May 29, 2001
The Bad Place


We've been really good lately about staying away from The Bad Place.

"Every time we go there," David points out, "we get into trouble." And he's absolutely correct: every time we go to The Bad Place, we do get into trouble. We spend more money than we can afford,  we indulge in a product we are consciously trying to avoid, we waste valuable *time* and *exercise* molecules, and we invariably look at each afterwards, in shame, and say "We did it again, didn't we?"

The Bad Place ... a.k.a Amoeba Records in Berkeley. A music junkie's dream come true, and a frugal bride-to-be's worst nightmare.

While we continue to furiously scrimp and save for the wedding/honeymoon, now less than eight weeks away, we've both agreed to cut back on unnecessary expenditures. No cable TV. No air conditioning for the Subaru. No new computer. The Alameda Public Library instead of Barnes & Noble. Cheap Chinese instead of The China House. Albertson's Extra-Ineffective Generic Laundry Detergent instead of Tide Ultra.
Only one tube of $28 mascara per week.

And -- as much as it kills us -- no more impromptu and costly Saturday afternoon jaunts to Amoeba Records. 

We've been there about a bazillion times this spring  --  with Jaymi, with my sister and her husband, by ourselves three or four or eleven times  --  and we just plain can't afford it anymore. We've been mostly fine with all of this enforced penny-pinching, I'm glad to say. We're pretty frugal people to begin with. We're saving together for a common goal. Plus we never have all that much money anyway: it's easy to not-spend money that you don't have. We've managed to stick to our self-imposed budget limitations without a lot of fuss or muss or sense of deprivation. (I actually PREFER local-access Japanese-language historical drama over HBO!  Honest!)  And even though it's been sorta rough, we've stuck to our guns about avoiding The Bad Place.

Until I went to work on The Wedding Tape this weekend.

"We have no Tommy Roe," I announced on Friday. Specifically: we have no Tommy Roe performing "Dizzy."

"None at all? Not even on any of the compilations?" David asked, incredulously ... and we searched together through our sprawling collection of vinyl and CD (including all 43,897,621 volumes of "Have A Nice Day"). But it was true. We've got Tommy James. We've got Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. We've got Tommy Sands, Tommy Lee, Tommy Dorsey and Tommy Petty. We've even, god help us, got Tommy Tutone.

But no Tommy Roe.

This was going to be a problem. How could any Wedding Tape worth its bird-friendly/water-soluble/environmentally-correct rice NOT include "Dizzy?" That timeless anthem from Young Secra's yearning, icky, *Someday My Prince Will Come (and Take Me to the Prom)* pre-adolescence??

I should be specific here. I'm not talking about the Pre-Wedding-Ceremony Tape: the quiet, tasteful music that will play soothingly in the background as our guests arrive at my sister's house that afternoon (as I'm locked in the bathroom, frantically plucking that wiry black hair from the middle of my neck).  I've already recorded the Pre-Wedding-Ceremony Tape  --  I finished it last night, as a matter of fact  --  and it is an absolute masterpiece of twinkly Celtic harps and soaring, faux-Enya electronic chorales, all about "journeys" and "rivers" and "kindred spirits." Half our guests will probably leave in disgust before the ceremony even begins.

It isn't the Marching-Down-the-Aisle Tape, either: I'm still working on that one.

No,  I'm talking about the Post-Wedding-Ceremony, Sitting-Around-Eating-Cake With-Our-Guests, Are-We-All-Supposed-To-Dance-Now-or-Whut? Tape. The first music we'll officially listen to as Mr. and Mrs. Ю僱êrvØ¡. David, technically, is in charge of putting that tape together: he's the true *Mix-Master* in our particular household. My job here is simply to provide him with a list of songs I'd like him to include ... a little bit of Secra Stuff, interspersed here and there between his Big Youth and his Anti Nowhere League. Some BoDeans, maybe. A little bit of James. A good weepy/mushy song or two: "The Air That I Breathe," for sure, and maybe "Oh, My Love."

And, of course, at least ONE icky pop ditty from my youth.

I'd already finished compiling my Wedding Tape Wish List  --  hell, I had my list "compiled" ten minutes after we got engaged  --  and now it was time for me to poke around, amidst our vast combined collection, and find all of the actual CDs/tapes/albums for him to tape from. 

That was when I discovered that we were tragically Tommy Roeless.

"Did you look for it online?" David asked, and I said that yes, I'd managed to find a decent Greatest Hits package, with "Dizzy" on it, available on CDNow.  (Although it's probably lots more Tommy Roe than I actually NEED, unless someday I'm suddenly seized by a burning desire to hear "Hurray For Hazel" or "Stir It Up & Serve It.") 

"It's about sixteen bucks, with shipping and handling," I said.

We looked at each other, and the unspoken thought buzzed between the two of us like an electrical current:

We know where we can get it cheaper than that.

And that's how we ended up at The Bad Place on Saturday afternoon.

While we were there, of course, I had to buy all sorts of other *missing songs* for the wedding tape. I bought Marc Cohn, just for the song "True Companion."  I bought Sebadoh, for "Willing to Wait."  I bought Lone Justice ("I Found Love"), and Bob Seger ("You'll Accomp'ny Me"), and Jesus & Mary Chain ("Snakedriver"). But I didn't buy only wedding-related stuff: just for fun, I picked up a couple of "nostalgia CD's"  ...  digital replacements for vinyl albums I had literally played to pieces, years earlier. Linda Ronstadt's "Cry Like A Rainstorm, Howl Like The Wind."  The Association's "Greatest Hits," originally a childhood Christmas present from my groovy Uncle Jerry.  A replacement copy of a Stevie Nicks retrospective I accidentally threw out a third-story window, a couple years back. I bought another one of those infernal Celtic collections I'm so fond of.  

I bought LeeAnn Womack. I bought The Dandy Warhols.

I bought "SUPER TROUPER," forcryingoutloud.

In fact, I bought everything except Tommy Roe ... which, as it turns out, Amoeba didn't have in stock, in any form, new or used.

In the end, I figure, I wound up spending about eleven times more at The Bad Place than I would have spent if I'd merely ordered the damned Tommy Roe Greatest Hits package from CDNow in the first place. I blew my entire music budget for the first half of the 21st Century, basically. And I still don't have "Dizzy" for the Post-Wedding-Ceremony, Sitting-Around-Eating-Cake-With-Our-Guests, Are-We-All-Supposed-To-Dance-Now-or-Whut? Tape.

I hope our guests like Tommy Tutone.

happy birthday, mr. cave!

throw a rock