June 23rd, 2007 | by Michael Byrne Music | Posted In: Columns, Columns

Travel Light: Portland Waxes Nostalgic on Ozone Records (R.I.P.)

     
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o3[Updated post]The first clearance sale day at Ozone 3, I couldn't buy anything. Not because I wanted to hold out for another 20% price drop (at least not entirely), but rather, I just couldn't. It was depressing: crude, unqualified depressing. Ozone--closing this weekend--is my favorite record store (if they didn't have what I wanted, they had something I didn't know yet I wanted, dig?), and that's true for a whole lot of people in town, for plenty of reasons better than that. And, fact is, at four years, I'm a relative newb to town (and, honestly, my first year here I handled my business at EM and Jackpot), so rather than eulogize here in my own words, I'll leave it to these folks, who were kind enough to give a few parting thoughts and memories:

Paul Dickow- Boombox Friday co-curator, Community Library bossman, Strategy, DJ about town

Without exaggeration, I can tell you that without the community/friendship and sonic diversity that Ozone brought to my life these last five years, I would have never made friends with people who are instrumental in my life now, and my music career would not be where it is today. It's been a constant for me, and an integral part of my growing up, musical and otherwise.


Scott McLean- Co-owner of Holocene

Ozone was the first record store I went to when I moved to portland five years ago. I immediately fell in love with it, especially the indie electronic section. It felt like a kindred spirit.


Zac Pennington- Fronts Parenthetical Girls and the Slender Means Society label, former Portland Mercury music editor

I greet the passing of Ozone records with the kind of sorrow I typically reserve for the death of a pet, or the destruction of a childhood home. Socioeconomic implications aside, the impending absence of Ozone is felt very personally—perhaps because every hour I spent working there--and you could usually count my weekly hours there without taking your shoes off--felt like an unimaginable return to teenage dreamland: alone in the hallowed halls of the record store. Unquestionably the best job I've ever had. Presently open to suggestions, by the way.

Other stores may have had more shit, more clout, and more rigorous policies about the condition of their used product, but there's never been any question about which record store had my heart: the one with the cool bongs and the hair dye.

It's been difficult for the last few weeks to stand at the register as we essentially give away the remaining inventory of the store for a song, and many customers have expressed a certain guilt at taking part in the vulturine nature of these end times. But it's gotta go—somebody's gotta take it. Not to overstate the obvious, but honestly, who wants a mountain of plastic discs cluttering up their lives anymore? I don't. Bruce certainly doesn't.

Incidentally, I will be working my final shift at Ozone tomorrow (Saturday) from 11-3. There are still wealth of Streisand LPs to be had at incredibly reasonable prices. Conscience clean.


Paul Lynch- DJ Tan't, (((in mono))), Platinum Records employee

I remember when I first shopped at Ozone in SW they had everything I needed and always had a smile on their face. Then seeing kick ass in stores like Iron and Wine, Talkdemonic and Nice Nice. I will miss the place that's for sure. It brings a tear to my eye when I realize the best record store in Portland is dying. The new breed of people have their fucking iPods now. This is killing the industry. The new generation has little appreciation for wax. Oh well. Love you Ozone.


David Chandler- Solenoid, DJ Brokenwindow, VP of Community Library label

In 2002, Ozone suddenly had a mysterious supply of still-sealed, early 1980's hiphop and dance records that bore stickers from the date of their original releases. The story started when I was at a show at Blackbird where Cylob and Ed DMX played. Ed was a serious nerd when it came to early 80's American synthpop and breakdancing-era hiphop. I mentioned to him that I'd recently found a rare, but mediocre synthpop record at Goodwill by Sunbelt. He said I could order such records still sealed and with stickers on them from 20 years ago from a small distributor in California (my "backyard" from his UK perspective). This was something of a trade secret for the UK record store he worked in.

The next day, I looked up the distributor, "JDC Inc", in the heavy, multi-volume business indexes at the library and found merely a fax number and a street address (that seemed to be someone's house) on US highway 101, just north of LA. There was no web site or even an email contact or name, and most telling of all, "Number of Employees: 1."

Since I didn't have a fax machine, I brought the number to Eric, Jason and Bruce at Ozone. They got a fax listing what the JDC guy had left of his decades-old stock. I checked off everything on the list that I was interested buying or was recommending the store try
to stock. Since the records were domestically pressed dance 12" singles, they $5.99. The JDC stock was a combination of early-80's hiphop (Ice T, Knights of the Turntables), electrofunk (Egyptian Lover and the Empire, Macola, and TechnoHop labels), and repressed hi-NRG Italo-disco (Tapps, Rofo, Telex). My friends and I picked up quite a few gems, but there was one record that sold strangely well, Sexual Harrassment's "I Need A Freak". In fact, that album was a summer hit in our Portland microcosm, and I think that Ozone sold up
to 30 copies that summer. Around that time, I DJ'd the record at my friend Charlie's basement dance party, and the DJ after me played a different track. Then, when I went upstairs to visit the barbeque outside, I heard the Sexual Harrassment album coming out of two different apartment windows!

The followup to the story is that the JDC guy must have been piqued by this renewed interest in his dusty old stock, because later, he crammed the remaining dregs into a van and drove all the way up to Portland to bargain with Bruce to buy him out.

I became aware of just how expensive and collectible these records were when found outside of Portland or the US west coast when I was crate-digging in NYC and Europe. It's pretty cool that we got to pick through the last of these cheap records here on the west coast.


Jeff Simmons- GM of Portland Radio Authority, fronts the band Wooden Nickle

Ozone and I moved into el hoyo at the same time: a long forgotten time, before "LoBu," RonToms or the Doug Fir. It was a time when Atomic Lily existed, Grendal's just opened, and B-Side [tavern] was an itch in Joel and Tanya's collective pants.

Bruce will always be the record store owner of my life. He gave so many of Portland's finest musicians work when they needed it. His "Out" section was the only place in Portland I bought CDs! The great part about eras ending is that new ones begin.

THANK YOU BRUCE!


Manny Reyes- Atole, 1/3 of Do N' Dudes, DJ BJ, Co-curator of Boombox Friday

Ozone to me was always home. Ozone convinced me to move here back in 2000. I found one of my favorite records by DMX Krew, a fun cheesy dance record long out-of-print and rarely on eBay. Also, ha, Jason and Bruce were my first indie-Portland straight crushes: [it] took me a while to figure guys out here, haha. And then there was Shea: Marius [Libman, a.k.a. Copy] said the first time he saw me I walked into Ozone [in 2004] and Shea and I screamed and hugged so hard--I had just moved back. It was a tender moment.

Basically, Ozone to me was my second home, not Starbucks, not fucking Powell's. Ozone was where I went to to chill the fuck out, be inspired, read magazines, buy amazing records. I am so bummed to see it go.

I love Eric too. Thanks dude for ordering the most kick ass dance music back before anyone else, much respect. Always and forever.



Matt Wright- ace PR dude (reprinted from a comment thread on this recent UrHo post)

Between this and Chantelle moving, I feel like Portland is having a serious "end of an era" moment. I know, it'll pass and change is constant, but, yeah. Ozone (when it was across from Powell's and afterwards) was a major introductory moment for me as far as Portland and music in Portland goes. I still remember walking up to the counter and asking the guy who released music under the name Eternal Golden Void (can't remember his name) if there were any good "IDM nights" in town (or something similarly nerdy). I was probably like 19 or 20. I think Eric (before I knew him) told me about the old Jasmine Tree shows. Speaking of which, there will never be an electronic section in this town as good as the one you maintained man. I could go on for much longer, but I'll stop. Well done, everyone. Many fond memories.



Photo: o3, from www.altportland.com








 
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