Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Let the Music Play

Aron’s Records has been a Hollywood institution for many years. I’ve spent many a pleasant moment (mostly pre-Viva) wandering the aisles, discovering new music at Aron’s and at other independent music stores like Rockaway Records and Hear Music (which, strangely, appears to have sold out to Starbucks, which is a damn shame).

Aron’s is now closing after 40 years. If you look at their Website, they don’t give a reason why, but it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine they’ve been squeezed out by Amoeba Records, which opened on Sunset Blvd., a hop skip and a jump away, a couple of years ago.

The other day, I was driving past Hollywood and Highland, the huge mall complex which has made my corner of Hollywood even more traffic-congested, and I saw a sign for Virgin Megastore.

Virgin Megastore, brainchild of such a freakin’ corporate giant that it has partnered with, so if you click on any Virgin advertising online, it actually takes you to an Amazon site. Yecch, it makes my skin crawl.

It kind of feels like Wal-Mart just moved in. Aron’s, which is within walking distance of my apartment, is the kind of cramped, low-budget, wonderfully unique hangout of musicians (real and wannabes) and music lovers of all stripes that I love. It has a kind of home-grown, get your hands dirty kind of appeal. Amoeba Records duplicates that feel, kind of, on a larger scale. Perhaps because Amoeba only has three locations anywhere (Berkeley, San Francisco, Hollywood), so it’s still kind of funky and real. Virgin Megastore, on the other hand? Please.

So Virgin Megastore is opening just blocks up the street from Aron’s. Perhaps the coming of Virgin is what sounded the final death knell. I don’t know. I’m just kind of bummed out when I see a local business close its doors.

Less than a year ago, one of our local indie papers, LA Citybeat, had this to say about Aron’s:

Even in the era of Amoeba, it remains popular with DJs because, unlike Amoeba, it has listening stations. With its consistently well-stocked shelves, Arons in many ways sets the prototype of a successful indie record store. “We’re still alive and kicking,” says longtime employee DJ Sacred.

For those about to rock, we salute you. Hugs and kisses, Aron’s.

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