Episode 10: A New Hope 2, Electric Boogaloo
The year was hell, I don’t know. 2007 maybe. George Bush was sucking on hard candy in the White House and people were listening to a lot of Kid Rock for some reason. I was still a good 18 months away from my second divorce and Hannah Montana had started recording under the name god and Billy Ray had given her, Miley Cyrus (thus making those old Hannah albums sound like cool jazz).
I’d moved to Boulder 10 years before this opening flashback. 1997. I was taking a shower in Michigan when I heard a guy on the evening news saying something about Allen Ginsberg being dead. I was as heartbroken as human beings can get because I loved Allen Ginsberg. I loved all the Beats damn it, and they were dying. One by one.
Madness dry humping against more madness. Life is infuriating. Everyone just ends up being dead.
So I put my clothes on and quit my job and a few weeks later I was in Boulder because my friend Tim had travelled through Colorado and informed me that Boulder was where the Beats lived. They had a summer school named after Jack Kerouac and a book store named after all the Beats put together and there was a weekly open mic poetry reading that took place in a historic coffee shop named after a Beatles song, and shit, he’d had me at ‘fuck why can’t people just stop quoting Jerry Maguire?’. I had to go
I was a Luke Skywalker farm kid with the soul of a Han Solo and books were my Wookie.
So I moved to Boulder. I’d never read poetry out loud on a stage before so I started reading at the weekly So Yr A Poet readings. And, fun fact, while I was doing that my wife at the time was having an un-poetic affair with the shitty trust fund hoodlum who lived in the apartment above the one we’d been renting. Long story fuck-him, two months in town and I was already divorced. I was terrified. I’d never actually been alone before. I had two tiny beautiful daughters a couple nights a week and when I didn’t have that I had chaos and the Pearl St bars and I had the library. I was a Luke Skywalker farm kid with the soul of a Han Solo and books were my Wookie. I didn’t know how to make sense out of any of it. Reading at the weekly open mics helped.
Flash forward to the original flashback. It’s 2007 or whatever it is. Bush is still in the goddamn White House but “There has been an awakening. Can you feel it?” * The days of one open mic a week in Boulder were over. Weekly open mics had begun colonizing specific nights of the week that had until this point remained un-colonized and eventually I found myself co-hosting one of these things with poet and future Australian ex-pat Olatundji Akpo-Sani. The reading we started co-hosting took place at Albums on the Hill. [dramatic paper pause]
(Somebody wake up John Williams)
This is when I met Andy Schneidkraut.
Episode 11: Attack of the Rain Songs
One of the big questions Philip K Dick was always asking himself in his fiction was “Do I use the word ‘presently’ too much?” for which the answer is maybe, but fuck it, it works and plays well with the Buddhists so don’t worry about it”. ‘Presently’ the frickin’ shit out stuff. It’s cool.
Andy’s one of the finest examples of what a human being can be that I’ve come across on this modern day pile of shit shaped Earth
Another question Dick’s fond of going on about is “What is ‘human’?”,what’s that all about, and a perfectly good answer for that one is Andy Schneidkraut , because Andy’s one of the finest examples of what a human being can be that I’ve come across on this modern day pile of shit shaped Earth, and I’ve come across some good ones (Jack Collom. Stan Brakhage. This strange woman I watched walking away from the parking lot the other day at the mall…..)
Andy Schneidkraut owns Albums on the Hill (everyone knows that). Albums on the Hill is an iconic record store that has lived in Boulder for many mighty years (everyone knows that too). Grapes taste like grapes (Shit, I can list things that everyone already knows all day). On top of owning a record store Andy is an essential artistic presence in Boulder and mental librarian of importantly sustainable thoughts: of music and books and movies and life and whatever. He’s a writer, storyteller, the main subject of a 3 hour documentary, music video cameo star, and a top shelf human being. On top of all that (and to keep what there is of this sloppy narrative moving forward) he’s also one hell of a heroic patron of the arts.
Andy let us run a weekly reading series out of the record store until he opened up a Bistro next door and then he let us host the weekly open mics over there. Albums Bistro. That place had perks, like cool wall hangings, a real built in performance stage with a big front shop window behind it that looked out upon pedestrian traffic, poets smoking a variety of things, and the Fox.
It also had booze, most nights served by Andy himself, which was brilliant because Andy’s a local icon – I fucking love this guy–you just can’t have Boulder without him (or you could, I suppose–I mean what with the born from birth point being these days that we’re all eventually replaced and/or replaceable—(note to readers: insert six word story about the pissy nature of death) but also, you know, fuck that. Fuck what? Where was I? Oh yeah, Boulder without Andy =No thank you, I’m leaving. I don’t want anything to do with it. ) (Except for Time Warp Comics. Because that place has saved me multiple times in the same way Albums and Andy have the power to do. I dig Time Warp too. (historical note: this is what it comes to when you polish up your final draft legally stoned)
I mean: focus! Andy as bartender. Sometimes I’d show up at the Bistro tired after a long day on the day job feeling a bit twitchy and anti-social (because my personality at most times involves being twitchy and anti-social and not feeling all that excited about anything and feeling too goddamn excited about everything at the same damn time) until I’d walk through that magnificent Bistro door and see Andy standing there behind the bar, where he’d usually stop and say something interesting before pouring me a drink, and at that point my apathy would be cured because having a guy like Andy pour you a pre-open mic drink is like having Jonny Carson stitched together with Kafka taking care of things behind the bar.
It’s like you’ve been feeling like the Earth was a spaceship all day that’s hurling towards an inevitable oblivion and you’re freaking out but then you turn around and standing behind the bar in command of the star ship there’s Andy, smiling like Captain Kirk. And even though you know that everything’s dying and maybe there’s no saving everything, it’s gonna be fine. Sure, we’re doomed. But we’ll be ok someway. Because we’re drinking with Captain Kirk.
Shit. From Star Wars to Star Trek, but right straight back to Albums on the Hill again. Because I’ve got this. (note to self: Focus up!)
When the Bistro closed Andy was the guy who secured our little reading series a new home at The Burnt Toast. And when the Toast closed it was Andy again who found us our next space at The No Name Bar. He saved our little reading series ass and helped keep it together over and over again. And damn if those weren’t some great years. I’ll never be able to properly thank him for that.
I mean: Who’d win in a song-about-rain death battle? I Wish It Would Rain Down or Purple Rain? Andy would know the answer to this, and his explanation of such things would be bound tight by first person experience and a vast raft of unsinkable knowledge and it would blow your entire mind off.
I can trust that.
(cue music of Whitesnake playing Still Of The Night…..now)
Episode 12: Revenge of the Vinyl
Saturday (April 16) is Record Store Day (historical note: not to be confused with National Siblings Day or Bring Your Coffee Drinking Pet To Work Day, which are made-up Facebook holidays designed to increase page posts and jerk off the stock owners). Record Store Day! It’s a real thing. The one day of the year that used to be like every day of the year before the invention of Millennials and micro-triggers and almost every goddamn thing went digitally numb.
So I would suggest to all of you all to get yourselves out the doorway on Saturday and buy some records while you still can. Because in another year or so (I portend!) you won’t keep your feelings inside you anymore. They’ll be kept in a cloud and you’ll be able to access them through your MePhone or when you walk into a fucking [insert name of any goddamn chain store here] with free wifi. Yes. It sucks. Still: it will come to that.
And if you’re going to buy records you should buy them from Albums on the Hill. Because Albums has always been there for us.
But I prefer the old way, which is the way we have it now. I want my feelings to cast shadows. I need them to contain mass. I want to be able to hold them in my hands while I shake.
Records are like that. So on Saturday, do yourself a favor and go buy some records. And if you’re going to buy records you should buy them from Albums on the Hill. Because Albums has always been there for us.
Consider Saturday your time to return the favor.
*Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Rob Geisen is the author of Beautiful Graveyards, Paper Thin, The Aftermath,etc… and more. He is also one half of the 80s pop music/poetry cover duo Girls Just Wanna Have Us (who are giving a rare performance this Sunday 4/17 for Bouldering Poets). Check out his work at getinthecarhelen.com.