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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ready... Cassette... Go!

According to the New York Times, which is never wrong except when its reporters just kind of make crazy shit up, no 2011 model-year vehicle is offers a cassette option. Humorously enough, the absolute last vehicle to ever offer a tape deck was the 2010 Lexus SC-430, a two-door convertible that retailed new for $68,405. I don't know how your brain operates, but mine finds it extremely difficult to fathom an image of a Lexus SC-430 buyer sitting in the dealership ticking over the options (18-inch Machined Tourmaline Wheel/Tire upgrade, for example) with the tip of his gold-plated Parker pen and saying,

"Oh, yeah, and, by the way-- throw in that tape-deck, too. I've got some great Weird Al tapes left over in the glovebox of my mistresses' Audi R8."

Be that as it may, reading this article made me rather nostalgic for my first car which, of course, had a tape-deck, and I was actually fortunate that it did. My 1990 Ford Crown Victoria was a retired police car. As such, many police cars are manufactured with a radio-delete option which, as you might suspect, deletes the radio, leaving a very unfortunate space where the car's radio would have been. The reason being is that police commanders could then be sure that their officers weren't cruising the streets of America listening to Stevie Wonder or, maybe worse, Stevie Nicks when they should be listening to, you know, their police radio. Plus, the temptation to play Ray Charles's "Busted" whilst driving criminals to the local lockup would just be too tempting for some badge-jockeys.

Fortunately for me, my car was ordered from the factory for use by a commander, and so it was crammed with options-- plush velour seats all around, instead of the standard cloth in front for cops, vinyl in back for shitheads motif, power windows, locks, mirrors, and, yes, a radio AND a tape-deck.

It was a beautiful four months. Until the engine exploded.

Anyway, to celebrate my new car's arrival, I did what most 16-year-olds did in my neighborhood in 1996 when they got their first cars. I went to an awesometots music store (remember those?) called-- are you ready?-- Plastic Fantastic. It was dark. There was always Led Zeppelin music playing, or so it seemed. The clerks behind the counter always looked like Garth, or so it seemed. The floors were littered with huge boxes of records. The walls were lined from floor to ceiling with tapes. There was a mysterious second floor that I didn't ever venture towards. This was a store, I was stone-cold convinced, in which high school dropouts got laid.

What did I find in this vast musical maze that would be my inaugural purchase of music to grace the inside of my ex-police car? What tunes did I score? What musical mayhem would ensue in my enclosed little world of velour, metal, rubber and glass?

The soundtrack to the original cast recording of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat."

I know. I am gay. My wife knows, too. She doesn't seem to mind.

You never know in life how happy you were at any given point until it's years later, I suppose. Those first few months, in my first car, with my first audio cassette tape (that I still have) were some of the happiest of my life. Barreling down the roads of my youth, commanding this absurdly gargantuan ton of steel, using its hood ornament to keep it straight on the road, being absolutely enveloped by the astounding voice of Laurie Beechman, well, it's hard think it's going to get that much better than that.

Look at me-- 30 years old and getting all schmoopie over the end of the tape-deck. God. What a wussy old pussy.

1 comment:

  1. The tape deck is the absolute best thing about my car - I get admiring comments about it all the time. How else am I supposed to listen to the No Doubt and Sheryl Crow cassettes I grew up on when my parents played them in the family car?

    Next I'm afraid the stick shift will become too hard to find.

    They don't make 'em like they used to.


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