This past weekend I was in San Francisco.
While touring the city (and much to my delight), I stumbled across a nifty record store during my meanderings: Rasputin Music & Movies. It was "The Last Great Record Store" so proclaimed its bi-line proudly.
And of course, record collector that I am, I ventured in. I was immediately surprised by the size of the place - half a block deep and about the same in width with no less than 5 stories (Five! Stories!) of CDs, vinyl and DVD collectible goodness and of every genre imaginable.
It was the records I was most interested in, however. I ate the place up for the better part of an hour. I gleefully flipped through platters and platters of delicious vinyl encased neatly in clear poly sleeves. I was in heaven. I could have spent hours in the place without problem. Thus engaged, time spent would have gone by in a blink of an eye.
And in fact, that's just what happened. I spied the time and of a sudden I needed to be on my way. (But not without a small take. 3 pieces of vinyl just shy of $9.00. The trio included a couple Shriekback singles and a Stan Ridgway rarity, all in outstanding condition.)
Paid for and packaged, I jested with the checkout person who rang up my purchases and exited the store with a big, fat, sappy smile on my face.
And then? Monday morning? Something dawned on me:
Taking the records out of their bag, I looked at the colorfully vibrant Rasputin Music carry-all with more than a bit of interest.
On both sides of the bag the mysterious, mad Rasputin eyed me sternly. That's when I realized his gaze was electifyingly intense.
His look bore to my very core. He was glaring with laser-focused eyes. I pulled away from them (no easy task) long enough to scan the entire bag ... and I was transfixed by what I saw:
An endearing image of a black and white French Bulldog being cradled by Raspy complimented with an old hand-cranked record machine. "The Last Great Record Store" the bag proclaimed.
Plus, Rasputin Music is accommodating to a fault, too:
We pay cash," Raspy offers, "for your CDs, DVDs, games, LPs, videos and books." Plus ... they offer trade in for your old stuff.
Flip the bag over and even more interesting (and curious) tales are told.
Flames lick around the again steely stare of Rasputin, this time adorned with angelic wings and boasting 40 years of service in the business.
But ... here's the really interesting thing: Take a look at the top of the bag:
What ... !??? "Bullets" ... ?!? "Poison" ... ?!? What do those have to do with music ... ?!?
And beneath Rasputin? Markers and tombstones of record stores gone by the wayside: Aron's ... Music Land ... Moby Disc ... Wherehouse ... Record Finder ... Tower Records!
And yet another curious thing. That proclamation:
Wow. Really ... ??? Don't you find that a bit odd?
I mean ... is it actually a respectful nod of condolence and remembrance to those long-gone shops? Or does Rasputin Music have something to do with their demise ... ?!?
Think about it. Outside the occasional mom and pop record shop, vinyl stores have gone the way of the dinosaur over the years. Of late, however, vinyl has made an incredible resurgence. A huge resurgence, much to the delight of the collector.
And there's more. Not only has there been a definitive resurgence, but profitability of new vinyl - with its limited pressings, claims of rare recordings, "lost" versions of classics, hard-to-find alternate recording takes and more - has skyrocketed. To the benefit of those few record stores still plugging away ... just like Rasputin Music.
Is something sinister at work here? How does a 5 story store make it in the world today? Why the tip of the hat to the record shops of old? What the hell is the deal with the "poison" and "bullets" verbiage on the shop's bag? Why Rasputin - with his hypnotic gaze - as the "spokesman" for the business?
I informed Clark and Jeff of my findings immediately and we got right to work delving into the above questions. What did we find? Sinister doings? Coincidence? Wool being pulled over the public's eyes? Something else entirely?
You won't believe what the The Unbelievables found out ...