Downtown Los Angeles offered a rich bouquet of stagnating waste. Summer arrived without mercy. “You’re money’s no good here” my friend reminded me handing me a drip and cortado. I took seat on a burnt orange plastic chair under the slim film of shade provided by the shop’s awningless entrance. I passed the morning catching up on some paper subscriptions I neglect and made passing conversations with the patrons.
Unwilling to return home, I was an obstruction for which I hadn’t prepared. With the sun beating on my back I walked through the fashion district. Sleeves rolled, mid-July ended with abrupt distinction a quarter of the way up what I refer to as my bicep in a purely anatomic sense. My copy Nautilus was lodged between my shirt and jeans and I could feel it shifting around my back pocket. Soon enough, I realized it was my phone and suddenly I was an uncle.
Some of the taller buildings were responsible for shade and life gathered around them like an oasis. Occasionally, the relief of the breeze carried with it the scent of a rancid watering hole asking for change. I needed some water, and obtained it from small market between Los Angeles & Main. It exited in a deluge down my torso and dripped in long cool streaks from my brow.
Wondering what it meant to be an uncle, I remembered a new record store had its grand opening that same afternoon. Slowly, I moved my disinterested legs and I tried to remember where it was. With lethargic clumsy I stumbled hand over brow under the tyrannical high noon.
Tilting my head to catch the view between my sunglasses and the river delta above, I saw I was standing next to the record store, Pop Obscure. I was grateful when I entered to be one of the only bodies generating heat in the room. Instantaneously, my eye settled on a copy of Station to Station in fantastic shape, and I was expecting it to be nearly twice as much as it was.
Released in 1976, Station to Station jumped ship on punk just when everyone was boarding. Bowie’s new persona had lost faith. “Rock & roll has been really bringing me down lately… it will occupy and destroy you that way.” he said surrounding the album’s release, abandoning his pioneering position in the genre. Then again, Bowie disavowed most of what he said in the late 70’s. His claim to not even recollect recording the album is famous enough.
Station to Station may not have been memorable to David Bowie, but its A & B side openers ‘Station to Station’ and ‘TVC15’ are some of my favorite songs. The Thin White Duke wanted nothing to do with Ziggy Stardust, but the comments on technological dystopia are up there with some of Bowie’s best. They are evident on the mechanical groove of Station to Station‘s mixture of disco and kraut-rock that still sounds exciting and immediate. And they are re-enforced by the transition from the Space Opera of Ziggy Stardust and horrifying Diamond Dogs to the Sci-Fi that surround this album.
Digging through the crates, I found a copy of Skeletons From the Closet. A best of the Grateful Dead that my dad had when I was a kid. We used to listen to it on road trips. Its cover art stained my psyche and I accidentally ended up with a very similar tattoo on my right arm. I’ve never been a diehard fan, but there’s something about the Grateful Dead that agrees with summer. Besides, I wanted to go home and listen to ‘Uncle John’s Band’ to celebrate whatever being an uncle is, so I added it to the stack.
Overwhelmed I turned to find the Ventures section. Which when you consider the volume of their output seems a like an odd maneuver. My heart leaped out of my chest. The Venture in Space. I like space records. The 1978 re-release I was holding had an alternate cover, an astronaut on a spacewalk (Don’t Run.) It belonged on my wall, with my other space related records and some NASA memorabilia. The Ventures in Space was a stellar find.
I exited lighter in the wallet, but burdened in the summer heat by the dangling weight of my bag. I wondered if my sunglasses would eventually cause a tan line on my face.