Thursday, April 2, 2009

Working up the street from this today:

In beautiful Point Loma, home to the western terminus of Interstate 8. The eastern terminus of Interstate 8 is a middle-of-nowhere crossroads just south of Casa Grande, Arizona. There's a Texaco station with a mini-mart there, where I stopped once and bought an audio cassette labeled simply: "Banjo Music". It had a maroon cover, and no musicians were mentioned in the liner notes. I used to play that tape constantly, on the road in my beat-up '81 Honda Civic hatchback, which I drove across the country twice, in both directions. It made for a fitting, upbeat soundtrack. Pieces of the car dangled in the wind, broke off, and tumbled to the shoulder when I played that tape. The angels would laugh, smack their heads.

I lent the tape to my college roommate, or gave it to him, and then I never saw it again. All of life becomes so suddenly crestfallen when the banjo music is turned off, you know? For years afterward I looked through those spinning racks of old audio tapes in every roadside gas station I ever went to and never saw it again. Eventually the audio tapes in all those dusty racks were replaced with CDs, and now everyone has an iPod, and you can find any music in the world in just a few seconds by going online. Some fun is gone, as in, the fun of finding that one album of music that you've been searching everywhere for.

I admit that even today when I see an old rack of audio tapes in a mini-mart, I peruse it for "Banjo Music" -that timeless, classic album, but those racks of cassette tapes are becoming even harder to find now. Funny how they all quietly disappeared, and no one seemed to notice.

The car is long gone, too. Sold it to the Smog Authority, which was paying people to get old polluting cars off the highway. I got $500 for it, and had paid $250 for the car orginally, so I doubled my money. The thing was priceless, however, having showed me my nation.