I think Shimokita has been my stomping grounds for so long, since before iPhone days, that I actually witnessed the mp3/digital revolution, tragically wipe out a handful of awesome local independent record stores that had struggled to stay afloat (with no help from giants like Disk Union, Tower, and HMV). I remember lamenting almost decades now ago “There goes another one…” “…and another” and at one point I thought they’d eventually all go. I thought for sure Flash Disc Ranch’s days were numbered, especially considering how cheap you could get records there for, and how seemingly few people were ever in there, despite its always killer inventory, and supremely cool vibe.
Maybe it wasn’t as bleak as I remember it but, boy, when I paid a visit today, how things have changed from those perceptions. 20 people must have stopped in just 30 minutes I was there. It was CROWDED! Young people, old people, couples and groups of people shopping together, cute girls, people speaking different languages, maybe some b-list celebrity, I couldn’t really tell. The music that played was as cool as ever, something I didn’t know but felt I should have. The bins were full of heaps of well-curated goodies of literally ALL genres, that I wish I had more money to buy, and not so full that you couldn’t actually look through them (Yo Disk Union and Face! Take a HINT!). And there was Tsubaki san, sorta smugly but sweetly (like all record store owners should be) reprimanding people for not sanitizing their hands or following the other reasonable rules there were all made for your crate-digging pleasure, all while chatting me up about Leon Russel, the Tulsa sound, and knowing way more about it than I even know.
Gosh, I want to go on, but I’m running out of space. Let me just say this. Tsubaki san and Flash Disc Ranch are both goddamn National Treasures. When that place is gone, it will be the end of an era. Go there and be awed by it all, ask Tsubaki san for some recommendations (or for some stories), cuz he knows ’em, and also what you want more than you even do. Buy some records, not because he needs you to, but cuz, no matter what you select, it will make you infinitely cooler than you already were.
P.S. Tsubaki san has graciously allowed me to set up a late-night mobile photo studio in front of Flash. That’s the last photo, my setup for making one-coin street portraits.
The Grateful Dead – Garcia’s Gang
Label: Fugitive Records (5) – 63-67
Format: 2 x Vinyl, LP, Unofficial Release, Stereo
Style: Psychedelic Rock
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