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February 05, 2009

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lex dexter

oh buddy, you're killing me. _killing_ me.

i first visited Pier Platters right before i turned 13. i bought come's _eleven; eleven_ and the grifters' _one sock missing_. i'd seen those two bands a week or so before (with wider at Maxwell's - we've had this conversation), and was so happy to know i was fated to spend my child-of-divorce-y weekends in a town where i could find those tantalizing albs.

a coupla weeks previously i'd met Otis at a Dinosaur after party, and upon hearing that he worked for Pier Platters, asked "Do you have Come?"

"What, on my BEDSHEETS?" he replied, and a chorus of the kinda people that went to Dinosaur after-parties laughed their asses off at the pre-pubescent in the Sears flannel and black Chucks.

so began a coupla tough years of being horrified to go into the place, but going on weekly pilgrimages anyfuckingway. things got better when Tracy and Dorian started working there. they knew my step-brother and my girlfriend's brothers' bands, and they gave us ridiculous discounts and ridiculous-er suggestions, and seemed to intuit that we were horrified and in need of something big-sisterly.

but really, it was the inventory that still lingers in my mind. i long for Pier Platters in the night. i've never loved/will never love a single record store in the same way. fuck all of this "thinking about the place reminds me of a special period in my life." au contraire, thinking about the place makes me wish that i could bury myself in the inventory. jeezus cripes.

Ken Katkin

When I first started going to Pier Platters in 1983, the back room (unheated) contained not merely a dollar bin, but actually also a $0.75 cent bin and a $0.50 cent bin and a $0.25 cent bin and even a $0.10 cent bin. And pretty much everything in those bins was indie stuff (mostly unknowns), not major-label crapola. In 1984, I took a friend from Chicago into the store with me. He recommended that I pick up a platter that was in the $0.10 cent bin by a Chicago band I'd never heard of: Big Black. The platter was "Bulldozer," their first release. I still have that copy, which still sports a big handwritten "10" on an affixed price-sticker. On higher-priced items, smaller price-stickers with the words "Pier Platters" pre-preprinted in tiny letters were used. The prices were printed onto those stickers on some kind of cash-register-tape printer (or maybe they were just typed on).

Pier Platters was magic, no doubt about it. During the years I lived in Hoboken (1987-1990), I would stop in just about every day on my way home from the PATH station. Most exciting of all were the days when tix for sure-to-sell-out Maxwell's shows were quietly put on sale at Pier Platters, advertised only in the window of the First Street (used record) store and nowhere else. I don't know how anyone could have lived anywhere other than Hoboken in those years. And Pier Platters was what made Hoboken Hoboken.

Jim Testa

This is so weird... two weeks ago I got a "hi, how ya been?" email from Todd Hess, and now Lupica and Ken Katkin re-enter my consciousness.

When I think of Pier Platters, I remember red-headed Suzanne, Sonic Youth muse and Das Damen confidante, and of course the sainted but cranky Bill Ryan. I wonder if the store might have lasted a little longer if Bill had been just a tad more accommodating to the local skatepunks he chased out of the store when they asked for Blink-182 records?

mike

Late breaking graphics credit: The scan of the old Pier Platters business card comes courtesy of my buddy Brian Musikoff. Thanks Brian! Another detail I didn't address in the original post is how for a while, there were actually TWO Pier Platters locations, one that sold vinyl on Newark St., and an all-CD shop one block over on 1st St. The fastest route between the two stores was through this weird alley that runs north-south through most of Hoboken. It's a cobblestone alley, used to be really grimey and gross -- lots of trash bags and shady characters about (though given Hoboken's trajectory, there's probably a wine bar and day spa there now.) For years, I always referred to that alley as the "Cinderella Backstreet" -- inspired by the Peter Laughner song of the same title that Forced Exposure released on 7", and which I distinctly remember buying at... Where else? Pier Platters.

mike

Mike, hope you don't mind that I used the store photo as the profile pic on my Facebook PP group. I've been waiting for an excuse to take that horrible ReMax photo off...

R:M:B

Hey Mike, absolutely -- please use the pic! I'm sure Otis will be happy, too. I actually didn't realize that you were the one who'd started the Facebook group!

henry

I think my first pilgrimage there was may 1982, on the anniversary of ian curtis' death, and I bought my first collector's item there, chris bell's i am the cosmos, which i still treasure.

lightning's girl

Seriously - I don't think I have ever had a girl idol that ever matched the super coolness of Suzanne. Good lord that woman was the very definition of hip. I remember the day she came into Pier with a bag of clothes that she and Kim Gordon were giving away. Best day on the job ever. Even if I couldn't fit into like 98% of it, ha!

All kidding aside - Pier was the first place I drove to the day I got my drivers license. It was about 40 minutes away but worth every minute of the commute.

The week I graduated from high school I moved to Hoboken - and for two reason only. Pier Platters and Maxwells.

The staff there - the records there - the customers who became friends and show buddies...changed my life for the better. Amen for the WFMU record fair where I have a 50/50 chance of crossing paths again with all those wonderful people.

xoxo
Tracy AKA Lightning's Girl

PS: My kingdom for a Pier Platters record tote bag!

Mike

I'm another one who still likes to tell people about Pier Platters, and what an excellent record store it was. I lived in Colorado while they were open, and discovered the store while on a trip to NYC. It was dream-like in inventory. At every turn, there was something I wanted to purchase, and I did. After I returned home, I used to call them on the phone whenever I heard about a new record I wanted. They always had a copy, and they were always willing to hold it for me while I mailed them money (pre-Paypal, pre-internet, that was cool of them). I remember that at one point they also had a catalog for mail-order, and there was never any problem with that service. They were always prompt and honest. And, especially compared to the stupid attitudes of clerks at lesser record stores, they were nice. I only managed to go back to NYC/NJ one more time while Pier Platters was still there. But I still remember those visits and mail-orders I had there. Mike's original post manages to articulate the same formative impressions this place made on me at a similar time in my own life. I'm going on another trip to NYC next week, and I know I'll be thinking of this place...

Pento

I had ordered from them (to Colorado) and on a trip to Manhattan they were the only cool store I knew about in the NYC area (having already visited Bleeker and St Marks and found nothing). I called them up and said "hey, I'm from out of town - how do I get there". They told me how close it was to the PATH so I waited til that night (so I could also visit Maxwell's). Hoboken then was very sketchy then, even walking the short distance from the PATH, so when I found out how far it was to Maxwells I scratched that idea. Since people were dicks at the stores in Colo I really liked PP. In my mind it's linked to my similar journey to the one in Silver Springs MD.

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  • Non-comm broadcasting is my currency. WPRB-->WFMU-->WNYC.
    All the related hooey is chronicled here.

Mantra

  • There is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. -Bill Hicks