When Greil Marcus Goes Shopping at Amoeba: A Cashier's Account

[Editor's note: This post has been published anonymously to protect the employment of the writer.]

When Greil Marcus enters Amoeba Music, the record store where I cashier part-time, my impressions of the man based on his work conflict with the sight of him shopping for music alongside so many others. In my mind, Marcus — one of the world's most celebrated and insightful music journalists — decodes the social significance of a half-dozen dusty 45s simultaneously. I imagine them dropped to his turntable by an obedient murder of crows that he controls telepathically, or something equally absurd. The truth is that he buys music (mostly CDs) at independent record stores just like other music fans, which is romantic in its own way.

He is unmistakable. Dressed in drab solid colors with horn-rimmed glasses and sparse white hair, Marcus shops with purpose, and I hunker down behind the counter to observe him. If not pausing at first to trade in CDs for store credit, he maneuvers the aisles with an unwavering scowl. He scours the new arrivals and awkward ground-level bins in a hurried manner, but he is not above stopping to read the back of a release that catches his eye before placing it back in its proper section. (Most shoppers do not do Amoeba employees this courtesy with product they pass up.) After accumulating a hefty stack, he then pays with a bottomless cache of store credit.

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