03 May 2010

FLIPVILLE


This record/toy/junk store was across the street from the bar where I worked in Milwaukee, and I stopped in often. For months I would just marvel at the STUFF, it was one of the stores where you have to walk sideways to get from Point A to Point B, just piles of shit everywhere and gem after gem buried in those piles, so you know it's worth looking through but you just don't know if you have the time or the gusto to dig in. Everything was overpriced...like WAY overpriced, so I just kinda treated it like a bizarre dump museum and looked through shit, occasionally buying a $10 UK punk single here and there. One day I found something I really wanted (THE DRONES "I Just Wanna Be Myself") but it was marked at $20 and that was just silly, so I turned to the proprietor, a 50ish gray bearded long haired and excessively disheveled fellow, and asked "Would you go any lower than $20 on this record?" He said that he would, and asked what I was thinking, "I don't want to seem rude, but I really wouldn't pay more than $10 for it," was my reply. After much silent consternation on his part (enough that I thought my 50% lowball offer had pissed him off) he said, "I really couldn't go any lower than $8 on that one." $10 later and out the door, I started thinking about all the expensive records I had passed up in that store, and the next day started attacking those punk/new wave boxes hard. Geoff got nicer (well, he was always nice, he was just socially awkward and a rather imposing physical specimen), and I started giving him money - lots of money - in exchange for killer fucking records. A large portion of the gems in my collection came from that store, and my friends bought the ones that I missed (how was I supposed to know that a Version Sound press of Cows And Beer was in the fucking "Locals" box mixed with a bunch of soul/R&B 45s for $40?!).  Stores like Flipville are a dying breed; they rate zero in the customer service department, but they put the adventure in the hunt, and these are the dudes with the stories, not the computer collectors just looking for the next flip. 

I found out last weekend that Geoff passed away. He hadn't felt well for a while, but put off going to the doctor because doctor visits are not pleasant, and by the time he did the cancer was everywhere...he died a few months later. When I talked to another record store owner in the neighborhood, he said that Geoff had family and a few trusted friends going through everything and sorting the trash from the treasure. Knowing what an ordeal this would be, Geoff spent his last months making lists of what was what and where it was. But more importantly, knowing that collectors are all too often scumbags and leeches, he made a list of questionable characters who might offer their services to family members trying to sort through the stuff. The list was headlined: "DON'T TRUST THESE SLEAZEBALLS." Like my friend said to me on the phone, "You can get away with a lot when you are dead." 

Here's the write up from the Express Milwaukee website: A Eulogy For Stinky, and the last line of the obit that ran in the Journal is fukkn brilliant: "Please honor his life with your own celebration; have a party, watch the sun rise, go fishing, or spin some vinyl." We should all be so lucky...

3 comments:

Zak said...

Total bummer. A great place just to poke around. The kind of place that makes cities awesome and unique from each other instead of the endless miles of cookie cutter strip malls. Nice words Robert.

Kängnäve said...

Great (and sad) story. I miss this kind of stores.

Clint B said...

I remember going through that store with the Hero Dishonest dudes from Finland. What a place... I passed up an expensive Poison Idea 7" while others marveled at the Hitler Doll and other extreme towers of treasure/trash. I always thought I would get a chance to go back someday...