10 March 2008

Orpheus Mon Amor

I'm a bit late in posting this, but for all the vinyl addicts in the area, there's still time if you hustle down to Arlington THIS WEEK...

The news of Orpheus Records' closing was made public a while ago, and The Faithful have been flocking to the Wilson Boulevard shop ever since, to pick the bones of that poor, dying beast.

When I got there, Carl (longtime Intangible Comrade and, conveniently, part-time employee of the shop) informed me that, to paraphrase:

It's a good thing you made it this weekend: We've had no word from the landlord (re: extended lease arrangements) which means by default, the store is dead next weekend, and Rick will be packing up the store on Saturday...

So, pardon the Old English expression (or is it Germanic?) but holy shit!

So this is it, then? I asked if the remaining stock was all going to some kind of graveyard auction. Nope, he said, anything not sold is going into storage. And THAT would likely be a whole shop's worth of records right there, no matter how much he sells before next weekend.

I had already assumed this would be my last trip to the store before it finally closed, since it isn't THAT easy to get from my place in DC to the shop in Arlington... but I also assumed that we still had another couple of weeks with the old place.


I've been reading Nick Hornby's excellent memoir Fever Pitch, which marks the significant events in the author's life against Arsenal matches. Thus, it's a life viewed through the eyes of a hopeless obsessive. In Hornby's case, it's an addiction to English football culture. And there are loads of incisive, perfectly worded bits in that book that describe the obsessive personality, from the inside.

In my case, it isn't soccer (although that could happen as well, as soon as DCU starts kicking this season), it's a record-collecting fixation. So Hornby's other book (High Fidelity) might be more appropriate.

So. Last chance at an Orpheus run. Fine. Pick the bones like a ruthless buzzard. Start at A, and work down to Z...

The bins were pretty well picked through, so it became an exercise in collecting "filler" material. That would be albums I have on CD, which I previously had on vinyl, but sold years ago when CDs came out, BUT now will re-purchase on vinyl and sell the CDs. This is because I've finally come to my senses and realized that VINYL is the ultimate form of musical permanence. And CDs are just temporal fluff. That's right, bloody "technology"... you heard me.

So the "filler" consisted mostly of 80s semi-underground pop that I'm too nerdish to resist: Nina Hagen, XTC, Oingo Boingo, that kind of thing. And some headier stuff: Nektar, Jane, and a still-sealed copy of The Muffins' Open City...And, after passing it by for years, I finally bought the lone copy of "Jehova" My Black Ass by Peach of Immortality (infamous local '80s noise band, one member of which went on to form Jackhammer Orchestra, Furnace, and the more successful Chemlab)...

Fifteen albums for $53 is a good day.

I was going to take a last-chance photo of the Orpheus storefront, but it didn't feel right. It was like taking a portrait of a dying friend in a hospital bed. Weird vibes. And with a heavy sigh, I hauled my goodies down to the Clarendon Metro. And home.

Crap: As I waited for the train, I remembered I already had a freaking vinyl copy of Open City. So call me the ultimate Muffins fan. Or an imbecile. Call it the fog of war. Other collectors would understand.


epota said...

Well done. Despite the fact that much has been written on these topics of late between various blogs, it just doesn't always feel like enough. If it were enough, I believe these shops wouldn't be closing their doors.

And, unfortunately, I don't believe RECORD STORE DAY (www.recordstoreday.com -- April 19th) will be enough, either -- although one heck of a great idea. It just seems like the only people that really know about such a day are those already in...umm... record stores?

Still. Enjoy the fun. The experience. Before they're all gone.

The Vinyl District said...

This just in...a call to Orpheus yesterday reveals that they indeed will be open this one last weekend. Monday, the boxing commences.

IntangibleArts said...

I'm somewhat tempted to bring in a huge bag of CDs and beg for trade credit. I'm sure Rick would kick my ass all over town.

But seriously; thanks for the update. Good news indeedy. One last-last chance at gluttony/glory.

The Vinyl District said...

Looks like Orpheus will be open well into April now...