February 17, 2010

Record Fair Characters

The reality is this. I have been a serious record collecting addict since I was in grade school. Thirty some years later I have spent a great deal of time in record stores and attending record fairs. I helped run a table at the legendary WFMU Record Fair for slightly under a decade and while I am aware there are many similar shows like this one in the world, WFMU is legendary for its size, wide variety of vendors, and its massive crowds. (Not to mention it is put together by one of the best radio stations known to man...but I digress.)

For Valentine's Day this year my sweetheart and I attended the DC Record Fair and I have to say two key things about it: 1) HOLY FUCK IT WAS CROWDED !!!! 2) dang was it dark. It was so packed and so poorly lit that that I gave up trying to look for records after the first hour and spent my time catching up with friends I am grateful to have run into into and enjoyed the various DJ sets.

On the long car ride back to Richmond I began thinking about all the very special personality types one finds at a record fair and formed a list in my head. Mind you, I hold a special place in my heart for this cast of characters because I am very much an active part of the circus so while this list does have a sarcastic mocking tone to it, these weirdos have also been my people for the better part of my adult life.

And I give you my Record Fair Cast of Characters:

The Linebacker- This husky type takes up 3 rows at a time and there is no way around them.

The Cutter - Sure they see you waiting to browse at a table when a spot opens up but these impatient types will shove right past you as if you weren’t even there. You may be left asking yourself AM I INVISIBLE? And the answer is yes...to these people, you are.

Duck Duck Booze - This classic character takes one look at the crowd, circles the room once, and then heads to the bar rather than look for records. How does this story end? Drunk by 3. Leaves with no records by 4 and is home passed out by 5.

Rude Boy- Manners shmanners. These people will pull records from the bin your are looking at as if you are their servant doing the dirty work for them. You know how annoying the whole waiting tour turn / getting your hands dirty thing can be.

Pokey Pup - This slow poke takes a painfully long time at every table looking at every record and price as if they were in only person in the world and their eyes were on loan from Mr. Magoo.

The Megaphone- NO INDOOR VOICE FOR THIS PERSON. Why waste time looking through records when you can just scream at the dealer to see if they have whatever records you are looking for.

Smart Phonos – This is a relatively new addition to the world of record fairs thanks to iPhones and the like. These people can’t look at a single record without checking on the cell phone for price comparison, details about the record, how rare it is…

Sitting Bull- There might be 20 people crowded at the table but this person will sit on the floor in front of the table to look at dollar records for an hour. Oh and will haggle those dollar records down. Maybe they have a foot fetish?

Too Shy Shy- This poor passive guy or gal can't seem to muscle their way towards the front of a record table. They end up looking like the runt of the litter who gets no milk from mama because the more aggressive types have pushed them out of the way. I believe if there was one character I relate to the most, this is it.

Tigger – These bouncing balls of energy hop up and down a few rows back from the table to get a sneak peek at the records they are waiting in line for.

The Coat Rack- This is A-typically a girlfriend and usually she is not into records. This poor person gets stuck holding all the crap their record obsessed buyer friend or loved one has shed for optimum shopping.

Dicker - No price is firm to this penny pincher. If haggling was a sport, these people would be wearing a gold medal.

Freshmen - New to collecting records, this guy or gal will overspend for records the rest of us know are the very definition of a dollar record.

The Peeping Tom- Their head appears for just a few seconds between the shoulders of two shoppers in front of them and it is assumed that this impatient wiggly worm is either looking at what type of records are for sale or is eyeing the same records you are.

Space Invader – This person not only doesn’t seem to understand the boundaries of personal space but has no qualms eyeing the record you have in your hands as if they are a bird of prey and you are holding lunch.

Oops I've Pooped Myself- This unfortunate walking stink pile smells like the CBGBs bathroom did at 3am on a hot summer night. They may also have a legit fear of soap.

Miracle - Any female record collector.

The Groper- Nope- not a 7" box, that was my breast.

Long Duck Dong – This person has a very poor grasp of the English language yet seems to ask the most questions to a dealer.

Messy Marvin- You know the kind, they pull out the records they want and leave them all over the tops of every section making it impossible for others to browse. This selfish shopper can best be spotted at your local record store.

Momma’s Boy- He is over 50, still lives with his parents, and lives for records(okay and maybe science fiction) (and comics). Don’t expect to find any social skills here unless you are packing the original Amazing Spider-Man #1.

The Obscurist- This wackadoodle is always looking for all the stuff you never have heard of or dreamed existed. Algerian goat herding yodelers, harmonica playing lumberjacks from the ‘40s, mating calls of under water Nigerian frogs… Whaaa? Your not familiar? You haven’t heard music until you hear these!

The Lucky Bastard- It’s the end of a long day at the record fair and you and your friends are exiting the premises with just a few records no less ones you paid full price for yet on the way out you always run into that one person who found every record they have ever wanted at a quarter of the price. Hmph!

Zen Master – I don’t know how they do it. After 5 hours in a stinky, noisy, jam packed room, this cucumber hasn’t broken a sweat and is still smiling. You can step on their feet and they may even apologize to you. They have to be on something, and it must be mighty powerful stuff.


  1. Crack me up, dude.

  2. Your list is SUPER awesome! Well played.

    Also, I'm one of the organizers and we plan to fix the obvious problems of low light and space for next time. Hopefully we'll be using the downstairs as well, and will get even lighting set up before the fair begins. Please come back :)

  3. Record nerds are a hardy bunch. The thing could have been outdoors in piles of snow, attended by wolves, and I would be there with bells on....unless bells make wolves attack. Fear not, I shall return, ha!

  4. what about the guy that brings his own portable turntable to listen to records before he buys them ? Said guy is normally a stink pile as well.