shutdown.

When I got back, there was an email from Jim, asking when I could meet him and pick up the Wanna Drag? masters.

I decided that I needed to disappear for a couple more days.  Really be sure.  I didn’t want to do anything rash.

So I just didn’t check my email, or answer my phone, or do anything related to Dromedary, for the entire first week after my vacation.  I just went to work each day, and came home.

Somewhere in the middle of this, I had turned 27, and Ryan had turned 1.  We were planning a joint birthday party for the two of us at our house for that Saturday, September 6.  And on September 5, Friday, Sandy asked me if I could leave work a little early, and pick Ryan up at day care.

Ryan’s day care was very close to Sandy’s office.  But she had errands to run, and I didn’t think it would be a problem for me to escape my Westchester office a little early and go pick up my little man, bring him home and hang with him for the evening.

Except I got hung up at work.  By Fred.  He had questions.  And each time I answered one, the answer begat another question.  And each time I answered his question I would add “Okay, I’ve got to go pick up my son.”  And each time I said that, he asked another question.

It was 6:00 when I left the office.  I needed to pick Ryan up at 7, and the day care was an hour and a half away.  I raced on Route 287, but it was a Friday afternoon, and the White Plains getaway traffic bottlenecked at the Bridge.  At 7:00, I was still on the Bridge, a good hour away from the day care.

I pulled into the parking lot, frantic, at 7:45.  The day care was on the first floor of a large office building, and the parking lot was almost completely empty.  Almost all the lights were off in all the offices.  It was almost dark out, and all the streetlights were on.

I raced from my car and ran along the sidewalk toward the door of the day care.  Looking in the window, I could see that all the lights were out inside.  Where is my son? I thought, frantically.

And then I saw him.  There was just one small light on, inside the day care.  An old, nasty-looking woman sat in a chair with a sour look on her face – and Ryan was standing and playing with a toy shopping cart, illuminated by a single light, all alone in a giant, empty, dark room.

I gathered his things and apologized to this hag that was watching him, and apparently couldn’t play with him because she was off the clock or something.  I put him in his stroller and walked out to my car, apologizing to him the whole way.  I got him into his car seat and drove him home.  I think I cried in the car.  I was a terrible father.  I wasn’t doing anything right.

After I got him to bed, I went downstairs and logged into the computer.  There were a couple more emails from Jim, first asking when I was going to pick up the Wanna Drag? masters, and then asking whether I was receiving his emails.

I needed to let everyone know.

So I composed an email.  I sent it to Jim, and to Ralph and Mark, to Jeremy from Blenderette and probably to Josh Silverman as well.  There were a number of other musicians – people we were planning to work with – who I sent the email to as well.  One mass email, announcing that – at least temporarily – I was calling it quits.

I’ve saved a lot of stuff over the years, but this email is not something that I saved.  The main point that I wanted to make in it was simple:

I don’t want to do this anymore.  My heart isn’t in it.  If you really want me to do it, I will – but it wouldn’t be fair to either of us for me to put out your records.  I wouldn’t be able to give them the attention that they deserve.

I’ve spent an entire year, 320 entries at more than a thousand words an entry, telling this story so far.  So you already know I can be verbose.  I’m sure that the email was verbose, and ineffective.

I felt like I needed to let Jim know that I wasn’t coming to pick up his master tapes.  That he didn’t want me to put this record out in the kind of state I was in.  I was a mess.

I really, desperately wanted the bands to respond and be all concerned and caring.  Realistically, though, I didn’t think that would happen – and I was right.  Mark and Ralph both responded – Mark said something along the lines of “Take care of yourself and your family first, don’t worry about us.”  Ralph said “We’ll figure something out.”

Jenifer Convertible didn’t respond.  Neither did any of the other bands.  I got one really nice, caring email that I believe was from Pam of Shiva Speedway.

That was it.

I never said Dromedary was gone.  I never said I was shutting it down.  I said I was putting it on hiatus – that I could see a day when I picked it back up again, after life calmed down a bit and after I had some time to reassess the whole thing, what we could have done better, what we did well, that sort of thing.

Rich was devastated.  “Dude, now we can’t be cool anymore,” he said.  “When we go to a club, we’ll have to pay to get in.”

He was only half-kidding.  It’s one of the things that crossed my mind as a drawback to shutting down the label.  The music scene moved pretty quickly, with bands appearing and disappearing with regularity.  By not being a part of the scene, we were going to get left behind it pretty quickly.

Almost immediately after shutting down Dromedary, I started looking for something else music-related to do in my spare time.  I thought that writing might work – record reviews, or something like that.  I reached out to Jim Testa of Jersey Beat, my friend who was the first person to give Dromedary the time of day.

Jim said he’d think about it.

And with all that as a backdrop, I got ready to launch my product line at a giant wireless industry trade show in San Francisco.  And somehow, I tried to put Dromedary Records out of my mind.

~ by Al on November 19, 2009.

One Response to “shutdown.”

  1. […] of the entries from this past November discussed the day I put Dromedary on hiatus, at the end of the summer of 1996. I came back from vacation and, via email, disconnected myself […]

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