Wax Trax (or Notes from the Underground)

He was moderate height, lean, and had a very dark complexion.  He spoke quickly, with a sort of urgency: I’ll give you a free hit of windowpane, you a free hit of ecstacy, and you a bag of weed.  There were three of us, and he pointed to each one of separately as he spoke.  We were out on a busy street corner.  And all you have to do is step into this alley and show me some money so that I know that next time you can buy it from me.

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I spent most of my high school weekends and nights in Capital Hill, a neighborhood in Denver just outside of the financial district.  Capital Hill is more racially mixed than most Denver neighborhoods.  There was lots of drugs, night clubs, used record and bookstores, and prostitution.  We really went for the pot and the record stores.

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Denver was home to a big underground youth culture while I was growing up.  There were a number co-op art galleries, and a big industrial art movement.  There was a great producer named Tom Headbanger, who brought in all kinds of underground stuff.  And there was also one of the world’s largest TOPY chapters, Thee Temple of Psychick Youth.  The center of all of this was Wax Trax, and this was really the anchor store of Capital Hill.

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We spent a lot of time there.  In addition to being a great record store, they also sold books and rented movies.  It was really a one-stop shopping place for a young industrial culture enthusiast.  I could pick up some Throbbing Gristle or Coil records, zip next door and rent a Kenneth Anger video or get a Psychic TV t-shirt.

I think this was a large part of the miseducation of my youth.

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