Good, Dumb Fun at Dumb Records & Arcade

Richard Bailey, Editor

Dumb Records is located at 418 east Monroe, just before 5th st. – giant green elephant out front – it’s hard to miss. The time spent there? That will be hard to forget. Dumb Records has thousands of records spanning an incredible number of genres. Just inside the door sits a sales rack with between 15 and 20 albums recorded by artists like The Eagles, Metallica, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, and many, many more head-scratchers for those that weren’t yet alive when Ray Charles’ Pepsi jingle dominated commercial airwaves.

This record store is laid out just right. With the perfect mix of classic style and modern design, this place is a good place to visit for a downtown wanderer or a more serious audiophile. The store has a turntable set up (presumably as a listening station), and they also sell several different models of record players. There was a wall that featured the stores ‘New Releases’, and a familiar fixture from the now-defunct Family Video stores. For those who like to play digital music without wires or Bluetooth connection, there is a section that features wooden hand-crafted amplification boxes, or ‘Passive Speakers’. The craftsmanship adds a uniqueness that is, much like the record store, hard to come by in a world where things are often mass-produced or directly shipped from vendor to customer.

In an adjoining room, there stands a band made up of an array of costumed characters posed to play in a band. The room was previously used to host poetry sessions, open mics, and many local concerts. With social distancing measures still in place, there are no plans for any concerts to happen in the near future. Something that is relatively new to the establishment, is the addition of an arcade. The arcade is called – you guessed it – ‘Dumb Arcade’ and it costs just $5 to enter – but you can get in free with a $10 purchase in the record store. The room has stand-up classics like Street Fighter II, Time Crisis, and Super Mario. There is also a sit-down racing game, and SIX pinball machines to choose from. I have probably put enough quarters through arcade machines to be able to finance a 1997 Toyota Corolla with under 150,000 miles, leather seats, and a sunroof in my lifetime.

One of my favorite arcade games to play was Street Fighter II, but I wanted to try my hand at pinball on this day. The first game table that I played was a game called ‘Fish Tales’. The ball launcher was crafted in the shape of a fishing rod and it had a variety of LED lights and high-quality sounds. There was also a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pinball game that has an HD screen that illustrated different parts of the plot. Each pinball game has its own story and playfield. I spent about an hour in the arcade with much of the time being split between the six pinball machines. With each table having its own speed, playfield, and even silver ball weight (I’m sure of it), I am starting to understand why holding the high score on a popular table was a reason for bragging rights. ‘Medieval Madness’ and ‘Pin Bot’ were two of my favorite games to play, and the ‘Dolly Parton’ pinball machine, the newest addition to the arcade, was interesting and challenging. The attention to detail and craftsmanship put into each pinball machine is really something that anyone can appreciate.

One of the more challenging and entertaining parts of playing pinball was the cat that would sometimes jump onto the table that would investigate, and later try to retrieve the ball from underneath the glass.┬áTaking the trip to Dumb Records gave me a chance to support a local business while having an incredibly fun time perusing through some of the greatest in music history, and a temporary escape – if even for a little while – into the world of silverball.