Category Archives: Random

A Long-Winded Goodbye to Easy Street Records in Queen Anne

Easy Street Records at 20 Mercer

Today Matt Vaughn (owner of Easy Street Records) announced that Easy Street’s Queen Anne location will be closing in just over two weeks to make way for a future branch of Chase Bank. This is terrible news for all Seattle music lovers. This Easy Street location was one of my favorite record stores throughout high school; a place where I discovered many albums that would eventually become staples of my musical diet. There was a little record shop in my hometown of Puyallup, but it was a sparse place in a strip mall lacking in character and owned by a man who didn’t seem to even enjoy music, let alone love it. That record shop was just alright, but it wasn’t a friendly place with an overwhelming selection and a knowledgeable staff who loved their jobs. It wasn’t like any of the record shops I saw in movies. It was no Empire Records or Championship Vinyl. Easy Street, on the other hand, was a REAL record store. Countless rows of product, over-sized posters everywhere, loud music blaring — it was one of a kind, and I loved it.

Back in high school, I remember when I was really excited for a new album and couldn’t wait until Tuesday to hear it, I would drive all the way from Puyallup to the Easy Street in Lower Queen Anne on Monday night. They were one of the only record stores that would stay open until midnight to sell all of Tuesday’s releases to whoever was willing to show up. The anticipation of those trips and the joy of listening to the album on the hour-long drive home is something I will truly never forget. Midnight at a record store is when only the most dedicated night owls remain, browsing the racks and waiting for the new day to begin so we can purchase an album we hope will be so great that it may just change our lives forever. We all loved music and couldn’t stand waiting around for another day to hear that special new release. We needed it right then.

I’ve been a Seattle resident for over six years and I have lived in close proximity to many other record stores — currently Sonic Boom in Ballard, formerly Cellophane Square in the U-District (RIP) — but through it all, the Queen Anne Easy Street Records remained number one with a bullet. After graduating from college, I actually moved to Queen Anne just a few blocks from Easy Street (a decision no doubt subconsciously influenced by its proximity to the store).  I loved living that close to such a great record store, and especially one where I had so many great memories over the years. Things had changed a bit, and they no longer stayed open late on Mondays to sell records because that devoted midnight customer base had dwindled over the years, but I loved it nonetheless. It was a zen-like space for me, a place I could go to clear my head and wander the racks, hoping to find something but also content to leave empty-handed if the hunt turned out to be fruitless. Now those visits will also soon be reduced to memories and I must resign myself to a lifetime of long-winded, angry rants every time I pass by that Chase branch from now until the day I pass from this earth.

If you’re also saddened by this news (or saddened by the closure of your favorite neighborhood coffee shop, book store, or grocery store), please join me and remember this feeling. Hold onto it. If you’re looking for a New Year’s resolution, I humbly suggest you make a commitment to buy local whenever possible. Don’t buy a single album at Best Buy or Target in 2013. Obviously there are reasons that those stores exist (for example, if you need a DVD player or some face wash), but there is no reason to buy music from them when there are plenty of incredible locally-owned record stores here in Seattle selling the exact same products. There is a satisfaction that comes with making a purchase, helping a local business, and opening a physical product that you will never get from an iTunes download.

I don’t enjoy being preachy, but please allow me to briefly remain up on this soapbox. If we continue to let large corporations slice off bigger and bigger pieces of the economic pie, we will forever be saying goodbye to our favorite independent businesses and discouraging entrepreneurs from opening new ones. I don’t want my future children to grow up in a world where independent record stores don’t exist, every coffee shop is a Starbucks, every cheeseburger comes from McDonald’s, and the only place to rent movies is a vending machine outside Safeway. I vote against this kind of future with my wallet every chance I get, and I encourage you to do the same. The Best Buys and the Targets of the world will always be there if you need them, but today’s news is further proof that good things don’t always last, even when they should.

R.I.P. Easy Street Records, Queen Anne. You will be missed but never forgotten. See you soon in West Seattle.

-E

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Some Thoughts on Life, Death, and iPod Batteries (Inspired by my Grandfather)

I had a lot on my mind earlier tonight so I went for a run down to Carkeek Park. As I sat there on the beach watching the sun set on the water I thought about my grandfather and all he’s ever taught me. The calm of this moment was broken as my iPod beeped and the robotic voice whispered “low battery” into my earbuds. A few moments later, the music stopped and I stashed the iPod in my pocket for the uphill run through the woods back home.

I may be young and dumb, but at this point I am wise enough to know that everything in this world dies (even my iPod). I am also selfish enough to wish this wasn’t true. It may sound stupid, but that “low battery” moment at the beach illuminated the truth behind a thousand cliches from a thousand movies and a thousand bad poems — death is just a part of life. It will happen to all of us, and while dwelling on the end of life is no real way to live, keeping the reality of death in mind will spur each of us to live the most meaningful possible version of our lives. I think that’s what my Grandpa was trying to tell me today on the phone. Whether his fighting spirit carries him through this week or I have to say goodbye to him soon, I’ll never forget the lessons he has taught me. I will carry them with me for my entire life.

One of the greatest lessons I have learned from my grandfather is the importance of telling the people in your life how much you care about them. It may feel stupid to occasionally tell your friends and family that they’re important to you, but if you always speak honestly from deep within your soul, you’ll never be wrong. My grandfather is never afraid to tell a person how great they are and how much he loves them, and it is one of his most admirable traits. He never holds back the compliments, and he overflows with positivity. He is honestly one of the most caring and compassionate people I’ve ever met, and I want to live that legacy every single day. He radiates with love and his spirit brightens every room he enters. When I think about my future, I won’t care whether I someday make a lot of money or drive a fancy car back-and-forth between my mansion and my high-paying job, as long as I end up like him. I can only hope that once I learn to be a real man, I can then learn to be a great man. A man like my grandfather.

I guess this bring us to the “teachable moment,” if that is something that can even happen on a hardly-read blog on a Monday night. Tonight I discovered three important nuggets of valuable truth: Sunsets are Carkeek Park are absolutely beautiful, death is just a part of life, and sometimes cliches like “death is just a part of life” exist for a reason. This is one of those times.

Thank you for reading this. You didn’t have to and I appreciate it. If you can find the time, please send my wonderful grandfather your thoughts, prayers, and whatever other meditative-type good vibes you choose to generate. He has been making the world a better place his entire life and he could use the love.

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I Hear They Say You Can’t Go Home Again

Pictured above is the wood stove fireplace in the living room of the home I grew up in. I am currently sitting in front of it, watching what may be the last fire I’ll ever build in this fireplace dwindle down to nothing but embers and ash. This may be the last night I’ll ever spend sitting here in front of this fireplace, in this room, in this house, on this street, in my hometown.

I have so many fond memories of this house. Just staring at this fireplace reminds me of a time when I was little and running around the house with my sister and cousin. I tripped, lost my balance and caught myself but burned both my hands on the top of the wood stove in the process. I’ve since learned to be much more careful around burning fires. Five feet from this fireplace is the couch where I laid for a week after having surgery when I was seventeen — frozen peas pressed to my face and vicodin coursing through my veins. Two rooms from that couch is the kitchen where I drank my first beer and eventually drank many other beers with countless good friends. Twenty feet beyond that is the family room couch where I would spend my mornings before school watching cartoons as a young lad, and later watched Sportscenter as a slightly older young lad. It’s the very same room I sat in on the morning of September 11th, 2001, as my dad and I watched the twin towers fall, speechless and stunned. At that moment, all the darkness and evil of the world reached out through TV screens and radio waves and pushed its way into our schools, offices, cars, living rooms and the forefront of our minds. At that moment, I suddenly felt smaller than I ever had before. One floor above that couch was my childhood bedroom where I would spend hours in junior high talking to friends on the phone, skating around the constant “do you think she likes me?” worries of adolescent insecurity, back before texting was the norm (hint: she usually didn’t like me). The window of that bedroom still doesn’t have a screen because I broke it climbing out onto the roof in the summer after 8th grade, probably to drink Capri-Suns and feel like the king of the world. On the other side of that roof was our magical backyard, where as a kid I played countless games of tag, hide-and-seek, basketball, and I excelled at makeshift home run derbies, like a 9-year-old Mark McGwire (minus the steroids and 24-inch biceps). Yes, every inch of this property has its very own list of memories, and I could go on all day describing them to you, but that’s not the point. This is not a story about nostalgia or about happier days. This is a story about growing up and moving on.

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A Birthday Present for Nick

Nick (age 8)
Basically a superhero if you ask me.

I don’t normally ask my readers to do much (except read), but today I am asking you to do something. Don’t worry, it doesn’t involve giving me money or driving me somewhere.

Situation: My girlfriend’s cousin is an 8-year old boy battling Neuroblastoma for the third time in five years. He is a good kid who just wants to live a normal life and play sports and hang out with his friends. He lives across the country, so I haven’t ever had the chance to meet him but I can hardly fathom how brave and strong he must be to get up and fight cancer every single day.

You might be asking yourself, “Okay Eliot, this is a very touching story, but how does it affect me?”

I AM SO GLAD YOU ASKED, INCREDIBLY ENGAGED READER. Here’s the deal: His 9th birthday is coming up on March 27th and his mom is trying to get birthday cards sent to him from every state and province in the US and Canada. So, if you or  anyone you know happens to live in a little state (Rhode Island, please stand up), a big state (hello, Texas) or even a medium state (I see you, Michigan), please take a moment to send Nick a birthday card. It’s probably the cheapest birthday present you’ll ever have to give but it would mean so much. This is the address to send the cards to:

Super Nick Power
PO Box 142 
Dracut, MA 01826

I know that between this request and last week’s Kony 2012 discussion, I have really been slacking in the light-hearted humorous fare I normally put here for your reading pleasure. In my defense, these things are really important. As always, thanks for reading, and thank you in advance for making Nick’s birthday amazing.

-E

P.S. If you will be sending him a card, please tweet me @leftcoastsuit or comment on this post to let me know what state/province/country you’ll be writing from. Did I mention you’re awesome? Because you are. Thanks again.

Anti-Viral Opinion: Why The #KONY2012 Movement Is a Bit Problematic

Joseph Kony: Now More Popular on Twitter than Beiber AND Lady Gaga Combined

 

Okay brace yourself, I’m about to say something unpopular here. Yes, even MORE unpopular than my views on Blade Runner.

I don’t know how I feel about this Kony 2012 movement that has taken the internet by storm over the last 48 hours. While I think the cause is worthwhile and I am very impressed by Invisible Children’s ability to harness the power of social networking to make it simple and (of course) cool to join a social movement, I wonder if people are actually stopping to think about what they’re supporting.

I know the video is moving and the story is terrifying, but pushing our government to send troops into Africa to engage the Lord’s Resistance Army in the Congo is a scary and not particularly well-thought out idea. Currently, no one knows where Joseph Kony is, because he and the rest of the LRA were run out of Uganda over a half decade ago. Northern Ugandans have been enjoying peace and increasing safety ever since the LRA retreated out of the country. This situation is different than when we went into Iraq and were able to topple Saddam’s regime because we knew where his palaces were. The LRA is hiding out in the jungle and this whole thing has the potential to turn into a quagmire that would be impossible to extricate our military from.

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