I went to Chicago this weekend. I stopped by MY old record store, Rock Records on the corner of Washington and Wells. Right off the elevated train. The first record I ever bought there was Slayer's Live Undead EP. It was a gloriously gross picture disk. That was probably back in 1988-ish. The last CD I got there was Napalm Death's 2 disc Noise for Music's Sake compilation, maybe a year ago. The store was right on the way between my law school and some of the firms I clerked at. So, while I went there as often as I could when I didn't live in Chicago, when I was in Chicago from 1999 to 2002, a huge portion of my music collection was purchased there. Rock Records was an independent shop, but nonetheless survived while chains like the Virgin Megastore and Tower Records disappeared from Chicago.
So anyway, there I was, just off the L, walking through my old haunts... There was the old familiar primary colored sign... It wasn't on. Well, I thought, it's Saturday, maybe they're just closed for the weekend, or maybe they don't open until 1:00. Let's go check the store hours... Bars. An empty storefront. "For Rent." Sad.
Downtown Chicago has a great independent jazz record store at about State and Grand. In retrospect, I should have immediately gone to that store and put down $15 on "Sketches of Spain" or "The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady" or something like that. But I was too depressed. To my knowledge, there are no other music-only stores left in downtown Chicago. Instead there's a couple Borders and a Best Buy "Coming Soon!!!" in the Hancock Building.
I later went to one of the Borders and tried to find something to interest me, but was in such a bad mood, I quite literally put down the Dead Kennedys cd I was looking at and said, "Fuck this corporate pablum!!!" (I'm sorry, Jello. I didn't mean it.)
I bought Hannah Arendt's "Origins of Totalitarianism" instead. In that book, Arendt points to personal isolation and loneliness as being one of the main causes of people submitting to totalitarian governments... and instead of going to record stores - and, y'now, talking to another human being about their taste in music - people are now going on line from their bedrooms and downloading things off of itunes or ordering from amazon.com...
But then, I predicted the downfall of the brick and mortar music store the day I went into a Coconuts in a mall and asked the clerk if they had anything by the MC5. He asked if I'd looked in the rap section.
Hey, look at that... I'm still in a bad mood!