate My Balls” shirts!  He gave them to all his shop employees (Metal Fatigue in Bournemouth) and I’m pretty sure all the Klopeks ended up with them too.

Here’s a whole lotta pictures of English people wearing me on their shirts!

I also found the original photo that started it all!

PURP ATE MY BALLS

GUEST REVIEW: The Beatles – Stereo Box Set LP version


THE BEATLES – Stereo Box Set (2009 LP version, Apple/EMI)

By: Lemon Kurri Klopek

I’m a sucker for a good boxed-set. I own several. A couple from The Beach Boys, and The Who, one from David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, heck, even The Monkees. When we’re talking The Beatles though, I have a number of them. The original bread box set of CDs, the Singles Collection, the E.P. Collection, the Anthologies, The Capitol sets, the Mono box and the Stereo box. Then of course the individual solo sets. The Lennon box, Onceuponatime, the Darkhorse Years, the list goes on. I have the special editions from each member’s solo catalogue. All Things Must Pass, Band On The Run, etcetera.  So when I saw the giant LP collection sitting there staring at me in the record store, it was no surprise when I found myself lugging it, double bagged out to the trunk of my car.

I must say it is an impressive set. All original UK releases plus Past Masters, all stereo versions, and all on 180 gram vinyl. These sets of vinyl are on the retail shelves for close to $350. I bought mine from a local establishment that was running a sale that weekend. I walked out having parted with 276 of my dollars. That’s tax included too. Not a bad deal considering there are 14 records (two of which are doubles.) That is less than $20 per record if you’re keeping track.

BEATLES

One small added bonus is, there is a foam cushion in the box that when removed makes room for the Yellow Submarine Songtrack and the #1s double record released years ago. Now I’m sure you could put other releases in there like, I don’t know, Love, or Yesterday and Today but I put in #1s and Yellow Sub. You put in whatever you like, it’s a free country… Anyway…

I figured the thing to do was to start at the beginning. So after unsheathing the box from its’ cellophane wrapping, (one of the best parts of buying a record and sadly something a generation will miss out on entirely) out came the beefy 180 gram stereo version of Please Please Me. I placed it on my Rega turntable and dropped the needle. In an instant it was the 11th of February 1963 and I was standing in EMI Studios on Abbey Road in London. Listening to what for all intents and purposes is a recording of The Beatles live set at the time. George Martin’s stereo mix of “I Saw Her Standing There” which was released a month after the original Mono mix, was filling my living room. The second release With The Beatles followed and then of course, A Hard Day’s Night. Stellar the lot.

5/5 stars

Contents:

Please Please Me (1963)
With The Beatles (1963)
A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
Beatles for Sale (1964)
Help! (1965)
Rubber Soul (1965)
Revolver (1966)
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
The Beatles (1968)
Yellow Submarine (1969)
Abbey Road (1969)
Let It Be (1970)
Past Masters (1962–1970)

Further reading:
THE BEATLES – In Mono (2009)

Part 243: Return to Niagara Falls

Since I abandoned chronological order shortly after Part 10, everything’s been scattershot since.  This story takes place a month before the events in Part 102: Dumped in Barrie.  It features she who dumped me in Barrie, as well as friends from Part 64: Niagara Falls, and the title character from Part 155: Sarge.  Got all that?

RECORD STORE TALES Part 243:  Return to Niagara Falls

A cold Saturday morning, JJJulie and I headed down to St. Catharines, Ontario.  The purpose of our visit was to hang out with our Record Store friends in The Legendary Klopeks, and Sarge, who had flown in from Bournemouth, England!  Sarge was an imposing figure, with steampunk top hat and platform boots.  We’d been communicating online for a while and we were all looking forward to his visit.  He ended up helping the Klopeks book some gigs overseas later.

Lemon Kurri Klopek, you may remember, co-owned one of our stores.  JJJulie and I rendezvoused with him at his store, where I spent some money.  (Astute readers will realize that for me to buy a CD from Lemon Kurri, a franchisee, was against the rules!  We had some pretty stupid rules.)

The lot of us grabbed some fancy dinner together, a motley crew of tattoos, piercings, leather, and rock and roll.  Although we spent a lot of money and were nothing but polite, our appearances were apparently too much for the upscale restaurant folk.  We were given our bills and pointedly not asked if we wanted to order from the dessert menu.

We fit in much better later on at a bar in St. Catharines, where Sarge presided regaling us with stories about Lemmy from Motorhead and others.  I normally don’t like bars, but everybody seemed to know everybody there.  Sarge then presented me a Motorhead tour shirt, a gift I still have (although packed away in a box).  We had a pretty solid time, and the place was mostly empty so my crowd phobia didn’t really kick in.

SAM_0489

The Rockmobile

The following day, Sunday, we took a trip across the border to do some shopping. We all piled into Lemon Kurri Klopek’s Rockmobile.  There was some kind of outlet mall in Niagara Falls, USA that was supposed to be pretty cool.  JJJulie wanted to buy shoes (whoop-de-do!) but I was told there were a couple good toy stores there.

At K.B. Toys I found the Star Wars Game of Life for $9.99, which I still have.  That was a score.  I kept it sealed.  At that price I should have bought a second one and sold it or given it away as a gift.  But that wasn’t the only mistake I made on that trip.  A further stop at a US record store turned up a find that I didn’t know existed.

I’m admittedly not a fan of the Alice Cooper Brutal Planet period. I am however a completist, so I was still interested when I saw a Brutally Live CD/DVD combo pack.  We had the DVD in Canada, but not the CD, and CD is still my primary format.  It was $25, and I decided to pass on it simply because I knew I wasn’t going to play it that often.

Maintaining a balance between “I won’t play it that often” and “I still want it for the collection” is tricky sometimes, and erring on the side of budget, I decided to pass on the Brutally Live set for the moment.  As soon as I got back home and checked online, I regretted that decision.  I couldn’t get it from any Canadian sellers and buying from an American one was going to cost me at least $35.  (Happy ending:  About five years down the road, it was released in Canada at a budget price!  I have it now.)

My Star Wars Game of Life was a good score.  On eBay, there’s one (not sealed like mine) going for $25.99 (buy it now).  There are none on eBay that are unopened at the time of this writing.  I think I’ll hang onto mine and wait for the release of Episode VII to sell!

Gallery: Toronto Record Store Excursion 2013 teaser

Not quite a year ago, Aaron and I went to Toronto to splurge on music.  Today I have returned from what is hoped to be a regular occurrence.  I present to you, the spoils of war below.  This is just a teaser.  My goal is to edit together another documentary video like I did last year.  This year I shot everything on my new BlackBerry Z10, which means I have to do some file conversion.  With any luck I’ll be showing you all the details and fun soon.  Until then, enjoy this teaser.!

Part 227: Purp Ate My Balls


RECORD STORE TALES Part 227:  Purp Ate My Balls

10 years ago my online handle was “Purpendicular.”  (Gee, where did I get that name from?)  “Purp” made a good short-form nickname.  For whatever reason…and believe me I wish I could remember…Sarge decided to make and give out 40 or 50 “Purp Ate My Balls” shirts!  He gave them to all his shop employees (Metal Fatigue in Bournemouth) and I’m pretty sure all the Klopeks ended up with them too.

I wish I had the photo gallery, but Sarge used to have pictures of all those people wearing my face on their shirts and doing the “Purp” face.  It was a mini-phenomenon at the time, but all I have left is Sarge.

For obvious reasons, I was not allowed to wear this shirt to work.  I do still have mine though, packed away in storage.  I wonder how many more are still out there?  I often wonder if people in Bournemouth, Brighton, Niagara Falls and beyond still wear their “Purp”?

Sarge

Part 220: Blackout!

RECORD STORE TALES Part 220:  Blackout!

It seems like only last year, but in fact it was 10 years ago today.  One of the only times we ever closed the store early was the Great Blackout of 2003.  If you lived in, well, North America, you probably remember Blackout 2003.

I recall closing up shop in the mid-afternoon.  It was obvious the power wasn’t coming back on, but the phones were working.  We got the call to do our best to close up without power, and head home.

For many people, particularly in Toronto, this turned out to be an exceptional evening.  People left their homes, went out and socialized.  Many went to the beach.  Me, I just sat at home and read a book until it was too dark to read.  Then I turned in.

I fell asleep quickly, it was so quiet.  Suddenly I woke up to the sound of the phone ringing.  I reached  for my watch, my eyes trying to focus on the glowing hands.  4:30 am.  I didn’t know what to think.

On the other end was Brandon “You Are So Punk”, who worked at our Niagara Falls location.  That first night, they incredibly still had power, although that wasn’t going to last!

“Man, why are you calling?” I yawned.  “It’s 4:30 in the morning.”

Brandon paused.  “What are you talking about?”

Frustrated, I answered, “I’m looking at my watch, you’re calling me at 4:30 in the morning!”

Brandon paused again, and answered simply, “Dude.  Your watch is upside down.  It’s 10:00 pm. I just got home from work.”

D’Oh!

The next day, Friday the 15th, the power was restored in the early morning.  Still, we weren’t supposed to be open.  The government had advised all non-essential businesses to stay closed, and not put additional strain on our fried power grid.  Us being so essential, were open (of course).  That is until about mid-afternoon when we again had to close, due to rolling blackouts.  The shit thing about that was that we were absolutely slammed with people that morning, we were overwhelmed.  A lot of them were what I called “tire kickers” — they like to ask you a lot of questions but they don’t buy anything.  Since nobody was open except us and a few other “essential” businesses, it was like a holiday for the general public.  People brought in used discs by the box load to sell, I kid you not.  I went through 300 discs from one guy alone.  I had him leave his box behind because it was going to take a couple hours to go through, and then we ended up closing while he was out.  He came back a few days later for his cash and unwanted discs (which was most of them).

When people reflect back on the blackout, they usually have fond memories and stories.  Not me!  I remember shit stories!  Oh!  And I had to throw out all the meat that I had bought that day before work too, because the fridge had no power.  Fuck you, blackouts!

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