Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Long live the death of vinyl


As it turned out, I was a week early. Mojo survived well into the week of March 20, 2006. After lumbering along like a wounded analog Kong valiantly battling the digital biplanes, Mojo finally closed its doors on Friday, March 24, 2006. I had planned to document the moment of its official demise. But as one day bled into the next, it became clear that there was not going to be "a moment". There were a whole series of them. Some were more hillarious than poignant, but they were all tinged with sadness and the kind of frenzy you get when there are too many records to take but the prices are too great to pass up. Here's my haul from Day 1. Those crates are all dancehall 45's.


I was there more often than not that last week. Luckily, I took to bringing my camera and wound up getting some great footage, along with all the wax. I also met some local dudes who had already documented two closings and are working on a movie. I'd love to see that footage, so get in touch if you read this.

Amazingly, there were still gems turning up late into that week. Several boxes of 45s from some 1980's wedding DJ appeared. As I flipped through, I noticed Blondie's "Rapture" because of the picture sleve. What do you think came next? Yup. Queen, "Another one bites the dust". Having just spent a week putting together a lecture/demo on The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steels, I knew I had to look at every 45 in there. (Not to mention the double coincidence of finding "Another one bites the dust" at the Mojo sale). Even though I have both tracks, it seemed wrong to separate these old friends after so many years together. I took them both. Now they can hang together in my 45 box for another few decades.

I guess the absence of heavy diggin surprised me more than anything else. I mean, I was pulling James Brown records on King out of that pile on Tues and Wed. And new stuff seemd to titrate out all week as the final solution settled. With all that, it felt like there was less interest overall than you might expect. Even on the last day, there were Sly and Robbie picture discs on the wall. (Where did those wind up Mike?)

I was able to hang out long enough to get priceless footage of the last days of Mojo. There was the race between Billy and the Goodwill dudes cleaning out the dollar bins. There was the ubiquitous (and mysterious) Folk Man. There was the soundtrack to "How to succeed in business without really trying" in the window, right under the "going out of business" signs. There were the demolition dudes cutting up the bins themselves. I got it all on my mini DV. Witness.


I even traced the records to their semi-final resting places in Goodwill stores across greater Boston. I felt like some kind of ecologist, mapping the vinyl ecosystem. As in most novel field studies, some amazing things emerged. First, it seems clear that the market for vinyl is more like an ecosystem than a real market. More on that soon. Second, there are paradoxical flows of information and material through this system.

While it made me a little sad to see the records at Goodwill, by the time I got to the one in Davis Sq. only a few days later, 5 bins (like the ones above) had disappeared. Amazing, that with DJ culture goin strong and enough people willing to buy THREE BINS of records in as many days, its hard to make a go of it as a storefront. Yet with pressures from E-bay and other online outlets, it is inevitable. Everyone is feeling the pressure to go online. But as we do, local ecologies suffer in strange ways.

I get the sense from my travels that used record stores are closing everywhere. Either that, or becoming Amoebas. I'd be curious how the trend looks to others, but to me, it seems that the days of diggin in the new arrivals bins are limited. At least around here. Keep the faith Loony Tunes, Mystery Train, Nuggets, Cheapo and all you other wax preservationists out there.

Most of all, thanks to David, Mike and all the Mojo patrons who put up with me that last week. I am gonna miss the Mojo. Not to mention the records.

2 Comments:

Blogger Barnsley-Freeads said...

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