I once spent 45 minutes agonizing over which DVD to purchase: a collection of Billy Joel music videos or a collection of Toto music videos. I loved them both back in high school (don’t worry—my musical tastes have since evolved) and the choice was difficult. I was spending an afternoon with friends at ear X-tacy – a common hangout spot back then. Hours were spent browsing CDs, flipping through music posters or trying out vinyl on the turntables upstairs.
Panera Bread sits in that location now, and whenever I pass by I feel revulsion that a chain restaurant now occupies the place formerly occupied by this once-great establishment. It feels wrong.
Alas, ear X-tacy is gone, but not forgotten: The Louisville Science Center IMAX Theater was packed Saturday evening for a sold-out screening of the world premiere of “Brick and Mortar and Love.” Local filmmaker (and Lebowski Fest founder) Scott Shuffitt gained access to the behind-the-scenes workings of Ear X-tacy as it began its downward decline, and this documentary is the end result.
The mission of the film is twofold. It has an important message, one of which anyone living in Louisville is well aware, but which bears constant reminding: shop local. John Timmons, owner of Ear X-tacy, is also the founder of the Louisville Independent Business Alliance, and his store was a perfect model of the kind of intimate experience available at an independent store versus a chain. If someone has a question about music, the ear X-tacy employees had a depth of knowledge on the subject. If a Best Buy or Wal-Mart employee knows anything about their music section, it’s purely incidental. The experience is impersonal.
The reason for this, as is discussed in the documentary, is that music isn’t a money-maker for these big stores—it’s merely meant as a draw. They price their music at just above wholesale price, or slightly above, knowing that people will come for the cheap music and hopefully pick up a couple of other things while they’re there. It may be cheaper to buy a CD at Target, but the personal experience is completely lost.