Why, son, those are pipes

We made a little side trip during our visit to Duluth, Minnesota, over the weekend. Within walking distance of our hotel was a record store I’d seen on our previous trips to Duluth but never visited.


I learned that The Electric Fetus has been around since 1968. Its name, edgy then, remains vaguely so today.

It was a delight to stroll through the store, even though I wasn’t really looking for anything. It’s a throwback to a more mellow, more hazy time. You know what I mean.

The Electric Fetus bills itself as “your everyday, mainstream, revolutionary, alternative, radical store.” It carries “a wide selection of music, clothing, candles, incense and decor,” according to the paper in St. Cloud, Minnesota, where they have another store. (The main store is in Minneapolis.)

Ah, yes, a wide selection indeed. Evan was along, and was fascinated by the variety of shapes and colors of a few items behind the glass of a tall cabinet.

I explained that they were pipes, that you could smoke anything in them, but that they most often are used to smoke marijuana. Evan was a little puzzled about how they could sell the pipes (and hookahs and bongs) if they were used to smoke pot. I explained that the pipes are legal, but the stuff that goes in them is not.

At 12, Evan rarely has much patience when I’m digging through CDs and vinyl. On this day, though, there were enough things to keep him interested, from the pipes to the subversive greeting cards to the novelty items. He even went along to explore the used vinyl in the basement.

We didn’t have time to linger over the vinyl bins, and I didn’t find anything I absolutely had to have in the short time I went digging. I think I’ll set aside some more time for digging next time I’m in Duluth.

Our short trip to The Electric Fetus was a little like a trip back to 1968, the year it opened. Let’s continue that trip with a couple of admittedly familiar tunes with that same hazy vibe.


“Dear Mr. Fantasy,” Traffic, from “Mr. Fantasy,” 1968. (Also available on “Feelin’ Alright: The Definitive Collection,” issued in 2000.)


“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” Iron Butterfly, from “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” 1968. This is the epic 17-minute version.



Filed under September 2007, Sounds

4 responses to “Why, son, those are pipes

  1. Sounds like there’s more vinyl at the Duluth location than there is here in St. Cloud. That’s something to keep in mind if we take a road trip up to the big lake. Thanks for the Iron Butterfly. There’s probably a convergence somewhere n my past between that song and the use of the appliances you saw for sale . . . but that was a long time ago, for sure!

  2. jb

    A friend of mine remembers a record store he used to frequent that was called Magnolia Thunderpussy.

  3. If you changed your mind about going to The Electric Fetus, would you say that the trip was aborted?

    Yes, another twisted thought from an obtuse brain. And to think, I never did drugs. Wow!

  4. Welcome to my world! The Minneapolis store is pretty much the only place I shop, and it has the same vibe as the Duluth store. I also love their store policy – buy 3 items and get 10% off. Thats a pretty good way to get my money…

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