I quit my job as a line cook that day because, well, “Fuck it. Making omelettes is no way to make a living.”
It was also a week before my 38th birthday. And the day that my parents finalized their divorce.
It was also the day that my father texted me to share, “I’m paring shit down for my new place. Do you want my vinyl?”
Obviously, the answer was a resounding “YES.”
I reimbursed him for the shipping costs and promised to split the profit on anything I sold. After all, 260 pounds of vinyl in five crates is no small task for UPS.
It’s also no small task for my stylus. I’m barely through the “Ds” (of course they’re alphabetized) and it has become quite apparent that my father bought every single Miles record and it’s gonna take me a week to get around to Ellington.
My father turned me on to vinyl. He’s told me that when I was a toddler, we used to lie on the carpet and listen to albums. Me in a diaper, him holding a joint, hoping he could get through side two and smoke out the room before Mom came back home from grocery shopping.
I’m happy to have his collection now. I have yet to crack open all of the cases, but I know that there’s some killer original-press shit in here. Hell, the first box I opened revealed a Howlin’ Wolf album that I’ve never heard right up on top of the stack.
My father had an older sister, Debbie, who died of brain cancer. I’ve only met her three times. When I was a child, she took me to Disneyland. As a tween, I was in her wedding as a groomsman. In my 20s, I saw her shortly before she passed. And one night, I was working on some test-proofs for an art show called “Vinyl Killers” in Seattle—paintings on records—and stopped by my parent’s house. My uncle—who surprisingly happened to be there, in from California—complimented me on my work and asked, “Would you like Debbie’s vinyl?”
Obviously the answer was in the positive. And within a few days, three crates were shipped to my apartment.
Of course, my father dug through the crates at the time. “This one was mine, this one was mine, this one was mine…” and he ganked them all from me. But I spent three days listening to all of her remaining records and it taught me a lot about who she was. A person’s record collection says a lot about them. It let me know that, despite being raised in Japan and then NYC, she was a west coast girl—far too many Eagles and Moody Blues records. I still can’t believe that I listened to Seals & Crofts or that I still have those records.
So as I dig through my father’s crates (and he warned me that some of them might have peanut butter in the grooves or weed seeds in the gatefolds), I have never felt closer to the man who brought me into this world.
BUY Brian Grosz' SQUALOR, his inaugural book comprised of life stories, haiku/senryu, and tales of sex, drugs, booze, darts, and general mayhem.