Those were the days. A tale of living for the music, friendship and finding the holy grail of bootlegs, Bob Dylan's Ten of Swords.
For memory, there's RAM, DRAM, SRAM, flash, disc and tape, and then there's Germanoum, the mysterious substance inside my friend Toby Germano's head. Germanoum remembers all and can recall anything instantly; oddly enough, performormace seems to improve with alcohol.
I mention all this, because the other day I got to thinking about how my bootleg hunting tactics have changed. These days, I simply go online and visit dimeadozen.org or fire up Limewire. But it used to be oh so much different. To make sure I would be able to describe the days of yore, I wrote to Toby and asked him to reminisce about how we both came to posess Bob Dylan Ten of Swords, the bootlegging community's ten-disc vinyl answer to the officially released Biograph. By the way, that's Toby holding his Tele outside the entrance to the studio we had in Whittier, which was just out back of our rented, mostly unheated storage shack, where we Toby, Mike Price (pictured inside the studio) and I (also photographed inside the studio) all lived.
At this moment, you might be scoffing at a lack of heat in LA, where it is always sunny and warm (not), but we lived there during one of the coldest years on record, when snow, yes, SNOW fell in Westwood. But I digress.
Rather than attempt to repeat everything Toby wrote about our quest for Ten of Swords, I'll just let his words do the talking. Toby, you're on:
It all started with my obsession of collecting bootlegs back in high school. I was dying to get a copy of David Bowie's Santa Monica boot from 1972 (now officially in print) and asked everyone about it. When I was old enough to drive, I used to go to Berkeley and The Haight, seeking this elusive bootleg. I remember driving around with you visiting used record stores and accumulating lots of Stones and Zep boots along the way. Recycled Records and Chimera in Palo Alto were our favorite spots. I remember you buying a Lightning Hopkins album featuring SPIDER KILPATRICK, the same day I bought a Rolling Stones American Tour 1981 Soundboard box set. Finally I responded to an ad in BAM magazine (now defunct), with the tease-RARE TAPES SOLD. I called the guy, and a cheap looking list (on faded Xeroxed yellow paper) arrived in the mail a few days later. I ended up ordering so many tapes from this guy over a six month span that he finally invited me to his Palo Alto home one day. His place was really creepy, and I didn't feel comfortable at all. I think he was some kind of criminal running from the law. What came out of those couple of visits was great information from him regarding where he got a lot of his stuff: The Pasadena Swap Meet. Jump forward 4 years later, when Mike and I went to Pasadena, searching for a cool Talking Heads poster for Brenda's birthday. In a side alley at the swap meet, I found the record dealer, and bought Ten Of Swords, Kate Bush Live 1979, and Kiss Destroys Anaheim. These treasures, along with Brenda's poster, cost me all of the money I had at the time. My $20 weekly grocery budget began at this time, consisting of a Dexatrim 24 pack, a 6 pack of Lender's frozen bagels, Ralph's low fat cream cheese, and 2 cases of generic beer. A few weeks later, I seem to recall you came with me and Mike to Pasadena, and we got the guy's address who had sold me Ten Of Swords. You and I drove down to his bungalow in Long Beach, and you purchased it for (I think) $150. All of this must have taken place in the fall of 1985, because I remember
it being very hot, and football season was in high gear at USC and UCLA (I could never find parking when visiting Brenda at USC on weekends) and I moved back the Bay Area in Spring of 1986.
On a side note, when attempting to visit the strange Palo Alto man one day, his place was empty, a police KEEP OUT sign was posted, and yellow tape was everywhere. Peeking inside the place, the only thing I saw was an old rusted washing machine....
Germanoum. Amazing stuff.