Talking Shop: Pop music with a sweet tooth

This post has been corrected, as noted below.” 

To the uneducated eye, the lustrous behemoth — simultaneously incongruous and at ease in its shady corner in the LAB — appears to be a caravan.

A circular light dangles above the vehicle's roof, next to a rustic ombre sign. The yellow fades to orange like a setting sun — "Creme Tangerine," it announces.

Close inspection reveals a 22-foot silver Airstream land yacht with orange piping — and a motley of new and used vinyl and cassettes. Owned by Parker Macy, 28, of Costa Mesa, Creme Tangerine also offers a smattering of rock 'n' roll memorabilia.

There's no deep meaning behind the moniker, Macy said. It's a snippet of the Beatles' song "Savoy Truffle," because he was charmed by its first line, "Crème tangerine and Montelimar."

As the frontman of local band Parker Macy Blues, Macy has performed at Orange County hot spots including La Cave, Constellation Room, House of Blues and Detroit Bar.

Influenced by David "Honeyboy" Edwards and Buddy Guy, Macy took his passion for music a step further with the March 2011 debut of Creme Tangerine in the LAB Antimall. Initially, the landlord provided Macy with a 1957 Kenskill trailer, but, earlier this year, the mart upgraded to a larger vintage trailer dated 1975.

Inside, cases bearing the shop's logo brim with Jethro Tull, Ray Charles, the Eagles and others. A poster depicting E.T., from Steven Spielberg's 1982 flick "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," with his arm around Michael Jackson, overlooks Coca Cola and Pepsi crates and a record player.

A regular at local thrift stores, swap meets, boutiques and garage sales, Macy also relies on advertisements and Craigslist to forage for hidden musical treasures. He's been known to drive "door-to-door and county-to-county" and as far as Kansas to purchase entire collections.

Even vacations come with an ulterior motive, much to the bemusement of his girlfriend, he said.

Presently, Macy's nearby apartment, which he describes as "not very large," is doubling as storage space. Teeming with nearly 30,000 records — a combination of his personal stash and Creme Tangerine's inventory — it also houses nearly a dozen record players.

"It's a disease," Macy muttered, with a laugh.

At any given point, the shop boasts between 3,000 and 4,000 records priced upward of $4, with the most expensive being $100. His stock of nearly 2,000 cassettes ranges from $1 to $5, while rare tapes by the Velvet Underground or Iggy and the Stooges go for $10.

Being located in the LAB has brought ample foot traffic to Creme Tangerine. Still, Macy said, very few passersby own a record player and can play vinyl, and of those who stop to browse, an even smaller percentage buy what they see.

A popular thread on Reddit, a social news and entertainment website, reads, "Our children will never know the link between the two" — its image of a cassette and pencil indicating that millennials are more prone to select an iPod or competing portable digital media player.

While vinyl and tapes are experiencing a bit of a comeback, which some credit to the growing popularity of indie music, Macy admitted that sales tend to be sporadic. Repeat customers keep the business running, he said.

"Sometimes, people walk by and snicker, saying, 'Oh, that place will be gone in a week,'" he said. "It's always a struggle to stay on top, but it doesn't look like we are going anywhere any time soon."

Recently, Macy and two close friends added a record label to Creme Tangerine. Billy Kernkamp, T.K. Webb, Robert Jon and the Wreck, Jeramiah Red and Josh Berwanger are among the eponymous venture's first releases.

Macy reflected that even if he was unemployed, his days would be similarly occupied with cleaning and listening to records and playing the guitar.

Looking around, he suddenly realized that the music had stopped. Stepping beneath a "Watch yo' head" sign, he gently placed a John Hammond record under the needle. Strains of "I Can't Be Satisfied" poured out.

The thing is, though, Macy is satisfied. His hopes for the future are simple.

"I'd like to keep listening to music — that would be cool," he said. "I don't have dreams of skyscrapers or anything. I love my job."

[For the record, 11:09 a.m. Aug. 30: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the shop as Creme Tangerine Vinyl Records in the cutline. In fact, the shop's name is just Creme Tangerine.]

If You Go

What: Creme Tangerine

Where: The LAB Antimall, 2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa

When: Noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday

Information: or (714) 932-0552

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