is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Principal Designer at Adobe, Design Chair at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. Refer to the advertising and sponsorship page for inquiries.+
This was one of the first Kickstarter projects that I ever backed, way back in June of 2011. After years of delays, I began to wonder if I’d ever see it, and as other movie projects that I backed on Kickstarter started coming to fruition and I saw how rag tag in quality many of them turned out, I began to lose hope that anything particularly noteworthy would come out of this one.
Alas, it was all worth the wait. “All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records” is a wonderfully made, passionate documentary of one of the first superstores in American retail, one that also happened to cater to not just broad tastes but the most eclectic, obsessive consumers as well. It scores great interviews with not just Tower’s founder and the many music celebrities that he attracted to his stores, but also many of the long tenured employees who created its unique, music-friendly but not necessarily customer-friendly culture. It’s a really great movie.
I spent a lot of my youth trolling the aisles of various Tower Records stores in various cities, flipping endlessly through the bins, weighing carefully the relative worth of certain records over others, often with only money enough in my pocket to buy one of them. That sounds practically barbaric today, and I have no interest in painting that method of consuming music as some kind of lost golden age—it wasn’t. For as many great albums that I bought at Tower, I bought many more crap ones too. For better or worse though, Tower just meant a lot to me; browsing the album covers, seeing them all assembled there together, looking wistfully at the ones I couldn’t afford or had no idea about, that was all a big part of my youth. It’s a treat to see that lost history treated so well in this documentary.+