Thursday, March 1, 2007

Vangelis, Hisaishi-san, and Ala Moana

Yesterday afternoon, my iTunes was playing Vangelis. Pre-"Chariots of Fire" Vangelis. The old stuff. In my younger days, Vangelis was one of my favorite musicians, along with Weird Al and Walter/Wendy Carlos and PDQ Bach. But those are artists for different stories.

I became familiar with Vangelis through the soundtrack of
Cosmos, which was a favorite television show from my geeky youth (not to be confused with my geeky mid-life). The soundtrack, which I received for Christmas one year, used several of his songs, and I nearly wore it out. I loved his music, and I wanted more.

But, aside from Chariots of Fire, Vangelis wasn't available at Pay-n-Save. Or Sears, or Longs, or Holiday Mart, or any of the regular chain stores found on Windward Oahu. For something like Vangelis, I needed to go to Honolulu and the House of Music.

There were probably other record stores on the island that carried Vangelis, but the House of Music was at Ala Moana, and that was important, because I could get to Ala Moana on TheBus. Plus, the House of Music carried sheet music, and was next to a bookstore. How cool was that?

Ah, memories.

I went to Ala Moana last December. It was very different. I was pretty sure the House of Music would be gone, but I wanted to look anyway. It was. The bookstore and the coin shop and many other familiar stores were gone, too. In their place are high-end shops that cater to rich Japanese tourists. Ala Moana, the biggest open air shopping center in the world, is bigger than ever. I think it's lost much of its charm. Such is often the price of progress.

It made me sad.

But my trip to Ala Moana in December wasn't merely for sentimental reasons. I was on my way to Shirokiya, the Japanese department store, to buy a CD.

In the last few years, I have discovered the Japanese composer and pianist Joe Hisaishi. I've bought everything of his I could find on iTunes, but there is really very little of this prolific artist available that way. Some of his CDs can be found online, but because they are imported from Japan they are selling for $30-40 each - too rich for my blood.

However, I remembered that Shirokiya had a section of books and music in their store, so I went to Ala Moana to see what I could find. After a few minutes of hopeless searching and a little help from a salesman, I had what I was looking for. At a reasonable CD price.

And so yesterday, as I sat listening to Vangelis and entertaining twenty year old memories of musical pilgrimages, the irony of that purchase suddenly struck me. Even while I was lamenting the
absence of the House of Music, I was once again at Ala Moana looking to buy music that I couldn't find anywhere else.

The more things change, the more, oh, you know how it is.

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