The album that nearly caused a rumble on High Street. “I WAS gonna sell him the Deluxe version which costs me $14.49 for $18.99, a deal, I'd say. But what do I know? I'm just the sole proprietor of Dumb Fuck's On North High.” says Petric.
Life on Planet High Street is like life on the shores of an ocean on a far-distant earth-like orb: freaks and geeks rolling by like driftwood; human reptiles and upright dudes and dudettes crawling forth from the primal liquid, the good with the bad; and as always, the interminably ugly with the remarkably beautiful as well as the forgettable in-betweens. Circus time! Working on the city's endlessly fascinating main north-south thoroughfare in the campus area in an ossifying profession known as 'record store,' there have been one or two lethargic days in the last 20 years. But I don't remember them. There is simply too much non-stop action. Like the aging retired American army colonel who owns an antique store in Old San Juan said in Yankee-fied Spanish of his environs, "Nunca un momento aburrido" ("Never a dull moment"). And sometimes these creatures make a sharp left- or right-turn and enter my world. Everyone's greeted with a detached hello but a greeting nonetheless. Their response helps clarify my involuntary survival-instinct gathering of impressions which started the moment they entered my eyesight. Given that I've had guns pointed at my stomach, head and chest (the first two from robbers, the last a policeman who trained his automatic rifle's red laser beam on my solar plexus outside the store for ten seconds until I proved I wasn't a mugger, an episode that convinced me going to Afghanistan to embed with the marines couldn't be any more dangerous). Today, I start off by playing a CD of whales making whale talk amid the gently recorded waves. Seems appropriate given my slime-oozing-out-of-the-primordial--ooze metaphor. As the whales moan, groan and bitch about their watery lot, the parade goes by: the Sigmund Freud-lookalike, no doubt an OSU professor relaxed with tenure; a girl in pink slacks moving like a torpedo homing in on a target; city contractors carefully laying sidewalk cement oblivious to Freud and the hottie; two young men dressed in black speaking what I take to be Kurdish; a Chinese person whose sex isn't obvious but runs to catch crosswalk. The crosswalk of death, by the way. Well, I exaggerate--but not by much. When the city inaugurated the thing several years ago, traffic wasn't having it. I cannot tell you how many times drivers, scores of yards down the street, would lay on the horn at the sight of me pedaling across to the Mershon side. Soon the body count mounted. A Wexner employee got soundly thumped and knocked hard to the pavement one summer afternoon. I looked out at the sound of the impact and saw the box she'd been carrying still sliding up the street. She survived. The pedestrian-smashing scenario was repeated a number of times. Eventually the city put signs up, parked a cruiser nearby and things improved. As for the decorative brick inlay work on the street's sidewalks that keep coming undone thereby creating dangerous sidewalk potholes, I called the Mayor's office and left a message. Never heard back. The sidewalk contractors at first told me they'd fix 'em. Then three weeks later they told me it was my responsibility being a store-owner. Then two weeks later, they said it wasn't. Then they said it was. So I filled it with sand and gravel. Next, Quikrete. Too many people trip and fall or nearly fall. Sigh. The sounds of whales mooing gives way to the inimitable Afro-Cuban acoustic folk-jazz of the late great Cachaito, bassist for the Buena Vista Social Club. His well-flavored, good-natured and sadly, only solo album is eternally perched in my Top Ten. As my sidewalk speaker caresses High Streets with what Jelly Roll Morton once called 'the Spanish tinge' of Caribbean music, Cachaito's jazzy boleros gently misted with modernity of sound production, a young man of African descent comes in and asks who is playing. This is good. This is why I love High Street. It's an international street, it is. La Calle Internacional. Last Friday, though, it was Eastern European Asshole From Bexley Street. A man came in with a heavy accent from somewhere near Transylvania, rather demanding in his request for a certain Barbra Streisand album. As I computer-searched with the information I could, I made polite small talk--or tired to. His responses were strangely but obviously hostile. Motherfucker was haughty as hell. Well, that's OK, I thought, as long as there's a reprieve and friendliness at the end. But this s.o.b. was taking no prisoners. For chrissake, I thought, is a profit of four bucks worth being forced to eat shit from a dude who'd only say he was from Bexley, as if his point of true origin was a state secret. Ah, yet another late middle-aged white man with passive-aggressive tendencies to treat retailers as foot-servants to the upper-middle class. Fuck that. After some effort, I found what it was he was looking for, at a price he found acceptable. Yet oddly he now proceeded to amp up his not-so-subtle abuse. Every comment or question I'd made during the transaction was met with an ever-increasing level of withering tone. My Irish-Slovenian jugulars were swelling. Blood was rushing to my angry head and my inner Jewish defense lawyer Marv Diamond gave me the legal go-ahead to fire away. So I told 'em no money'd be changing hands because not only was I not going to order his goddam Barbra Streisand, I was kicking his aging, obnoxious, rude, arrogant white ass out of my store. And then, true satisfaction, I got to use the line Dan Dority the bartender from the HBO series Deadwood used when he kicked out George Hearst's hired Pinkerton thugs: "Get the fuck out while I let you get the fuck out!" Of course, ancient asses like that always have to have the last word but at that point, who cares? My buddy who'd been sitting on a stool observing the five-minute slide into social disharmony compared him to one of the mob of villagers storming Frankenstein's castle lair. "Herr Burgermeister", he called him. No wonder those people can't get along with their opposites in the next valley. The day progresses. French duo Air's 2012 "Le Voyage Dans La Lune", their soundtrack to the groundbreaking 1902 16-minute science fiction movie of same name, then goes to their cosmically grooving 1998 "Moon Safari". A customer asks about them both. Score one for intentional artistic connection. French moons over High Street—coowell! Two High Street beggars come in to have their begged change changed into bills. Loretta and James have been panhandling the street for a decade. He has one eye, a drink-addled brain and a wife whom I've nicknamed Little Sparrow because she's probably not five feet tall and probably doesn't weight more than 90 pounds. They rattle their cups and coins flow. And I turn them into easily spendable bills. I judge them not. I love them a lot. But they only get money out of me when they do odd jobs. That's my social compact. A nervous girl with some sort of apparent druggy jitteryness comes into sell a pile of completely worthless, crusty, shitty country records. Takes a few minutes during which she rubs her nose about every 15 seconds as if she's suffering from some interminable cocaine itch. I patiently explain she has basically junk. She asks where she can sell baseball cards. I tell her those are dead in the water. She asks where she can sell a "collectible lamp." I tell her of Clintonville's gaggle of antique stores. She asks where she can sell clothes. I tell her any Goodwill or thrift store. At this point I suggest she might do better consulting her hand-held portable information/communication device which seems to collectively rob an entire generation of the will to think and be curious. She gets irritated. “I'm not from around here," she snarls, stomping out, stopping at the city-provided trash receptacle and angrily throwing the entire pile of country records in. Which I later retrieve, recycling what I can, putting the rest in Mr. Free Box. There's no pleasing some people--especially when they have that monkey pounding on their back. Later my favorite five-year-old comes in with her father, he being on his usual hunt for death metal. The kid's a ridiculous cutie but I'm not sure about this home-schooling thing. I should think kids need to be interacting with other kids. I mean, sure, public education sucks. But that's why we need to keep the federal government out of it and return it to the parents and teachers, not the politically motivated over-educated social engineers and their bias against boys. Well, ahem, that's just my opinion. As the day progresses farther and farther into the twilight hours, I wonder if I'll ever tire of this. Somehow something tells me no. As I return (as I have been several times this month) to Tom Waits's ornery and grotesque "Brawlers" disc from his 3-disc Orphans box set, I feel restless. Though I'm fascinated by the human street carnival, at the same time it gnaws at me: there's an entire world out there, full of High Streets and humans of varying degrees of humanity, waiting to be discovered, encountered, avoided. I guess my motorcycling days are haunting me. But my curiosity never sleeps when it comes to people and places. When I meet you, I want to know where you've been and where you're going because I can see where you're at, whether I'm behind a record store counter or sitting on the curb of a chicken-and-gas joint in Arkansas, speaking to an 80-year-old black farmer in blue overalls wondering why anyone from Ohio would find him interesting. Hitting the road, Jack--it's on my rambling mind. I just won't be able to program the soundtrack. ----- I was going to try to accurately convey to you exactly what a reader wrote in response to my question a couple weeks back. Thankfully I don't have to do that because the heavy handed editor of this paper has some how deemed it “a good idea” to print it in this week's letters section (page 4) so you can peruse it as your leisure. I have spent many head-scratching efforts absorbing the several general thrusts of his effort and they are these: deficits aren't debt; deficit worry is right-wing manipulation; progressives know even less and can only tax the rich; and he'd explain more if only I weren't so economically illiterate. And he kept calling me "Jim." So maybe it was Mr. Magoo writing me? I will say this: the moment interest rates right just a bit, the debt will bury every American--left, right and independent alike. Then we'll see how sturdy our precious social compact is. Now, I must ask my progressive friends: what IS the progressive game plan for restoring our economy? Do you really want more forced Obama-esque government takeovers of other sectors? Do you really want the government to be the arbiter of economic decisions at every level, or most? Do you really want huge swaths of the population on the government tit (which means the rest of us paying non-incentive entitlements)? Is it a mark of freedom or coercion when people are not allowed to have the insurance plan of their choosing? Have we turned the corner, has Barack successfully made good on his promise/prediction made five days before the 2008 election that he will "fundamentally transform America?" I'd like to know what you think, especially if you're honest and brave enough to express doubts.

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