Author Archives: Carl Zimring

About Carl Zimring

I study junk and talk trash. Author of Cash for Your Trash: Scrap Recycling in America and general editor of The Encyclopedia of Consumption and Waste: The Social Science of Garbage.

Hanging Tight to the Concrete (Thanking Karl Hendricks)

Sound_Cat_Karl_Hendricks.jpgAll hail Karl Hendricks.

This week, Karl is selling Sound Cat Records (formerly Jim’s, formerly Paul’s CDs, soon-to-be Juke Records), the best record store in Pittsburgh. Karl writes:

August 16th, Sound Cat Records will be changing its name to Juke Records, under the new ownership of Jeff Gallagher. Jeff has been a customer at 4526 Liberty Ave. going back to the Jim’s Records days, through Paul’s CDs and Sound Cat, and he says that he “intends to honor the tradition and historical quality of the store offerings”. Plus, Jason and Bob, who most of you have gotten to know well through their years of working for Sound Cat and Paul’s will be staying on. So, you can count on Juke Records to be your stop for cool and interesting new and used records and CDs, and Jeff is going to work on expanding the stock even further. As for me, Karl, it’s bittersweet for me to sell the store, as I’ve been at the store for 27 years, working for Jim and Paul and owning Sound Cat for almost five years. But I’ve gotten to spend my adult life around other great people who love music, and for that, I’ll always be thankful. Anyway, Sound Cat will be open until Sunday, August 14th, the store will be closed for the transition on August 15th and Juke Records will open on Tuesday, August 16th. Here’s hoping you can stop in before next weekend to say goodbye to Sound Cat and then stop in after August 16th to welcome Juke Records!

I said this is the best record store in Pittsburgh. It is not the largest, but it is the best. It is the best because the people who work there provide a deeply thought out selection of rock, punk, experimental, jazz, country, folk, and related records that rival the best stores in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. (Believe me. I have spent more money than I care to disclose buying music in all of those cities.) The symbiotic relationship between the store and WRCT over the years brought so much good music to so many people. I will be forever grateful for all that I learned because of that relationship.

Sound Cat is the best in no small measure due to Karl’s labors and subsequent ownership. Karl has been at the center of the best music in Pittsburgh for over a quarter of a century, both as a performer and (if you will) a curator of this immaculately selected catalog. I can’t thank him enough, and I will close this note with a device blatantly stolen from Nick Hornby in his book about a similar store. Thank you, Karl, for everything.

Click on the links and let Karl have the last word.


10. “Know More About Jazz.” 
Captures a mindset in many I knew c. 1998.

9. “Baseball Cards.”
The collector’s lament.

8. “Underdog Park.”
As perfectly constructed as rock songs get.

7. “Naked and High on Drugs.”
How does one live when your mid-twenties approach? From 1996.

6. “The Ballad of Bill Lee.”
It’s baseball season now and this is a great example of Karl’s forays into longer, more improvised guitar lines.

5. “The Official Shape of Beauty.”
Conversely, one of Karl’s most concise short songs.

4. “The Mens’ Room at the Airport.”
How does one live when your mid-forties approach? From 2012.

3. “Nogales By Tuesday.”
A staple of road mixes and a certain kind of optimism.

2. “The World Says.”
I will always be grateful for this song. From the summer of 2007, around when I visited the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center as a caregiver.

1.”Dreams Ha.”
More on why here.

“The Work of Waste” at How Class Works Conference, Stony Brook (June 9)

C&WcoverMy next public talk on Clean and White takes place in Stony Brook the afternoon (3:45-5:15pm, to be exact) of Thursday, June 9 as part of the How Class Works conference at SUNY Stony Brook:

3.5 The Work of Waste – SAC 311

Carl Zimring, Pratt Institute: Dirty Work Reconsidered: On Race and the Waste Trades in the United States

Robin D. Muhammad, Ohio University: Smoke on the Water: Land Waste Workers and Shipbreaking Labor in Comparative Perspective, 1960-2000

Courtney Pina Miller, Brandeis University: The Lazy and Toothless Anse Bundren: Examining White Trash in Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying

I should have copies of the book for sale, but the exciting part is being on a panel for the first time since LAWCHA Chicago with my grad school friend Robin. Yes, if you attend, you get two Carnegie Mellon history graduates discussing waste work for the price of one!

Registration, directions, and complete schedule (.pdf) for How Class Works 2016 may be found at the links.

A Future without Waste? Zero Waste in Theory and Practice. (New RCC Perspectives issue.)

The 2014 Rachel Carson Center workshop Whose Waste? Whose Problem? revealed many fascinating perspectives on the topic of waste, and now several of these contributions (including articles by Tian Song, Michael Braungart, Zsuzsa Gille, Jutta Gutberlet, Stafania Gallini, Herbert Köpnick, and me, as well as a roundtable) are available in the new RCC Perspectives issue “A Future without Waste? Zero Waste in Theory and Practice.”

A PDF of the issue is free at this link.

Now Available: Special Issue on the Industrial Archeology of Industrial Waste

IAcoverFresh from the printer, the new issue of IA – The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology (Vol. 39, No. 1 & 2) is available, and it is dedicated to the theme of industrial waste. Journal editor Fred Quivik and I were fortunate to get articles on mining waste, coal ash, arsenic, and automobile graveyards from Sean M. Gorman, Samantha MacBride, the team of Lloyd B. Tepper and Jefffrey H. Tepper, and David Lucsko, respectively. Fred also contributed an article on mine tailings in Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene mining district, and my old friend and colleague Mike Bryson and I contributed an article about the past and present of Chicago’s Bubbly Creek, which Upton Sinclair aptly described as “Chicago’s Great Open Sewer” more than a century ago.

As Fred describes in his lead editorial, “this special issue of IA is dedicated to industrial waste and what it can tell us about who we are as an industrial people. Industrial archaeologists typically focus analyses on the artifacts produced by industrial processes, on the equipment and skills employed by people to produce those artifacts, and on the complexes of structures and landscapes that house and support the full range of industrial activities. Careful industrial archaeologists also consider that which industrial activity discards, but such considerations seldom take center stage. This special issue of IA gives the spotlight to waste.”

IA_TOCOur colleagues in this special issue include industrial archaeologists, historians of technology and the environment, and sociologists. We also have reviews of several related books (see the table of contents for details.) The cover image is Edwin Buckman’s A London Dustyard, as featured in Samantha MacBride’s article on coal ash.

For information on how to order a copy, see the journal’s website. Thanks to all of the contributors and especially to Fred for inviting me to guest edit this special issue.