Aloha,
The TVD First Date

“I spent the last years of my undergrad working at a grocery store butcher shop. It was dreary work, cutting fish, cleaning cases, shoveling ice. I didn’t mind it despite being a vegetarian at the time. I was up early for my shifts and passed out late in the afternoons trying to catch up with sleep most days.”

“Every day I walked the same two miles to work, passing a thrift shop. I started making a habit of stopping on the way. I didn’t have much then, I only made about seven bucks an hour at the time. And the sad joke was that the paychecks never left the store for most people who worked there. This was the state of my life when I walked into that shop and started really digging through a crate of records for the first time.

I’m sure I looked before, but probably lost interest as I flipped through album after album of the usual dreck that you find, Sing Along With Mitch, Ray Coniff, and Shaun Cassidy. But this day was different. I figured something was up when I found a lightly worn copy of Birth of the Cool by Miles Davis, and then Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters. My heart jumped and I paged through the stack more quickly, placing my finds on the crate beside me.

I instinctively moved myself in front of the second crate, protecting it from anyone else. I couldn’t believe my luck. I took home a stack of seven classic jazz records that day, each with the name Dorsey scrawled in pen on the cover. I owe my love of discovering lost records to this person who I’ve never met. Thanks Dorsey.

This humble stack of records formed the beginning of my collection. At the time I owned an old secondhand Bang and Olufsen turntable that I ran through a Marantz receiver and a ratty pair of Fisher speakers. It was a pretty solid setup considering I spent less than a hundred dollars on the whole thing at a yard sale. I hardly noticed the surface noise on the records, thanks to the pencil thing tonearm of the Danish table.

Within months, I started trading everything I had for more records. On the pretense of taking upright bass lessons, I drove an hour north to Ann Arbor and visited Encore Records every Wednesday. My bowing technique never progressed but I swapped all of my CDs for LPs. I had nothing to compare it to, but Encore was the first record store I really spent time in, where I discovered things. I rarely spent money on anything, working on trade. So if it looked interesting, I picked it up. I bought my first copies of ECM jazz records there in this way. I liked the covers. By the time I graduated from college, I had four big crates of records, and learned a painful truth: everyone loves their record collection until moving day.

Twenty years later, nothing much has changed. Sure I buy some things new, but it’s the old records I really need. Like when a friend called and asked if I wanted a couple hundred nineties hip hop and R&B records, of course I said yes. I didn’t even ask how many. While the shocks on my Volvo never recovered, I ended up with about fifteen really great records and a crate of things I kind of liked. It took a month to sort it all out, spinning records I’d never heard and making piles of keep, maybe keep, and probably won’t keep but I want to listen to it again. If you can appreciate this process, the discovery, you already have an addiction.

Even with the age of streaming services and instant downloads, I am always seeking out the records. Sure I have a mental list of titles, things I really want. But I’ll try anything. I know I could be a completist and find the records I want in specialty shops, overpriced plush reissues and mint condition original pressings. But that’s not what I am looking for. I want to find what is lost. I want to find what Dorsey left behind, what the unemployed deejay left in the garage, the maligned and the unwanted. Maybe it’s pretty good? Maybe it isn’t. What I am really looking for is not just the records, but that same feeling that first big day. I want that forever.”
Matthew Gengler

Aloha’s Little Windows Cut Right Through is in stores now—on vinyl.
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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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