On Friday, Daniel and I went up to San Francisco, and spent an afternoon wandering around. I went to the Rasputin Records near Union Square, which was a hoot. It's a very weird space. Judging by the layout, they may actually do most of their business selling DVDs and Blu-Ray, which is what occupies the first two floors. To get to the third floor, which is where the rock, goth, and metal CDs are, you need to climb the stairs to the second floor, and then wait for the elevator. The elevator was operated by a bushy-haired young man with a milk crate containing something that was doing an uncanny imitation of a transistor radio blaring out psychedelic guitar rock. I don't think he actually used the word "groovy" in conversation with me, but that was the vibe he was laying down. I think he was a store employee, but I can't honestly be sure. I could equally well believe that this was just his idea of a great way to spend Boxing Day.
Although I buy most of my music via download these days (preferably from Bandcamp), I do still buy a few CDs, often of things that were released before downloads became really commonplace, and haven't been reissued as legitimately purchasable downloads. I had some hopes of Rasputin's being a good place to track down such things, but they were a tad disappointing in that respect. Most of their stock is new releases, with a smattering of back catalogue here and there. Probably if one haunted the place regularly, one could pick up good stuff as it came in, but it didn't fulfill my fantasies of record store treasure. (Not that that's terribly important in this day and age where you can get just about anything if you've got good internet searching skills and a paypal account. But there's something really fun about stumbling across that album you've always wanted sitting randomly in the bin at your favorite record store.)
I was amused to discover that this store has at least one employee who is as big a fan of Katatonia as I am. On the divider card for the band, someone had written "tell me of progress, strengthen my blood..." (a lyric from the song Omertà
) and then below that "Everything they touch is magical!" And instead of the one or two copies of the latest release that was typical for most artists, they had a healthy selection of Katatonia's back catalogue in stock. If I didn't already own every studio album Katatonia have released, I'd have bought one just to show solidarity.
The store also has a section for Doom Metal separated from all the other Metal. Which is weird, but indicates a degree of knowledge of metal sub genres on the part of the staff which is admirable.
I bought a couple of CDs just to pay the store back for the sheer fun of the experience. There's a Rasputin much closer to where I live, just down in Campbell. I'll have to get over there sometime - I'm pretty sure they won't have an Elevator Guy, but I bet it'll still be fun.