I was actually thinking of the song by Baby Bird, not the band, on his Ugly Beautiful album.
"What is this beautiful thing we've found?
It's so shiny, bright and round.
So I went into town and bought a little patch of ground, of ground.
And I put a shop on top and bought myself some stock
Oh my little cornershop"
It sums up a lot of feelings for Mod Lang Records. I started shopping there when I moved to the Bay Area seven years ago and don't think I've missed more than about 7 or 8 weeks in all that time without having at least one visit for the week. Trips abroad and holidays in Louisiana have kept me away but that's about it. Every record geek needs his/her "High Fidelity" type of experience on a regular basis and Mod Lang is mine. My fresh copy of the NME is always neatly tucked behind the counter with a post-it note that has "Boadwee" scrawled across it. I can listen to just about anything I want to listen to and I can complain about the records that people in the shop like that I can't stand and I can try to convince them of the beauty of something they don't care about. I become an impromptu salesman any time someone comes into the shop who looks like they may be susceptible to my charms (and have a pretty good success rate I think). I love the fact that Zola is always good for a plus one to Popscene as well as being excellent company (and I'm always amused when she blurts out a few excited expletives in the presence of one of the owners and gets a "Zola, How many times..."). Of course I'm hugely anglophilic and Mod Lang is owned by a Brummie so that doesn't hurt (though his wife and co-owner is a perfectly lovely yankee). I know if I'm in the mood to bang on about the state of Pete Doherty or if I want to share the thrill of getting e-mail from Lauren Laverne that I can always find a sympathetic ear at Mod Lang. It's nice to walk into a shop that occassionally puts on a golden great from brit pop past and collectively basque in its perfectness. I've gotten to know several of the clerks who have manned the front counter over the years and can call a couple of them good friends. The guy with Paul and Naomi in the photo is Joe Finlaw, a former employee. A super guy and a good friend (and the one person on the face of this planet who has uncannily similar taste in music to mine), I would never have met him if it hadn't been for Mod Lang. I even go in the shop on those weeks when I'm completely broke because I know they'll let me hang out and pester everybody and not care that I don't have a dime to spend. Mod Lang is a safe haven and when I step inside the that door I know I'm going to be transported from my troubles and woes for a bit. It's a good feeling.
I'm posting about Mod Lang because after 10 years or so (I'm not sure, I think it's actually closer to 12) they're moving to El Cerrito. Though I've become rather attached to the old shop I'm sure I'll adjust to the new one and I'm rather excited to see it. The new shop only means about 5 more minutes in the car for me and I think if you're a Bart person it's only a couple more stops up the line from the downtown Berkely stop. The shop will be closed for the move this week but will be re-opening on February 6. If you've been in Mod Lang, I don' t have to tell you how great it is and I know the new place will be just as good and maybe even better. If you've never been to Mod Lang, it's worth a special trip. You'll find all the info about Mod Lang's move and the new location HERE.
Thanks for seven good years Mod Lang. I'll look forward to our continued association! Cheers. Boadwee