Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Record shopping in Hamra (part 2)

My last weekend in Lebanon, and I'm not leaving without some Arabic music – specifically, Sabah Fakhri. So I'm back on the hunt, with Andy and Gavin, searching every antique store, used book attic and overpriced record monger in town.

And I'm headed back to the man who seemed to know it all. And this time, hopefully he'd be in the country.

This particular afternoon was my first day off the wagon, after giving up drinking for Lent. Without thinking, on a late Sunday brunch date by the yacht club – that's right – in Beirut, I ordered a lemonade. My friends didn't hesitate to remind me that it was now my duty to begin drinking with them again. I switched to Almaza, and the day began. We had an overpriced, undercooked lunch, and took an overpriced cab to find a place to overpay for music. We are foreigners after all, and as David Sedaris recently reminded me, "foreigners are the lowest life form in any major city."

I noticed the record store guy immediately when I walked in. Last time I'd seen him, I was keen to impress him, as I am with any record store guy, since they are the beacons of truth in the world. They are the purveyors of x-rated 78s from the 20's, instrumental funk covers of the Beatles, pornographic 12-inch covers, and everything else I could devour since I was 14. These were the people to impress. Unfortunately, anyone who has seen "High Fidelity" knows, you can't impress them. And that is what keeps them, at least amongst their stacks of plywood crates and wax records, so coooool.

Needless to say, he wasn't impressed with my music taste last time. So I was over the moon, when we got upstairs to the record attic and he said, "Molly, right?" He remembered! I asked him about Arabic records and he pointed me to the right corner. He didn't have what I was looking for, but I managed to spend $50 anyway.

I started looking through his DJ box, the vinyl he uses in a set sometimes around town. I hadn't heard of most of it, so he put some on. Then he yelled to the man downstairs. "Hey, whiskey!"

And this is how Andy, Gavin and myself spent the afternoon – drinking whiskey out of paper cups, smoking rolled cigarettes, thumbing through vinyl and listening to some great stuff. Andy and I bought some good stuff and walked out with that same swagger I get when walking out of a tattoo parlor. It's that "Hey, look what I got, no big deal…" strut.

I feel like I won. He may not be impressed by my taste in music, but he liked me enough to liquor me up and sell me on his taste in music. 

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