Thursday, November 10, 2011
Thermos Iced Coffee Loaded, Lungs Hungry For Air, Eyes Craving New Books & Records, We Hit the Road
Thankful and feeling more lighthearted now that the store was on somewhat of a roll and that I had a crew that I felt confident leaving it with, hungry as hell for some sunlight and new scenery and new books and vinyl, grateful and blissed out that I was with a partner who loved books, records and funky road food as much as me -, we set out to see what was left of America and how its mutation was going.
The first point of interest was "Aqualand" in southern Maryland. Sadly closed down, but it looked like it probably originated in the '60s or '70s and I'd never heard of it before. Had that Enchanted Forest kind of DIY vibe to it.
Our first stop was a very disappointing quick peek in at a roadside antique shop. It was full of granny lamps, but I thought it was worth a shot asking for records and books because it might be the kind of place where they just threw a few boxes of them in the back for sale cheap with no regard for their value. Instead, I just got a lecture from the too prim white moustachioed gent about how a man can't make a living off of selling records. "Tell me something I don't know Bizarro Santa. How many elves do you have strapped into Iron Maidens behind all those Tiffany glass trinkets?"
The next stop was much more fun and gratifying - Plan 9 Music in Richmond. After loading up on historic “Sally Bells Kitchen” potato salad, deviled eggs, cheese nip and Smithfield ham of course. The place was started in 1924 and some of the original sunlight from that year still warbles in egg yolky blobs throughout the eldritch interior.
As I was near giddy with happiness going through Plan 9’s International Music bargain bin and finding a few really cheap treasures, the gawky young teen behind the counter played some of the most gruesome hair rock I’ve heard since being mocked in Jumper’s Hole Mall in Glen Burnie in the ’70s. Refreshing, though, in a backwards masochistic way to hear such awful music in a record store in these ultra-hip times.
In their new arrivals I snagged a near mint Bob Dylan bootleg I’d never seen before called “Tangerine”. Live in Paris from 1978 it covers a diverse selection of songs from his career. And the cover is a photo taken during the shooting of Billy the Kid. Also got a really nice clean copy of Leadbelly Sings Play-Party Songs Volumes I and II on the Stinson label, pressed on red vinyl and a very good + original Reprise stereo copy of the Fugs’ “Tenderness Junction”. Does the gatefold include a nude picture of Sir Allen Ginsberg? Why, yes.
The one frustrating thing about picking up all this great stuff on the road is not being able to spin the new vinyl. I've got about a dozen Brazilian albums from 1975 or before that I've never heard but that look fantastic. Plus the Dylan boot has a live version of the weirdly compelling "Changing of the Guards" from the underloved masterpiece "Street Legal".
Cary Street where Plan 9 abides, also hosts a great new and used book shop called “Chop Suey”. It’s two-storied and the first floor is mainly a fairly small but well curated selection of new books. But their new arrivals area near the front boasted four Phil Dick paperbacks, so my bibliowillie was engorged.
One of the books I was seeking out for myself which I’d owned many times before but didn’t hold onto, was a copy of Paul Bowles’ autobiography Without Stopping. Sure enough I found it, along with a hardback bibliography of the books of William Burroughs, in their “Beat Era” section. It’s a fine UK Peter Owen hardback to boot. (And today I just found a Putnam first of it in Decatur, but more on Decatur later).
The stairs leading up to the used floor were lined with really good contemporary art. If I had had more time I would have gotten some information on the artists, but we wanted to get to Atlanta at some point and who knew how many more thrift stores and flea markets awaited us.