The Hospital Productions store at 60 E. Third Street is no more, according to reports by East Village Radio and EV Grieve (which has photos of the storefront bearing a “For Rent” sign). The store, a physical extension of Dominick Fernow’s identically named label-cum-distro that served as a backdrop for uncompromisingly bleak, multi-format music shopping and intensely claustrophobic noise shows, closed its doors at the beginning of December. While the Hospital website makes no mention of the shuttering and does not indicate whether the store will resurface at a new locale, there are no indications that overall operations will cease; an email inquiry seeking comment was not returned by press time.
Even for those who never got to drop in for a visit, the Hospital Productions store carried an intense outsider mystique. The introductory image on the accompanying site usually offered a voyeuristic vista into Fernow’s noise/metal Valhalla that simultaneously mocked everyday retail tropes while celebrating the defiantly esoteric: a sprawl of clustered vinyl bins; lovingly arranged limited-edition cassettes lining a table; a wall display of Cold Cave’s Love Comes Close on vinyl; artistically distressed extra-musical swag. And though the enterprise was keyed into economic realities enough that one could score, say, The Cult of Yellow Tears in MP3 format after the tactile version was sold out, the very existence of the storefront represented a throwback to a halcyon era when music consumption was a cardiovascular, fully interactive experience that forced the discerning (or not-so-discerning) sonic connoisseur to actually leave the house.
Hospital’s bricks-and-mortar disappearance further erodes the idea of the “physical record store”—a notion now reduced, in most cases, to the “rapidly shrinking music sections of big box outlets.” The concept of exchanging cash for a bulging sack of dynamite face-melt has moved that much deeper into the realm of barely remembered anachronisms.