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An ode to Osku and Ike
Written by Tommi on 24.08.2008 22:40:48
I wasn't always the enlightened sage of popular music I am today. I was once a teenage boy misled by peer pressure to listen only to mediocre metal and watered down classic rock and getting my musical guidance from magazines like Guitar World and Soundi. Luckily for me I had the opportunity to go to school at TYLY. Not that the place was crawling with culturally advanced people (I can assure you, it wasn't), but the thing that made it an unmatched haven to refine my musical tastebuds was a tiny storefront around the corner at Runeberginkatu 8, Oskun Divari.
Osku was the owner and main clerk of the store and Ike his #1 employee (at least around the time I frequented the establishment) and Ike was also known as Ike Vil, the menacing front dude of The Babylon Whores, one of Finland's most prominent purveyors of Misfits-influenced metal, a.k.a. "death rock" in the final years of the 20th century. It is in many ways thanks to these two dudes that I've walked the path I have in the last 10 or so years.
I'm very enclined to attributing the whole grounding of my later musical life to the education I received at Oskun Divari while skipping countless classes from my actual education at school. In the almost daily sessions of bugging Osku and Ike at the shop I learned about a world of music I had no idea existed. Everything from obscure metal to cutting edge underground/indie from Finland and abroad. It was also at Osku that I started picking up fanzines like Toinen Vaihtoehto, Mutiny!, Sue, Hindupyöräilijä and other similar strange xeroxed "magazines" that I also had no idea about before.
I don't think Osku and Ike even realized the impact their presence had on our bunch, especially myself. Without their guiding I'm sure I could've easily ended up with never properly being corrupted into the world of underground and independent music. Also, when we started Sissy Spacek (my first proper band) and Rooftops Are My Heaven Recordings (the label that ended up merging with Mikko's Lo-Finn to form If Society), they were also very supportive and helpful with everything. Actually the very notion of having a band of our own and putting out our own records was pretty much the result of all the things I learned at the shop and see what that got me. My eternal thanks for that as well.
I also have no doubt that the need I had to set up a brick n' mortar record store for years now was definitely inspired by the good times I had in that small closet of a store. I strongly believe in the whole "pay it forward" thing and the main reason I love hanging out at Pitkämies is the times I get to chat with real people. Especially young dudes who are just on their way to discovering a world of music living outside the mainstream media and the official version of popular culture history. Actually when I'm managing our selection, my #1 guideline is to get records that I think everyone should have and I try my best to really include a lot of basic stuff, even the kind that acts as a "gateway drug". I feel the need to educate and help people find new paths in their musical journey in exactly the same way I was educated and helped at Osku's place. They set the precedent and I'm doing my best to live up to it.
Anyways, thanks a lot to Osku and Ike. You guys need to know you guys made a difference.
I'm sure I'm not even the only one. Feel free to share your Osku-related memories by leaving some comments!
Too bad there seems to be no images on the internet of the shop so I had to settle for a generic shot of the block for the picture of this post. If anyone has any cool pics of Oskun Divari from back in the day, please get a scanner going and put them online as soon as possible. I hate the way that things not documented on the internet seem to disappear from the collective memory way faster nowadays! If you've got pics, but don't know how to put them online, get in touch and I'll do it for you.
ps. I still listen to mediocre metal and watered down classic rock and I'm proud of it!!!
Also I need to give a shout-out to Lasse Huttunen of Soitin Huttunen for never kicking us out even if we overstayed our welcome many many many times, played way too many Metallica-riffs on guitars we could never have afforded to buy and just generally loitered around his shop in a very unbeneficial way. Dude, your shop still rocks and I'm sure you knew already then that at least some of those kids would still need musical equipment when they could actually afford them and that they'd remember you as the cool guy you are and would always prefer to bring their business to you instead of the shortsighted people who threw us out because we were poor kids at the time.
Here's a few records we think you'd really enjoy (because we do)!