I went into a record shop in on Melrose LA a few weeks ago with my friend Kieran.
Floor to ceiling records on all sides, and bins at hip height and eye level in the middle. It is dense with records. Tens of thousands.
No signs, no categories, no prices.
There’s a large Californian man in a safari suit eyeballing me, proprietorially.
He asked me if I wanted HELP, so I said
“I am finethankyou I am justBROWSING”.
Eventually I cracked and said “this is a weird record store”.
He looked triumphant and drawled “this is not a record store, son….”
I know he wants me to ask what he means. So I don’t.
He asked me what music I liked and I said “y’know, all sorts”, then seeing mostly classical records, “y’know, rock?”
“we don’t keep the rock records on display. They’re out back, son. On shelves.”
“who do you like?”
“I dunno, Bowie?”
“Brian, get the Bowie records. BRIAN!”
I hadn’t noticed Brian, who’d been sleeping in a corner. Brian disappears for a few minutes.
I was about to leave then I noticed there was a lot of soundtrack albums so started flipping.
Brian comes back and dumps a pile of good, if bog standard, Bowie LPs in front of me. I had a look and smiled politely then went back to the soundtracks.
“How many records you got, son?”
I ignored him.
“I said, how many records you got, son?”
Sigh. “I dunno, 20,000. Ish.”
Complete change of personality. I am a real collector. He goes on (and fucking on) to explain his archive and then asks me if I’m married. By which I assume he means gay.
The Bowie thing, right?
Maybe he’s Texan.
“Is your wife a problem, son? Y’know, with the records?”
I ignore him.
He seems pleased that I am ignoring him so he can monologue uninterrupted for another ten minutes.
I find a nice copy of Giorgio’s Midnight Express and hold it up to him.
“What does your wife like?”
“Hats”, I joke.
“hats, huh? What you gotta do with women son, is you gotta buy ‘em what they like. So buy your wife a hat once a month and she won’t give you shit for buying records. You buy a lot, son?”
I can’t lie. Maybe he follows my famously dynamic “records I have bought lately” Insta. [ https://www.instagram.com/misterlaurie/ ]
So I do the “quite a lot actually mate” shrug.
I find a nice copy of Lalo Shiffrin’s Kelly’s Heroes and hold it up
He shouts at Brian a bit more to wake up and turn the goddam record over.
I think to myself. You, my friend are definitely going into one of my screenplays. And Brian.
Especially Brian. He’s half the big dude’s size and obviously the his gimp.
I find a weird LP of recordings from Watergate. News clips and whatnot. Hold it up.
Hmmmm. I put it back.
He continues to monologue about how y’all should treat women, pausing occasionally to berate Brian for sleeping.
I hold up some weird but interesting looking 60s soundtracks which I’d have bought in bulk if they were a few bucks each but they were $40-$60, so remain mysteries.
It’s time to go. I have a high powered Hollywood meeting to get to an’ all. It went well. Thanks for asking.
And Kieran’s showing signs of being bored. And simultaneously about to dissolve into laughter.
I pay and ask for a bag.
He says they don’t have bags.
Kinda wish I’d bought that Watergate album though. Even though I know I am not in PWEI circa 1988. I am sure I’d have found a use for it.
Or at least kept it hidden from the wife, who seems to be able to smell expensive records.