I'm in serious trouble. This week we discovered two local establishments that I sense are destined to take all my money: a massage therapy place and a used CD store. Both within walking distance, both down in the "village" section of Multnomah Village (which is the technical term for the area of Portland that we live in).
The massage therapy place was actually one of three such places, all within blocks of each other. The one that I went to is part of a "healing arts clinic" that also offers acupuncture and chiropractic work. What can I say? I had a great session there with Becca, who slowly and meticulously found trigger points I didn't even know existed, expending very little of her own energy in the process, and shunning the flashy repertoire that characterizes most LA therapists. Forgive me, but I can't help reading this as somehow exemplary of more general differences between LA and PDX. And speaking of those differences, get this: by the time I had arrived and filled out all of the necessary paperwork, I was about ten minutes late for the session, which was scheduled for 4 PM. Becca's question to me was whether it was alright if we went beyond 5 PM, so I could get a full hour session.
Was it alright if we went beyond 5 PM?! Holy crap, I love this town. In LA I would have been out on my ass by that time, whether I had been late or not.
Anyway, the used CD store is called Post Hip (you won't find it on the web, it's that small). Here's how the owner describes it in a free brochure entitled "The 2006 Portland Guide to Independent Record and CD Stores" (which lists -- count 'em -- 27 such establishments in the city): "Used Jazz Blues Classical Multicultural CDS. Hand-picked eclectic books cheap. Comfortable. Conversational. Gap-toothed amicable. Trendless commendable quality. Propitious prices. Munificent buying. Multnomah Village."
Indeed. Again with the comparatives (I'll get over this soon, I promise): I found that Post Hip kicked Amoeba's ass, despite the fact that the latter is a much more comprehensive, ambitious, and busy place. You see, the thing I like to do most at a used record shop is browse: an activity (some would say an art) that requires certain preconditions: a finite set of merchandise, non-pushy clientele, not too long of a line to get to the cash register, a sense of connectedness with the merchant. Amoeba violates all these conditions. It's like Costco for just music: it's great if you know exactly what you're looking for, but it's awkward and unweildy (and for some folks even frightening) if you just want to relax and explore. It embodies what Alvin Toffler called "overchoice," a phenomenon that (in the end) may be even more threatening to new music than American Idol.
At Post Hip, the parameters are doable. A tiny single-room shop in which I suspect the ideal shopping experience is to take frequent, fleeting dips into an ever-changing pool (can't wait to see what's on the racks next week). The proprieter / clerk (who Daphne is convinced must be independently wealthy, because he's surely got to be losing money with this joint) was jolly, even giddy. He seemed unwilling to let us leave when the time came. Not out of desperation or a desire to get us to buy more -- rather, he seemed genuinely, sort of irrepressibly friendly. How novel!
My haul included a copy of Ellington's SRO (a longtime favorite of mine that may even have been the first Ellington recording I owned, albeit originally in cassette form -- don't get me started on this one, but it's a live recording that swings like a motherfucker (thank you, Sam Woodyard), especially on the version of "Rockin' in Rhythm"); an untitled (or eponymous) Don Pullen / George Adams recording, originally released on Soul Note; a compilation featuring pieces by Peggy Glanville-Hicks, Lou Harrison, and Terry Riley (quite beautiful, and a hit with the kid; may need to comment on the liner notes in the weeks ahead); Herodotus' histories; and, I don't know, a whole lot of other stuff that I hope I have the time to actually sit down and enjoy someday.