Superficial Hangouts: Record Stores

Amoeba on Telegraph
Amoeba Records on Telegraph Avenue. Berkeley, CA.

Change is good. Changing is also unsettling. Several of the Bay Area’s record stories are now either diminished or sadly no more. Leopold’s, Mint Platter,  Rasputins, Rough Trade and Amoeba are the go-to record shops for Bay Area locals who are lucky enough to live in or close to Berkeley and San Francisco. You were able to find just about anything musical recording in there shops, but now, thanks to the internet, they have either disappeared of diminished their stock.



The internet is great, grand and wonderful. However, it does not replace the atmosphere of the local record store. A record can be better than a night club; you can dance as you shop! There’s a store clerk who mans the store overhead selection in the Haight location of Amoeba who had all the patrons dancing wildly to Micheal Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘tll You Get Enough” on a Friday night in 2012. Most of the local clubs who are forced to spin a sponsored playlist can’t beat that. When a girl, dressed up “shopping cute” for the afternoon walks in to a record store, she doesn’t have to worry about being hit on my unwanted men, because everyone is seduced by the Muse: records!



Millennial shut-in gamer culture is behind these declines. The pool of cool kids has gotten smaller and more exclusive with this generation, causing the outcasts not to participate in the physical world at all. Decked out basements have replaced weekend walks through pleasant shopping districts. The parental push for grand children have stifled the personal development of 20 somethings. Unreliable childcare shackles parent’s personal time to venture out in the world without it being a designated date night. School field trips have been cut out of the budget, so that children don’t have enough practice in how to behave well in a store even if they are invited to tag along on a shopping district outing. It’s a depressing development. Humans in America are regressing back into the cave and if we’re not careful, the chasm will become the Cave of the Unknown again.



The internet can only provide reflection of the outside world and the human mind can not thrive on mere shadows. The internet and email is convenient, but it shouldn’t replace human interaction. I must say that I am very guilty of the email habit. I work so much that I forget to call my friends. It doesn’t help that few people want to speak anything besides low-brow pop culture or their families, but I should make an effort to propose a compelling common subject. Keeping one’s circle of friends IS difficult after one turns thirty. Marriages interfere with bonds and children push the bonds even further apart. However, it is wise to keep in mind that children become monsters if they aren’t raised with great care up to about seven years old, so an understanding friend should go and  find a life of their own lest they become as pesky as toddlers themselves to their stressed out friends. Marriages are in decline as well as partnerships, so one would think the single person would still visit their haunts, but no. The lack of inclusion into the next stage of mainstream adult life sends many into self isolation and depression rather than a feeling of freedom to work on an opus. Thus you get incels.


You won’t find incels in Superficial. Nami is married but with no children. Her mentees are her children which leaves plenty of time to hang out in cafes, bookstores and record stores for business lunches and talent scouting. Sakura is on sabbatical, so she goes to performing arts venues which allows her to stay active in her community. The upcoming character spends time in the lab as a botanist and travels the world’s forests to find cures for human discomforts. This allows plenty of time to spend afternoons with a stack of books from the Telegraph bookshops and pick up a few CD’s to work along to as she makes her way back to UC Berkley’s catacombs science. My characters know how to mix play into work.

Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, CA.


If I ever have a gamer ( which will most likely be Soleil Smile) she’ll play as a group like my friend and I did at the Academy of Art with a 50 foot screen in a render lab. Perhaps such render labs can reside in LaVals pizza parlor below Leopold’s on Durant and revitalize the maligned Telegraph Ave district that has been walking with a limp since it was kicked hard in the shins by the 1991 LA Riots (which had satellite riots in the Bay Area) and wheezing from smoke inhalation from the 2011 Haste fire. Bounce back Telegraph avenue. Creators will make hanging out cool again—for geeks and nerds!

Sakura on Durent
Sakura carved into wet cement on Durant @Bowditch, Berkeley, CA.


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