Short Story: 1970

The year was 1970 and it was a time of music, of new friends and a new California home. We moved from Columbia Heights Minnesota to Van Nuys California a year before. Fourth grade was a year of not fitting in and being that weird kid from Minnesota. I had just discovered the local record store.

The record store was on Vanowen Street and halfway from the house my parents rented to the junior high school I was to attend in 1971. As I entered the store, “After the Gold Rush” was playing by Neil Young. The smell of the store and the sound of the speakers is forever imprinted on my mind as the cherry incense that permeated the store. The front counter with the small manual cash register was next to the turntable. I remember the turntable had a glass cover and a serious weighted tone arm. Even the most gentle placing of the needle in the groove of the record made a deep thump noise. I can still remember the chorus “Don’t let it bring you down, It’s only castles burning. Find someone who is turning, And you will come around.”

I don’t remember my first album I bought from there but for years you could show me a record I had and I could recite for you exactly where and how much I had bought it for. Music had a great impact on my life. Sounds had a great impact on me. I was 80% deaf in both ears and so the hearing aids I wore had an important job; to help me hear Neil Young, Don McLean, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Simon and Garfunkel, John Lennon, Van Morrison, Cat Stevens, The Who and later on, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.

I remember the albums cost 3.99 each for a single album and maybe 2.99 if it had a hole in the cover. I never really knew why some albums had those holes only that they were cheaper because of it. Double albums cost a dollar more and like a big book, were coveted. Double albums such as “All Things Must Pass” by George Harrison had 23 songs on the album!

Many of the albums for sale could be listened to on the store turntable but the record store girl was the only one allowed to touch it. It was understood that I needed the volume louder but she didn’t mind. I would browse the stores various other items; patches for your jeans such as peace signs and ecology signs (a variation on the peace sign except it was green,) rock and roll tour t shirts, and the items that I had no idea what they were in a glass case on velvet. Glass and wood things that looked like pipes and leather straps with feathers and a small silver clip on it. All I knew is it was cool.

The album that was currently playing was in a picture frame on the wall so you could tell what you were listening to. I always got great pleasure from knowing the album in the frame was my choice. Oftentimes I would spend the whole afternoon in the store and end up buying only one album. The record store girl never nagged me and usually knew what I wanted to listen to.

Because my hearing loss was in the high frequency range, the best sounds I could hear well were low bass sounds. One day I went into the store and she says I have a new album for you to listen to. The album was dark and had an old timey picture on the cover titled Deja Vu. She placed the record on the turntable and the needle jumped as she put it on the record. One of the prettiest songs I had ever heard played. “Four and twenty years ago, I came into this life.” I remember thinking, wow, the bass is excellent.

The bags that the record store girl put my new record in was a flat paper bag. I carried the bag home and closed the door to my bedroom. I had a new record! Opening the record was a delicate balance. I slit the end of the record album cover taking care to leave the shrink wrap in place. This would protect my purchase. I slid the record out with the edges of my fingers, taking care to not touch the grooves. Fingerprints sometimes caused the record to skip during a song. Then i carefully placed the new record on the turntable. My record player with the MM initials scratched into the cover was second hand from my parents but it had great bass. “Live At Leeds” starts out with “Young Man Blues.” The lyrics start with “Oh well a young man ain’t got nothing in the world these days.” The Who Live at Leeds and “Young Man Blues” was amazing and rebellious and all of a sudden I could hear a banging on the wall, “Turn that shit down!” My dad worked nights as a letter sorter at the Van Nuys US Post Office and needed his rest more than I needed The Who. 

Using Visio for Story Outlining

One thing that I’ve found helpful is using Microsoft’s flowcharting tool Visio for my outlining process. Because in a former lifetime, I was a senior manager for information technology for a large computer manufacturer, I did a lot of Visio flowcharting. So I got to thinking, how would Visio work for me in my story process? I did some research and noted that no one really has used Visio for this.

Ok, that pretty much decided it for me. So far, it’s been great as a tool along with Scrivener.

New Story Cartel

i’ve joined the Story Cartel and setup the initial website. I added jetpack Free as a plug-in. The first assignment for the Story Cartel was to select a web platform so that is done. I’ve used WordPress for years but never really as my main internet facing web presence. The second objective was picking a domain name. I had this one (https://mjmcshane.com) for a few years and it was currently just parked so I updated it with an A record to my hosting provider (https://webhostface.com) so I am good there too.

the last objective was to checkout a few authors websites and the quality of the authors backed by big companies kind of makes my offering feel pretty paltry.

Work on my book (untitled) continues with the main storyline and it’s time frame confusions still a work in process.

At this point in time, I use Scrivener on all my devices with pc and Mac being default platforms. Sometimes I use my iPhone or iPad for onsite research. Does anyone else use an awesome tool to help with their writing?