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12 March 2009 @ 06:11 pm
the Ruts - the Crack  
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January and February 1986, Austin, Texas...the strangely luminescent period in my life, a period of transition that found me to be, once again, the new kid in town. It was strange and wonderful, but mostly I could be found working at my first Austin record store job at Discount Records, a tiny little storefront next to Bevos Bookstore on the Drag. My friend Sammy Jacobo was the manager, and he was over-worked and ready to quit. The store was owned by Pickwick International, the company that also owned Musicaland, and Sammy had taken a transfer from a mall store to the Drag store. It was a well traveled location, even if it was never considered one of the cool stores like Inner Sanctum around the corner, Sound Exchange down a few blocks, or even Hastings, a few stores up the drag towards 24th. When it wasn't busy I could watch the people walk by, the cute college girls, the drag worms, the music personalities (Daniel Johnston dropped in to introduce himself, having been told by my room-mate John that I was a fan) and whatever else. It seemed like the center of the universe to me after West Texas. Sammy taught me the basics and then left me on my own pretty much from the third day onward. I had a key. My bike was stolen from the back of the store, where I had chained it to a pole.
I went through the racks looking for whatever cool records I could find and found this copy of the Ruts album in the cutouts section. It went into my play-stack, and it was on of my early morning favorites. It woke me up, and I liked to rankle people with it. There were regular Classical CD buyers, and Discount was one of the few places around campus to find Classical music at all. One day a Classical music customer insisted that I had to take it off because HE was the customer and he demanded it. I told him it didn't work that way. I could be a real dick when I wanted to, but I really didn't give a f*ck, and I knew I wasn't going to work there very long if I could help it. There was another customer one day when I was playing it that brought the most recent Loverboy album to the counter and demanded I take my crap off and play Loverboy. He was Middle Eastern in origin, and had these real intense eyes, like snake eyes. It was scary, but I stuck to my guns and said no, f*ck off dude. I just loved pissing people off, and I felt newly emboldened to do so those first few months. My history there was very brief, however, and even though so many things happened there, from the day that Sammy was working and his ex, Mary Jane, came by to tell him that the Space Shuttle had just crashed. I went home that evening and watched the images of the exploding Y that ingrained itself into my mind forever. I also met Amy, who was the 16 year old weekend staffer who was dropped off by her father. There was an interest, but I was spooked enough by her age not to act on that possibility, and soon moved on, both to Inner Sanctum and its frustrating demise and to Laura the first, my debut Austin girlfriend. The album, like the rest of my Discount playstack, went with me when I left (discounted well below cost by Sammy, who really didn't care by this point, and was soon out the door himself after I left their employ). It's place in my life remains in this brief, ebullien, period, and the music sounds good to me now, but it doesn't have nearly the degree of meaning it did way back then. It doesn't describe the feeling of awakening that Talk Talk's 'the Colour of Spring' embodied, and it lacks the thrill of discovery that I got from Sonic Youth's 'Bad Moon Rising' and Jesus & Mary Chain's 'Psychocandy.' But when I see the cover, it's hodge-podge of the band among punk luminaries like the Damned and rock legends like Jimi Hendrix, my pulse quickens a bit and the smell of spring on the Drag comes into my memory. It was fun not to care if I pissed people off, it was fun to be young and be a new person in a new town. It was all ahead of me, and this was very soon put behind me.
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