There’s one Christmas that sticks out from my childhood more than any. It was the Christmas I received the Spiderman Rescue Helicopter. This thing was massive. You know those Barbie Corvettes they used to sell to little girls that grew up to be big girls with huge expectations? Well, this helicopter was that big. Big enough for a Barbie doll-sized Spiderman to fit in. Walking out Christmas morning and finding that beautiful piece of Chinese-molded toy was a 7 year old kids dream come true. This thing was pimped out, too. Blades that moved with a button, a rescue raft that lowered on a string…you know, to save Mary Jane when that damn Corvette broke down over a stream, or on the Brooklyn Bridge. Plus, there was enough room in the cockpit for Spidey and a guest. Maybe Flash Thompson, or Firestar if Parker was feeling cheeky.
It was a glorious toy that I played with for nearly a week before the skids on my Spidey Helicopter broke. Then that damn rescue raft…the stupid string kept getting tangled. How can Spidey save the hot chick in the Corvette, or those kids that wandered too far out into the ocean when the damn string keeps getting tangled?? Stupid Chinese toy. And then Kevin Tennant THROWS Spiderman to me when I’m at the top of curly slide while he’s at the bottom during f*****g recess! What the f**k, dude?!?! You know I can’t catch s**t! I bring f*****g toys to school, not f*****g catchers mits!! Of course I miss the g*****n toy and Spidey falls to the ground, his plastic leg snapping. F**K!! Go to hell, Tennant!
I was so obsessed with music as a kid that I would literally starve myself at school by not spending my lunch money so I could go buy cassettes at Butterfly Records, the only local music store when I was growing up. I remember I’d hoard all my lunch money during the week so by the end of the week I’d have enough for a trip to see the stoners that ran Butterfly.
These guys were the quintessential record store owners, at least one of them anyways. He always seemed as if he just woke up from a nap, or a coma. Long-ish hair and round, John Lennon-esque glasses -“Steve” we’ll call him- played bass in a local cover band(of course he did.) The other guy that ran Butterfly, we’ll call him “Jay”, was the older of the two and possibly the more businessman-like. He took care of the audio/visual and electronics side of the store. They sold TVs, stereos, and laser disc players. Butterfly Records also sold musical instruments(my brother bought an old Jazzmaster rip-off Framus for way too much from them.) I imagine roach clips were part of their inventory as well, though I never saw them.
Anyways, “Steve” was always recommending new stuff to me. I was raised to never take candy from a stranger, and that seeped into my record buying as I never took record buying advice either. Now I don’t follow that rule for every record store owner, not by a long shot. I’ve gotten some great recommendations over the years. Blister’s Calliope Death Music and Modern Modern’s Zealot Angles were great recommendations by Sig at Naughty Vinyl in Evansville, IN. And of course if it wasn’t for that kid with the lazy eye at Pubic Access Records in Jericho, New York I would never have pulled the trigger on that box set of 78s simply titled Presidential Gas: 100 Years of Presidential Farts. So there are some record store owners that have totally come through for me. But this “Steve” fellow, you couldn’t trust his taste. I can remember very vividly the night my brother had come home from town after just been at Butterfly Records(probably buying a roach clip.) He was in his room with this kind of crappy music playing on his stereo. “What is this?” I asked. “Oh, it’s a band Steve told me I should check out” my older brother replied. “Who are they?” I inquired, trying to refrain from laughing. “They’re called Autograph. They’ve got this song called “Turn Up The Radio” that’s pretty cool”, replied my brother in the same tone of voice one would try to make a s**t sandwich sound appetizing. “Huh” was all I said and walked away. You see, even at 10 years old I knew that was a horrible, horrible purchase. I’m sure “Steve” was probably high or tripping and saw my brother as an easy mark. Unfortunately, he was. That wasn’t the first time my dear, sweet older brother had gotten the business end of a lousy recommendation at Butterfly. There was that Grim Reaper cassette. Hell, even my parents were laughing in the front seat of the car on a family trip while we listened to that. My brother and I always brought a plethora of music to listen to on road trips, so my parents were aware of what we were listening to(my dad still has my cassette copy of Suicidal Tendencies Feel Like Shit Deja Vu/Controlled By Hatred.) Grim Reaper was a generic version of death metal, with a singer that sounded like a Muppet. It was hard not to keep a straight face listening to that.
As I was saying, I always knew what I wanted when I went into Butterfly Records. Whether it was the new Dokken, Megadeth, Anthrax, or Suicidal Tendencies; then later Joe Satriani, Stu Hamm, Rush, Fates Warning, Queensryche, and Faith No More. I didn’t need to be told I should buy this new Trixter album, or Firehouse. I knew those bands were bogus. I wasn’t starving myself for a s**t sandwich, “Steve”.
There was that one time I was run over by a riding lawn mower. Wait, I should rephrase that…there was that time I ran MYSELF over with a riding lawn mower.