From 1983 to about 1993, the Rhino Records store on Westwood Boulevard in Los Angeles was my second home. When i was a student I’d walk down there at least once a week and look through the new releases and imports and all the used stuff. The employees became my friends, too. Big John Breckow, who also did a great bebop radio show on KPFK. Scott, who always had a big friendly smile and a good suggestion, and now works at my local Trader Joe’s. Nels Cline. Gladys aka Laura, my college friend and fellow music freak, now the bassist in Third Grade Teacher. Phast Phreddie. It wasn’t a record store, it was quite seriously a family. When I was a rock critic for a while I’d go down there and sell back my promo crap and Big John would make me promise over and over again not to write about jazz, and maybe someone else there would have a correction or a compliment about my writing, so I knew someone gave a shit.
There was a time when I was a 19-year-old music idiot and I’d buy just about anything imported from England, especially all that death rock 4AD/Beggars Banquet crap, or stuff on Demon. And I’d just buy anything new on SST or Twin/Tone or Restless. I spent way too much damn money there and it was all worth it.
Later on, in the early 90s, I was poor and no longer cool and my life sucked. Bit by bit I had to sell back my CDs and vinyl for cash. I was a mess, and a lot of my friends and even the other people at the church I was attending weren’t being so helpful. But the Rhino people could tell what was up, and they’d look both ways and grossly overpay me for my tradeins. They were solid people.
This is the last weekend for that store. They moved a few years ago and never really recovered. They changed the focus of the place and even the name and flailed and now they’re gone. This weekend is the last ever parking lot sale. If you’re in the area I suggest you go. Details at the Rhino Westwood site.
Chris Morris, my former coworker and one of the few music writers who consistently makes sense, wrote a fitting eulogy to the store in the Reporter.
Thanks to LA Observed for pointing me to this story that I somehow didn’t see.
I probably won’t make it to the last day tomorrow, but that’s probably as it should be. I hate funerals. Never thought I’d cry about a retail store, but there you have it.