Everything seems to come full circle. Recently I started working at a thrift shop on 14th street. The first time I’d been to that store, I drooled over the basement: a room filled with every record you’ve never listened to. I dug through a couple bins before tiring myself out. During my fleeting gander at the Letter B section of the Pop, Rock, and Folk pile, I caught sight of a beautiful record by a band of the name “Iron Butterfly”. The psychedelic 70s infused art work hypnotized me for a brief second. I was eating with my eyes, but my empty wallet told me I was full. I told myself I’d research them once I got home, something I never did.
Two days ago I found myself walking aimlessly around the West Village, two of my girlfriends, a couple of feet in front of me. They turned into a record store to our left. I had never seen a real record store in New York City, which seemed like a strange thought to me in the moment I was having it. I knew I had to tell my dad about it when I got home (he used to be a DJ back in the day so he’s the reason I even own any records). I wasn’t planning on buying anything until I noticed the floor lined with crates labeled $1. I fancied nothing on the first floor so took the stairs to the lower level. This store is New York in my mind. The New York I’d been living in; the one no one else could see. But, I found it for real. The past, present and future all scratched into some black discs, wrapped in artwork that you could hold in your hand. Cheap and old; this was the secret New York, the one that stays hidden under the shell of 42nd street and all It’s timeless tourist traps.
I’m At Home. I flipped through the stacks of cardboard covered music, the smell of dust filling my lungs. My wrists ached, I was ready to settle for the experience and leave empty handed. Pushing the stack back where it belonged revealed a pop of color. My fingertips knowingly paused the falling records and drew their attention to an album I knew I could not leave behind. On the front, a black and white gorilla with fluorescent wings… those of a butterfly. It was the only “Iron Butterfly” record I had seen in the whole store.
I’m listening to the album now. I think it’s visual beauty will always make it more appealing to me. I know I’ll end up downloading some of “The Butterfly’s” music onto my device, but there’s always going to be something about this record. Maybe the tangibility of it, maybe the fact that I had to search for it, or maybe because it fell into my lap. As someone who attempted to preserve the wing of a butterfly, in my phone case, before having it shatter this summer, I realize that some things have to live outside the modern world, they’re just better that way.