The Dust Blows Forward…

Cresting the corner of Market and Sanchez yesterday, I came upon a man unloading records from his suitcase. He had a loaf of cheap-looking bread (white, french) and some records sitting on an electrical box on the corner. He was laying out a blanket and haphazardly arranging records on it. “Lotsa reggae, insane record sale,” he said to me. I couldn’t get a read on him at first. He was definitely high, coke or speed or something along those lines. He immediately, twitchily started hand-selling records to me: an old blues record that had Buddy Guy on it (but wasn’t a Buddy Guy record), someone who was someone’s “favorite guitar player,” reggae and dub that I’d never heard of. He apologized for pushing stuff on me, and even muttered something like “I’m really high.” Jah Wobble, the first two Police albums. He said he was being evicted from his apartment and needed cash fast, hated to see these records go but needed the money. A guy with dreads came up and immediately grabbed the not-Buddy Guy record and coveted it. The record dude was like “see, he knows, he knows” and they exchanged pleasant words about reggae and dreadlocks. Dreadlock guy asked how long he’d lived in the place he was getting evicted from; I think record dude said 17 years, munching on his loaf, frantically rearranging records on the blanket. He’d tried to sell them at Streetlight across the st. but they weren’t offering enough. “They’d give me $3 or $4 for these and then turn around and sell them to you for $12 or $15.”There was a fair amount of postpunk and rock, which is what I ended up buying. I should’ve grabbed the reggae and blues stuff I’d never of; it was probably much more valuable and great, but I stuck with what I knew. These are the records I ended up buying (all original issues, and in great condition):


Captain Beefheart, Trout Mask Replica (1975, two LPs!)

(Just realized looking at this that the first cut is “Frownland,” from which Ronald Bronstein’s painfully awesome 2007 film must’ve taken its name.)


[Keith’s horrible roommate in Frownland (2007)]


John Lennon, Plastic Ono Band (“produced by John and Yoko and Phil Spector”)


Ry Cooder, Paradise and Lunch (I remember R.P. had this on vinyl in high school; Jim Keltner plays drums; my record player’s busted at the moment so I can’t even listen to these right now anyway.)


(Looks like a Dutch pressing of this album. “Made in Holland” on the record and a torn-off “GRAMMOFOONPLA– / Frans Sell— / Be—-xstraat 20-22—- / Den —“. Did record dude buy this in Amsterdam???)


Young Marble Giants, Colossal Youth

The Pedro Costa film for which this album is named is playing at Berkeley’s PFA on April 12. SEE YOU THERE?


(Juventude em marcha)


I am being willfully, hungoverly nerdy I know but nota to your bene: of course the record doesn’t have the yellow band in the corner. I’ve never seen this record cover, only heard/seen this album packaged with the sister circle photo. This is a 1985 reissue. Interesting (to me) to note that Howard Wuelfing wrote a back-cover text for this record. I have run across him as the manager/publicist/whatever of Howlin’ Wuelf media. This is an exciting blog post for you, reader! I am who I am and that is a person who wonders how Howard ended up writing the back-cover text for this 1985 re-issue of Big Star’s 3rd. Halp me I’m boring myself all the way to the taqueria


Scientist v Prince Jammy, Big Showdown 1980

The one reggae record I “took a chance on”; like I said, I should’ve bought more; he had so much, it’s probably all worth way more than the $5 or whatever he was selling em for. The back of the record says that the “Big Showdown” happened “at King Tubby’s”. There are 10 “rounds”, with Scientist and Prince Jammy alternating mixing. I can’t wait to listen to this. Greensleeves records. Every member of the “Roots Radics Band” has a middle-nickname:

  • Flabba
  • Santa
  • Gladdie
  • oh actually Ansel Collins and Bo Peep don’t have middle nicknames
  • Chinna
  • Sky Juice

Those are the nicknames.


Record dude also had a ton of Tom Verlaine solo records, but I only had so much cash. I did a rough, generous calculation in my head, and offered him $40. My good fortune was painful to enjoy because it was coming at the price of this guy’s pain. But at the same time, by buying the records, I was helping him. When I offered him $40, he went through them all, then we he got to Marquee Moon he said “let’s call it $45, because this is such an all-time classic” or something to that effect. I was more than happy to pay $45, even though the logic wasn’t there — just b/c it’s a great record doesn’t mean it’s worth more, right? I was paying for his own emotional attachment to the record. ” The title track (last song on the first side) is one of the few songs I regularly feel a physical need to hear. It’s a great song to buy on a jukebox, too — 10 minutes of joy. He had a copy of Rubber Soul that was the only album going for more than $5 — it was the original Parlophone pressing or some such.

I haven’t bothered to look these records up to see how much they go for, but even if in order to have gotten a truly great deal I needed to’ve paid $30, I honestly feel happy paying extra on top of that to help this guy out. Whether he spends it on bread or drugs. I came upon the sale on my way to buy a new mattress for my new apt. Just that morning I had been considering getting rid of all my records to streamline the move, but I kept seeing my dad’s old records that he gave me — John Lennon, John Coltrane, et al — so I decided to hang on a little longer. I wished the dude good luck with his eviction as I paid him, and he said “Thanks man. Enjoy the records. And I know you will.” And I know he knows I will! It was the most bittersweet music-purchasing experience of my life. As long as I have records, I will treasure these.