Requiem in wax.
I see him standing at the counter in the jazz room at the record store. His love was bootleg vinyl, and he would stand there with his stack while I opened them one by one, slicing the plastic bags with a box cutter. Out would come each plain black or white sleeve, often with the artist and concert written in cursive pen on the otherwise blank label. Rod would lift each one, and rotate them to find the best light, looking for any imperfection. He would find it, and his face would turn sour for a second. I would look and see nothing. He'd see the scepticism on my brow and would hold the vinyl up at just the right angle, until like an apparition the scratch or bump would appear.
"That'll make it pop."
Rod had the peculiar easy cynicism and sense of order that is only due the British. When I first knew him he had this long hair that fell in tight curls, that gave him the slightly ridiculous air of a member of Spinal Tap. Don't think he didn't know it. When he shaved it all off, it was a relief to see his face, but also a kind of defeat, like some long ago thing had given way in him. It took a while to adjust.
You would go to his apartment and he would make you tea and show you his records. He was a savant, a man of deep knowledge. His specialty was John Coltrane and Sun Ra and rare Led Zep bootlegs. At least that's what I talked about with him.
I didn't know Rod enough. I didn't know about his childhood, his school days, his long gone parents. I didn't know if he believed in god, though he didn't strike me as the type. I didn't know how he supported himself as a musician in Los Angeles, putting out an occasional rare vinyl pressing that might merit a small review in Wire, teaching others to manipulate a guitar with less talent then him. I didn't know what he really thought about America.
But I did know he loved his wife. And I did know his love of music. I saw him in his environment, in his temple, in the tabernacle of sound. I saw the way he held a record, and what it told me about his character. It takes a certain kind of character to love a vinyl record, a compulsion to love a thing that is destroyed a little bit every time you play it. The record collector is always looking for that one disc, that one perfect form of a disk, beyond even unplayed. Untouched by human hands, unsullied by this world. A record collector is looking for perfection.
Here's what the dusty words of the paper of record had to say:
Police have arrested a husband and wife on suspicion of stabbing a 45-year-old man to death in the parking lot of a well-known Hollywood eatery.
The incident occurred about 9:45 p.m. Sunday in the parking lot of Mel's Drive-In in the 1600 block of Highland Avenue. Officers answered a call of an assault with a deadly weapon and found Roderick Poole, 45, with multiple stab wounds. He was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he died at 10:06 p.m.
Poole, of Hollywood, was walking with his wife when he got into an argument with a woman in a car, said Los Angeles Police Det. Larry Cameron. Witnesses told police the woman, with her husband, nearly ran over Poole.
They exchanged words and the couple allegedly attacked Poole, police said. Michael Sheridan, 25, allegedly stabbed Poole several times before the pair drove off, investigators said.
"This was incredibly dumb," said Cameron, referring to how a minor disagreement turned into a killing.
Detectives later arrested Sheridan and his wife, Angela Sheridan, 24, both of Los Angeles. They were being held in lieu of $1-million bail each.
Hollywood, among the city's safer areas, has seen a 5% increase in violent crime so far in 2007. Poole's killing was the sixth in the district this year.
Something tells me that Michael Sheridan doesn't own any vinyl records at all.