Off the Record
Always a touch-and-go industry, the local indie record trade is currently in a state of particular flux. Berkeley's cavernous Amoeba Records will expand into the Upper Haight space currently occupied by Park Bowl. The store won't open until later this year, though, when Amoeba's owners have laid sufficient groundwork to appease the Haight's various neighborhood and merchant associations. "We represent potentially the largest retail space in the Haight," part-owner Marc Weinstein acknowledges. Though he expects to field plenty of concerns, especially about parking, Weinstein counters, "We're not a big, faceless chain in any way. People are somewhat appreciative of that." Meanwhile, Liz Pepin has put plans on hold to reopen Neurotic Records, which shuttered its SOMA location on Jan. 1. Pepin had her eye on the empty St. Vincent de Paul space on Haight, vacated when the thrift shop moved into Rough Trade's former storefront, but she backed out when her potential landlord insisted on becoming her business partner. "Having a partner I don't even know would be too weird," Pepin says. For now she says she's content with her busy mail-order business. With primary owner Gail Countryman backing out, Rough Trade is now seeking a buyer. Although the store's relocation to the South Park area of SOMA has been financially disastrous according to several sources, Countryman says the space will probably be sold "pretty quickly," adding that one scenario has a brewpub occupying at least part of it in an effort to capitalize on China Basin's ballpark plans. Former head buyer Robin Thomas says the saga took a toll on staff members: "You try to support your boss, but you can't sit in an empty store." Some newcomers include Monster (85 Carl at Cole); and Grooves (1797 Market at McCoppin), where longtime vinyl enthusiasts Ray and Joan Andersen are selling the collection they've been stockpiling 20 years. The Andersens' early customers are buying vintage records for cover art as much as musical content, proof that the kids'll buy anything in a nice, shiny package.
Dean Man Walking
Last Friday, while the Corinthians worked the ever-so-suave Bruno's crowd into a frenzy with their gospel-laden blues, director Jim Jarmusch had a little mingle -- but he was eventually left with no option but to slip out the back door. "If he didn't want to be recognized, he should've gone to the Marina," rationalized one devotee. "We had a moral obligation to accost him. This is the Mission, and he's a god." Luckily, neither longtime friend Tom Waits nor Neil Young -- both of whom attended the opening of Jarmusch's Dead Man at the Castro Thursday night -- were in tow. None of them would've made it out alive.
By James Sullivan, Silke Tudor