Why go to Amoeba and fight the Arclight crowds and the underage hipsters? Why not vinyl hunt the way your old man taught you to?
My dad used to take me and my brother to the swap meet. Usually, this was to find me books, to find my brother WWF rubber wrestler toys, and for him to find new junk trophies to torture my poor mother with. She usually stayed home (glad to have us out of the house, but in fear of whatever tchotchke he might bring home). Eventually, I ignored the Roald Dahl books and started hovering over the record trader’s stall. My dad didn’t mind, since I would usually buy records he wanted anyway– a consequence of listening to KRTH and KRLA in my impressionable youth, watching my mother sing “Angel Baby” while washing dishes, and watching “La Bamba” on KTLA with my brother.
Some of my flat vinyl trophies were inherited from my mother–a source of particular joy are the early Beatles albums released on Decca, as well as the Elvis records with little hearts drawn in my mother’s hand next to her favorite songs. In order to fill in the gaps in my collections (this long before Amoeba ever opened its doors) I would garage sale and swap-meet on the weekends, hit up places like Middle Earth and Wentzel’s in Downey, the Penny Lane in old town Whittier, and (of course) make the trek to Aron’s and Rhino.
Eventually I’d see the same disks over and over again: was Carole King’s “Tapestry” really that damn popular? How many lines of cocaine did people snort off their “Saturday Night Fever” covers? Am I ever going to find a copy of Buddy Holly’s 1958 album at a reasonable price? How many times am I going to wash my hands? Going to Amoeba became a convenience I could not live without.
But like any bona fide vinyl junkie, I missed the thrill of the hunt, the exhilaration of finding a record with no mold damage to the cover and the vinyl in VF+ condition. Enter the Cypress College swap meet.
Within moments of walking in, I found the gems you see pictured above, as well as an Eartha Kitt record and a Dean Martin box set which couldn’t fit in the picture. The prominent acquisition is the KRLA vanity release. Now that KRLA is gone, now that KRTH never plays “Rockin’ Robin” anymore, now that AM 580 is nothing but standards, now that all I have is a single show on KPFK, $20 is a small price to pay for reliving my memories. Here’s to you, Huggy Boy.