Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Recently, the center button of my Ipod 2 started sticking and now won't depress at all. This occurs a little less than a year after I sold off the entirety of my extensive CD collection (the Kindle made it seem alright) to the local CD Exchange. Of course, I continue to further immerse myself in collecting vinyl records as a coping mechanism for all these bad music listening decisions, so it comes as a true materialist zen moment when I stumble upon this:

I should add that I worked for NRM for five years starting in 1992, during the height of the grundge explosion. I pushed Badmotorfinger so hard, it was uncool before it was even officially released. Three nights a week and opening on weekends while studying as an undergrad, NRM was my college life, my fraternity.

NRM is, of course, a tedious acronym for Nation Record Mart, a company that fell under the same mid-90's malaise as Kentucky Fried Chicken. Please remember that by this time actual LPs were regarded as a thing of the past, just like artery clogging fast food. In fact, the music industry's demise can be directly attributed to it's inability to dictate the prevelant technology. It was the Compact Disc, not the mp3, that did in the music industry. The mp3 was merely the deathblow strike after an awkward and prohibitively costly ten year transition period from LP to CD. The disaster that was the Compact Disc went beyond obvious merchandising considerations and straight into how companies were forced to market themselves. National Record Mart is says it all, NRM Music is saying something. I had no idea at the time.

As a suburban kid in the late 70's/early 80's, landing a gig with the record mart was a validation of ones music knowledge credentials. That said, I had no idea what I was in for in terms of my education. I could never have guessed that I would work for a guy who loved the Boss, the Dead, and the Clash equally. A guy who would encourage King Sunny Ade, but let his employees in-store play Beasties, G'N'R, Pearl Jam... all the played out shit we loved. It was like a party at work everyday in some ways. The people you worked with could not be more in line with the core philosophical belief in the power of music, and if you got bitched at by a customer, take out from the Taco Bell in the food court made it feel like a party again. Store #41 was a Ticket Master outlet. In order to keep us loyal and away from scalpers, said guy from Teaneck, NJ would allow us a number of seats before the gate opened. We earned it by dealing with hostile ticket buyers all the time. There were so many perks attached to working at NRM; I sat (boogied) in the fourth row at several Phish concerts, met TLC before they hit big, learned to navigate the service hallways of the mall were Dawn of the Dead was filmed, possessed a promotional cassette copy of the aforementioned Sound Garden album 8 months before release, and boxed up the last 75 vinyl cut-outs for the scrap heap, thus truly ending an era of Monroeville Mall. The working at NRM stories go on forever.

Here's an article from the PG back in 2002 that sums things up quite nicely.

Seeing that store logo again brought back so many great memories, but that's the type of experience one can expect from going to Hannastown Fleatique in Hempfield Township, PA. It's the longest running outdoor antique show in the country, and it's were famous hoarder Andy Warhol would gather cool stuff to load into the lower floors of his NYC brownstone. I inquired about the price and got $275, and not much else on the history of the object. Apparently former NRM employees inundate these type of pop-ups, and the seller had grown tired of the tale.  It's not a complete sign, so I didn't bite, but I suppose the rest of it could be fabricated cheaply enough. With this type of thing it's a space consideration, not a money consideration. Also, it's a Do I want to hire an electrician so I don't kill myself trying to install a utility electrical line in my living room?-type consideration.

So, the NRM signage is still out there, for you weirdo CD collectors trying to do up the communal space right. CD collectors are the 8-Track collectors of the future. Vinyl is the new hard-copy format of choice. National Record Mart, however, remains a thing of the past.