The unabashed rudeness of polite strangers

To be an un-famous musician is to participate in the chronic hustle. At least that’s what I’ve gleaned from breathing. I imagine once you’re of Katy Perry status you can close your eyes, think of the specific sushi you want and a drone swoops in and perches it atop your cleavage in thirty seconds or less, but I am not Katy Perry. In fact, I’m not even sure if she’s a relevant pop reference as I dwell on the outskirts of “the loop”, but I imagine my point is received. My income is divided into thirds. The Holy Trinity of my current currency is the record store, the swap meet and any miscellaneous odd job that comes my way, I’ve been a hand model, junk hauler, song consultant, wedding priest, limo driver, basically if you’ll pay me, I’ll probably do it. One time I got $13 to eat 64 ounces of cranberry sauce after thanksgiving dinner, but I’m not sure if that counts as employment. Anyway, I take my swap meet excursions dead seriously, I’m not quite one of the record guys out there at 5am with a spelunking lantern, but I’m that second wave of 7am soldier out there looking for stuff to turn around. I’m usually the guy who gets to see the guy before me leave with all the stuff I wanted, but every once in a while I’m the first cat on a stack and I get a win. Yesterday I was at Qualcom and had some luck. I got ten quality records on the cheap, the best of which was a pristine copy of Eno Here Come the Warm Jets for a dollar. I had a good feeling about the day, I was walking at about the pace of Blanche Devereaux on an exercise bike when this dude stopped me. He couldn’t have possibly been a nicer human being, he said “hey dude, you like records, can I see what you got?” It’s the first time in a while my east coast soul almost percolated to the surface with a “Fuck you dude, I’m on the hustle.” Last time I slowed down to talk to someone I missed out on a Birthday Party record to some asshole who didn’t even know who the band was but liked the idea of a record about Birthday Parties (he was in for a rude awakening). I defied my instincts and showed this kind stranger the fruits of my labor and he began to tell me stories about each band. I was hoping he’d pick up on the jittery bloom within my shifting personality, I was welling with rush and anxiety, preying he would draw his conversation to close after picking up on the not so subtle social cues I was tossing out there. I got my records back and picked up the pace on my stair-master, think Vince Coleman 1985 after a blast of coke with police on his tail. I make it to a stack of records and I’m the first on the box. I’m going through and finding gems left and right, trying to temper my excitement. It’s a delicate dance, you don’t want the seller to know he’s selling gold for dirt. As I’m piling up a stack of records that will put a significant dent in rent this month, the polite guy resurfaces. He starts trying to thumb through the stack as I’m looking it which is a HUGE NO in the unspoken swap meet etiquette, I’m seen old ass men punch a dude in the shit for breaking that code, you can look over the shoulder, but no touching. I’m boxing this dude out, but he starts looking at what I got and he says “HOLY SHIT YOU GOT THE WHOLE BAUHAUS COLLECTION, YOU KNOW HOW HARD THOSE ARE TO FIND.” And under my breath in the quietest yet most commanding voice I own, I said “you need to shut your mouth down now.” I didn’t even know I had it in me and I don’t know that he heard it, I kinda hope he didn’t cause he was super nice and a fan of our bands, but there’s a line and it was crossed. Back to the Hustle. Panama 66 tomorrow with the Midnight Pine.