excerpted from the NY Times/Monte Reel:
“In an office near the back of his 25,000-square-foot warehouse in São Paulo, Zero Freitas, 62, slipped into a chair, grabbed one of the LPs stacked on a table and examined its track list. He wore wire-rimmed glasses, khaki shorts and a Hard Rock Cafe T-shirt; his gray hair was thin on top but curled along his collar in the back. Studying the song list, he appeared vaguely professorial. In truth, Freitas is a wealthy businessman who, since he was a child, has been unable to stop buying records. “I’ve gone to therapy for 40 years to try to explain this to myself,” he said.
His compulsion to buy records, he says, is tied up in childhood memories: a hi-fi stereo his father bought when Freitas was 5 and the 200 albums the seller threw in as part of the deal. Freitas was an adolescent in December 1964 when he bought his first record, a new release: “Roberto Carlos Sings to the Children,” by a singer who would go on to become one of Brazil’s most popular recording stars. By the time he finished high school, Freitas owned roughly 3,000 records.
After studying music composition in college, he took over the family business, a private bus line that serves the São Paulo suburbs. By age 30, he had about 30,000 records. About 10 years later, his bus company expanded, making him rich. Not long after that, he split up with his wife, and the pace of his buying exploded. “Maybe it’s because I was alone,” Freitas said. “I don’t know.” He soon had a collection in the six figures; his best guess at a current total is several million albums.”
There are many things I could have written about today, but this man touches my heart. I love him more than a little, and if I were not already married, might in fact send him a proposal. He is singlehandedly saving vinyl, an art form that is unique, precious, and captures a moment in time like no other. He is preserving it and making a library (I might say a sanctuary) that people can visit, learn about and either re-live or begin to appreciate this art form. This exact same idea occurred to me several years ago when I saw a documentary about a man in New York with a million records that he couldn’t sell. I daydreamed about getting a grant to buy them, and bringing them to a Culver City warehouse and making a library where students of music could have access to this amazing archive. I am so pleased to know that someone wealthy is carrying out my plan in an even grander style than I dreamed of. This is the sort of thing rich people =should= do with their money but rarely do. Hail Zero Freitas, the saviour of vinyl.