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Reflections on Wheels

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.
Tony Anselmo - Photo by Larson Heinonen
Tony Anselmo - Photo by Larson Heinonen

I'm not really the sentimental type, and I don't like to romanticize small business culture or downtown culture either. I think small businesses are the seed bed of capitalism and, if you know me, you know I hate capitalism. Downtown culture expresses class interests I work to reject. I hope you will bear that in mind when I express how I feel about Records on Wheels closing at the end of this week.

The first time I went to Records on Wheels, I was looking for The Bridge by Billy Joel. Before that, I'd bought a few records at A&A Records and I'd checked out Sam the Record Man. I guess because I was a teenager, I dutifully went to the mall. I remember feeling afraid of Tony when I saw him. I told him that once later and he laughed. But I worked up the courage to go ask him for this album I really wanted.

He said he didn't have it, but he checked a big book he had on the counter back then and he told me it was an "import" and that the next time he went somewhere (I can't remember where), he'd pick it up for me. My chest twisted inside when he said he didn't have it. I'd looked everywhere else; Records on Wheels was my last chance. I left the store disappointed.

A few weeks later, I got a phone call from Tony saying he had my album for me. I couldn't believe it. He seemed like some kind of grand consumer god of the pre-Amazon age. I went to pick it up and it was a cd -- not vinyl, not even a cassette. I didn't have a cd player yet, but I wasn't worried at all because I knew I could get one. I was ecstatic.

I played The Bridge a lot and I still have it. When my brother moved away from home, the song Baby Grand, performed with Ray Charles, became the song I expressed the psychic pain of losing my sibling, the little trouble-prone boy I'd spent my entire life with to that point. I played it every time I missed him desperately, for years.

Many years later, I went in the store looking for some new music, but I had no idea what I wanted this time. I asked Tony for some picks even though I knew we didn't like the same music. He asked me if I had this or that. When he asked if I had Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd, I dismissed it and he quickly asserted its must-have-ness. It was a scene that could have come right out of the movie High Fidelity. I bought it that day, but I never played it. It wasn't until years later, when John started playing in a Pink Floyd tribute band that I began to enjoy this album. And now, when I want to hear it I can play it, thanks to Tony.

Another album I've never listened to but that I couldn't believe he had, Flyin' Shoes by Townes Van Sandt. I'd seen a documentary of his life. It was a heartbreaking story and I wanted to hear his music. I went in, Pepper was working, and he had it right there.

I also remember when I asked Tony if he would display John's album. He agreed supportively and offered a cool display case for us to use.

So many albums I love I got from Tony: Gypsy Kings Greatest Hits, Annie Lennox' Bare, all the Barenaked Ladies albums (except Grinning Streak, which I bought online in December because I didn't want to go to Records on Wheels to say goodbye).

And there were the much-anticipated releases too. I remember the excitement I felt going in to buy Love by The Beatles and Shine by Joni Mitchell. Love is the most fanciful album I own. Shine was a bit of a disappointment.

There were other disappointments too: Metric, Serena Ryder (John and I disliked her album so much we threw it in the fireplace at camp), Grizzly Bear, and Tribute To The Beatles Reggae Style. All raspberries!

The last album I bought from Tony was Working On A Dream by Bruce Springsteen. I remember asking him if it was really good or just a must-have. He gave me his personal assurance it was good. It was. I love that album. Kingdom Of Days is my go-to song when I want to reminisce my years with John.

I didn't go in every week, month or even every year. Only occasionally. But I have these memories -- I'm surprised by how many -- that I feel glad to have. Happy retirement, Tony!

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rm_charbonneau (Rachael Charbonneau)
Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
Member since May 2011


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About the Sudbury Working Group

The Sudbury working-group of The Media Co-op was formed to create independent media in the North, to speak to our issues and outlooks on our communities as well as the world around us. Independent media provides an avenue for people who are wishing to gain critical perspective on the issues that matter most to us, and to give a voice to those people and stories that you won't find in the mainstream media.

The Sudbury working-group site is no longer being updated and has been archived.