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03/14/2006: "Audio Tapes: Floppy Disks For Your Analog iPod"

The other day I was going to my storage locker when I drove by Aron's Records, an LA record store/institution that is unfortunately going out of business. They are currently having a 60-80% off sale, and after my karaoke experience the other night, I needed a new copy of Bobby Brown's landmark new jack swing album "Don't Be Cruel," so I decided to do some scavenging twixt the ruins of this once proud establishment.

I went in and immediately went to the used CD bin. There was a copy of an album he made in the late 90s, but no "Don't Be Cruel." I looked in the new CDs- not a chance in an indie record shop like this. Then, I saw it. Over in the furthest corner was the used tapes, regularly $3.00 or more .29-.99 cents! I dove in, as they were no longer in any sort of alphabetical or genre order. Scanning all these labels was such at trip down memory lane for me. When I was a young teen, flush with disposable income from my paper route, I would buy the latest music in tape format. Sure I had a record player, and I did not get a CD player until I was a sophomore in high school, so tapes were it. Besides, tapes were compatible with my various Walkmen. It was like having an iPod with a disc drive. You could buy your pre-recorded tapes or you could record a combination of your favorite songs culled from various LPs, tapes, or live recordings off the radio from WFNX, WZOU (back when it was "The Zoo") or KISS108 onto a blank cassette. It was a real sense of freedom to deliver the papers or go ride the T to school, listening to my favorite tunes, looking cool, and turning out the weirdos at the same time.

After much digging, I found a copy of "Don't Be Cruel." I was going to stop there, but I had also found copies of "God Fodder" by Ned's Atomic Dustbin, "Pocket Full of Kryptonite" by the Spin Doctors, and other tapes by Donna Summer, 2Pac, and Frank Zappa (what can I say, I'm eclectic). The cost of all these wonderful tapes? About 7 bucks. Now I have an assload of fun songs to sing along to when I am stuck in traffic!

Now while I am sure that I could have found all of these albums on CD somewhere or GASP! dowloaded them, it was money well spent to wallow in a bit of technological and sonical obsolescence from my adolescence. Sometimes it's all about the format baby!

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