[Originally published June 30, 2012. The NY Times piece never materialized.] Last night after work I met up with a writer who is interested in developing a story around music blogging and/or bodega digging in New York. He lives in Woodside, a couple of neighborhoods to the south east of me, and we decided to meet at Thailand's Center Point (63-19 39th Ave). I'd never eaten there and was told that they sold CDs. Given that my other sources for Thai CDs have all dried up, I showed up 15 minutes early so I could dig through the goods. (Plus, it would give the writer an opportunity to see the obsessed music collector in his element, forehead sweating, hands shaking, fingers slowly becoming black from the grime-and-soot-covered cellophane CD & VCD wrappers.)
We had a great time over dinner; for one thing, the writer brought along a six-pack of Brooklyn Summer Ale, which we quickly sucked down between entrees, each hotter than the last. (The entrees, not the ales.) When at last a dish arrived that neither one of us was able to take more than two or three bites of, it was so intensely spicy, we settled the bill and I went back through the CD stacks looking for something interesting. Given that everything was half-off ("CDs no longer sell," the waitress working the register told me, a fact underscored by my once-again blackened fingertips), I was admittedly a bit liberal what with the purchasing.
Once outside, we both noticed, on the next block and across the street from Sripraphai, a smallish Thai grocery store. I gave my dinner companion a quizzical look and we marched over to check out the goods. And there, in the glass casing beneath the register, I spotted the CD above.
I know nothing about Siamese Ghetto, other than that this CD appears to be their one-and-only full-length album and that they sound a bit like Thai hip-hop superstar Joey Boy, but with some of the playful, satiric energy of Hong Kong's Fama.
Whether or not the article works out, I owe my near-neighbor in Woodside a thank you for a wonderful night of beer, ridiculously spicy food (which I'm paying for at the moment, if that's not TMI), great conversation ... and for leading me to this utterly fabulous album that you, in your gentle but persistent wisdom, dear reader, will have no doubt finished downloading by the time this sentence is complete.
Soon after I moved to New York City in 1997 I began to notice that bodegas run by people from around the world sometimes stocked CDs and DVDs of music and film from the countries they had come from.
The music I've collected from these bodegas can almost never be found in the "World Music" sections of the few remaining places to buy CDs in the U.S.; nor, for that matter on iTunes (or cheapo MP3 sites like Soundike).
If you are an artist or publisher and do not want your music here, just let me know and I'll remove it.