My mom likes to talk about how when I was 3 or 4, I asked her what the skinny books under the TV were, and why they couldn’t be opened, so she showed me how to work our record players.
I listened to a lot of the Cats soundtrack, and in preparation for writing this column, I looked up the plot to that mind melt of a musical. “Mr. Mistoffelees” just shows that blow was way too cheap in 1980.
Off the Record, Deep Ellum’s craft beer and vinyl one-stop shop, doesn’t carry Cats, so far as I could tell when I stopped by a few weeks ago. Unsurprisingly, you’re more likely to find the kind of albums that bearded, black jacket-wearing white guys (ahem) attach themselves to.
Think Black Keys, The National, Dr. Dre, Willie Nelson and a bunch of bands that constantly seem on the verge of blowing up based on their ACL set last year, all resting in rows of skinny books, at the end of the room. In all, there are more than 2,000 records available for purchase, a selection that Lowest Greenville’s Good Records curates.
It certainly scratches a particular itch, and it’s also a reminder that I’m not as unique as I sometimes imagine myself to be. I was not the first 20-year-old to think it was interesting to get high and listen to Willie Nelson’s old albums, no matter how much I wish that were the case.
And as much as I might be inclined to push back at a craft-beer-and-vinyl shop in an attempt to maintain some sort of self-indulgent authenticity, to say that Off the Record is cynically pandering to a group that’s already catered to in nearly every corner of pop culture would just be because I’m secretly uncomfortable with the fact that I’m not cool at all. I am not the things I like.
Fortunately, beer is a good way to cope. Off the Record keeps 24 taps of craft beers that bearded, black jacket-wearing white guys like. Dixon from Peticolas is dropping off fresh kegs while I’m there — a serendipitous encounter — both because he’s my friend and because I like Sit Down or I’ll Sit You Down right from the brewery.
Some people will look at Off the Record and call it a Deep Ellum hipster bar. Maybe it is. I don’t know what hipster means anymore — I’ve been accused of being one, but I also like the things I like because I enjoy them, which might seem tautological, but sometimes it needs to be pointed out because my generation trades on irony.
Off the Record trades on those skinny books, but the craft beer gives you the courage to find your own Cats.