I posted a little status update on my Facebook page -- as one does -- the other day. It said something to the affect that I couldn't believe that Manhattan is losing Mondo Kim's and the Virgin Megastore(s) at the same time (in case you hadn't heard, both that notoriously snobby indie haven on St. Marks and both of Sir Richard Branson's sprawling retail outlets are all slated to close within the next couple of months). This remark immediately touched off a flurry of commentary from my peanut gallery, the most incisively pitiless of which coming from my friend and former colleague Jon. My initial statement -- which I probably expressed poorly -- was meant more as a lamentation about the death of the record store as a concept. While I will indeed miss Mondo Kim's, I don't honestly believe the Virgin Megastore is all that great. Sure, it's convenient, but it's ultimately just an arguably soulless chain store that caters to the lo.com.denom-addicted masses. That said, it's yet another place to buy music that is vanishing, and I find that rather sad.
Jon, as is his storied style, was having none of it. For years, Jon and I worked together and bonded over a mutual love of music (although our tastes differed wildly in many instances). Despite that, I believe we both recognized each other as kindred souls of a sort. After talking about it for years, Jon quit the job in question and started his own record label, one that caters to the adventurous music that so thrills him. To this day, I am entirely in awe of his dedication and sheer moxie for making that happen. Anyway, Jon entirely pooh-poohed my comments and follow- up arguments as "blind nostalgia," further suggesting that the demise of these stores was in no way a great loss. Being that his own label is run as such, Jon asserted that mail order and direct distribution were where it's at. He also sagely noted that the loss of the Virgin outlets was, if anything, at least a positive shot in the arm to the few remaining mom n' pop stores left in the city.
Jon's uber-practical reasoning ran circles around my admittedly notorious sentimentality (although his gift for still managing to be uproariously patronizing even while making a cogent point is admirably astounding). Jon asserted that it was all about the music for him. I agreed, but by the same token, I also truly enjoyed (and still enjoy, when it happens) the physical act of searching out music. I relish the experience of combing through dusty record shops looking for that single Holy Grail-like item. The fact that I can simply punch a couple of keys on my computer and order up any otherwise far-flung disc from Amazon, eBay or any number of independent distributors without even having to bother putting my pants on seems to have taken a lot of the fun out of it. Jon entirely disagrees, of course, but I chalk that up to him just being a frowny misanthrope who hated dealing with record shop clerks. In any case, we amicably agreed to disagree. But being that this is my weblog, let me just say this: I'm right. He's wrong. HA!
In any case, on my way home from work yesterday, I noticed that there were huge banners in the Union Square Virgin store advertising their Sacrifice (get it?) sale. The sale in question purportedly knocks as much as 50% off the price of certain titles, so I decided to pop in. As it happens, I'm not really looking for anything new at the moment. I sniffed around for a copy of Genesis' Lamb Lies Down on Broadway disc (my vinyl copy of same resides in a dusty storage space on Varrick Street) after the composition of this post made me want to hear the original, but it was not in stock. Shocker.
I keep meaning to head over to Mondo Kim's before that joint closes up shop for good, but haven't been finding the time. At this stage of the proceedings, I should really be getting rid of some of my compact discs, rather than acquiring more.
But, oddly enough, I did unwittingly procure a compact disc yesterday. When I walked in my door after stopping in Virgin, I was met with a box from everyone's favorite online retailer, Amazon. I didn't remember ordering anything in a long while, so I was a bit mystified. I carefully opened the box and found a copy of the new Dolly Parton disc, Backwoods Barbie that I very assuredly did not order.
That sorta shit doesn't happen when ya shop at a record store.