Monday, November 27, 2006

Kill Rock Stores

Since my birthday was always in close proximity to Halloween, it became more or less a tradition that my birthday party was a costume party. My friends would come as pirates or princesses or, still a perennial favorite, a hobo whose beard was created with a burnt cork.

Which is to say I’ve been through many a costume in my day. I was even Washington Crossing The Delaware once, with a white wig created out of yarn and a cardboard “boat” around my middle.

So you’d think that if I were called upon to attend a Halloween party that coming up with an idea for a costume wouldn’t be difficult to do.

This year my friend Bob was going to be stopping by to visit his friends on the East Coast on his way to a European jaunt that would include, among other things, a chance to see the Bonzo Dog Band Reunion Tour. He’d gotten it into his head to use the occasion to celebrate Halloween by hosting a Come As A Dead Rock Star Party.

Obviously, the problem wasn’t the lack of candidates. Many rock stars naturally lend themselves to this idea by living lives that are the human equivalent of flying into a bug zapper.

But who to be? Rock stars also have a tendency to be skinny, which immediately narrowed down my choices considerably.

Not to mention the fact that most of the obvious choices were certain to be taken and I didn’t want to show up as the 2nd or 3rd Jim Morrison or Joey Ramone.

It wasn’t until the day of the party that inspiration struck and, lucky for me, all the necessary costuming could be found in the house.

I went as Tower Records.

A Tower bag on my front and back, and one on my head, plus a couple of receipts taped to my legs, and I was finished.

Among the Janises and Hendrixes and Zappas and Sonny Bonos, my personification of the soon-to-be-late retail giant remained unique.

Unlike them, though, my choice was a victim of obsolescence.

Like a giant ape pinned against a modern skyline it could neither understand or comprehend, t’was online shopping killed this beast.

Online shopping and downloading, I suppose. And while Tower was certainly not a Mom and Pop operation, as an inveterate browser I do find something to mourn.

I already know where to go online to find the weird and unusual stuff, the hard-to-find stuff. But where am I supposed to go when I just want to look at things and hold them in my hand?

More and more, the real world seems to be getting sucked into this virtual one which, while I appreciate it, only serves to remind me of my own obsolescence. The world I knew is passing away, as it must, and more and more all I seem to see are ghosts, spirits of things that once were flesh and blood.

The twentieth century, limned in fairy dust.

All of which is meant to serve as prelude to a story that involves the greatest Dead Rock Star of them all, and one which questions whether or not imitation is really the sincerest form of flattery.

Next: Viva Lost Wages, or: Love Me Legal Tender


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