Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Another Fun Record Store Day (2017)

Hi Bill

Rayna and I participated in another very pleasurable Record Store Day on Saturday, April 23. It was our second or third Record Store Day and we both had a very good time seeking recorded vinyl treasures. Every time this annual event arrives I intend to make lists of the groovy vinyl that I should acquire. However, I never really get much of a list prepared and this year I didn’t even try to compile a list. There is something about forcing myself to concentrate on ferreting out specific items that just repulses me, even though I really would like to own those items and I’m not gettin’ any younger. Anyway, I had no prepared list, but I enjoyed flipping through shelves, boxes, stacks, bins and random piles of vinyl music at record stores in Sioux Falls with Rayna.

Every time I participate in one of these organized, but chaotic, vinyl hunts I am amazed by the almost tribal comradery of the roving crowd. Rayna and I visited three different record stores and we encountered many of the same fellow-record-seekers in each of them. Even more amazing were the friendly interactions that these total strangers initiate with people they don’t know from Adam. Perhaps there is some mystical force that emanates from all those strange vinyl grooved discs that just makes even timid or obnoxious humans realize that we all need pleasant affirming communication, especially when large hordes of us are squeezed together during possibly competitive circumstances.

Well, enough of these ramblings!

Marianne Faithfull -  Rich Kid Blues (2017)
I met Rayna at Ernie November at 1pm last Saturday when we began our Record Store Day hunt. Many of you may know that Ernie’s is a record store chain that sells new and many more used vinyl albums. It provides a large and diverse selection of vinyl and Rayna and I spent considerable time flipping through pretty much their entire collection. Rayna bought a few albums, and I bought the following new album that was one of the exclusive Record Store Day releases this year: 

  • Marianne Faithfull - Rich Kid Blues (2017): This album was first released in 1984 and released again with a different cover for this Record Store Day exclusive. Actually, Rayna grabbed this album first, but I snatched it out of her hands. Instead of playing tug-of-war she acquiesced because she knows I am a longtime big Faithfull fan. That purchase turned out to be the most expensive single item that I purchased on Record Store Day this year, and the only thing I bought from Ernie November.

Roberta Flack - First Time (1969)
After finishing at Ernie’s, Rayna drove us to Total Drag, an independent record store in downtown Sioux Falls, where customers must endure extremely loud, and not particularly fetching, music while shopping. I usually do not frequent Total Drag very often because my hearing has already been decimated enough by various concerts and powerful home music systems. However, Total Drag is not a drag when it comes to the varied selection of vinyl albums that they offer. Like at Ernie November, we spent a long time trolling through "The Drag’s" large vinyl inventory. I purchased:

  •          Roberta Flack – First Time (1969)
  •         The Original Animals – Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted (1977)
The Original Animals - Before We Were
So Rudely Interrupted (1977)

Next we went to Crosstown Vinyl, which is my favorite record store in Sioux Falls. I frequent Crosstown Vinyl very often, and consider Steve, the owner of Crosstown, to be a friend. He is a good guy who is very knowledgeable about recorded music and provides good advice about the records he sells and collects. We also have many casual conversations about music and lots of other topics. In addition, he repairs and sells used amplifiers, turntables, speakers, etc. for reasonable prices. I bought a very powerful system from him last Christmas and I love it. Of course he also knows Rayna and it was nice to visit his establishment again on Record Store Day. Even though his prices are regularly very reasonable, he was giving his customers an extra discount that day. I crave diversity in my vinyl collection and I bought the following four albums at Crosstown Vinyl:
  •         Brenda Lee – 10 Golden Years (1966)
  •         The Spinners – The Best of The Spinners (1978)
  •         Ray Charles – I’m All Yours – Baby! (1969)
  •         Donovan - Donovan P. Leitch (1970): Rayna and I are both big Donovan fans, but she took pity on the old guy and let me have this 2-disc, 20-track album.

Clark & Rayna at Starbucks on
Record Store Day 2017
After we left Crosstown Vinyl, Rayna and I were tired and we needed a snack. Therefore, we stopped at the Starbucks an 41st Street in Sioux Falls. We each had a latte and a snack while we relaxed and talked for about an hour. Then Rayna dropped me at my car in the Ernie November parking lot, where we began our vinyl hunt. I made the drive home and Rayna went wherever.

It was another very enjoyable and satisfying Record Store Day in Sioux Falls with Rayna. However, it was very nice to see Pat when I got home. Luckily, she tolerates my vinyl obsession as well as many of my other strange behaviors.

Bill, I believe you know that I cannot produce a lick of any even remotely pleasurable music. However, you were very influential in spawning and enhancing my love for music and I am very grateful for that influence. I hope you are still enjoying, collecting, and playing beautiful music.

Take Care,



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

I Was A Truck Drivin’ Man, Well I Thought I Was

Hi Bill

Today I was thinking about when Pat and I moved from Volga, a small town outside of Brookings SD, to Dell Rapids, a small town about 20 miles north of Sioux Falls. At that time, Pat was working at the University Center in Sioux Falls and I was still working at South Dakota State University in Brookings. We figured that Dell Rapids is pretty much halfway between our two employment cities, although Pat’s commute to the south was a little shorter than my forty-five minute commute to the north. Anyway, that move brought many changes to our daily routines.

I had to endure getting up a lot earlier to make that drive to SDSU, but Pat was happy to give up her hour commute from Volga to Sioux Falls. Both of us quickly adapted to waking up early and making the drive each workday morning, although I was able to gradually adopt a much more flexible schedule than Pat had to endure. Anyway, after making those commutes for a couple of years they became fairly routine. However, we discovered that South Dakota weather turned out to be a bigger factor during our commutes than we anticipated.

We were very naive about being able to cope with weather conditions on the interstate between Sioux Falls and Brookings, and neither of us had a rugged vehicle that provided at least minimally safe transportation during snow events. Therefore we couldn’t always make the drives to work and back during snow/ice/blizzard conditions. Luckily, our employers were mostly sympathetic toward us during those conditions.

However, I decided that I needed a more rugged vehicle that could get me through snow, ice, wind, wild fires, and volcanic eruptions. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to buy a vehicle that could conquer all of those forces. Therefore, I leased a Ford pickup truck. Well actually I leased a 2001 XLT Super Cab 4X4 Ford Ranger for two years, which cost me $255 per month. Then, doofus that I was (and still am), I paid the dealer $705 to install a Box Cover and Bed Liner on my new expensive (leased) toy. In my defense, I figured I was going to love this new toy and would be purchasing it at the end of the lease period. 
The truck had a much higher ground clearance than any other vehicles I had owned, and it also had four-wheel drive. Therefore, I was confident that it would enable me to blast through much deeper snow than the other vehicles I had owned. It also provided a fairly spacious truck bed that could help me haul all kinds of stuff to wherever I might want to take it. I thought I was all set for my daily commutes between our little town and the South Dakota State University campus in Brookings even when heavy snow was falling.

Unfortunately, I really had no significant experience with driving any kind of truck, except U-Haul rentals when Pat and I moved from Omaha to Cincinnati, back in the day. I also rented a big-box truck when we moved from Cincinnati to Brookings, South Dakota. In addition, I rented other trucks to help move our daughter from Minneapolis back to South Dakota and move our son from Minneapolis to Fargo, ND. However, those were all U-Haul trucks that were big and heavy when loaded and I drove them on mostly dry pavement.

Anyway, I really liked my spiffy little gold, four-wheel-drive, Ford pickup truck and I enjoyed my daily commutes between Dell Rapids and Brookings with it. I was convinced that the truck’s road clearance and its four-wheel-drive would get me safely through ice and snow during my winter commutes. I was all set!

I sailed through the summer and fall and was actually confident about driving through some snow during the coming winter storms. The first time we got a couple of inches of snow I just sailed right through it without even hardly slowing down. I had four-wheel-drive! However, when the snow became heavier and deeper I continued to blast right through it, until the first time I found myself spinning off the highway. I did not completely leave the berm of the road, and luckily I did not collide with any other vehicles. Somehow, my enthusiasm for donuts in the snow had waned! I was annoyed, until I realized that I had forgotten to Turn On The Four-Wheel-Drive. I pushed that button and got right back on the road and finished my commute with no problems.

Well that snow melted and my commutes were once again without trauma. I also remembered to turn on the four-wheel-drive when I encountered snow. Therefore, I still thought I could just blast through the snow without slowing down very much. That stubborn belief caused me several more frightening uncontrollable spinning episodes on the interstate. Someone, eventually suggested that adding some weight in the truck bed should help foster a more stable and controllable drive through snow and ice. So, I put some large bags of salt back there to help stabilize my commutes. However, surely I did not need to slow down much in my rugged, weighted-down, truck during those commutes. Well, unfortunately I endured a few more close calls and even got the truck stuck in the snow a few times. Clark’s ego took quite a beating during that first winter with my “not so beloved” truck. It is amazing that I did not have any collisions or rollovers during my first winter with that truck. Stubborn person that I am, it took me a while to admit that I must slow down when there is snow and/or ice on the road.

Clark and His Truck 2001
I was much wiser during my second winter in that truck, but my romance with the truck had diminished. I did not purchase it at the end of the second lease year. Instead, I returned it to the dealer. In addition to Pat’s car, we also had another car that I used for my commutes to work and back. In 2005, I bought and new large Mitsubishi Endeavor, with all-time four-wheel-drive. That vehicle was, and still is, wonderful, and luckily I have treated it much more kindly than I did that pickup truck. However, I often wish I still had a small truck for hauling stuff, but I can usually get most things that I need to haul into my Mitsubishi. Then there is always U-Haul for other stuff. I am a very careful driver in those rental trucks.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this recollection of our move to the south and my commutes to the north. For some reason, neither of us could work in the same town that we lived in. We each made daily commutes in opposite directions. Anyway, we don't work anywhere now so who cares!

Take care.