Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Lost Grooves Reading at Vroman's Bookshop

Saturday afternoon, a slew of frisky record racoons invaded the cozy upstairs remainders section of Pasadena's venerable Vroman's Bookshop to share tales of collector's luck and the discs that they adore. Thanks to Jen for having us, David Cotner for bringing the turntable, and all the contributors and music fiends for turning up, especially Mr. Smay and the lovely Mrs. for coming all the way from San Francisco.

THE PROGRAM, in brief...

My brilliant and too-rarely-in-the-same-room-with-me co-editor DAVID SMAY brought some nutty vinyl to display, letting the audience vote on which disk they wanted to hear. Unsurprisingly, Lancelot Link & the Evolution Revolution won, and we dedicated "Yummy Love" to poor Moe the Chimp, who had a pretty bad birthday week.

MAX HECHTER revised his presentation on Finnish pubesco-punk primitives Silver, from last year's Experience Music Project pop conference, then hawked copies of the single to those who believed they could stomach at least one more listen to the most 'tardtastic version of "Do Ya Wanna Dance?" ever trapped on tape.

RON GARMON read and spun Curtis Mayfield's Sweet Excorcist, remarking that he hoped we hadn't all forgotten what it felt like to listen to this kind of thing, and how delighted he was to be playing a ghetto song in Pasadena.

In a presentation inspired by his contributions to the book Beatsville, DOMENIC PRIORE showed and told all about his beatnik-themed record collection, but for some reason did not bust out the bongos.

I, KIM COOPER, then read an expanded version of my Roky Erickson essay from the book (hence no pic). This reading included a visitation from Roky himself, kinda. Next up, DAVID COTNER brought the house down with one of the most incredible recorded artifacts ever made, Elke Skelter's Vegetarian Bavarian in Exile.

It's a handmade edition of 100 album-objects, each different. David's is a little alpine scene complete with snow and skiers (see detail show below), and yes, it can be played--at least the first inch or so of the vinyl on the A-side can be played, albeit with some skipping. Some card in the crowd yelled out for David to play the flip side, to no avail.

P. EDWIN LETCHER spoke on why the Buggs are better than the Beatles (well, duh), and, more controversially, why Lou Christie kicks the 4 Seasons' collective hindquarters (that's eight buttocks, if you're keeping count). He also threatened to teach the audience a lesson, which I suppose he did.

BRIAN DOHERTY read about Appaloosa, Papa John's Wolf-King of L.A. and the Vulgar Boatmen. He did not play any of these records, as a statement about longing and the old days of record collecting, when immediate downloaded/eBayable gratification was not an option, and folks ran around with oft-folded want lists in their wallets, or ordered things they'd never heard from ads in Goldmine.

TOSH BERMAN waxed rhapsodic on the perfect doomed beauty of Billy Fury, also played no music, though he did read some exquisitely tormented lyrics... then gave Billy Fury compilation CDs to most of the attendees!

KEN RUDMAN read a Proustian piece called Get It On, on the power of memory and evolving taste filtered through the first compilation album he ever bought. Tune into the blog tomorrow to see it reprinted, or visit Ken's blog today if you can't hardly wait.

DAVID SMAY and his former housemate MATTHEW SPECKTOR presented a tag team tribute to the late San Francisco porn-rock pioneer Buck Naked & his Bare Bottom Boys, David taking the quasi-historical approach, and Matthew reading an excerpt from his newly finished novel, in which Buck appeared from the swirling pits of memory to play a role at once pathetic and chilling.

Closing the afternoon's proceedings, JACKSON DEL REY of Savage Republic fame introduced Monitor's Michael Uhlenkott from the audience, spoke briefly about his love for Pearls Before Swine, then regaled us with several delicate PBS songs, including an especially haunting "The Jeweler."

Sheesh, and that's it. We had a blast! The next reading is at Moe's in Berkeley on 4/25; hope to see some of you there. -Kim Cooper

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