How A Record Store Taught Me About Conspiracy Theories
You'll have to think back quite a way for this one. This had to have been the summer of 1991 or 1992. I was going to be in the seventh grade, and I was home alone most of the time since both my parents worked. So, of course, I got bored. I was discovering music at this time, and was listening to the radio nonstop. I first found pop music like Paula Abdul and Mariah Carey, then transitioned into alternative music like Nirvana, Live, Bush, R.E.M., you get it.
I found myself doing research, reading about each group, trying to find out more about them and how they came to be. I would read Spin and Rolling Stone and whatever I could find to know more about them. This was before the internet, of course - you can just google them now. Back then, times were hard. You had to pay for information and pictures. These days, it's like it's nothing.
I had a cassette tape Walkman, and I would tape songs off of the radio. It was a little hard to do, you had to time it just so, or you'd get a commercial or something in there. Anyway, I heard about a record store on 16th street. I decided to walk down there one day, as we didn't live that far away.
It was a tiny little place, two rooms, with some CDs, but mostly tapes and records. I talked with the man behind the counter, who told me he was Mr. Vinyl. I looked through his stuff and saw... he had a copy of the Butcher Cover* on his wall. Instantly I was impressed. I saw he had a few albums my parents didn't have, and lots of stuff I wanted to buy but couldn't. It made my twelve year old self sad.
So he offered me a compromise: I could tape songs off of some of his records for a quarter each. I was stoked! I could have the songs, right now, on my Walkman! So that, my friend, is what I did. I poured through his collection and wasted hours away picking out the ones I wanted and taping them off. I was probably there two or three times a week. After a while he let me do it myself, and since he was doing his other work, I got them for free. There was a lot of talk about music, and about books and movies and school.
But then, one day, we had the talk. He asked me how old I was, and I told him. He said, "Good, then you've got time. When you come of age, you need to move. You need to head East. Probably somewhere in Maine would be okay."
"Because in 2012, the world is going to turn on its axis. Everything as we know it will be destroyed other than very specific locations around the world."
Then he pulled out about seven books about the topic, and about aliens, and weather patterns, and honestly after a while it just kind of overwhelmed me. I guess I had lived a very sheltered life and hadn't heard of anything alien other than E.T. or ALF. Twelve year old me was scared! He tried to console me and tell me that he just wanted me to be safe. If I made it to one of the locations on the list, I'd be fine.
I thanked him for his warning, and took my tape home. I thought about that for a very long time, and it worried me. How was I going to convince all my friends and family to move to Maine? Were there aliens in the Garden of Eden? What about the government conspiracy to control hurricane patterns? I was very somber.
My parents noticed. My mom pulled me aside one night after dinner and asked me what was up. I broke down and told her. I was crying so hard I was wheezing for breath.
"MOM, (WHEEZE) WE NEED TO (WHEEZE) MOVE TO MAINE OR (WHEEZE) WE'RE ALL GOING TO (WHEEZE) DIE FROM THE AXIS...(WHEEZE), OR MAYBE THE ALIENS (WHEEZE) WILL COME BACK AND TAKE (WHEEZE) BACK THE SPHINX!"
Mom calmed me down and told me that Mr Vinyl was probably not the expert that young me thought he was. She told me that everything would be alright, and that I probably shouldn't go down there anymore.
I think I went down a couple more times, and I know I went once when he moved. But I didn't go to his final location, and I didn't think much about the axis shifting again until everyone panicked about the Mayan calendar in 2012. Turns out, Mr Vinyl wasn't right, but he was definitely interesting.