In the summer of ’87, between my junior and senior years at UB, I decided to stay in Buffalo with friends rather than go home. I had a job at a newsstand on Niagara Falls Blvd and I was dirt poor. My salary barely covered my rent and utilities. It was a sparse existence that summer but I remember it fondly(7-2-87 being one of the best days of my life and deserving of its own entry in the future).
The newsstand was a fairly unremarkable place, except for one thing. It boasted the largest, cough, porn section in town. One of my regular customers at the time was another college aged guy and we would occasionally talk music(I always looked like a guy you would talk music with back then). One day, he asked me if I had ever heard of a band called The Connells. I hadn’t heard of them so the next time he came into the store, he lent me two tapes(if my kids ever read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compact_Cassette).
The cassette he gave me was The Connells’ Boylan Heights. I loved it at first listen and have been playing it regularly ever since. Its got that jangly, college rock type of sound. One song flows effortlessly into the next and the whole thing is chock full of hooks. It’s often compared to Murmur because they used the same producer that REM did and it does have a similar vibe. So, thank you to whoever that customer was for turning me on to The Connells. I was lucky enough to see them in concert twice in the early 90’s at the late, great Icon. In case you’re wondering, the other cassette he lent to me was something by the Jesus & Mary Chain and I hated it but hey, nothing wrong with batting.500.
I spent quite a bit of time working in newsstands, actually. I worked in Midtown News in high school and in college. It was in Midtown Plaza in downtown Rochester and our customer base was quite eclectic, from business people to street people. There was Crazy Mary, the bag lady that talked to herself and would yell at you if you said the wrong thing to her. There was “Uncle Mateus”, the resident wino. And there was this one guy who used to come in every day to buy smokes. He was a normal enough guy. He worked up in Midtown Tower. Most of the people that worked up there were straight laced and professional looking. This guy was too but one thing about him always caught my attention. No matter what he wore, he always had a pin on his shirt for The Jam. I wasn’t too familiar with The Jam back then but I thought it was so cool that a “grownup” working in a professional environment was still able to express his musical taste. You might remember from a previous post that I wore a pin every single day of high school for a certain band that I was obsessed with.
Here’s to anonymous newsstand customers who left a lasting impression on me!