The other night, after a fine dinner at Quintessence in the East Village, Huyen and I walked around looking for some art galleries. Unfortunately, we had a heck of a time finding any that a.) still existed and b.) were still open at that time of night. However, we did stumble across three very distinct record shops, none of which I’d ever been to before.
With records, CDs, and tapes stacked from ceiling to roof making 95% of them inaccessible, this store is “organized” in a hoarder-esque fashion. There’s only a small pathway and in the few minutes I was there, the owner of the store knocked stacks of CDs over three times and had a heck of a time getting a stool back in its place. As messy and crazy as it is, though, you can tell there’s a lot of love there. I felt bad for not buying anything here because stores with such eccentricities are worth supporting, but I couldn’t find anything of interest and what I did see was pretty overpriced (99-cent bin-worthy albums selling for $9). I suspect that among the stacks, there are some gems hiding.
To quote one Yelp reviewer: “One day, someone will read an obituary in the New York Times about finding the owner of this shop buried alive and rotting under a mammoth stack of used CDs.”
As we walked by this storefront, Huyen pointed out that the TV out front was showing one of the best movies I’ve seen in recent years, Czech director Jan Švankmajer’s 1988 Alice, a mindbending live action/stop-motion version of Alice in Wonderland. When I inquired about it inside, I found out that it’s now available as an import Blu-Ray. Consider my mind blown. Sadly, they were out of stock, but I did get a chance to browse their amazing collection of import movies and indie music. I walked out with only a $3 bargain DVD (the documentary Friends Forever), showing a lot of restraint.
My favorite of the three shops, we stumbled on this one by accident, drawn in by a store window that made it look like a vintage electronics shop. The selection here is very carefully curated, with a super high quality selection of original pressing jazz and funk records (if only they were alphabetized!) and a breathtaking selection of 1960s and 70s 7″s from France, Africa, and India. They didn’t have any Chantal Goya, but I did pick up one ye-ye record, one calypso record, and an hip-hop EP from ’98. Neat, neat shop.