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Somewhere in America, Jeff Miller's ears are burning. The towering vocalist of defunct Bay Area hardcore act Bad Posture, which used to hang with the likes of Dead Kennedys and Flipper during punk's early-'80s glory days, is getting dissed something fierce by local record store owner Michael Pawlicki.
The 49-year-old sifts through a dusty stack of used vinyl on a rainy night in early December while sorting and pricing records that will be sold at The Ghost of Eastside Records, his newly opened pop-up shop in Tempe. Pawlicki comes across G.D.M.F.S.O.B., the only LP released by Bad Posture before they disbanded in 1983, and announces his find to his friend Ted Grossman, who's helping him evaluate and appraise records.
"Seventy-five bucks for Bad Posture, buddy," Pawlicki says, scratching out the price listed by another record store and putting a new one in its place.
49 W. Southern Ave.
Tempe, AZ 85282
"I don't even know who that is," Grossman replies.
"It's an old San Francisco hardcore band; the singer was like 6-foot-7," Pawlicki says. "And that was their most notable attribute."
It's the sort of enlivened discourse you'd hear all the time at Pawlicki's old store, Eastside Records, an iconic and popular part of the local music scene for more than two decades before it closed exactly a year ago. The cramped and dingy record emporium, which was located near University Drive and Ash Avenue, was run by Pawlicki and co-owners Ben Wood and Steve Gastellum and served as a favorite destination for vinyl collectors, music geeks, and audiophiles of the Valley to crate-dig for obscura, catch energetic punk shows, or just gab about music.
Pawlicki is hoping that The Ghost of Eastside Records, a pop-up reincarnation of its predecessor to be open only for six months or so, will channel the spirit of the old joint. That means tons of cool old records for sale and chaotic gigs by bands wherever they can find space to put their amps and instruments.
If only he can get things ready for the opening, which is four days hence. This rainy night comes in the midst of a week from hell. He's got a mere 72 hours to finish unpacking, sorting, pricing, and placing hundreds of vinyl platters in the bins before officially welcoming in the public. (A few friends, such as Grossman, have been lucky enough to get a sneak preview, as well as set aside a few choice records to purchase).
"I'll be working almost constantly between now and then, except if I'm taking [my dog] out, going to the gym for two hours, or getting my fucking hair cut — because I've got dozens and dozens of boxes worth of shit to sort through and try to get into here," he says. "We really won't be ready at all like I wanted to be, but if it wasn't Christmastime right now, I'd wait another week or two. I'm just going to have to wing it."
And he's still got a long way to go, as the cardboard boxes crammed with records are stacked throughout the space in Tempe's Danelle Plaza. Pawlicki decided to reopen a record store (albeit briefly) after spending this past summer traveling up and down both coasts, visiting "a zillion stores," and accumulating a wealth of old records. Such finds were added to the already expansive collection of vinyl left after Eastside's closure, as well as the stock he purchased from Ancient Radio, a recently closed gallery/record boutique in Tucson.
"I knew I was going to be somewhere," he says. "I acquired so much shit. I wanted to move, and I still may very well go somewhere. Everything's up in the air still."
He also missed seeing the people who came into Eastside, he acknowledges. Thing will be a little bit different from before, Pawlicki says, as he evaluates a copy of Lou Reed's 1975 album Metal Machine Music. For one, records won't be arranged by so many categories and genres.
"I'm not making a section for oi! this time. We've already joked about how we're not splitting punk rock into 71 different subcategories or just separating it all from rock. It'll all just be under rock," Pawlicki says. "I found another fucking box of reggae buried under everything that I've gotta look through, and [I found] this really good box of R&B, too. My storage area is a fucking disaster of 9 million records."
"Keep that R&B out for me, man," says Grossman, a bartender who was a regular and employee (the two were seemingly interchangeable) at the old Eastside.
"I'd like too, but I can't find it," Pawlicki says. "It probably got buried under like a million other things."
A less-exhaustive system of arranging and displaying records isn't the only thing that will differentiate The Ghost of Eastside Records from its predecessor. The new incarnation won't have any windows or a proper storefront. It's essentially located in a large, square-shaped cinderblock storeroom at Danelle Plaza, the shopping center near Southern and Mill avenues that also houses the Yucca Tap Room. Patrons and vinyl fiends will have to make a short stroll down a hallway to find the place, and Pawlicki's planning on setting up tall, sandwich-board signs outside to help people beat a path to his door.