The Albuquerque Record Convention is held twice yearly in a banquet room at the MCM Eleganté Hotel and Event Center. In front of the hotel, there is a large marble monolith that displays the Ten Commandments. With the exceptions of murder and adultery, I believe I have seen every one of the commandments violated at every record show I have ever attended. Stealing, bearing false witness, and coveting are especially popular. Now that I mention it, "Murder at the Record Convention" would be a great title for a mystery novel. However, a book titled "Adultery at the Record Convention" would have to be science fiction.

This is the second time I've sold at the ABQ Convention and I think I've figured it out, which only proves that I haven't. The major difference between this show and the other record shows I've sold at - in the Seattle area, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Southern California - is the customer flow. In the "big city" shows, there is usually a great deal of wheeling and dealing going on before the show even starts, not only among the fellow dealers but with "early bird" customers that pay extra to annoy the dealers trying to set up and try to get the best stuff before the riff and the raff are allowed in. The initial feeding frenzy is usually followed by hours of desolate doldrums. Probably ninety percent of all commerce happens by the first hour of the show.
That type of behavior doesn't even compute in Albuquerque - I guess it's too far inland for sharks. I was pleasantly surprised by the slow and steady stream of customers that lasted all day. I guess that most Burqueños would rather sleep in on a weekend morning, go out and have a nice breakfast or lunch, and then maybe decide to go to a record swap meet. I am still experiencing mild culture shock.

One thing that doesn't change with region is the mostly harmless and endearing eccentricities of collectors.

Many record geeks like to talk. Many of them wrongly assume that I am knowledgeable about or interested in the same recording artists they are. Just because I'm sitting on this side of the table doesn't mean I know anything.
If someone insists on enlightening me about the Tony Danza Tap-dance Extravaganza, Magma, or Up With People, I start thinking of sure-fire conversation-ending statements. I won't give away all my best stuff, but I'll share a few. Keep in mind that I may like some of these artists, but I really don't have anything new to say about them.

To offend artsy, bohemian, hipster types, I suggest:
"I don't like free jazz - it has too many notes," or
"The Velvet Underground was so much better with Doug Yule than with John Cale."

If you have a Captain Beefheart fanatic bending your ear, try
"Trout Mask Replica' is just a bunch of noise - 'Bluejeans and Moonbeams' is a much better album." They will be stunned into silence.
WARNING: Many Beefheart fans are older and may have heart conditions, so use with caution.

If you really want to see somebody storm off in a huff, I suggest:
"Jimi Hendrix was over rated - he couldn't even stay in tune."
Actually, I stole that one. The person I stole if from also said,
"Kenney Jones was the best drummer for the Who - Keith Moon couldn't even keep time."

I have a story to end conversations with Pink Floyd fans. Unlike most of my stories, it's actually true. A former co-worker was a big Pink Floyd fan. I told him that I never liked the band and I thought they were boring. His immediate and sincere response was "that's because you've never fried." I accept that answer.

I confess that I borrowed the "too many notes" punch line from "I Hate Music" by the Replacements. You didn't think I could come up with something that clever on my own, did you?

Sometimes I like to test the market and conduct experiments. A month or so ago, I bought a box filled with twenty-some identical still-sealed Sammy Hagar CD's at a yard sale. I asked how or why they acquired the box and they told me, but I didn't fully understand the answer. The details were fuzzy - somebody knew somebody who knew somebody and five bucks for the whole box.
Since the cost per unit averaged less than 25 cents, I figured I could charge 50 cents each and double my money. That part worked just fine. What I didn't count on was the "Sammy Factor." Most copies went to other dealers, who bought multiples with the intent of selling them for a buck each, which I expected and applauded. However, the Sammy Factor came into play when one enthusiastic fan of Mr. Hagar presented me with two shiny new quarters and felt entitled not only to a compact disc, but to a lengthy conversation on the life and many accomplishments of a certain "Sammy J. Effingham Hagar, born on such and such a date in the year blah-blah-blah, in the city of blah-blah-blah, who learned to play guitar at age blah-blah-blah, started his first band 'Sammy Effingham and the Sandwiches' in 1950-something and you get the idea."
I thought this would be an opportunity to create a new conversation-ending statement. What came out of my mouth was, "I think it's all been downhill for Sammy Hagar since the first Montrose album in 1973."
This silenced him for only a few seconds before he lit up and said, "Yeah, 'Rock the Nation,' 'Space Station No. 5!'"
"Bad Motor Scooter," I tried to mumble incoherently.
"Yeah, 'Bad Motor Scooter,' what a great record!"
Oh no! He agreed with me! I didn't expect that. Instead of ending the conversation, my comment backfired and brought it to a whole new realm.

Sammyfan eventually went on his way. He returned later to show me that he had found another Sammy Hagar album that he was looking for. I couldn't help but feel happy for him. I'm not made of stone, you know.

There is a fine line between collector and hoarder. Selling stuff is my way of not going over to the dark side. I've also grown to believe there's something creepy about a collection that's too extensive. Besides, it's always more fun to get stuff than to have stuff. As I get older and less sentimental, it's becoming more fun to get rid of stuff. Unfortunately, that leads to buying more stuff just to get rid of it.

Do you remember CD long boxes? Let me either remind or inform you. When CD's first came out, they were packaged in larger boxes, presumably to prevent shoplifting. I don't know if it worked or not, but long boxes didn't last long. I recently found a Guns n' Roses CD in a thrift store that was still sealed in the long box. I bought it with the sole purpose of re-selling it - I never liked Guns n' Roses. I had no idea why anybody would want a CD in the long box, so I put what I thought was a wildly inflated price on it and hoped it would sell. It sold quickly. I should have priced it higher, I kind of wanted to keep it.

If I accomplished nothing else at the show, I'd like to think that I enabled and helped facilitate the meeting of two kindred musicians. Two big biker-looking guys both showed up at my table looking for blues records. Hitherto unacquainted with each other, they started talking about the local blues scene and discovering they had mutual friends. One mentioned he played guitar in a blues band.
The other one said, "You guys need a harp player? I play harp."
"No," said the guitarist, "We have a guitar player."
"I play harp, do you guys need a harp player?"
"No, we already have a guitar player," replied the obviously-hard-of-hearing guitarist. I guess that's common.
I couldn't help but interrupt.
"Dude, he plays harmonica. He wants to jam with you." Understood.
They exchanged numbers and continued bonding while restricting access to my table for other potential customers. I noticed a shy collector that looked like he was trying to summon up the courage to ask them to move. He wanted to flip through my records, but these two bearded mountains of denim and leather blocked his path. I sensed his intimidation and said, loud enough for all to hear, "If these guys are in your way, just push 'em."
The big guys laughed, apologized, and went off to take the blues world by storm. I hope they kick ass and take names.

I also sold some vinyl - lots of it. I could write something about that, but this article is too long already.

Record Weirdo - The Movie

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Here is a short movie (3 minutes) I did for a Digital Arts class. The clips are (mostly) compiled from youtube "vinyl community" posts. No, none of these people are me.

Record Weirdo - By The Time I Get To Phoenix

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I was in Phoenix, AZ last weekend. I hadn't been there in a long time. When did The Valley of the Sun get annexed by California? I'm not saying it's good or bad, I'm just saying it.

Close to half-gentrified and half-demolished downtown Phoenix, I was pleased to find Revolver Records - a happy haven of vinyl geekdom. It looked, felt, sounded, and smelled exactly like a record store should. I was also pleased to observe that the store appeared to be thriving - not just with the old weirdos crawling on the floor to peruse the boxes of albums that were tucked into every nook and cranny of the room, but also with younger folks who still care enough about life to practice personal hygiene. I limited my shopping to the upper racks and bought some mid-priced classic-rock comfort food by the likes of John Lennon, the Who, and the second Generation X album that I used to have but lost over time. I've been playing it safe and boring for a while, but the store does stock plenty of the newer stuff that all the hipsters dig. Revolver claims to have over 25,000 records in stock and that looks about right, although most of them have been relegated to the $1.00 boxes on the floor. I didn't want to bother with those because I knew I would end up buying a bunch of crap, but I was forced to. There was a dry-erase board by the front counter with a rock trivia question written on it. The prize for the correct answer was a free $1.00 record. Long story short, I selected a rode-hard-and-put-away-wet copy of "Elvis Sings 'Burning Love' and Hits From His Movies."

Alice Cooperstown is a rock-themed sports bar and restaurant in downtown Phoenix. Yes, it is owned by Alice Cooper and yes, I had to go there. I had no problem with the "Welcome to My Nightmare" chili, which I found quite delicious, but I did have problems with some of the rock memorabilia on display. For example, there was an autographed white Fender Telecaster in a glass case with a plaque stating that it was Jeff Beck's guitar, but if you looked closely at the signature, it looked like "Billy Joel." Another issue was the memorabilia near our table, which were record company certificates commemorating sales or radio play of the dippy Alice Cooper ballads "You and Me" and "I Never Cry" instead of REAL Alice Cooper songs like "School's Out" or "No More Mr. Nice Guy." Other than that, I liked it.


ABQ Record Store Update: I finally made it to Mecca Records. I read some online reviews that said the clerks were rude and condescending. However, I found the clerk to be pleasant and polite. I'll probably go back anyway.

Correction: In a previous posting, I referred to a store called "I Buy Music." The correct name of the store is "We Buy Music." I still don't think it's a very good name.

Meat Puppets in the ABQ

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Every music geek that ever learned to type has long ago soaked their t-shirts in drool about the albums "Meat Puppets II," "Up On The Sun," and others from the Meat Puppets SST golden era, so I won't bother. I admit to not paying much attention to their major-label output in the 90's and felt rock-snobbishly honor-bound to ignore them when they became legitimately popular. Regrets, I've had a few.

I've been on a Meat Puppets kick lately. Living in the desert has that effect.
It's gotten to the point where I've been rescuing their late 20th century releases from local budget bins. One of my purchases was met with a refreshing blast of record store clerk snideness.
"The Meat Puppets? Are they still alive? Didn't one of them get shot by the cops or something?"
He got better. I also mentioned that the band was playing Albuquerque soon.

Yeah, I went to the show and I believe I saw the clerk there too. A large portion of the crowd was comprised of aging music geeks. You know the type - a little gray or thin on the top and a little thick around the middle. The hair on the chin is either the last remaining concession to hipness or an attempt to not look like their dad. It was like looking in a funhouse mirror and seeing multiple reflections of myself.

The Meat Puppets played for almost two hours. They played songs from "Meat Puppets II," they played songs from "Up On The Sun," they played this song and that song and I couldn't write a standard paint-by-numbers review at gunpoint. The surprise cover songs were "Sloop John B" and "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights." There were too many psychedelic "Jazz Odyssey" type extended jam endings for my taste, but my taste has always been in question. Would you like to hear my rant about why Bachman-Turner Overdrive should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

I bought the new Meat Puppets CD at the merch table. I like it.

He got better.

I'll fix this one in Photoshop.

Record Weirdo - Albuquerque Rock City

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Before moving to Albuquerque, I had to do some research on the record stores. I was intrigued by the following online review of a place called Krazy Kat Records:

"this place should be more appropriately advertised as a needle exchange program. Who cares about music purchasing when you have to shovel your way through a maze of used diapers. I will never go here again."

I was disappointed but not too surprised to find that Krazy Kat was no longer in business. Apparently, there was some kind of trouble with the Feds.

In the end, I ended up throwing all of my research out of the window and finding record stores the old-fashioned way - by relying on instinct and my acute sense of smell. Here are my three favorites so far:

Charley's 33's and CD's has a great old-time used record store ambience with lots of new and used vinyl, CD's, promo swag, posters, cassettes (!), and even 8-tracks (!!). It smells of incense residue from the 70's, musty old records, squeaky wooden floorboards, with a slight hint of leather and suede from the attached vintage clothing store.

Nob Hill Music is a small, one-man, storefront shop with a well-organized, fairly priced inventory of used vinyl. The store has an overall vibe of comfort, safety, and friendliness but I like it anyway. It has a sunny oak and pine nose with suggestions of houseplant and Windex.

Natural Sound has kind of a hip and with-it vibe, but not enough to scare me away. It smells like sparkling new shrink-wrapped vinyl, but they also have a good selection of used stuff. They have some books too, which means they cater to the thinking crowd. The records can be pricey, but all of the used CD's are under six dollars (as they should be).

And there were some negatives:
I wanted to like Record Roundup because of the name, but I didn't. They had no records. It smelled of moldy goldenrod indoor-outdoor carpet and hip-hop.

I didn't know what to expect from the Albuquerque Record Convention. It didn't seem to be very well advertised. It has very little web presence. I get the feeling that the promoters want to keep it as a word-of-mouth, insider kind of event. I only heard of it from the guy at Nob Hill Music - the promoter of the record show had given him one (1) flyer as if it were a personal invitation.

The show looked, sounded, and smelled like every other record show I've ever attended. The patrons combined the scents of yesterday's black t-shirt and today's convenience-store coffee, with slight undercurrents of Hai Karate, tobacco, and basement hempfunk.

George Tomsco of the Fireballs was the special guest of the most recent Albuquerque Record Convention. The Fireballs were the biggest rock and roll band to ever come out of New Mexico. They are known primarily for their 1960's hits "Sugar Shack" and "Bottle of Wine." They are lesser known as the instrumental act responsible for the Tequila-ish "Torquay" and the proto-surf "Bulldog." In fact, "Bulldog" is the lead-off track on the great "Cowabunga" surf music box set that Rhino put out a while back.

Not being a fan of "Sugar Shack" or "Bottle of Wine," I was reluctant to approach the table. As George was unpacking a guitar and plugging it in, I stopped in passing and politely looked over the assortment of Fireballs flyers, gig posters, and "Sugar Shack" highlighted CD hits collections. He asked me if I was familiar with their music. All I could think of was "You did 'Bulldog' right?"

This seemed to meet with his approval. Since he was the guitarist in the original version of the band (and the composer of "Bulldog") he seemed more excited by the reference to something other than the Fireballs better-known vocal hits. I mentioned that I had a copy of "Bulldog" on 45 but it was too scratched up to play. He needed no further prompting. He cranked up his amp and launched into a fine, reverb-drenched version of "Bulldog" right there on the spot. It was pretty cool. While he played, he continued making small talk while his fingers went into auto-pilot mode. After fifty-some years, I'm sure he could play that song in his sleep and probably has.

George Tomsco - "Bulldog" unleashed

Among the CD's that George was hawking, I found the excellent Fireballs compilation "The Original Norman Petty Masters" on Ace Records. This is mostly instrumentals but also has a couple of really good obscure rockabilly style vocals. George was nice enough to sign it and throw in a bunch of Fireballs swag with the CD purchase.

In an obscure footnote in rock history, it was the Fireballs who were employed by producer Norman Petty to flesh out some unfinished demos by Buddy Holly that were posthumously released in the 1960's. This can be a sensitive topic to some Holly fans, but I think some of the songs that were tinkered with, like "Peggy Sue Got Married" sound pretty good.

I bought a few records at the record show. Besides the usual nickel and dime stuff, I upgraded my copies of "The Who Live at Leeds" (original folder cover with all the inserts) and The Velvet Underground's "Loaded" (1st pressing, blah blah blah...) for less than 10 bucks each. People in New Mexico don't seem to understand the concept of price gouging. I think I'm going to like it here.

P.S. My favorite reference to smell in a song would have to be "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight" by The Jam - "They smelt of pubs and Wormwood Scrubs." In my memory, the London tube stations smell like diesel fuel. The thugs described in the song would have to be pretty stinky to compete with that.

P.S.S. I found a copy of "Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies" by Pernell Roberts at a yard sale last week. It makes a fine addition to my collection of albums by "Bonanza" cast members. Lorne Greene records are a dime a dozen, but I'm always on the lookout for elusive LP's by Michael "Little Joe" Landon and Dan "Hoss" Blocker.

Geekery, robots & Patsy Cline all come together in one YouTube Video, be very afraid.

Happy Birthday to

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This weekend is's, the website, 11th Birthday.

Happy Birthday to us!

In internet years, I think that makes us about 97 years old... ;oD

10 years ago today, Alex West, Ben Yau, and I got together at my brother's house in Huntington Beach with several computers and a bunch of scary snacks that Ben brought and we coded & launched to build on the Barflies mailing list that I had been running for the previous year and the SocialD message board that Alex had been running for the 4 years previous.

In the normal way of things, I should have thrown a big party tonight to celebrate 10 BIG YEARS on the internet. I have spent the last two months trying to find where all the early contributors of the have gotten themselves off to (Hey Amber & Erik Jansen, where are you? Email me!), so that Julie Wanda and I could throw a good thank you party and Hey, We are Still Going Strong party.

In typical, Wanda and Jen fashion, we are running fashionably late. Expect a party announcement soon.

Happy 10th Anniversary to us!

Ear Worms

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[Originally posted at Black Phoebe :: Ms. Jen, re-posted with permission]

An ear worm is a pernicious song / melody / chorus that wiggles into your brain via your ears and stays all the while niggling at your brain and causing you to wake up singing it or worse... The worse is having the ear worm song stuck for days on end.

The best way to get rid of an ear worm is not to ignore or attempt to replace it with a better or more acceptable song, but instead to infect others around you. By some odd law of the universe that science has not yet documented, if you pass on your ear worm to at least 3 or 5 other humans, then it mercifully leaves your brain.

Back in college if the most pernicious of all ear worms infected us, we would start singing it in the cafeteria line. Evil but true. By the time you got your food and checked out, the ear worm would be gone, all the while 5 others behind you in line were shooting you eye daggers and singing along under their breathes.

By this same principal, my college roommate and I once got a large part of the audience at the Troubador, between bands, singing the Worst Ear Worm of All Time. This was a great accomplishment for the late 1980s.

Thankfully, has come up with a great antidote for ear worms. lets you post the song you are thinking of and then write a small note to go along with it, think Twitter plus a song database. Thus, when you think of a song, rather than letting your mind chew on it for hours and tormenting you, you can log into, and post the song and share it not just with your friends but with various other lovely folk on

Today, when I heard a 70s ear worm gem on the radio and was too appalled to change the channel, as the song started to burrow into my brain, I went home, turned on the computer, when to and blipped it - 1975's Hot Chocolate's "I believe in Miracles". And I wrote:

This song, while an oldie, is a TERRIBLE HORRIBLE Ear Worm. I heard it on the radio today, now I must infect you...

And then set me free. So, I decided to test my karma and post the Worst Ear Worm of All Time to, yes - the ear worm that infected the cafeteria line at Pitzer College, the ear worm that infected a metal show at the Troubadour... Yes... The Green Acres Theme Song... I dare you to listen to it:

But this, if you are an American who watched too many re-runs as a kid, is the ALL TIME MOST infectious Ear Worm...

What is your favorite all time ear worm?

Wow! Just Wow! or Iowa is Awesome!

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Internet surfing late this evening led me to Lesile Hall's Gemstone Sweater site, which led me to the bank of videos for her music/performaniceart/parody. Wow!

Rabbit, Rabbit!

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Happy First of August to you. Or rabbit rabbit. Or Happy Lughnasadh. Whichever you prefer, just remember to have a good bonfire and some 'smores.

To re-launch the after our 4 month hiatus, I will be blogging here at the and at Alex's Bar daily as a part of the NaBloPoMo August Hot challenge.

So, what is hot for today, August 1st? A good bonfire. In lieu (or Lugh) of a good bonfire, then a nice, hot, sweaty nightclub...

And We Are Back!

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Yes, is back with a new backend (Movable Type Open Source) and a refinement of our design.

Sorry for our prolonged absence, but we are a volunteer blog and that includes the services of the webmistress / webdev ...

Doesn't everyone need a good vacation?