The record store clerk is that most daunting of public servants, scowling petulantly at your humble intrusion, sneering at your poor taste in recorded commodities. Yet the knowledgeable staff at the Fetus (a cross-section of local musicians, pundits, DJs, and sundry scenemakers) has the wherewithal to answer as stupid a question as you can offer up, without laughing in your face. And you'd be hard-pressed to find a more scrupulously stocked store; if they don't have what you're looking for among their 170,000 or so titles, chances are a like-minded fan snatched the last copy earlier that afternoon or it hasn't yet been reissued on CD. Their extensive selection of jazz and world music doesn't mean they scrimp on popular titles, and their prices are just about as low as the iron-willed label mafia will countenance. From its stately hardwood floors to its selection of odds and ends--from clothing to candles to smoking paraphernalia simply labeled "merchandise" on the outside of the building--the store maintains the sort of atmosphere that encourages binge shopping, which is just the sort of addiction no 12-step program can, or should, help to cure.


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