Cops & Money

Filed Under » record shop & personal
Permalink » 06/06/2007: Cops & Money

Does anyone else feel that it is an extreme conflict of interest for cops to call a business (or individuals) asking for money? I understand that a lot of organizations run off of donations and I fully respect that. However, when I receive this phone call about once a month, it makes me a little uneasy. Is it a breach of power? Probably not, but it seems pretty damn close. I feel like I’m getting a shake down.

When I was called for this as an individual, it was easier to say no, I knew they would not track me down and hassle me or I just didn’t care. Is there a star that goes next to my name in the computer for “did not donate to us, don’t be easy on him?” Sure, I’m probably just paranoid as they probably call everyone in the city.

That worry seriously changed when I became a small independent business. Now, I still don’t necessarily want to donate to this cause, but I just simply don’t have the money to donate to something like that. Sure, I’ll give a gift certificate to a school fundraiser or something like that, but giving cash that I could use to the cops, hmmm…I dunno. Let’s wait until I’m making the big bucks and I can get that cool sticker to put on the back of my hummer that says “I support Durham cops.” Then I’ll be able to raise all the hell I want in town. It’s like a get outta jail free pass, right?

Now that they have my full name, my work number and my work address, it freaks the hell outta me. I feel it’s a total abuse of power. Every call I get about this, I get angrier and shorter on the phone with whoever it is because I just can’t donate. When I hang up, I then worry that my name and business get flagged. Will I be lower on the list for response time if I get robbed? Will they make snide remarks as they pass by the shop and try to drive away business. I’m sure I’m paranoid, but hell, it’s a little unnerving to get called by a cop asking for money once a month.

Would you want to support an organization that cat calls girls walking home from bars at 2am? Says things along the lines of - Hey baby, where ya going? I gotta .45 in my car, wanna see it? Ummm…seriously? Screw that. Do I want to support an organization that shoves my friends’ faces into the trunk of their car for “trespassing”??

But then do I get nervous when I say no to an organization like this that knows where my business is? Shit.

(listen to the new King Louie and the Loose Diamonds that came out yesterday on Empty Records, it’s amazing.)

Busy Busy

Filed Under » Uncategorized
Permalink » 05/19/2007: Busy Busy

Hey guys, sorry for the lack of updating here.
However, if you’re itching to follow the direction of the store and get pretty much weekly updates on stuff, check out my news page.
I’ve been posting up stock as I get ‘em in. Not the usual, twice-a-week main restocks, but I’m focusing more on the little stuff.

Oh yeah, I’m working on a webstore too. This is proving to be a lengthy project and I’ve gotten lazy at updating it this week. Is this a trend…hmmmm? Check it out, shoot me feedback please.

Also, some friends and I have been busy working to get our own community space off the ground. BCHQ. Basically, the idea for the space is to just have and maintain a big ol’ empty room that we can use for whatever we might need it for. I’ve been booking some shows in the space (Daniel’s been a help here as well), we’re working on getting community art on the walls, we’re hosting general DIY info nights and skillshares, some friends have planted a Bike Co-op in the back (Sundays 1pm-6pm) and we’re working on organizing classes and more workshops. Basically, it’s like a living room on a bit larger scale.
We’re a couple months into it and it’s going pretty well (knock on wood). The cops have only been called once (cross fingers), and the guy was actually very cool about it. I guess in Durham they’re worried about other things. Yup. But he just asked us to turn down the volume a bit, it was a great, but extremely loud metal band from Philly - the Claw, and we didn’t see the cop again. The show even continued another hour and a half with the addition of the equally loud and most amazing Tooth.

It’s in a storefront at 723 N. Mangum in downtown Durham. Right next to a tattoo shop (bring some money, he’ll be open!), convenience store and fire extinguisher store. Rent is still fairly cheap in Durham, NC, so it’s not really a struggle maintaining it and getting the rent paid at all. Swing by!!!

For now, don’t forget to go out and pick up Spider Bags‘ new album on Tuesday. It’s brought to us by Birdman Records. The finest country-twang, stompin’ garage rawk the Carolinas have to offer. One of my favorite local bands, just played their release last night and it’s always a pleasure to see them. The played with the Gondoliers who are a whole ‘nother great story…60s psych-garage, Sonics-worshippers outta Chapel Hill.

Don’t forget to check out: Double Negative’s finally released LP!!, Cross Laws‘ newly pressed, released and limited 7″ of their early demo and Crossed Eyes, who are NC’s saving grace of good ol’ fashioned punk rock. Speaking of, let’s hear some releases from these guys and the Chest Pains! It’s about time!
And thanks, of course, GSS House for still being alive.

Website.

Filed Under » record shop
Permalink » 04/21/2007: Website.

So I decided I wanted to put up a real website. I’ve been using a geocities one which is of course free and easy. Lately though, I’ve been dying to put up a webstore. I really like the idea of putting the shop up online and treating it like a big ol’ distro. Plus, any kind of extra income coming into the shop can only be a good thing (I assume). During the slow seasons it should come in pretty handy and it’ll allow me to focus a little more on the stuff that I really want to stock (distros like Ebullition, No Idea, etc.). Sure, it might complicate things by messing with my store records a little bit, but I think it’ll be fun.

The plan is to list all the CDs and DVDs up on the website as I get them, but I won’t list the LPs and 7″s probably until they’ve been in stock for over a month or so. That way it’ll also be easier for people to spy on the stock at any time and ask me to hold anything. We’ll see how it all goes.

After some research and pointers from my brother, I went with SiteGround as a host because they seemed to have a good relationship with Zen Cart, the shareware cart system I wanted to use. I’ve heard good things about Zen Cart and Will at To Live a Lie uses it and likes it, so I figured it’d be a good match. It looked pretty good on some of the sites that I’d stumbled across. SiteGround also installed it for free and is pretty easy to navigate. It’s frustrating as all hell trying to learn how to go in and mess with code, but once you figure out the basics of it, it’s pretty gratifying. The tutorials on Zen Cart are absolutely amazing. Plus I’ve been bugging Will a lot and he’s been a great help as well.

Anyway, here it is, slowly coming along - www.bullcityrecords.com.

If you have any ideas or pointers, feel free to let me know! Hopefully the webstore should be live soon!

p.s.

Filed Under » current music
Permalink » 03/22/2007: p.s.

Go out and buy the new Mary Weiss album on Norton Records. It’s worth it. Mary Weiss was the singer for the all-girl supergroup, The Shangri-Las. You know ‘em - “Leader of the Pack.” Classic stuff.
The Reigning Sound is backing her up. Greg Cartwright wrote all the songs for her too. It’s kinda eerie at times, you can hear his inflection in her voice. There’re a few covers as well.

It’s fully worth the price.

Just wanted to say.

Filed Under » current music
Permalink » : Just wanted to say.

Off With Their Heads might have just leapt to my number one slot for top albums last year. Marked Men still are pretty rooted down in that position, but they’re getting very close to being overthrown. After putting OWTH on my mp3 player recently (yeah, I broke down, but it’s not an iPod), I haven’t been able to stop listening to it all over again. It’s like hanging out with an old friend and forgetting how much fun you used to have together. After drinking a lot. A lot. Dark, moody, depressing, anthemic. I’ll take it. Life sucks, but at least we can have fun while sucking on it.

On that note, I recently received another shipment of goodies from Dead Beat Tom. This time around I added some interesting looking CDs to my usual 12″/7″ dominated order. I tossed some albums by the Action Swingers, Heroine Sheiks, I Farm, The Homostupids, etc. onto the shipment - just for a little variety.

Also in this box came a new CD by a young group called Maaster Gaiden on Big Action Records. Shit. I threw Like It Never Happened on for the first time today and I think I’m on my fourth or fifth listen already. It’s a short album, so that makes this behavior kinda okay. It’s over as fast as it started - 20 minutes in a frazzled blur. Mainly I’d say it’s reminiscent of the stuff coming out on Estrus, Rip Off or Sympathy in the mid-90s. Blistering, exciting and fast but still together and popped up enough to be remembered and catch yer notice. You know the bands I’m talking about. Also, in the vocals you’ll hear some heavy influence from the Marked Men. Overall though, it’s probably closer related to the Reds or the High Tension Wires. This little occurence probably has something to do with the fact that Mark Ryan from the Marked Men recorded/mixed the album. They’ve probably got a few tricks up their sleeves.

Did I mention these guys are a two-piece? They are, and this is an awesome weight of music created from two young dudes. They just added a bass player though, so watch out for that. It shouldn’t distract too much.

St. Patty’s Day Fun.

I swear, Crossed Eyes just keeps getting better. It’s scary. At first they were just the offshoot of our lovable Street Sharks while Joel was away in Texas and they were just kinda alright and fun. We were all honestly just biding our time until the lungs of the Sharks showed back up. So we thought anyway. Half a year and a handful of shows later, we were all wrong. In my not-so-humble opinion, the Eyes have already far surpassed the Sharks in their catchy-songwriting ability. I do love the Street Sharks and I still listen to their demo, but shit, the band that three of the four went on to create just writes a better pop tune. Sure, sure, the Sharks weren’t trying to be poppy, but this is the shit I can get into and grin at better.

Crossed Eyes play a revved up and melodic punked-out garage mess. They came out of a melodic hardcore break-up, listened to a little Marked Men, loaded up on some Douchemaster Records 7″s (Gentleman Jesse, The Black & Whites) and found a soft spot in their hearts for blownout garage rock (The Fatals). Could this be the best garagecrunchrawk band to hit the Triangle in recent years?? I might just think so. Each member in their own right brings amazing musicianship to the band, you can’t figure out who to watch more. Rich’s vocals and guitar chops have improved considerably as he’s settled comfortably into frontman position, Dennis strangles the muddied, sharp guitar with a nonstop, flailing bass charge, as Matt lets absolutely loose on his drum kit - chaotic, intense, amazing - yet maintains ridiculously on-point composure.

That was last night. These guys are getting good and it’s scary. I’m very excited to have a band like this around right now.

The Tim Version and the Monikers played as well. I’ve been patiently waiting for a very long time to see the Tim Version and they finally agreed to come through, making the already awesome show, that much more awesomererer. Take yer Leatherface, Replacements, Gainesville sound and some good ol’ Merle and you’re pretty much on top of these guys. Righteous stuff. There’s even a deep love of the Beach Boys buried in this band somewhere - deep. Seeing the Monikers is like a breath of fresh air. Their charged pop punk just makes ya smile and feel pretty good about the state of things. Beardo punk!! The New Bruises also played, I hadn’t listened to a lot of them, so wasn’t sure what to expect, but they still made the night that much better. Perfect, well rounded night.

Until the Tim Version’s van got stuck in the backyard mud when we were all trying to get home. Ouch. AAA at 4am trying to help a buncha drunk dudes outta some mud is an amazing sight. The better sight though is 10 drunk dudes thinking they have the brute strength to push a giant, oversized van out of said gross, gross mud. Thank you AAA!!

Wandering.

Filed Under » record shop
Permalink » 03/17/2007: Wandering.

So the other day I was bored and flipping through a few podcasts over at Garagepunk.com as I tend to do these days. They host a steady stream of great radio shows available by podcast/download. My favorites are usually Get Drunk Play Records, Savage Kick and Rock’n'Roll Suicide. I hook up my computer to my stereo at work and stream away or just download and save for later. Get Drunk Play Records is usually saved until a good bit into the night when I’m in a better mood.

Anyway, as I was listening to Rock’n'Roll Suicide #26, I was getting pretty excited over the usual garage rock/punk played, but it was all becoming background music as I was trying to get stuff done for the day. Really, I was probably getting stuff done that shoulda been finished weeks before. Flyers. Oops. If I’m in the shop a lot of the music I listen to just becomes background music, I can’t focus on more than one thing at once.

As the show started to wrap up my ears kicked themselves out of their reclining position and I dropped everything I was doing - even forgetting exactly what it was that I was doing for a second. I heard a new band. Because of the sheer volume of garage bands out there, this is no hard feat. You hear new bands everyday. Which is good, I love me the rock music. But it’s rare that your head kicks back into consciousness while you’re listening to a full album or full radio show sometimes. Especially when you have a hard time focusing and keeping on track like some of us.

The radio show ended with a new garage band outta Japan - The Routes. Maybe this is old news to some of you, but apparently they just released their new album, Left My Mind, on Motor Sounds Records outta the UK. I was happy to find this label’s name on the release. Years ago I had reviewed an album by Rock’n'Roll Monkey & the Robots who also call this label home, and I had a lot of fun with it.

This is fresh sounding garage. Just go check it out. I immediately wrote Andy over at Motor Sounds looking for it and he actually wrote back very promptly in a chatty mood. He keeps a blog called I Was Born in a Bucket. Good Stuff. As you can see he hasn’t released many albums through the years, but the ones he does release he feels very strongly about and puts a lot of work into, which shows. Andy seems to release records like some people rifle through used record bins, always searching for that stand-out gem. The few albums he has released have not been from his home-country, he’s actively found these scores in the used band bins of foreign countries and felt so moved by them that he presses and tosses their albums out to the sharks, us.

Well, I’m sold. Copies for the shop should be in the mail very shortly. The ridiculous shipping charges that are going to ensue don’t even phase me. I have to hear more of this band. I’m writing all this with only hearing one song by the band twice.
I’ll write more when I get the full CDs and sit down with them. At home. With a beer.

To keep you busy until then:
Andy’s band - The Bonevilles (two-piece bluespunkgarage trashness. yes yes, it’s easy to say - another one?? but screw you.)

Two awesome bands on Let’s Pretend Records outta Carbondale , IL:
Sass Dragons (holy crap, for something this raunchy, sleazy and oozing, this is some damn catchy stuff! i’m singing along and feeling real slimy. help? i want more.)
Conniption Fitts (still good. coaxed ‘em into playing the Reservoiir not too long ago and they owned it. hyper-active, flailing front man garagepunk going straight for the damn jugular. makes me think of Riverboat Gamblers if they were younger, snottier and even more drunk.)

Closer today than we were yesterday.

Wow.
So I’ve been meaning to post about this for a while but I’ve been too nervous to, or perhaps sidetracked. I try not to post big things before they become a reality, for fear of jinxing them. Yeah, I’m superstitious like that.

Lately I’ve been working with a group of friends to start up a little community space here in Durham. The basic idea is to create a drug and alcohol free, all ages, multi-purpose room that’s always empty and waiting to be used. Used for anything. The possibilities that a decent-sized, open room can house are absolutely endless. Some of the types of things we’re going to try and use it for are (but not limited to) shows, art events/gallery space, classes, workshops, hopefully our friends’ bike co-op, etc. A lot of cities have wonderful organizations like this (Charm City Art Space - Baltimore, El Nuevo - Asheville, etc.), but this area is kinda lacking in DIY spaces other than some awesome houses/basements. Honestly, how fun is it to have a big empty room that you can do whatever you want in?? Geez. When we grow up and lose our playrooms, these places tend to disappear and not come back. So that’s the idea.

Today Ed the landlord came by and I traded him signed lease for keys. It was done. After a ten minute meeting, during which he actually bought something in the store, the space was ours to use. We could not have found a better deal, it’s relatively cheap, large, month-to-month, near downtown, the back opens up to a large fenced in area and well, the good points go on. We’re thrilled.

All it took were a few friends getting together, a few months of meetings, scouring for cheap rent, pooling some money and off we went. It’s certainly easier than we thought, just a little time-consuming. I encourage anyone to give it a shot. Now we’re gonna start focusing on fundraisers, community-help days and anything we can come up with to get the whole community involved. To raise money for rent we’re hoping to rent it out some to other organizations/non-profits and use it as practice space for bands. Also the usually fundraisers and benefit shows. Should be fun!!

I’ll update more later.
Myspace - www.myspace.com/bchq
Currently listening to Jack-o & the Tennessee Tearjerkers’ Flip Side Kid and lovin’ it!

On another note…

Filed Under » Uncategorized
Permalink » 01/27/2007: On another note…

I’ve been ripping some of my 7″s onto my computer (see: productive things to do at work) using Audacity and that’s got me thinking. I want to try and put together a podcast every couple weeks or month or so.

Does anyone know of a place that will host something like this for free so that I can just run a link to it off my site?
Does such a place like this exist?

Anyway, I’m thinking about actually getting a real website that I can upload stuff like that onto, so maybe I’ll just wait until then. Might make more sense. Then I can have an archive or something.

(Listening to lots of Screeching Weasel My Brain Hurts today - feels soooo good.)

Time.

Filed Under » record shop
Permalink » : Time.

Normal time does not exist in a record shop. That’s why the long-haired, grey-bearded old proprietor behind the counter of your local tattered, dusty used vinyl shop acts the same way as the black-haired hipster slinging CDs at your local hip, indie joint. Think about it. Both are moody, slow, usually occupied with something else (flipping through a magazine, perusing the internet) and are generally uninterested in what you’re looking for. That is, unless you ask them about something that lights up their eyes. Not until then do they get animated and it’s hard to shut ‘em up. Both feel the same age, both might even act the same age. Within the walls of record shops, time is measured differently.

All day all you do is listen to, talk about and read about music; thus, time slows down to a crawling pace. You’re doing what you want to do and listening to music slows life down way more than TV or the internet. Once you start working in a real, local independently owned store, it’s hard to get out; you’re usually there for too long also. If allowed and it’s in the budget, record store employees will put in ridiculous amounts of hours at the shop at which they work (out of choice). Honestly, for a lot of us, there’s no place we’d rather be. That’s why you tend to see the same person always behind the counter. If I were to have one extra day off a week, where would I be? Chances are I’d be at home drinking a beer, listening to and reading about music. Hell, I might as well be at the shop selling and talking about music too if I’m already halfway there. So that’s what I do. It works amazingly well and it’s rare that I get burned out.

Back to the time issue. Days don’t pass in record shops, weeks don’t pass in record shops, even years don’t get noticed when you’re working in a record shop. The only way to measure time and realize how long you’ve been somewhere is by the new releases. Five years can go by without you noticing, but you will remember exactly how many albums Gwen Stefani released in those years. You’ll remember what shops you were at when your favorite albums got released, or where you were when your favorite band released their new, highly anticipated (probably only by you) album. There are albums like this for which I actually remember exactly when and where I first heard it.

For me it does not hit how long I’ve been in one place until a band that released an album when I first started working there, releases a new album. Shit, then all of a sudden you’ve lost a year to a year and a half and you didn’t even notice it. You’re too busy trying to keep on top of everything coming out each week that you haven’t noticed time moving past you. You’re entirely comfortable in this world that never really stagnates. As I’ve mentioned before, this is exactly why I like this business, there’s always something new coming out, something to which to look forward. Sure, you’ll have stale, crappy months in the new release department, but rest assured, on the other side of these shitty few months, something exciting will get unleashed.

The reason I bring this up is because it is starting to happen here. For once it actually feels great; it doesn’t feel like I’ve lost a year and a half of my life, rather, it feels settling. We’ve just gotten to the point where I am starting to see new releases by bands that I’ve pulled into the shop get replaced by another new release from that same band. It feels good. It feels accomplishing. It feels like I’m rooted in here.


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