Why Now?

NOTE: This is the original preface to the blog, entitled “dromedary records – a thing i did once.”  We’re leaving it here, to preserve the story.

in 1991, i graduated college with the joint goal of getting married and getting a job in the record business. i accomplished one of those goals. the other, severely impeded by the bush recession of the early 90s, was a little tougher.

being married with no job makes life difficult, particularly in northern new jersey. with a weekly grocery budget of $40, i was reduced to selling my childhood baseball card collection just to afford beer, and to living with my new wife in a spare room in my mother’s house. after six months of futile searching, i took the first non-music job i found, as a customer service rep with cellular one of new jersey. the job paid $20,000. my first day of work was december 23, 1991 – my wife and i moved out of my mother’s house on december 31.

but none of this answers the question “why now?” nor does it answer the question of why there are no capital letters in this entry.

so my name is al. hi.

i’m a guy who grew up in new jersey, moved to hartford, met a girl, fell in love with the girl, fell in love with indie rock, moved back home and tried to do something special – own and operate an indie label. from the middle of 1992 through early 2002 i was the owner of dromedary records (still am, actually, although some guys absconded with the name a few years ago). i ran the label with my wife, my best friend rich, and a bunch of really cool, really intelligent people that made up the social circle i ran in when i was in my 20s. the experience was an epic one, yielding tons of stories and experiences that wound up shaping who i am today – in both a good and a bad way.

this year i’m turning 40. and while that generally can make one wistful, in my case it just got me thinking. recently i’ve been reconnecting with people from my old indie days. some of them, like me, are no longer involved with indie rock. others have “graduated” to the big leagues, and are now working intimately with music i hate. still others are still carrying the torch. its nice to have reconnected with them all.

but in reconnecting, i’ve sorta realized that my story – and the story of dromedary – is not their story. dromedary is really not much of a part of their memories. they’ve all moved on, and all these really cool stories and experiences are sort of tucked away in my memory. but they’re good stories, worth telling, and worth writing down somewhere.

there are also things that happened during the dromedary days that i never really passed along to anyone – things people did, things people said, things that deserve to be out there.

there are also people who talk about starting indie labels – like i did – who have no idea what they’re doing – like i did. and while there’s a lot of “how to” stuff out there, there’s not really a good resource for how to start a label (except the mechanic’s guide) – just a lot of info on how to put out records. there’s also not really a memoir of this kind of thing documented anywhere. that i’m aware of, at least.

so for all these reasons, i’ve decided to tell the story, bit by bit, online. while i’m telling the story, i’ll also be building out a website for dromedary records. i’ll post mp3s of songs we released, demos we received, songs from our friends. i’ll post scans of album art, photos, and letters i received. i’ve got some other surprises i’ll throw in as well.

so that answers the “why now” question. as to the capital letters thing…

one of our bands was a band called cuppa joe. they were from trenton, a cool little indie pop trio with clever lyrics and strong songwriting who weren’t the greatest players on earth but made up for it with their writing skill and their personalities. but they never used capital letters when they wrote, and i never understood why. at first i thought it was pretentious and grating, and eventually i started feeling like it was maybe a self-esteem thing, and ultimately i just thought it was a graphic design element. capital letters are clunky-looking, and they sort of mess up the integrity of a series of words when strung together.

anyway, i thought i’d make the first entry devoid of capital letters, and maybe not use any capital letters in my headlines, as sort of a shout out to the days when indie bands didn’t employ capital letters, used words like “yr,” printed 7″ packaging on brown paper bags and hand-screened their t-shirts. that’s how we tried to do things, and even though it didn’t always work, it was usually fun.

i still haven’t worked out in my mind how i’m going to handle the issue of people’s names. some people who i recall fondly, like rich or ron or mike or adam, i’m more than happy to name. there are others, though, who i recall less fondly – or recall doing something stupid or hurtful or pointless – and using their names now, ten years later or more, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. at the same time, that stupid and hurtful and pointless stuff is all part of the story, and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense not to tell the story. so i guess we’ll have to just strap in and see what happens – it’s a long story and the bad stuff doesn’t happen for a while anyway.

so here we go.

5 Responses to “Why Now?”

  1. […] Why Now?  Why I waited ten years to write this […]

  2. […] Why Now?  A partial explanation of why I waited 15 years to tell the story of […]

  3. You know what’s funny? Now I find the all-lowercase style grating… I think we wore it out!

  4. I don’t recall reading any poetry by e.e. cummings, though my 9th grade English teacher made a point of telling us that the lack of capital letters in (his?) name was a post-enlightenment protest of some sort. That was my first awareness of the lower-case cult, but I feared adopting it then because I knew not its power, and didn’t really have a problem with individualism back then anyway. Lower case as a design element captured my attention in the early 90s, particularly on flyers by my Australian friend Josh’s band “the sugargliders.” When letters were typewritten, then blown up with a photocopier, they just had a great look (The first issue of science geek had a version of this on the cover). Eventually, I did like the self-effacing and contrarian nature of it, but had the English teachers of the United States voted to abolish capitals altogether (like Cormac McCarthy disappeared quotation marks) I probably would have howled in protest. Of course, now I recognize the irony in my own foolish semi-protest against individualism in that it was really an attempt to draw attention to myself…

  5. I love having you posting on this blog.

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