About a decade ago I crashed my car. Bad.
I still remember it pretty clearly. I had a bad haircut and was driving on the feeder next to a highway and listening to music (maybe Missy Elliott's “Work It” or maybe Jimmy Eat World's “The Middle” but probably Nelly's “Hot In Herre”). It was the beginning of the afternoon and it was not raining. I was driving and everything was great and then suddenly I was not driving and everything was not great.
I ran right through a red light doing about 50 miles per hour, crashing face first into a woman traveling in a new Ford Mustang left to right on the intersecting street. I hit her square in her passenger side door, T-Boning her car, crumpling it into two discernible sections. It was loud and fast and scary. And stupid. I'd like to say that it was an accident rooted in nobility, that I couldn't have afforded to stop at the light because I was in hot pursuit of a baby thief or a known Nazi. But it wasn't. It was the opposite. I ran the light because I was trying to fish a couple of Combos from up off the floor so I could eat them. (Note: In my defense, Combos are goddamn delicious.)
I remember calling a guy that I went to college with to come help me get everything situated. He answered the phone and I explained to him what happened. He responded, “I've never known anyone that had their life so adversely affected by pretzels and cheese, so I'm glad you called me.” He always talked like that. He thought he was a character on a TV show. When his financial aid got cancelled and he had to sit out a semester I secretly applauded the federal government. Me and him don't really hang out anymore.
At any rate, the accident: Beyond the physical jarring, the whole thing was mostly cosmetic; nobody was mauled by the metal and glass, thankfully. There was, however, one lasting, immeasurably sad byproduct: The car I crashed, an early-'90s Jeep Cherokee, was my all-time favorite car.
I don't know why I love that particular make and model so much, I just know that I do. After I'd crashed mine and it was rendered undriveable, I was devastated. I didn't drive again for two years (hours, whatever).
There have been a string of replacement cars since then: a serviceable but gutless four cylinder Isuzu Rodeo, an avocado green Jeep Liberty, a hyper effeminate Hyundai Accent, but none have satisfied me like the Cherokee.
Which is why everything is wonderful these days.
Seven months ago, my wife bought me a new old one; a burgundy, 4 door 1992 Jeep Cherokee. The a/c didn't work and the blinkers didn't work and the headliner hung like something that hangs really low and the engine leaked oil like it'd been shot with a bazooka. It was perfect.
I've been restoring it slowly, and refuse to add anything to it that wasn't there 20 years ago. It's a fun, arduous process that two or so weeks ago saw its first truly pivotal moment: After weeks and weeks of searching, we found someone to repair the original tape player.
(Note: If you call a dealership or mechanic or audio company and ask them to fix a tape player, they will almost always respond like you asked them to sew an arm to your forehead.)
The day that it was fixed, the most glorious day of all, we drove to Value Village, a proper thrift store, and sifted through a large plastic bin of cassettes. They were $0.75 each. I bought twelve total; seven actual tapes and five still-packaged blank ones.
Creating mixes for the blanks is as enjoyable as you're probably remembering, but there's one thing you probably don't: CASSETTE TAPES SOUND LIKE TOTAL SHIT. It sounds like the music is being played in a separate room and you're listening through the walls.
I mean, there are times when listening to an album via tape is fun — at night; early morning; driving slow speeds; listening to dusty rap like Delo or Big K.R.I.T. (bombastic rap simply does not translate) — but minus those very specific instances it is counterintuitive to the listening process. It's no different than cooking a steak with a lighter or trying to watch porn on an analog television.
Alas, we trek on. Relics of the past are of the past for a reason (because they suck and are done infinitely better now), but it cost $100 to get them to replace the motor inside the Jeep's radio and fuck you if think I'm going to just take that L.
So it's cassette tapes or die. Here, then, are the tapes (with pre-recorded music) that we bought from the thrift store:
The soundtrack to 1986's Stand By Me
Oh, man. That's the movie about the boys that go look for that dead body. It's the best. I've seen it infinity. Still, I probably get it confused with Morgan Freeman's Lean On Me at least 60 percent of the time. Someone'll always* be like, “Yo, have you seen Lean On Me?” and I'll be like, “Have I? It's one of my favorite movies. Remember that part where all the boys get leaches on them?” Sucks.
I thought this tape would've been more enjoyable. Turns out, I wasn't born in the '50s, though, so the appeal wears off pretty quickly after all the little birds on Jay Bird street listen to that one robin that rocks tweet several times.
*People ask me about Morgan Freeman movies basically every day of my life.
Boston's debut album, Boston
I mean, I have a dad and he might be in my car at some point so this. Also, I'm not certain a song has have ever been better to play while working on a car than “More Than A Feeling.” As soon as it comes on, my auto repair confidence shoots up ten fold. “What's that you say? The engine needs to be rebuilt. Easy. I got this. Hand me that one tool, the one that kind of looks like when the moon is only a sliver. Yeah, that's it. That one there. The moon wrench. Thanks.”
Whitney Houston's Whitney
When I first grabbed this I'd hoped that this was her debut album, Whitney Houston, because that's the one with “Hold Me,” an entirely underappreciated song she did with Teddy Pendergrass. This is the follow up album though, which, outside of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” is boilerplate stuff. Still, I couldn't stop myself from grabbing it. I think maybe I only picked it because I wanted the cashier to think I was interesting, the same reason I bought shoes with yellow laces last year (which I regretted immediately) and the same reason I avoid telling people that I like to watch The Big Bang Theory.
By the way, did you know that this album went 9x platinum? NINE TIMES. Oh, and Boston's Boston was 17x platinum. Birdman hand rub all over that shit.
Seal's Seal II
ONLY BECAUSE IT HAS “KISS FROM A ROSE” SO BACK OFF.
Cameo's Word Up!
Do you know how many irony points you get if you pull into an independent bookstore's parking lot playing an album by a funk band from the '70s loudly via cassette player? The hang-arounds basically carried me into the store on their shoulders. If I'd have been wearing a beret and sarcastically reading 50 Shades of Grey that shit would've been a wrap.
Tupac's All Eyez On Me
The thing about this one is that it's broken. I knew it was broken when I bought it. That means that anytime someone looks through the case of tapes they'll see it, be like, “YES!,” notice it's broken, then be like, “…dang.” My whole life.
2 Live Crew's Live In Concert
This was recorded at a concert of theirs in Phoenix(!) in 1990. You go fifteen or minutes or so before they even get to their actual music (it's a lot of yelling and call/response stuff to open); they are just wired the fuck up. It's great. Or it's terrible. I don't know. I guess that depends on how you feel about dry-humping.