I was 11 when I bought my first CD, Aqua’s Aquarium, at Rockaway Records(2395 Glendale Blvd., Silver Lake, 323-664-3232). Rockaway would be there for me for all my musical flings throughout junior high and into high school. I discovered KROQ and bought CDs by Radiohead, Sublime, Bush and the Violent Femmes; I became a punker and scanned the V section for the Vandals and the B’s for Black Flag. I’d stay up late summer nights and listen to Rodney on the ROQ, writing down the names of bands that weren’t played on daytime KROQ, then listened to their CDs at Rockaway. After screaming fights with my dad, I found it a haven I could walk to and buy cheap CDs, which I’d pop in my Discman on the way back home.
And then IT came. IT was a blob from Berkeley that had oozed its way south to the corner of Sunset and Cahuenga. Amoeba Music. Amoeba was about five times the size of Rockaway. It was the Empire Records I’d dreamed about — a giant, independently run music palace with used and new CDs, selling more genres than I cared to listen to. Most of the CDs I couldn’t find at Rockaway I found at Amoeba. Music had become my crack addiction, and Amoeba was my MacArthur Park.
I forgot about Rockaway for a few months, opting for the Metro ride to Hollywood and Vine rather than the quick walk over Armstrong Hill to Glendale Boulevard. The next time I stepped through its doors, Rockaway had shrunk to half its size, the other half replaced by a boutique clothing store. It seemed gray and tired, with some equally gray and tired old customers. I bought a promo copy of a Bright Eyes/Neva Dinova split EP that hadn’t been released yet and a few novelty pins and left, feeling like I had just visited a lover I’d betrayed.