the tape.

In February of 2004, there were three things that happened that changed the entire course of the label.

The first thing, which I mentioned earlier, was that I got a new job.  

On my first day of work, I wore a suit (that cost me the whopping sum of $100 from Today’s Man), slicked back my hair, and reported to the Human Resources department promptly at 8:30 to begin filling out my paperwork.  My boss, I was told, was out of town on business.  I filled out my forms, handed them in, and then was walked down to the main office where I met with Carol, the Office Manager.

“First, the main rules of the office,” she said.  “We start at 8:30.  We start at 8:30.  We start at 8:30.”

“Okay,” I said.

“Get it?” she asked.

“I get it.”

“You wear a suit,” she continued.  “Look presentable.  Shine your shoes.  You can wear jeans on Fridays.  You get unlimited sick days – but if you abuse it, you’re fired.”

Unlimited sick days.  That’s worlds away from the Occurrences policy at my last job.

She told me the ins and outs of the company.  Showed me where to stash my lunch and buy a soda.  Took me on a tour of the different buildings.  And then she brought me to my office, where I sat.

For two days.

On the second day, my new boss called me from the road.

“Welcome aboard,” he said.  

“Thanks!” I tried to sound excited.  I was bored.  There was nobody there to tell me what to do.

“Go down the hall to Glenn’s office,” he told me.  “Ask him for a complete printout of the Bill of Materials for the cellular product line.  Get the costs of each item, and then look at our price sheet.  Figure out the profit margin on each item.  If we make less than forty points on any item, raise the price of that item.”

Sounded easy enough – and since there were about a thousand items listed in the product line, it took me a whole day to do.

When my boss finally walked into the office the following day, he greeted me with a big smile.  He was a jolly-looking guy who never stopped moving.  He had semi-long hair (for a senior executive) and a beard – actually, for a guy who claimed to have lived in the Grateful Dead’s house, he looked just like Jerry Garcia.  He walked really fast, talked really loud, and lived in a penthouse in Manhattan.

“My parking space costs more than your apartment,” he told me.

 His office adjoined with mine.  In order to get into his office, he had to walk through mine.  He was in the office for all of fifteen minutes, when I heard him yell “Al – get in here.”

I got up and walked in to his office.  “What’s up?” I asked pleasantly.

“Is it hot in here?  I’m fuckin’ hot.”

It was February.  “It doesn’t seem hot to me,” I said.

“It’s hot in here.  I opened my window, it’s still hot.  Open your window.”

I went back to my office and leaned over to open the window.  It was one of those old-style, long windows like you had in school.  The window was actually along the floor – you turned a handle at the top of the window, maybe two feet off the floor.  Then you pulled the whole thing inward, and the window was supposed to swing open, with a hinge at the bottom.

Except mine didn’t open.  It was stuck.

“Did you open the window?” he asked from the other room.

“No,” I said.  “Looks like the wall between our offices is a false wall.  My window can’t open because the wall is in the way.”

“Let me see that,” he was, suddenly, right beside me, leaning over my lap, grabbing at the handle to the window.  “Fuckin’ wall is in the way.  Give me your pen.”

I handed him my pen, and he used it to chisel away the sheetrock that was impeding the window from opening.  He chiseled away about an eighth of an inch of sheetrock, then said “That should do it.”

He grabbed the handle and tugged at the window.  No dice.  He tugged a little harder.  Still no dice.  Then he gave it one good yank.

The window shattered.

It wasn’t just a pop – it shattered with a jaw-dropping crash, like the sound of the digitally sampled “glass break” sounds you hear in bad industrial music – intentionally loud breaking glass.  

“D’oh,” he said.  “You’re fucked now.”  Then he ran into his office.

A security guard opened my door.  “Everything okay?” he asked.

“Al broke the window,” my boss said from the other room.

“You broke the window?” he asked.

“Well, umm, the window sort of broke.”

“Smashed the shit out of it,” my boss said from the other room.

“These windows are expensive,” the security guard said.

“Take it out of his check,” my boss yelled from the other room.  “Take it out of my check” quickly became an expression I used all the time – and still use today.

 “How did it break?” he asked.

“He smashed it!” my boss yelled from the other room.

“Umm, I was trying to get it open,” I explained.  “It was hot in here.  We – umm, I – pulled it open, and it got wedged against this false wall.”

He leaned over my lap.  “Let me look at that,” he said.  He looked.  “Yeah, look at that – it’s a false wall.  You can’t open that window.”

“I know,” I said.

“Well, why were you trying to open it?”

The CEO of the company walked in.  He was an older man, stern, yet with a grandfatherly smile.  “Is everything okay in here?” he asked.

“Al smashed your window,” my boss said.

“You smashed the window?” he asked.  “How?”

“I was trying to open it.”

“In my office, if you want to open the window, you just open it,” he said.  “You don’t have to smash it.”

I worked for that company for three years.  Every conversation I had was just like that one.

The second thing that happened that changed Dromedary also started with a conversation – this time, it was between me and Ron from Surefire.  

Ron sent me an advance tape of a 7″ that was coming out on Ratfish from a band called Toast.  The record was going to be called Beatriz.

“They’re sort of a sleepy little band,” he said.  Ron had a way of describing things that I’ve never heard since.  “I don’t know if I like it.  You might.”

I did.  And I called him and told him so.

“You really like them?” he asked.

“I do,” I replied.  “A lot.  I’d put that record out in a heartbeat.”

“It’s a pretty cool record,” he said.  “They hand-screened the cover art.  It looks fantastic.”

“It sounds fantastic.”

“You’ve got to hear their other stuff,” he said.  “They’re constantly making four-track recordings and tweaking them in the studio.  They’ve got lots of unreleased stuff.  You should call them, put out a seven inch.”

“I’m thinking of doing a 7″ club, just to plow through the laundry list of seven-inchers I have to put out,” I told him.  “I’ve got about six or seven bands I want to work with.”

“You want to do a seven-inch club?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I said.  “I want to get more music out.  I have nothing planned after the Footstone seven-inch.”

“I’m going to send you a tape,” he said.  “I’ll put some unreleased stuff on there from a few bands I know.  Stuff that would be perfect for your label.”

“What is it?” I asked.

“Just hang tight,” he said.  “I’ll put it in the mail.”

A couple of days later, I received what would forever become known in Dromedary lore as “The Tape.”

I still own The Tape.  I listened to it in complete silence the first time I heard it.  Then I listened to it again.  In fact, for about a week, all I listened to was The Tape.

The Tape contained a handful of tracks from each of four bands, each band absolutely fantastic, and right up my alley.  Each song on The Tape blew my mind.  I wanted to put out every song on it.

I could not possibly have been more excited.

~ by Al on March 18, 2009.

One Response to “the tape.”

  1. […] with the track “Math” from the Beatriz EP on Ratfish Records. If you remember from my last entry, Ron sent me a copy of the seven-inch and asked my opinion. I loved it. That, in turn, sparked Ron […]

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