nostalgia

#901: 5150 Time Again?

Distilling some stories from the 5150 live stream.

RECORD STORE TALES #901: 5150 Time Again?

Van Halen’s 5150 was their first #1.  It was their first with Sammy Hagar and their first truly divisive album.  As a young kid on a weekly allowance, I had to pick and choose what to buy.  Van Halen’s marketing campaign involved making no new music videos for 5150, only releasing live clips.  Since music videos were 99% of my new music exposure, 5150 didn’t make it high on my priority lists.  Van Halen didn’t want to compete with David Lee Roth, seen as the master of the music video.  Unfortunately this meant kids like me only had live versions to preview.

In particular, the live video for “Why Can’t This Be Love” turned off many of the kids in the neighbourhood.  Scott Peddle remembers not buying the album specifically because of that video.  It was a combination of Sammy’s new haircut and the off-key scatting.  This is all we had to judge the new album by!  I didn’t have any friends who owned 5150.

I ended up getting a second hand cassette off a kid in school named Todd Burnside.  I was sorely disappointed that after paying him five bucks; the front cover to the tape was all ripped.  I had to put it back together with Scotch tape.  I couldn’t figure out why he didn’t bother taking care of his tape.  Then again, Burnside’s nickname in school was “Burnout”.  At least it played well.

Maybe two years after 5150 came out, there were rumblings about Van Halen working on new music.  In the 80s, there was no internet but there was a rumour mill.  You’d read something in a magazine, or hear it on the TV.  For example, there were almost always rumours that Van Halen were on the verge of splitting.  This happened in 1987 when Sammy Hagar released his self-titled solo album (even though said solo album was made with Edward Van Halen himself).  At the same time, there were rumours that they were also working on a brand new Van Halen album.

It wasn’t inconceivable, with our naive little insular world view, that the forthcoming new Van Halen album could leak, and someone could get a hand on a tape.  It seemed possible.  Kids in my neighbourhood had all kinds of rare music on tape that we couldn’t trace back to a source.  Live tracks by Iron Maiden, or even the legendary “Rodeo Song”.   It was taped from one kid to another to another until you didn’t know what generation you had.  This story is about the time I thought the girl I liked got her pretty little hands on the new Van Halen.

The story goes like this.  Her boyfriend taped her a Van Halen cassette, with no titles written down.  Huge pet peave, right?  Such bad habits lead to misunderstandings like this story.  I was friends with her younger brother, and one day I was talking to her on the phone and she mentioned her favourite song by Van Halen.  “I love ‘Contact’,” she said.  “It’s on this tape my boyfriend made.”

“Contact”?  I never heard of that song.  I knew my Van Halen song titles and “Contact” was not one of them.  Not realizing that she had to be making up the title herself because no songs were written down, I concluded she might have her hands on a pirated tape of the new Van Halen.  I wanted to hear it next time I came over.

I told my friends about this possible lead into the next Van Halen album and promised to report back.

I went to visit one afternoon.  They had a pool.  But I wanted to get down to business first.  I brought a blank 60 minute tape with me in case I needed to dub what I was about to hear.  Let’s see this Van Halen tape!

She brought out the tape and I noticed there was nothing written on the cover, so there was absolutely no information available about any of the songs.  But I didn’t need information as soon as she hit “play”.

The familiar cascading keyboard melody echoed from the tinny speakers of her ghetto blaster.  What the hell?!  This song wasn’t called “Contact”!  It was called “Love Walks In”!  How could she not know that?

My disappointment was only assuaged by a dip in the pool, with extra splashing.  I came home empty handed.  No Van Halen, and worse than that…the girl I liked didn’t even know the proper name of “Love Walks In”!  How the hell?

My crush on her dissipated shortly thereafter and I moved on to other interests.  She wasn’t a real Van Halen fan after all.

 

LeBrain Train Easter Weekend Schedule

The LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano

Episodes 57 and 58 – Max the Axe & Easter Special weekend!

 

Happy Easter everyone — a weekend I have traditionally looked forward to ever since I was a kid.  Spring is in the air!  The last two Easters have been pretty weird, but I’m glad to spend some time with you during this global crisis.  It’s only getting worse currently here in Ontario as the third wave threatens to undo all our progress.  So, this weekend I’ll be doing two shorter shows instead of one long one.  Here’s the plan:

Thursday April 1 – Max the Axe “Straight Outta Lockdown” session – 7:00 PM E.S.T.

For the first time in almost a year, Max the Axe reunited for a rehearsal.  It was rough and ragged but lead vocalist Uncle Meat has given me the thumbs-up to play some songs from this session, including the brand new “Pygmy Blowdart”.  Special guest:  the one, the only Max himself!


Friday April 2 – Good Friday – Easter Memories – 7:00 PM E.S.T.

Similar to the “Christmas Memories” show from last year.  I had a lot of good Easters.  Join me on Good Friday for some happy memories, musical and otherwise.  Such as:

  • Easter ’85 – Condition Critical in Ottawa
  • Easter ’86 – Quiet Riot air guitar weekend, Turbo, Crossbows & Catapults on the kitchen floor
  • Easter ’87 – Digging trenches in the back yard for GI Joe.
  • Easter ’88 – Skyscraper in Ottawa
  • Easter ’91 – Welcome to My Nightmare?
  • Easter ’92 – Pandora’s study regime
  • Easter ’16 – Record Store shopping in Ottawa

Hope to see you this weekend on the LeBrain Train.  NEXT WEEK:  Andy Curran!

#887: A Glimpse of the Future

RECORD STORE TALES #887: A Glimpse of the Future

Sometimes I like to imagine myself in my younger self’s shoes.  I think about me as a kid, sitting in the basement watching the Pepsi Power Hour on MuchMusic.  There I am, staring intently, VCR remote grasped in hand, and set to “Record-Pause”.  Waiting for the new music video by Kiss to debut.  Hitting that un-pause button to get a good recording as soon as the video began.  Could I even have imagined the on-demand nature of YouTube?  No, but I like to imagine what I would have thought if I could have seen a glimpse of the future.

I always felt limited by technology, even though I was spoiled enough to have my own stereo, my own Walkman, and access to the family VCR (almost) whenever I wanted.  Though I had all this stuff, I couldn’t make it do what I wanted to do without some improvisation.  Making a mix tape, for example.  If I wanted a live song on a mix tape, I had to fade it in and out.  My dual tape deck couldn’t do that.  To do a fade, I plugged my Walkman, via a cable in the headphone jack, into the audio inputs of my ghetto blaster.  This was done with a Y-connector, and an RCA-to-3.5 mm adaptor cable.  Then I used the Walkman’s volume knob to fade the song in and out while the ghetto blaster recorded.  It took trial and error and the end recording usually sounded a little hot and crackly.  But I didn’t have anything better.

If that highschool kid playing with cables in his bedroom could only have imagined Audacity.  Instant fades, exactly as you want them.  Precise digital replication.  I would have lost my shit.  If you had given me Audacity as a kid, I might not have left my bedroom for a week…and not for the reasons a teen usually hides in his bedroom!

I worked long hours on mix tapes back in those days, mainly because you had to make them in real time.  And you had to keep it simple too.  Making the tape in the first place was the challenge; making it creatively was the icing.  But the end results were always…disappointing?  Underwhelming?  The second generation taped songs never sounded as good as the first.  You’d get a little noise, perhaps a pop, between tracks where you started and stopped your recording.  Little imperfections.  Maybe one track sounds a little slow, one a little fast.  Volume levels are inconsistent.  All stuff out of your control.

The amount of control I have today over what I create is astounding.  Even visually speaking.  I don’t make tape cover art anymore, but doing so was a painstaking process involving sharp pencils, rulers, erasers, and scissors.  Everything had to be handwritten and hand drawn.  Sometimes I might be able to get my dad to photocopy a cover at his work, but usually I had to make my own stuff.  I was very limited when it came to to making visuals.  Even taking a photograph, it took days or weeks to get your picture back.  You had to use the entire roll of film before getting it developed, of course.  Now you have a phone that’s a camera and a computer.

Now that’s something that young me definitely couldn’t have imagined:  our phones.  Even science fiction of the mid-80s didn’t have anything like the phones we have today.  Imagine what I could have made with that!  It took months and a lot of clunky equipment for Bob Schipper and I to make a single music video in 1989.  I can throw together a clip in minutes today, thanks to computers and phones and ubiquitous cameras that ensure I always have raw photos and videos waiting to be edited together.

Computers — now there’s a quantum leap that young me wouldn’t believe.  We had a family computer from a very early time, decked out with a dot matrix printer and a monochrome block of a monitor.  But it wasn’t connected to anything.  We didn’t have the instant access to information.  We couldn’t look up a band’s complete discography in a moment on Discogs, much less actually buy those rare items and have them shipped to the front door!  Can you imagine how much that would have blown my mind?  I had a few hundred bucks in the bank at that age.  Well, it would all have been gone if you had given me access to Discogs for an hour in 1986.  The ability to actually complete an artist’s music collection today, was something I just could not ever do as a kid.  Very few people could.

We did what we could with the resources at hand.  We’d save our pennies, and take the bus down to Sam the Record Man.  We’d look around for an hour and decide where we would best spend our dollars.  “Don’t go to Sam the Record Man and buy something you can get at the mall,” was the motto.  That would be a waste of time and bus money!

Bob Schipper made far more trips to Sam’s, usually via bike.  But if he acquired a rarity, it was always a given that I could tape it off him.  A lot of my first Maiden B-sides were just taped copies of records he found at Sam’s.

What I was doing in those early formative years was absorbing rock’s past.  Collecting the albums, discovering the bands, learning the member’s names through the magazines and interviews.  But what if I could have seen the future of all this?  What would I have thought of things like a six-man Iron Maiden lineup with three lead guitar players?  I think tunes like “The Wicker Man” would have blown me away as an evolution without losing what made Maiden great.

I wonder what I would have thought of the Kiss tour with the original members back in makeup?  I know I would have been disappointed that they never made a proper studio album together.  One thing I appreciated as a kid was that Kiss put out something new every year.  Today, Kiss only put out an album when there’s a solar eclipse on planet Jendell.  I think the success of that reunion tour would have made the younger me feel validated for my Kiss love, but I know I would have been unhappy about the lack of new material.  However, if I could have heard albums like Sonic Boom and Monster, I also know I’d have been happy that Kiss dropped the keyboards, brought Gene back to prominence, and had all four members singing.  That would have impressed me.

I’m still working on my time travel powers, and I’m also wary of doing anything that could change the future.  Since The Avengers: Endgame taught us that you can’t change your past’s future’s future (or something like that), I’m going to continue to work on the technology.  If I can show my past self some of these amazing technological advances, I might…I don’t know!  Buy first print Kiss LPs and keep them in the shrink wrap?  I haven’t fully through this through, but trust me — it’s going to be awesome.

#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.  

 

#869: Piece of Mind

GETTING MORE TALE #869: Piece of Mind

Trying to remember exact details is a bit like filling in the blanks, but here are the facts that I know I can state with confidence:

  1. The vinyl copy of Piece of Mind by Iron Maiden is the original that I bought back for Bob Schipper as a gift in the mid-80s.
  2. It was purchased at a music store in Kincardine, Ontario.
  3. It ended up becoming my property because he already had it.

I think it had to be the summer of 1985.  I remember being on vacation at the cottage.  I was just getting into heavy metal.  I know the basics but not the details.  Being away from home, I missed my best friend Bob, but I looked forward to getting him a birthday present.  I wanted to get him an Iron Maiden album.  I thought that he didn’t own Piece of Mind, and there it was in stock at this little music store on the main street of Kincardine.  I got it for him, or, more likely, I picked it out and my parents paid for it.  I was 12 turning 13.

For some reason, I think the record did not come sealed.  Again, memories are hazy here.  I might have known two songs:  “The Trooper” and “Flight of Icarus”.  I seem to remember looking at the credits and wanting to tell Bob about these two guys pictured inside named Martin “Black Night” Birch and Derek “Dr. Death” Riggs.  Bob knew the names of the band members, sure, but did he know these two guys?  I actually didn’t note that it was spelled “Black Night” instead of “Black Knight”, nor would I have caught the Deep Purple reference if I did.

On the other side of the inner sleeve, I thought Bob would love the photo of the band at the banquet table, Bruce wielding a mean looking blade.  At that point, I at least knew who Bruce was.  I also recall that the neighbour kids liked Dave Murray least because they thought he looked kind of goofy.  Meanwhile, Adrian Smith appears absolutely flabbergasted at the feast before them.

I looked forward to giving Bob the record, but there was a hiccup of some kind.  Either he already got Piece of Mind, or the LP format wasn’t good for him anymore.  He would have had to play LPs on the living room stereo rather than his own bedroom’s tape deck.  It could even have been both those things.  Either way, because of that well-intentioned gift, I ended up with my first Iron Maiden.

I consider myself lucky to have this record so early in my life.

By ’86-87, I was spinning it pretty regularly on the turntable.  I was lucky enough not only own this album as a young teen, but to even have a turntable in my own bedroom.  My parents weren’t going to use it anymore, so they handed it down.  Any time they wanted to hear a song from their records, I would tape it for them.

I can recall studying for exams in the 9th grade playing Piece of Mind, and a Triumph single, in constant rotation.  Although I should have had my mind on other things, I ended up memorizing the lyrics of the Dave Murray tune “Still Life” instead.  It was one of my first love affairs with a deep cut.  I mostly memorized “Sun and Steel” too.  I practiced singing these songs in my bedroom.

I had the writing credits committed to memory.  I liked all the songs.  It was an extraordinary album to me.  Few were the albums where I truly liked all the songs.  Some more than others, (“Quest For Fire” is perhaps not as good as “Revelations”, yeah?) but I liked them all for their own reasons.  Even the twisting, complex “To Tame a Land” was a cool Iron Maiden epic, though certainly not as accessible as “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” or “Alexander the Great”.

20 years later I went full circle back to Piece of Mind once again dominating a time in my life.  I had finally quit the Record Store and was working a blissful job in the mail room at United Rentals.  I had just started reading Frank Herbert, starting of course with Dune.  This led me right back to Piece of Mind and “To Tame a Land”.  And finally, I memorized those lyrics too.  “He is the Kwizatz Haderach, he is born of Caladan, and will take the Gom Jabbar”.  I finally understand what the shit those words meant!  Insofar as a layman in the Herbert world, anyway.  The lyrics are a bit ham-fisted, but did it matter?  No, of course not, as I sang the words over the incessant rattle of that mail machine.

It was a contraption of aligned (or mis-aligned more often than not) components, at least 10 feet long.  Place a carefully sorted stack of invoices in one end, load a handful of windowed envelopes somewhere in the middle, and in theory, the thing would fold, insert, seal and stamp all the mail.  In reality it required constant babysitting at almost every step, but I soon became its master.  And I sang away in victory:

The time will come for him
To lay claim his crown
And then the foe yes
They’ll be cut down
You’ll see he’ll be the
Best that there’s been
Messiah supreme
True leader of men
And when the time
For judgement’s at hand
Don’t fret he’s strong
And he’ll make a stand
Against evil and fire
That spreads through the land
He has the power
To make it all eeeeeend!

Even over the clanking of that machine, I could still be heard.  I knew that, and I kept singing anyway.  I actually loved that job and wanted the world to know it.  I was so happy to be free of the Record Store.

Playing back Piece of Mind today is like putting on an old familiar T-shirt.  It fits just right, no adjustments needed.  Eventually you forget that it’s there, except that for persistent smile on your face.  Peace of mind indeed.

 

 

 

 

#866: Untitled ’94

GETTING MORE TALE #866: Untitled ’94

I didn’t go to the cottage at all in 1994.  I was busy with school, then in the summer met a girl, and finally got a job at the Record Store.  That was all the distraction I needed to stay home.  Girls trumped trees and water.  Priorities!

The first summer at the Record Store was a brand new world for me.  New faces, new names, new music.  Lots and lots of cleaning.  “If there’s time to lean, there’s time to clean!” went the saying.  A lot of the job was tedious.  Wednesday was “tape check day”.  From A to Z we had to check every cassette in the store and make sure the magnetic security strip was firmly attached.  If it wasn’t, we’d get some scotch tape and secure that sucker.  My hands always felt so grungy after a day of tape checking.

There was always filing to do, and new stock to price.  When we sold a tape or CD, we had to know to re-order them.  How was this accomplished?  Tapes had a little clear plastic sticker on the back.  It had the artist, title and record label written on it.  When we sold a tape, we had to file these stickers in a photo album, sorted by record label.  Then when the boss was ready to order more stock, he’d flip through the photo album and read the stickers.  When we re-stocked the tapes, we had to put the clear sticker back on.  CDs were similar except they were in clear bags with the info written on them.  The bags were used to re-order discs.

When something new was released, we had to make the stickers and bags for those items too.  I remember when T-Rev was hired, he used to leave special releases for me to do the tags and bags for.  Kiss Unplugged he specifically left for me, because it was the first Kiss album released during my tenure at the store.  The first of many.  I drew the Kiss logo on the tag and smiled.  Small things like that meant something to me, though after waiting so long for a new Kiss album, it was quite anti-climactic.

We had also started selling used CDs.  Some of the first I acquired with my staff discount were Sven Gali’s debut and Chronicles by Rush.  Weirdly, I was still buying a lot of cassettes.  Kim Mitchell’s brand new one Itch got the staff discount treatment.

In the early days the boss used to give us weekly homework.  We had to come in with a current top 10 list every week.  This was to ensure that we were familiar with the current hits that people would be asking for.  T-Rev did his homework; I did not.  I felt like I already knew it all.  Before I started at the store, I used to keep on top of “everything the kids were listening to”.  I guess the boss recognized that since he didn’t bug me for my homework every week.

I was glad to have this job at the Record Store when in late ’94 my relationship blew up in my face.  I compensated by throwing myself into the store.  I came in early every day so I could review all the new stock.  Business was fairly slow most nights.  We were not in a high-traffic mall.  We had our regulars and we had our time-wasters.  The drunks from the restaurant next door were interesting.  Some of them even spent money!  None of them were problems, just time wasters.  “Tire kickers” as I call them now.  Then there were a couple notable janitors.  Trevor Atkinson from highschool was one.  I wonder what ever happened to that guy?  He was certainly a time waster.  It’s my theory that he was the cause of the first customer complaint I ever received.

Working in that Record Store was pretty much my whole social life.  I didn’t know anybody at school anymore.  Through the store, I reconnected with highschool and neighborhood friends that dropped by to shop.  Guys like George Balasz and Scott Peddle.  The boss didn’t like his employees to socialize at work, but what could you do?  It was the local Record Store and I was working in it.  I knew lots of people.  He socialized far more than I did, but he was “the boss” so nobody could give him shit for it.  When one of his friends was in the store, he’d chat it up and get me to take care of everyone else.  “Do as I say, not as I do” was another one of his famous demoralizing sayings.

But it was a good job.  The boss used to say he was “firm but fair”.  For the first few years that was true.  For a retail job it was pretty good.  We got to listen to music during the shift and we felt like part of a team.  It was a special place during a special time.  I’m glad I was there before we grew, because that’s when things changed for the worse, from an employment point of view.  But for that brief period in the beginning, the Record Store was a part of my identity.  I’m still really proud of everything that we did there as a team.  I may be critical of some things, but I’m proud of being there on the ground floor when things were about to take off.

Nostalgia Stream – Full Video

That was intense!  What follows is two hours of stories, friendship, music, hardship, music, childhood, Record Store Tales, music, and emotion.  I don’t think I’ll be able to do a show like this one again.  But I’m glad I did it and thank you for watching.

This episode may not be for everyone and I will warn you right from the start that there are some serious heavy, raw emotions about to outpour.  This is your trigger warning.  There is very little in this live stream that I have not written about in the past so if you have been reading Record Store Tales and Getting More Tale, then you’re all caught up anyway.

Nostalgia Stream Friday

It has been a heck of a week here at LeBrain HQ and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.  This week’s theme was suggested by Superdekes (I hope he doesn’t start sending me bills for all his ideas).  I’m calling this one the Nostalgia Stream because, once again, we’re talking about the 80s.  Music will be heavily involved, but what does that have to do with events of this week?  You’ll find out tonight at 7:00 PM E.S.T.

There will be no lists, no notes.  I’ll be freestyling it like I did the first couple shows, but all within the framework of this week’s theme.  I’m really excited about this one.  Expect the usual fun and frivolity, and hopefully lots of interaction.  It’s the usual time and place at Facebook:  Michael Ladano.

#480: Where Are We Now?

GETTING MORE TALE #480: Where Are We Now?

It’s been over 10 years since leaving the old Record Store.  Feeling nostalgic, my thoughts go back to the folks I once worked with.  The early days there were such an incredible time.  I called it the dream job, and for a music-mad guy in his 20’s, it was!  It was an experience I will always cherish forever, and that’s one of many reasons that Record Store Tales exist.  Even so, I don’t think I have really captured the joy of those early years, especially 1994-1996.  It truly is joy when you voluntarily came in early every day just to check out new inventory, which I used to do regularly.  Since that time, quite a few of my old compatriots have moved on.  Where are we now?

LeBrain:  Here I am!  I’ve been working a desk job in the manufacturing industry for the last seven years.  The lovely thing about my job is that I get to listen to the radio all day, every day.  I have found 107.5 DaveRocks to be very conducive to getting work done, and being rocked while doing it.  The encouragement from various folks at the station inspired me to get my Record Store Tales finished and published, and that’s why you’re reading this now!

T-Rev:  Now living in Sarnia Ontario with his beautiful wife and three kids.  Still rocking and rolling, still addicted to that rush and still collecting tunes.  Still texting me with rare finds (last was a rare Judas Priest 12” picture disc) and on the hunt for rarities.  Trips across the border into the US have yielded him many finds over the years.  Just a few weeks ago, T-Rev texted me for help.  “Can you help Colin go through five or six boxes of records and let him know if there’s anything good in there?”  Colin lives in Kitchener so it was far easier for him to show the LPs to me than T-Rev.  In all, I found about 50 that he should hang on to…and my mother in law bought a half-dozen for herself!  I also snagged an insert from Alice Cooper’s Muscle of Love LP, which my copy was missing.  Thanks for hooking that up, T-Rev!

Iron Tom Sharpe:  Tom, co-founder of the legendary Sausagefest, sold his Record Store location and became a teacher.  He has brought the rock to a whole new generation of fans.  They have now formed rock groups and even their own Jr. Sausagefest parties.  Of everyone involved with the Record Store back then, it is Tom who today does the most to bring good music to the kids.  What a legend!  He has managed to do what I strive to do myself, which is pass on the glorious rock and roll to the next generation.

Joe Big Nose:  Recently left the Record Store chain for a better opportunity.  No longer stinking up its washrooms with giant aromatic shits.  Big Nose had a long stay there – surely one of the longest.  There are probably stains with his name on them.

Uncle Meat:  Wandering the universe, playing baseball and Space Truckin’.  (Seriously, I know he is hard at work tabulating the votes for Sausagefest 2016’s official countdown.)

EDIT/update:  Uncle Meat has finished the 2016 countdown!  It is, in his words, “truly a kaleidoscope of finesse, filth and fury.”  Looking forward to it.

Wiseman:  Location and status unknown.  Last seen very very wasted at Sausagefest XII.

And finally, the Owner:  Still there, 25 years this August!  Talk about givin’ ‘er!  Never give up, never surrender!  You have to admire the tenacity and sacrifices made.  I would like to celebrate and say cheers with him.  Rock on!

Part 0: A Few Words for Days Gone By…

I decided to do something special for Part 250…by not doing Part 250 at all.

This isn’t one of those bullshit prequels, like when George Lucas says, “Oh, Episode I, I had that written for decades,” when it was pretty obvious he was making it up as he went along!  Nope, this isn’t like that.  I started writing the Record Store Tales over 10 years ago, and what you see below is the original first chapter.  It existed solely for the purpose of background and context, but I excised it in favour of starting things faster with the second chapter, “Run To The Hills”.  Since that became Part 1, it makes sense that this earlier introduction should be Part 0.  With hindight, I kind of wished I’d kept it in, so here it is!  And don’t forget to check out my new complete Table of Contents, should you wish to read  more!

KATHRYN GEOFF MIKEYeah…don’t ask. That’s me on the right.

A Few Words for Days Gone By…

What is childhood made of? In my mind, when you’re a kid, life consists of two things:

1. School
2. Summer Holidays

That was the cycle.  To break it down to the core, to an 11 year old life was 10 months of school followed by two months of glorious, warm sunny freedom.  Sure, you’d get to go home at the end of the day, but you were never truly free until the end of June. No more pencils, no more books, all that stuff.  It was way better than Christmas holidays.  The Canadian winters offered such fun treats as shoveling, besides snow pants, parka, boots (laced up too tight), and mittens which prevented you from using your fingers.

Our summers were boisterous. My sister Kathryn and I were like peas in a pod. We would play some kind of game every day, usually under my leadership. I would declare that today, we were going to play Star Wars. Other possible declarations included building fleets of Lego ships and cars, and having a giant war. Or inventing a new ball game.  Once GI Joe came along, we’d dig trenches in the yard, as well as forts and garages of twigs and leaves, and have an entire day (or week) dedicated to Cobra Commander’s new secret weapon. Aside from an occasional rebellion from my sister, our summers were mostly uninterrupted merriment.

STAR WARS

My sister and I both clearly remember one such rebellion, where she wanted to do things her way.  It involved our Star Wars figures.  We were already mid-battle.  I was setting up a perfect counter-offensive. The Millenium Falcon would sneak attack Vader’s base, take out his Tie Fighter early in the melee, while Luke would take out Boba Fett. Leia and Lando had to distract Jabba The Hutt, so that he couldn’t stop Luke when he eventually confronted the Emperor. Game over! The plan was perfect. Now I just needed my sister to coordinate the battle with me, under my command of course.

Much to my disappointment, she had moved around some of the figures and now had them seated.  Luke and Vader were next to each other. “Why are Luke and Vader sitting there? Luke is about to attack and Vader should be getting into his ship.”

My sister continued playing with the figures, and without looking up, replied, “Luke and Vader want to be friends now. They’re having tea.”

It didn’t matter that half the figures were hers, if she didn’t know how to play Star Wars right. So I’d yell a bit, act like a big brother usually does, and eventually she’d go along with the plan, or cry and leave.  The evil Empire would be defeated once and for all, thanks to my brilliant leadership and strategy.  We were definitely pals, growing up.

For years, this was the way of the summer holidays. We’d be doing something awesome at home, or at the cottage, but it would always be something cool. It didn’t matter where we were: games continued wherever we went.  We’d make a game out of anything.   You give us a pile of junk and we’ll make a game out of it.

STYX FRONTAll things do come to an end. The Star Wars trilogy ended in 1983 and something needed to fill the vacuum. While GI Joe and later Transformers would temporarily take its place, I was getting older.  My attention was drifting.  I was looking for something cool, new, and exciting.  Video games didn’t hold my attention and neither did sports.

Starting in 1983, several things happened in a short time frame.  Styx released a single called “Mr. Roboto” that some of my friends at school were obsessed with.   Then I heard a song called “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” by AC/DC, and it was pretty cool too.  Then, a newer band called Quiet Riot came out with an album called Metal Health that would go on to sell three million copies.  This was my first rock cassette purchase when I was in the 6th grade.  Something connected…

AC/DC.  Van Halen.  Ozzy Osbourne.  Black Sabbath.  Def Leppard.  Motley Crue.  Iron Maiden.  Who were these people? I had a lot to find out.

Continued in Record Store Tales Part 1:  Run to the Hills