When I put too many records on a shelf in our new apartment, the entire shelf collapsed. Here, my girlfriend finds the only space left for her to nap.
For all the sensationalism I give record collecting, there is also a dark side. Here are a few examples of my obsession with records causing me more pain than pleasure.
One of the most wonderful things about records is the power they can possess to form and maintain relationships. The flip side of that is when then play a role in tearing people apart. One of the most devastating blows to my personal collection came after a long and tumultuous relationship, when a former girlfriend of mine and I decided to abruptly call it quits. As a result of the breakup, my Smiths and Morrissey record collection went from one of the most exciting and comprehensive collections I've ever seen to this day, to a bare boned and basic beginners catalog. How ironic.
Several years back, I had resigned from a job in New Jersey and was living without any income. A friend and I decided that we were going to try our best to make a living off of buying and selling records, and one particular collector really started our plan off with a bang. The man's name was "Rich" and he claimed to have the entire stock of a defunct record store in his basement. Rich also loved crack cocaine, it seemed, which dictated his wild style and strange behavior. While we were appraising his collection, we had to deal with his insane dialog…for hours. One of the more memorable comments he made was a random comment about the Vietnam War. He began with the statement "You know…nobody wanted to go to that war…" and then would be silent. He would make the statement several more times, eventually adding "because" to the end of it. "You know…nobody wanted to go to that war…because…" We eventually begged him to just spit it out and to kindly shut up and, at that point, he finished his epiphany with "You know…nobody wanted to go to that war because…well, because…it was in the jungle." Once we got past that, we made him an offer to buy out his entire basement of 45s for two installments of $1,500. I scraped what little money I had at the time to make it happen and ended up missing a few payments to a New Jersey cable television provider. We ended up making a fortune off of the collection, but just a few months ago, I received a call from a collection agency that was hot on my tail and looking for that overdue cable payment from 2006.
The 45 stash we lived off of for a while.
A couple of years ago, my girlfriend suddenly lost her grandfather. I had to work late the evening before the funeral, so my plan was to rush out of Brooklyn around 10:00 pm and make for where her family was gathering in Atlantic City, stay over there, and head over to the services in the morning with them. My evening was insanely stressful and tiring, but I did what I could to splash some water on my face, down a few coffees, and hit the Turnpike. I drove for a little over an hour and decided that I was too tired to drive any further, so I called a friend who lived in the town I grew up in. I swung through to meet him for a drink and to invite myself over to crash at his place. We made plans to meet at the bar he worked at to have a couple drinks. I left my laptop under a blanket on the floor of the front seat of my car. When I returned to my car an hour later, the passenger side door was slightly open and my bag was gone. I had lost my laptop with all my business files on it and ten extremely rare LPs that night. The police thought it was amusing, but I did not. It was as if the Record Gods had cashed in my poor record karma for not sticking out the ride that important night, and it seems that I got what I had coming.
Ruined Childhood Home
My obsession with collecting wasn't always about records. I started out as a kid who needed every single baseball card by every company of every year as they came out and grew into a reclusive comic book freak who later got into action figures. When action figures weren't enough, I moved to pop culture related items and, finally, records. Since there is a never-ending supply of records, I naturally gravitated toward collecting them and, to this day, I have been unable to stop. Over the course of the past 20 years, I've taken advantage of my parents' somewhat large suburban home and completely destroyed it with my collectibles and record surplus. To this day, my parents remind me of how much of their home I still dominate with my heaps of records and collectibles. Hello my name is Jeff and I am a hoarder.
This was once a nice pool table in a recreational room at my parents' house.
While hustling to open my record store, I was living a very unhealthy and unpredictable life. When I wasn't able to spend the night on my business partners' couch, I was driving from Brooklyn to Philadelphia to crash at my girlfriend's place. When I was in Philadelphia, I would take advantage of the fact that there were some fantastic local record stores and I would also pursue any collections that people were selling in the area. I would load my Honda to the brim and drive so quickly to and from Brooklyn that my dashboard would rattle. Somewhere amid all the excitement and hustling, I tore two hernias in my groin. I'm guessing it happened while lifting heavy crates of records during one of the countless buys. I was in severe and intense pain that also proved to be pretty disgusting at times. I would have to hold myself anytime I coughed or laughed at a joke. I was dodging hospitals and making my situation worse during a time when I had to stay strong so we could get the shop open as fast as possible (paying rent with your doors shut is quite an unfavorable situation). Two years ago today, my corrective surgery was successfully completed. To anyone else, this would be a simple same-day outpatient surgery, but my fear of hospitals caused me to faint three times surrounding the ordeal. One of the fainting episodes caused me to fall face first into a hospital toilet bowl, making the situation one of three injuries I've sustained from falling into a toilet bowl. Although it's hard and sometimes painful work to lug the heavy musical beasts, the painkillers and the week-long excuse to rock sweatpants almost made the injury worth it.