Captain Planet,
The TVD First Date

“In the fall of my junior year in high school, I was briefly suspended from a NYC based ‘City-As-School’ immersive, experiential education program that I was attending. A teacher had walked abruptly into my non-coed dorm room, discovering a very alarmed 16-year-old version of me, in bed, with 4 feet sticking out from the bottom of the blankets.”

“While it was the worst possible way to be introduced to my girlfriend’s parents, the upshot was that I spent a handful of days with some old family friends in Brooklyn. The older son had just gotten into scratching and juggling records. As someone who was already quite obsessed with making music and dancing (a drummer, guitarist, noodler on the bass, and B-boy wannabe), seeing what my friend was doing with vinyl cracked my head wide open. This was 1998. ATCQ’s “The Love Movement” had just come out, but I was still swearing by my Beats, Rhymes and Life CD, which wound its way up through my Sony Walkman’s headphone cables on repeat, tapping directly into my endorphin receptors, transporting me to a near ecstatic state regularly while riding the 4, 5, 6 line.

After that firsthand glimpse of how hip hop records were actually conceived—the sampling, looping, scratching and manipulating of doubles—I was transfixed. A handful of months later, I acquired the very same used Gemini belt-drive turntables and mixer from this Brooklyn friend, and brought them to Marin County in northern California where I would later go on to finish High School.

Of course, the obvious next step was finding records. I raided my mom’s collection, but the funkiest things she had were LPs by Nina Simone, Sam & Dave, and a couple of South African Jive albums which I still cherish to this day. These weren’t gonna help me learn to juggle or scratch though. With no other friends who DJ’d or collected records, I hardly knew where to begin. For you young bloods out there, keep in mind that Youtube didn’t exist, Shazam didn’t exist, the now ubiquitous “DJ Academy” didn’t exist, my internet connected via a modem that made funny sounds and we were still using America Online CDs that came in the mail to get 100 hours of internet. This wasn’t something I could look up at the local library. I was, however, divinely in luck.

Inconspicuously tucked amid the small commercial center in the aging hippy town of Mill Valley, where I was living during that formative moment, was one of the greatest record stores I’ve ever known—Village Music. Having never bought a record before, aside from grabbing a few hilariously bad LP covers from yard sales over the years, I didn’t even previously know this store existed. It just happened to be the only record store in town, and since I already had my driver’s license revoked, proximity was essential.

John Goddard, who reigned behind the counter for 50 years, had built the establishment as a museum of American nostalgia and an alter to vinyl, as much as a commercial enterprise. Every inch of every wall was plastered with album art, collectable promo pictures, and live show posters touting the talents of Thee Midniters, Joe Tex, Ernie K-Doe, and Otis Redding. The ceiling itself was covered in yet more album art, and vinyl picture discs dangled on strings like candy apples. The store logo was a sketchy cartoon of Cab Calloway singing “Hi-De-Ho.” As someone who typically hates shopping for clothes and often feels uncomfortable and anxious in conventional retail spaces, this place felt like home. It felt as full of love and adoration for music, as deeply obsessed and curious, as my teenage brain.

In my memories, the store was never crowded. It always felt like I was one of just a couple of customers. Usually there were old blues or jazz records playing. No one ever asked if they could help me find something, it was just a world of sonic history and musical greatness to wander around and get lost in. I would often realize I had spent way more time than I had available, emerging with a couple choice selections plucked from the multitude, my head foggy from ingesting so much 12-inch shaped information. On one of my early trips there, I remember lightly brushing arms with another customer thumbing through the “Latin” section, only to realize it was Carlos Santana, an artist who I had already spent a “major phase” listening to repeatedly during my Freshman year.

Looking back, a part of me really wishes that I had been a more savvy and knowledgeable customer back then- they would have had so many rarities that I now know to look for. Today I could actually hold a conversation with John and absorb more than just superficial info about mediocre entries in the CTI catalogue that I was so busy hunting. Back then, I was hardly interested in the concert posters, not to mention the fabled downstairs stash of 45s, which I only discovered years later was one of the prime digging spots for DJ Shadow (who similarly claims this to be one of the greatest record stores, and even DJ’d the store closing party back in 2007).

But as luck would have it, this truly exceptional example of a holy house of vinyl would be my foundational archetype of what a record store should be, closing its doors for the last time when I was still just coming of age as a DJ. While I have certainly found plenty of other magical places around the world that have become similarly influential in my record digging education (A1, Amoeba, Academy, The Thing…), my first love and the one that helped start me on my path was Village Music. RIP.”
Captain Planet

No Visa, the new full length release from Captain Planet is in stores now—on limited edition opaque red vinyl.

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