1. We have live music three to four times a month.  The fixtures in the front of our store roll away to provide a great performance space.  We have had dozens of performers take part in our monthly series called Dalí’s Moustache, featuring everything from ukulele & banjo to Celtic music, acid jazz, poetry, and film.  We are always looking for new artists.  All of our events are free, and we have free coffee and pan dulce, too.
  2. Imagine features a great selection of used vinyl records and our stock changes almost daily.  We have mostly classic rock like the Beatles, the Doors, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix.  But we also carry those hard-to-find gems like Gang of Four, Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, Green Day, Fugazi and Atomic Rooster (my favorite band name of the month).  Our stock is always changing, but you can depend on finding lots of new additions whenever you visit. 
  3. We have a terrific selection of Literature, Poetry, and Science Fiction.  What you might not know is how good our selection of Occult/Paranormal section has become.  If you are looking for conspiracy theories, Freemasonry lit, Out-Of-Body experiences, Ufology, or that special End-Of-Times tome, chances are we have something for you.  We have an especially good selection of Celtic Renaissance titles.
  4. We feature the works of many local artists and writers, including Russell Hoke, Gary Davenport, Fernando Flores, Manhearst, and many more.  Every penny of these sales goes directly to the artist. 
  5. We have a large selection of signed books, including Henry Rollins, Jane Smiley, Jerzy Kosinski, Jospeh Heller, John Nichols, Sandra Cisneros, and even Pearl Bailey!  Most cost less than the cover price when they were new.
  6. We offer a 10% discount to seniors!
  7. We offer free WiFi courtesy of the city of San Antonio.
  8. We are now open on Sundays, and we invite people to bring their own vinyl to play in the store every Sunday.
  9. We also carry comics and graphic novels and manga. 
  10. Most of our stock is also available online through Abebooks, Amazon, and Discogs.       
 
 
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I’ve been an avid Beatles collector nearly all my life.  I have a great collection, including an original White Album, a stunning Japanese pressing of Abbey Road, and a lot of other great issues.  But one thing was always lacking.  I never had a British Revolver.  Every time I wanted to hear this great album, I was always stuck listening to my Capitol reissue, which, of course, is missing several great tracks.  Even though I have often threatened to just break down and pick up one on the net, I always thought I would find one someday.  Well, it never happened.  Until today.

Today was my birthday, and I went into the store as usual.  I never liked to work on my birthday, but being at Imagine is different.  Ezra, my son, and I opened the store and we got busy.  There’s always work to do: listing books and records online, packing up books for shipping, shelving new arrivals.  It didn’t feel much like my birthday, just another great day at Imagine.  Then John Bishop, our manager, came in with his friend Roland who is visiting for a week after a stint in Korea.  We were all thrilled to see Roland, one the nicest guys in the world.  In all the hubbub, I completely forgot it was my birthday, until Bishop reached under the counter and handed me two pieces of cardboard with something stuck between.  I peeled off one of the backing boards to find a mint condition copy of Revolver on Parlophone.  I was floored.  I’m listening to it now in my study.  It’s a completely flawless copy. 

I’m a tough person to shop for because I have really almost everything I ever wanted.  I have a wonderful wife, two great sons, lots of friends and my own book/record store.  What else could you ask for? 

So, thanks to John Bishop, I can now listen to the greatest rock & roll album of all time as it was meant to be heard.  I kept hoping a copy would come into the store.  It just goes to show, “Tomorrow never knows.”


 
 
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Listening to Society of Rockets early this morning, as the sun is coming up, I can’t help thinking more about the death of Ray Bradbury.  The song I am listening to repeats “Believe in new beginnings…”  That was what Bradbury did for me.  He made me believe in new beginnings.  It might not be ideal, but there was a future worth embracing.

 

The first time I encountered Ray Bradbury’s work was through the movies.  I saw The Illustrated Man on television.  I was pretty young at the time and it made quite an impression.  It was not until my early twenties that I really began to read him.  I started with The Illustrated Man, then The Martian Chronicles, and finally Fahrenheit 451.  And I still had not really discovered the stories, except as they were threaded together in the first two books I read by him.  I came to the stories finally by way of Borges.  It must have been one of his lectures or interviews where he spoke of his admiration for Bradbury as a story writer of great genius.  I learned that he was a major influence on many of the magical realist writers of Latin America.  It made sense.

Once I began reading the stories, I felt I really discovered the full range of his extraordinary gifts.  I cannot imagine a more perfect story than “The Scythe.”  It remains one of my all-time favorite short stories.  Yesterday morning, after learning of his death, I read “The Smile,” a great story about a war-ravaged world that delights in destroying every vestige of the civilization that brought them to the brink of annihilation.  In the story, there is a special ceremony wherein the populace gathers to spit on and demolish a painting.  It turns out to be the Mona Lisa.  There is a young boy who takes his place in line to spit on the painting but can’t because it is so beautiful.  When everyone begins to tear it to shreds, he manages to save one small, tattered piece of the canvas, the smile, and goes to sleep as the sun comes up clutching this to his breast.  That is Bradbury at his best, all the irony and sadness, but still holding onto that smile.


 

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