Smoking the Black Crack

Smoking The Black Crack With Shaun Ryder

by McCutcheon
I've recently fallen off the wagon. I've become a vinyl junkie again, back addicted to the black crack. The wicked wax lives in my veins. In the last year I've bought over 1,000 records, most of them new releases, imported, or unique small pressings. I'm talking quality shit, not just the decade old, scratched, warped, top 40 teen stuff you find in the $.99 discount bins; music so bad not even irony can save it.

But hold on, anyone who has this addiction and suffers the same affliction as I do, and if you are taking your time to read this and are shaking your head, at least in the affirmative, then yes, you too are as sad a case as I am. And you know the value of back alley dealings, dark, dusty record stores. The varied places where you can score that slab of precious gold.

I might not be DJ Shadow, who legend has it spends every waking minute searching in backroom racks for that next sample, but I have spent countless hours looking through every second hand store, Goodwill, and record fair I could track down. I always sneak a peek in those cheap bins looking for elusive gems. You can't put a price on good music, really, and that's what I'm looking for. At parties when people ask me what kind of music I like I always say, "I like good music." It's a little smart ass of an answer, but simple enough. Besides, no one at a party, trying to have fun at least, has the time to listen to me spewing overly enthusiastically, and probably drunkenly, about every sub category of every genre. And that's why I lie and say, 'I like good music' when in fact I love music. In my life it has meant more to me than any other thing.

No, you can't put a price on good music, though people who own record stores generally do. In hipster parts of Seattle, where I currently live, people know what they have. And they make you pay the price, usually with a couple bucks increase over what it's really worth, so they can turn a profit and pay the rent. I don't blame them.

I've paid $40 for Galaxie 500's On Fire in mint condition, I've found it for $20 in less than mint, but who wants that. And I've paid more than $50 for Them's LP with my favorite version of 'It's All Over Now, Baby Blue'. Of the 100 or so versions of 'Baby Blue' I've heard it's my favorite. I could have bought the Van Morrison box set on compact disc for that price.

I have heard of other records trading hands for hundreds of dollars. But I'm not that far gone. I buy the music for the music, sounds basic, doesn't it? I don't waste time with some obscure record or white label one-off just to own it, especially if I can find it at the same quality and for cheaper. I order a couple hundred dollars worth of records a month online from Rough Trade shops and other places to receive great records not even released in the States, like My Computer, James Yorkston and The Best Of the Stone Roses. Hardly a day passes without me going into at least one of the cool record stores in Seattle. My friend John really knows his music and works at Sonic Boom in Fremont. Luckily for me he gives me a discount.

My habit is a thankless one at times. Buying vinyl is not cost effective. I bought all the 7' picture discs from the latest Flaming Lips LP. These were limited additions costing $8 apiece and each containing two songs. Then came the Fight Test EP on CD. It had all the songs of the 7's but also included more rare tracks, all for $6.

Fight Test
Single/EP info
Warner Bros., 2003
US CD EP 48433-2

01. Fight Test (From the album Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots)
02. Can't Get You Out Of My Head (KEXP version)
03. The Golden Age (CD101 version)
04. Knives Out (KCRW version)
05. Do You Realize?? (Scott Hardkiss Floating In Space Vocal Mix)
06. The Strange Design Of Conscience (Previously unreleased)
07. Thank You Jack White (For The Fiber-Optic Jesus That You Gave Me) (Previously unreleased)




But the black crack is worth the price I pay. I'm always relating to my records. These are moments of grandeur. My records weave their way into my existence; become part of the soundtrack to my life and all that. Like right now, as I type this, the old crazy hairy freak who lives in the alley outside my window, and who at this very moment is yelling gibberish about the CIA being after him, isn't just a 60's acid casualty, but really one of the early Electra Records refugees like John Kongos, Tom Rush or Aztec Two-Step.

I've always been around music. My dad finished college in the late sixties, and then, luckily for him, got a hernia right before he was drafted for the Vietnam War. He was stuck on a couch and my mom, his then girlfriend, would run out to buy the great albums of that time. My dad was safe inside his small apartment smoking grass and listening to music all day while many of his peer group was in South East Asia dodging bullets.

I grew up listening to those records. They sent me on a sonic rite of passage. I would listen to as much as I could get. The West coast garage and psychedelic bands like the Count Five, Seeds, Doors and Love. All the Brits like Kinks, the Beatles and Stones of course, plus the Who, Faces, and the Zombies. Jazz records by John Coltrane and Miles Davis with their hip horns. And everything from the classic rockers like Otis Redding, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix to the esoteric oddities the Velvet Underground, the Fugs and Godz from the American musical renaissance. When I graduated from high school my dad handed the collection over to me. I've gone through many musical phases since then but I have never gotten over Lou Reed.

The first record I ever bought with my own money was the Grease soundtrack. Olivia Newton John turned me on. I still collect soundtracks. I have classics like Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now and The Godfather. But I also have the soundtrack from Coppola's first film, You're A Big Boy Now, scored by The Lovin' Spoonful and John Sebastian.

(By the way, I think The Lovin' Spoonful has had the biggest influence on Belle & Sebastian. I know B&S were named after a French book, but there is also that name. Sebastian. There are many ways to look at things. Forget the Smiths or Felt, it was John Sebastian who molded Stuart Murdoch and his merry wee musical makers.) And of course, the theory is half-baked. There is that line about Johnny Marr going Electronic.

Anyway, sorry for that confusing regression, but I just couldn't repress that rant. Okay, back to film for a moment. I think You're a Big Boy Now had a huge influence on the recent avant-garde soundtracks by Francis' kids' vogue flicks done by chic French bands; Roman Coppola's CQ by Mellow, and Sophia Coppola's Virgin Suicides by Air and Lost In Translation with the first proper songs by Kevin Shields in over a decade.

Lost is worth the sinfully subdued album cover all on it's own. The arty picture is the opening shot of the lovely and sublime Scarlett Johansson's superb butt crack (another crack I could seriously get addicted to) thinly veiled by peachy transparent underwear. Sophia mixes her films with slight touches of delicate sexuality. Girls can be so good at that. I want a subway-size poster of that album cover and Scarlett's ass hanging on my bedroom wall. I'm probably missing the point. And I should be too old, or at least mature, to use trendy pop culture as interior decoration. But I'm not.

Music makes a film work. It's a trick Roman and Sofia inherited from Francis. There is a great sequence in Big Boy when Peter Kastner is getting seduced and frustrated by the totally hot and totally schizophrenic Elizabeth Hartman to the great Spoonful's track 'Darling Be Home Soon'. That scene alone set a precedent for Coppola's kids. Like me, they learned the power of music from their dad. But, of course, I'm not achieving as high from my nepotism.

I have some rare, pornoish kitsch soundtracks as well, like Deep Throat and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. And of course, I got the great soundtracks by the best British authors writing today, and who love their music as much as I do, Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting and Nick Hornby's High Fidelity.

I started with vinyl, then compact discs in the late eighties and early nineties, but now I'm back to wax. I've never downloaded songs from the Internet and never went to Napster. Lars Ulrich would love me. I like the physicality of the music product you receive. Besides, I fancy myself a bit of an artist, at least a writer. Despite the fucked-up-ness of the industries that control the financial side of creative endeavors I believe the people making the music should be paid for it.

Not only moppets like Lars are upset. People I actually respect like Thom Yorke and Jack White have spoken up against piracy. This is complicated, and I don't want to digress any further into it. I just wanted to state for the record (pun intended), I buy music.

I buy way too much music for my own good. I'm all too familiar with the $22.50 overdraft charge my bank makes a couple times a pay period when I don't budget and end up with a few more purchases than I can actually afford. I know I have a problem. It's the reason I don't own a car, buy cool clothes, or eat at fancy restaurants, or any restaurants at all for that matter. I'm an artist, a starving one. See above when I mention writing. I do manage to hold down a job but my novel in progress, or sometimes regress, is where my passion really lies.

Before writing took it's demon hold of me, like most young boys yearning to get laid, I was in a few bands. I was kicked out of everyone of them. First I was a singer in the short-lived band Bloom. I got loaded on pills and was feeling it at our first and last ever gig. I was Jim Morrison the Lizard King, I had my shirt off, my eyes closed and I was belting it out on the makeshift stage in the drummer's backyard. The crowd of five felt like a packed Hollywood Bowl. I woke up the next morning passed out, still on the stage. I caught a cold form sleeping shirtless outside. Later the drummer said I was belting it out all right, just every notch was an octane octave out of tune. He told me he was the drummer and that I should leave the pill popping to him.

Next I was a bass player in a band called The Safety Pins. After the third show they started unplugging my Peeve bass from the Peeve amp. Even during my shining moment, when I had a bass solo on Modern English's 'Melt With You', I wasn't plugged in. The keyboard player handled the solo. I was okay with this because unplugging the amp was what they did to Sid Vicious too, and he's about as huge an icon as they come. Unfortunately, like a lot of famous rockers, he is also dead, dying way too young. When we played a high school graduation in a park one blistering hot afternoon and I puked two gallons of cherry red wine coolers over the first row of young girls with star fucker fluttering eyes I was kicked out again. Parents and teachers were present.

After that I went solo, I retreated to the bedroom, using keyboards and samplers I couldn't use to try to create super dub soul like Outkast's 'SpottieOttieDopalicious' but I ended up making a mish mash of electronic annoying noise that even Aphex Twin would be scared to listen to. I fired myself and started writing prose.

When my true, or at least first love broke up with me her departing words were, "The only thing I'll miss about you is your record collection." It was kind of like rock (pun intended again) bottom for me.

I got over it. But of course, not until after I made her loads of mixed compact discs full of broken hearted songs of lost love and lonely despair. Yeah, I chose all the tear in your beer doosies - Ryan Adam's 'Come Pick Me Up', The Cure's 'Pictures of You', Joy Division's 'New Dawn Fades', The Replacement's 'Here Comes A Regular', Velvet Underground's 'Who Loves The Sun?', Bob Dylan's 'Idiot Wind', Primal Scream's 'Cry Myself Blind', Johnny Cash's 'Solitary Man' and ABBA's 'The Winner Takes It All', to name just a few.

These were the total opposite songs we fell in love with - the holding hands, can't stop looking meaningfully into each others eyes and not caring who sees songs- Van Morrison's 'The Way Young Lovers Do', Bob Marley and the Wailer's 'Is this Love' and ABBA's 'The Winner Takes It All'. ABBA is good coming or going.

I moved on, but of course, only after six months of calling into work sick, not getting out of bed and having valium and beer for breakfast while listening to Spiritualized's Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space on headphones cranked to eardrum shattering volume.

I only think of her a couple times a day now, but still remain a depressive music obsessive. About a week ago I woke up one day with a massive hangover and told myself I can't keep living this way. I assessed my life, the way you do when you've been canning it solid for a few months, hate your job and are struggling with your first novel. My life was meaningless and shallow. I had to find out why. After pondering it for a bit I came to a realization. I didn't own everything Shaun Ryder has put out on vinyl!

I might have to clarify something here. If you don't know who Shaun Ryder is stop reading this and go to your local video store and rent 24 Hour Party People. It's a better piece of work than this anyway. And next time you need to take a crap you can pick this up where you left off. You can't do that with a video/ DVD; I mean take it into the bathroom with you. Can you? Did Elvis?

I wanted, needed everything by Shaun Ryder. I have it all on compact disc and MOST of it on vinyl, but not all. But that didn't matter. I wanted it all, needed it all.

I went to Gemm.com and started ordering everything I didn't have and couldn't find online. The tag line at Gemm is, 'if you can't find it there, fuggedaboutit'. You certainly can't buy these records in the local shops in Seattle. This is what I received:

1. Seller item number: HAPPYMONDJUSTINROBFACTFAC372R12 GEMM item number: GML480770976 HAPPY MONDAYS JUSTIN ROBERTSON REMIXES 12" FACTORY FAC372R UK

I thought this was a proper Factory release because it stated FAC 372, the way that Tony Wilson's label always does, and so I thought it was a precious Factory release I had somehow missed. What I received in the mail was a white label, with a white, generic torn inner sleeve (no cover) with someone's pen scrawl on it. All it says is Happy Mondays. The music is a Pills N Thrills era 12 minute instrumental. Same on both sides. Not as good as Robertson's work with Lionrock.

2. Seller item number: ONUSOUNDHPM11 GEMM item number: GML551122072 HAPPY MONDAYS BIG SMILE MEGA-MIX 12" ONUSOUND HPM11

I was excited for this because I loved the dub remixes Adrian Sherwood from On U Sound did with Primal Scream. This turned out to be 13 minutes of a Happy Mondays melody. Same on both sides. Not too bad. Not too good.

3. Seller item number: BUMMMED GEMM item number: GML573728306 HAPPY MONDAYS BUMMED - 10 TRACK ALBUM WITH INNER SLEEVE LP FACTORY UK

This album is full of crackles and pops. I know that when buying vinyl this is a chance you take. And when shopping the discount bins for old rock n roll I can put up with this, but when buying dance music it just isn't on. Besides, the seller stated it was in mint condition. But that wasn't as bad as the next…

4. Seller item number: 3151D GEMM item number: GML545690568 BLACK GRAPE IT'S GREAT WHEN YOU'RE STRAIGHT…YEAH LP ADIOACTIVE

The second track on this brilliant Ryder comeback album has two tiny pinpoint divots in it. The fuckin' thing skips, and skips bad. Every time the needle is reset it ends up jumping somewhere else.

Thursday I waited, like everyday that past week, with great anticipation. Through the process of elimination I knew the last record I was waiting for was the Holy Grail of Madchester ecstasy raving - Pills N Thrills and Bellyaches. I didn't have any vinyl of this period because in '89 all my records were stolen and instead of committing suicide I decided to hold off on music, which slowly lead me to compact disc buying. I keep it up for about a decade until I got jobs as a DJ. In which case I knew I needed the vinyl as well as CDs.

Yes, I DJ. It's a hobby and I love it. I'll DJ anywhere I can get a gig. I've DJ'ed parties, weddings, bar mitzvahs, all types of bars and clubs. I DJ'd one pub, to only three people, for seven hours; the bartender, and two of my friends. Hell, the pub gave me as much beer as I could drink, even though they didn't actually pay me. DJing is a solo pursuit so no one can kick me out. Besides, I'm good at it. Better than I ever was at actually making music. The DJ mentality is like reading that the Byrd's space rock masterpiece '8 Miles High', according to Rodger McGuinn, was about a trip to London, and not about drugs. Yeah right, the DJ mentality says, he only was in the band that wrote that song, while I, a couple of decades later, listened to it over a hundred times. What does he know? Of course it's about DRUGS!!!!!

Okay, a quick side note on my equipment. I think it's important to know what I listen to all these records on. Being a DJ and not an audiophile, I have that kind of machinery: Two Technics SL 1200 M3D's and I use Stanton GII-RM styluses, not the square heads preferred by scratch artists and techno stars - that isn't really my thing. My heroes are more along the lines of David Holmes and Kid Loco, people who mix the rock with the soul, the funk with anything else going, rather than the smoother beat mixing masters like Paul Van Dyke or Sasha. I also have a Numark Matrix 3 mixer, a Numark CDN-88 for compact discs, and a Marantz Professional Compact Disc burner. Not the best gear available, but it works for me. Especially since I paid for it with my own money.

Anyway, at work I kept looking out the window of my office, waiting for my man, the mailman to arrive. I don't have the records sent to my apartment because I wouldn't be home, it wouldn't fit in my mailbox and all the large postal packages get left in the front hall along with newspapers, and fast food flyers. Right in the foyer where anyone could walk off with it! No sir e Bob's yer Uncle. I wasn't taking any chances.


Then it finally arrived. I was ecstatic. I've been looking for this record for ages on vinyl. But wait! The package the mailman delivered was bent at a 45-degree angle. The mailman held out the smashed, folded thin cardboard box. I looked at him with pleading in my eyes. This couldn't be my record. He had made a bad mistake. Hopefully this was delicate equipment for the hospital a few blocks over.

"This can't be mine," I said.

"Are you Matt?" he asked.

"Yes," I replied.

He handed it to me.

"But this is a record! You know, vinyl!"

"Oh, no," he said. And he turned his back on me and continued his route.

"'Oh, no?' Fucking too right oh fucking no!" I screamed. But it was too late. I was shouting into thin air. The mailman had turned the corner and no one else was around.

Completely dejected I opened the package. Surprisingly and beyond all belief, the record wasn't broken. In fact it was in mint condition just like I had ordered. Except, of course, it had a 45-degree angle in it, a massive crease that didn't straighten out when I delicately tried to fix it.

I ordered it from Germany and it cost a pretty penny, so I went from so happy, to so sad, to so fucking mad. I'm not a Buddhist in the least, and don't believe the philosophy of not being attracted to objects to gain inner peace. I love my things like records and books. I repeated my disappointment out loud.

"Fuck!!!!"

By this time I was back in my office and all my coworkers heard me scream this profanity. It's routinely believed that I'm not cut out for the 9-5 grind and that I regularly suffer from work related rage and that I'm always stressed out until three drinks into happy hour at the bar across from our building. One of the receptionists told me last Christmas party, when she was very drunk and taking off her panties so we could do it in the back of the broom closet, that there was a rumor going around that I was in first place to go Milton and burn the building down, like in the movie Office Space. My yelling 'fuck' for no apparent reason at my coworkers had consequences, though not as bad as I feared. I got an email at the end of the day from my boss not requesting, but ordering me, to take a paid vacation.

Like Shaun Ryder sang, "The Living Dead Don't Get A Holiday." I needed that vacation. Still, it wouldn't fix my record, now would it?

I'm sure this happened in the post, during delivery. The package was crunched in half right over the goblet sticker, Zerbrechlich Colis Fragile. But was it Deutsche Post or The United States Post Office? It was also Einschreiben Recommande. So hopefully it was insured. I sent an email to the company I ordered the record from:

FROM MATT:

Sound 45
RheinstraBe 13- 16549 Hugelsheim
Telefon: 07229 186 948 0

Dear to whom Herr it may concern. I recently received my much anticipated Happy Mondays album, but alas as it arrived in the post it was broken like my heart was soon to be. Please dear Herrs, tell me if Einshreiben means Deutsche Post insured it, and if so dear Herrs, could I possibly send this one back in exchange for another. If so I'll be forever indebted to Deutschland. And if not you fucking Krauts can go suck my ass. Danke. Matt.

By the way, before you label me a racist, the email I sent didn't really use any swear words or 'Kraut'. I tend to think of myself as culturally sensitive. This is the email I got back.

FROM SOUNDS 45:

However, this is annoying
Pleace sent us the broken Yinyl
Happy Mondays Pills 'N' Thrills and Bellyaches
To:
Sound45
Rheinstr. 13
76549 Hügelsheim

We paid by them amount on their account credit this one.
Thanks and Bye
Peter
Sound45
Rheinstr. 13
76549 Hügelsheim
Tel: +49 (0)7229 1869480
Fax: +49 (0)7229 189297
Mobil +49(0)1727636936
www.Sound45.de
Sound45-Rekla@Sound45.de

I don't know what this email means. Of course I know the whole thing is annoying. But if I pay to send back my bent copy will they replace my old one? Do they even have one in stock? This is all so confusing. So I sent another email and in turn they replied.

FROM SOUNDS 45:

Hello Matt

Unfortunately, we don't have any further Yinyl of this manner
German mail system has informed us on enquiry:
This one as a certified mail is sent out product only isn't insured
against loss and against breaking.
We stick extra the sticker fragilely on our product.
In her case this has helped nothing what are we very sorry for.
Pleace sent us the broken Yinyl
Happy Mondays Pills 'N' Thrills and Bellyaches
To:
Sound45
Rheinstr. 13
76549 Hügelsheim
We paid by them amount on their account credit this one.
Thanks and Bye
Peter

Sounds (pun intended once again) like I should send the record back. But I still wasn't absolutely certain. So I sent them a final email, you know, just to clear everything up. And again they replied, you know, to clear everything up. I'm sure Peter is an honest businessman.

FROM SOUNDS 45:
As said: It is sorry us this is tired of the shipment broken on the way
to them.
Happening. We can but this get this loss not replaced.
Perhaps we have expressed ourselves wrongly at the first e-mail:
You send us the broken product back and can himself for amount credited
for which natural then, for the it have paid "Happy Mondays Pills 'N'
Thrills and Bellyaches", one or several choose for disks her choice.
Damage resulted for for us of course they don't the have to pay.
Yours sincerely
Peter Peels
Sound45

Well, that didn't help in the least. They must be using translation software. At least I hope they are.

I sent an email to Martino, my European agent who lives in Frankfurt, Germany, and who is working on a couple of translations of my first short story collection. He believes as a writer I'll make it bigger in the EU than the US. It has to do with my so-called literary non-puritan qualities. According to him, anyway. Hell, he is an agent, and you've probably heard stories about those types of guys. But if anyone could help me out it was Martino. He has always come through in the past.

FROM MARTINO:

To the idiot kraut I would write this:

Sehr geehrter Peter,
Bestätigen sie bitte, dass sie mir nach erhalt der rückgesendeten transportbeschädigten schallplatte den kaufpreis rückerstatten, oder aber mir eine vollwertige schallplatte ersatzweise unverzüglich zuschicken. Vielen dank.
Mit freundlichen grüssen, Matt

PS ihr Englisch ist unverständlich

Martino translation:

Dear Peter, please confirm that you will remit payment for the broken goods upon my returning them to you. Alternatively confirm you will send me an unbroken record pronto. Thanks and regards, Matt.

PS your English is incomprehensible

So I was determined it was a postal problem. Some jerk went and bent the thing at a 45-degree angle right over the fragile sticker. The problem I have with Peter and Sounds 45 was that they didn't line the interior package with reinforced cardboard. Everywhere else I've ordered from around the world has always done this. So anyway at the expense of another $50 I tried ordering another copy from a UK vendor. I got a quick response:


FROM VINYL UK:

Order Number: MS142376

You have ordered 1 item from VINYLUK on Jul 31, 2003.
Below is the current status of your order with this seller.

MESSAGE FROM SELLER VINYLUK:
Unfortunately we have recently sold this item via our own website.
Apologies for any inconvenience.
VinylUK……….

But here is the thing. I'm somewhat of a thinking man, and I had a back up plan. From the day I got the record I had been trying to fix it. I mean at LEAST it wasn't broken to bits. I scoured the office. I got a phonebook. The 2003/2004 Verizon (Can you hear me now? Not usually.) Super Pages ie Yellow pages, Seattle, North side. I placed the record on the phonebook, strategically positioning it where the crease was worst. Then got two boxes of office paper, Bosie X-9000 5,000 white sheets, each weighing in at 20 lbs. That's 40 pounds of pressure to flatten the crease out. But just to make sure I balanced a full 5-gallon jug of Crystal Springs Premium drinking water on top of it all.

And I kept on with life. I went to see Manchester United defeat Celtic Rangers 4-0 in the new Seattle Seahawks stadium. Planned my vacation. Had more sex with the receptionist from the Christmas party, who is now my sometimes girlfriend when she can get away from her kids and husband. After a week, and checking on my record each day, the crease wasn't going straight.

I went to a record store to ask advice. The man shook his head and said there wasn't much to do. I told him it came from Germany and cost me a lot of money and there were no other copies available. He told me, 'Oh, no'. I had heard this before.

As I was leaving with my head down and tears in my eyes he took pity and said, wait, and well, there just might be something I could try. He told me to heat wet newspapers with an iron, and to take the record surrounded by two clean pieces of white plain paper, and insert it between the heated newspapers and apply even pressure. It might straighten out he said. He said to make sure I didn't apply direct heat as vinyl is delicate and melts quickly.

Now in hindsight I should have gotten a 50cents throwaway record and practiced what I was doing. But I'm only somewhat a thinker. I rushed out of the store with my hopes high. I got an iron from the receptionist, went to the office after hours and tried it with my fingers crossed. At first I forgot to put the white paper down, so the lettering of the wet newspaper came off on the record. I washed it with cold water. Then with great frustration I said fuck it. I turned the iron all the way up (just to 10, not 11) and applied direct heat. The record instantly flattened, but then started to melt and dissolve. I ran with the wobbled black goo to the bathroom and held it under cold water.

Here's the thing. I almost fixed it. What was once a mint record, and then a severely bent record, is now a roller coaster of a record, it is warped in many places, my needle stays on by some balancing act that defies logic, and how it mostly stays in the grooves is even more puzzling. But it plays. Just not too well. It is now all scratched from the weight I applied for a week, where the crease used to be it always makes a loud SSSSCCCHHHHNNNN every rotation and it skips around in odd, different places every time I play it.

My compact disc version that I've had for over a decade plays absolutely fine.

Discouraged but undaunted, the next day I went record shopping, and low and behold I found a brand new copy of the so sought after Happy Monday's Pills -N- Thrills and Bellyaches in one of those back alley discount bins.

…And if you believe that I have a story to tell: I saw an ad in the paper. It said free records. I called. Turns out a man ran off with a girl half his age, he left his 40,000 mint condition record collection behind and the disgruntled wife wants to get revenge. She said I could have them for free. And she would even give me his Lexus sports car to hook up to a trailer to haul them away…

And then a week later Amateur Night In The Big Top came out. X's new stories of fucked up adventure. (X is Shaun's nickname.) And all songs are about Shaun's drugged out happenings. And it is the best thing I've heard this year. No one can swear like Shaun. He is as vital as Frank Sinatra. In a perfect world, when Shaun wants the easy life, I'd be able to see him live every night of the week in Las Vegas.

I might be a deteriorating, elegantly wasted, early thirties sad cunt. But this music speaks to me. I listen and say YES PLEASE give it to me. Besides I have my Billy Joel and Neil Diamond albums when the going gets tough. Listening to 'Piano Man' is like comfort food when I can't take the 'Party People' anymore. 'Sweet Caroline' is like Mac and Cheese for me when the 'Carn't Smile White Out' is too much. And guess what? Amateur only came out on CD. Lucky for me.
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