Home > Uncategorized > CHANGE: LOONEY TUNES: The Day the Music Relocated

CHANGE: LOONEY TUNES: The Day the Music Relocated

Looney Tunes Records at 1106 Boylston St. Boston; Cds, records, VHS, books…etc closed following a rent hike from the store’s landlord, the Berklee College of Music, for the 1106 Boylston St.. store.  The new Looney Tunes will be located on Harvard Ave. Allston,.

I first went to Looney Tunes when it was located on Mass. Ave. in the slot now occupied by a Bank of America ATM.

Looney Tunes occupied the 1106 Boylston St. venue for 33 1/3, years a fact proudly announced by a window placard that advertised the store’s ‘going-out-of-business’ sale.

In 2010 the City of Boston saw fit to level and repair the crumbling tiers of concrete that formed the entrance to the “lower Boylston St.” retail strip.

The old sidewalk was 3 levels of crumbling concrete that put shoppers at risk for ACL injuries from tripping over one of the Berklee students who inexplicably tanned themselves on the concrete, perhaps using mozzarella sunscreen provided by the 1/2 eaten slices of pizza that carpeted the area.

The Fenway that greeted me upon arrival in 1978 had a well-deserved reputation for arson and prostitutes of all descriptionsPrior to the tenancy of Looney Tunes 1106 Boylston was home to a store offering used dental equipment.  Costello’s Liquors, immortalized in Clint Eastwood’s MYSTIC RIVER, rubbed shoulders with Putnam’s Furniture, mostly used furniture and Jack’s, mostly used drums, Drum Shop.  Steve’s Donuts offered leaden donuts and light,tasty baklava.  There was a nameless pool hall under E & J Antiques.  The Back Bay Pharmacy had a lunch counter which offered “coffee” served in Solo plastic holders with conical inserts.

All of the above were long gone by the time Looney Tunes closed up shop in May.

By that time the 21st. Century market for used music had already been diminished by Amazon and Ebay.

I spent many an hour and dollar perusing Looney Tunes’ wares.  My modus operandi  was to wander in with a vague idea: “A book on philosophy…a dancy thingy 12” disco disc…a soundtrack from a movie that my mother liked…classic jazz…and then my inner culture vulture would go into the hunter-gatherer mode so well depicted by the book and movie HIGH FIDELITY.  I often resold my purchases for credit thus enabling me to sample literally 100’s of albums, singles and books that wouldn’t have reached me any other way.

Miles Davis, the Yardbirds, Ennio Morricone, VICTORY AT SEA, Will Durant’s epic tome THE STORY OF CIVILIZATION, Donna Summer before she was dead, Napalm Death Squad’s self-titled CD, Jackie Gleason’s MOOD MUSIC, the Neighborhoods’ 7″ “Prettiest Girl” and others too numerous to mention.

(Did I mention the cocktail shaker I bought?)

The stern visage of Miles Davis from KIND OF BLUE glared from a 3′ x 5′ presiding over the proceedings.

(Did I mention that DJ Night Train would always greet me with “You’re on the Guest List,” when he glanced up from cleaning the grooves of one of the innumerable 12″ dance singles that Looney tunes stocked?)

The  “layout” of Looney Tunes made scratch-and-sniff shopping a necessity.  2 long narrow aisles divided by an island of files filled with vinyl lead to the rear of the store where a variety of 45s were filed facing the entrance.  Overhead an indoor deck protruded obtusely filled with cartons of unsorted acquisitions.

(Did I mention that Seth, one of the partners at Looney Tunes, would always yell “Spend, buy, consume,” upon my arrival?)

(Did I mention that the 4 Seasons version of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” is uniquely entertaining because there is something about an African folk song sung in a Jersey accent that defies “musicality?”)

(Did I mention the Japanese CD section that brought me Shonen Knife Cutting; the Shaggs meet Duran Duran in Tokyo, who sing almost exclusively about sex and candy?  “Choco Bar” brings these together in a most delicious way.)

(Did I mention that Billy Ferrell sold his interest in Stevie’s House of pizza more than 2 years ago?)

(Did I mention that Rich Gilbert of human Sexual Response and Combustible Edison was a staffer at Looney Tunes for many years?)

(Did I mention the impending demolition of the Huntington Ave. YMCA gym?)

(Did I mention the fire at T.C’s Lounge on Haviland St. that has left the future of that watering hole in flux?)

(Did I mention that ‘Looney Tunes’ was a trademark of Warner Bros. and a remainder of less litigious times?)

The fact is that Looney Tunes was a signifier of a time when artistic freedom had been won but before markets had become  organized to the extent that they are today.

The fact is that real estate will always be utilized in the form which creates the greatest value of its owner.

Berklee College of Music applied the same tactics to Looney Tunes as it applied to the late, lamented Daddy’s Junky Music.  To think that Berklee College of Music wouldn’t act as any other real estate investor because Looney Tunes is “cultural” is a willful misunderstanding of urban real estate.

Berklee, like Northeastern U, enjoys a virtually limitless, tax-exempt stream of risk-free revenue.  Unlike ordinary speculators they operate without the encumbrance of taxes and without losing market share.

To think that institutions wouldn’t deploy this home court advantage over small for-profit businesses is disingenuous at best.

Occupy Wall Street, among others, have decried “greed” and “1% Nation”.

Here in the Fenway we are subjected to non-profit institutions “doing you a favor”.

Pat, a partner in Looney Tunes, allowed me to abscond with 2 cassette racks and the LP cover of the Italian version of  Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack PER QUALCHE DOLLARO IM PIU/FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE featuring the stern visage of Clint Eastwood glaring from beneath a sombrero.

Pat waved off my offer of a few dollars and urged me to visit the new store in Allston.

Looney Tunes will be missed by this humble correspondent.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Jeffrey Barnett
    July 21, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    That is an awesome post! I worked @ Costello’s Package store from 1978 through 1981. We have probably met.


    • August 9, 2012 at 3:44 am

      Hi Jeff, I think it is almost certain that we have met. I remember when Mr. Butch was a denizen of the Fenway. Thank you for visiting my blog!


  2. Jeffrey Barnett
    July 21, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    One more thing, at that time Mr. Butch was playing at the corner of Boylston st. & Mass. ave. Before he moved to Allston.


  3. Jeffrey Barnett
    August 9, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Exactly! I actually started in 1976, I must have fat fingered it. I saw the Pope at that corner. I worked at Costello’s during the blizzard of ’78. The Human Sexual Response used to come in all of the time. They used to practice under the donut shop. They are having a reunion concert at the Paradise soon. I was sad when I saw that they had closed. I occasionally keep in tough with the owner of the packie. Those were the good ol’ days.


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