I wish there was some way I could live in either Bullhead City or Lake Havasu City or Kingman, wish I could open up a record store or something to base a living out there. I'm sure the electric bills would be bigtime but at least we wouldn't have to worry about the fucking rains that engulfed us over the past year. I love Kingman, the way it's a part of Route 66, the downtown area, the trains that run through although not so much the fucking curb that scraped my rental car. I'd probably be a permanent fixture at the local Hastings, or Del Taco although after Lake Havasu I didn't stop at a Del Taco. I ate there four times in various areas.
I drove deeper into the desert the next day on the way to Parker and took some pictures of their drive in screen that still remains although the drive in itself is no longer there. But drove down the road on the way to what I thought would be the Phoenix bypass and on the way to Casa Grande but ended up at Gila Bend, a place that I never been. Plenty of trains to see but since there wasn't much else going in there, I went on Interstate 8 to Casa Grande. For 60 plus miles, there is nothing but open desert and road. This is the dead of the desert, trying to dodge semis and blown tire treads all over the road getting there. The natives call them Alligators for blown tire treads, mostly from trucks. I never heard that term before last week, but if you on any road, chances are you'll see those type of alligators. And they are dangerous.
Two nights in Tucson, two nights at the motel 6, living at the Circle K for a midnight shake. Wanted to stop at Moliaros by Bookmans' liked their food last couple times, this time not so much, it wasn't as good as I thought it would be. Only found one cd at both Zia's and the one on Speedway I found Soft Machine Third on CD but the one on Oracle, the help pissed me off to the point that I left without buying anything. I don't know what it was but they kept bothering me asking if I needed help, looking for something or am I all right. On the 7th time of being bothered by some pushy dude, I threw up my hands and walked out. One of the reasons why it's better to shop online. They had some 10 cent records I was going to buy but the pushy sales associates made me decide it wasn't worth the hassle. 7 times bothered, and I thought that the Thunderbird Zia's help bothering me 4 times in a hour was bad enough. At least the Zia's in Tempe let me to my own devices. Guess which store I bought the most from. One thing about Tucson, they had the cheapest gas at 3.12 a gallon.
Friday, I concluded my tour of AZ at La Quinta Inn on Grove and finished up shopping at the FYE by Fiesta Mall. The FYE stores were a big disappointment, the Tempe Broadway store had some things of note but the bad rap music drove me out and the one on Gilbert Street I jolted down and took notes of a couple cds but didn't think I needed them bad enough to pick up. Next day, I went into Phoenix and picked up a couple of cheap cds at Half Priced Books as well as a few 45s, then found the new Zia's on Camelback which is their biggest store but after three hours looking through 45s and Cds, found nothing of note. By then temps in Phoenix was a record breaking 119 degrees. Decided to get some Chinese food at my favorite spot, the Jade in Metro Center and they gave a lot of food but i ended up getting sick afterwards almost to the point that of going to ER. But I survived somehow.
What did Sunday bring? One more visit to Zia's Tempe, picked up a Captain Beefheart and a Joe Walsh that is hard to find and decided that was enough tunes to bring back. And then took a walk downtown Tempe in 118 degree temps (another record) and had a malt for dinner and three Arby's Jr Roast Beef for supper and got to watch Ice Road Truckers and finding a computer and reading about the bad news back home. For the first time though, the monsoon started and skies got dark in the afternoon which sparked the fire up in Yarnell but in Tempe/Mesa it was just dark clouds. Got back to the motel and did a night walk around the old Mesa Fiesta stripmall that used to be home to Best Buy, Marshalls, Staples, Famous Footwear and the missed Borders. It sits empty but it's going to be a new home to Upper Iowa University where Borders used to be. Thought that was ironic, Upper Iowa University in Arizona?
As I begin to pack to come home to this mess left by another GD fucking Monsoon storm in the basement, I had one more morning walk around the area and heard a crash, looked up and seen a SUV smacked in the middle of Southern and Alma School and a taxi cab smacked on the side. Don't know what happened but either the SUV guy thought he was going to get a arrow after a red light or the cab ran a red light and BAM. Both drivers were okay but the SUV's front got rearranged and probably a total loss. To which I prayed to get back to the airport without any problems, and then getting through the airport and security without any problems and hope no fucking change zombies came up to me. Had two of them surprise me the day I got there. It's a big problem in a big city when you have some scruby looking dude come up and asking for change. Felt sorry for one of them but when I had one more come up to the car after I got out of Zia's in Tempe, I almost ran the asshole over. They say it's worse in Phoenix, but I know it sucks more in Las Vegas. I know from last year. Anyway, I managed to get to the airport although the clusterfuck that is the check in area and making it to the airplane and getting out in time was a event upon itself.
My brother brought me home and was telling me about the events of what I missed and how he and Mom did their best to get things out of the way when the GD monsoon hit last week. Thanks bro and Mom.
In summery, The Last Bargain Hunt in Arizona is that. I wouldn't be surprised if FYE closed a couple more of their stores in that area. It's a sad trend for the bargain hunter that nobody is buying cd's like they used to and the used inventory that FYE had was poor. Hastings was no better although they still continue to have a decent selection of things on sale for 3.99 or less new. For the first time in three years I actually bought some stuff from the Kingman store and may have brought more since they had some decent 1.50 cds. But it was basically more miss than hit and had I known the Flagstaff Hastings was out of business wouldn't have trekked up there. The Bookmans Store used Cds are overpriced, most are around 8.50 and basically I'm not paying anything more unless it's out of print. Which I did find the elusive Saigon Kick The Dragon on Wounded Bird.
But at the same time what used to be going around the Phoenix area and hitting all the decent stores has turned into a state wide search and even if you do venture into a Hastings or Zia's you will not find what you could find say 10 or 20 years ago. Rockaway is gone, so is Wherehouse Music and Sam Goody and even FYE continues to trim their stores. Basically I'm better off going to Half Priced Books and finding a obscure Babs Gonzalez CD or Dave Brubeck for 2 dollars and get the same satisfaction as I do going to the one at home. With pushy and overzealous help at the Tucson Oracle Zia's not helping things either I really do believe that we have come to the end of the line in search of the hard to find. Sometimes going back to a FYE I do discover something that I overlook before, Jim Croce's I Got A Name for example. Or The Millennium Begin for 2 dollars at Zia's Tempe. But outside of that, you have to search and search and even then the returns get less and less.
Maybe I have it all and don't need to push myself anymore than I have been. Yes it was work but it was fun before the back spams started up, before Montezuma's Revenge after a big Mexican Dinner or having a dry nose in the middle of the night. Or having stomach pains from bad take out food.
But in the process I got a kick out watching dudes buy crappy albums from Goodwill, watching them put the Carpenters, Carly Simon and Culture Club into their stack of tunes, watching the trailer trash queen buy 20 cheap CDs at Hastings and hearing a couple old dudes taking about "the Zombies are out today" at the Flagstaff Del Taco. People must have thought I lived in Arizona, had one guy ask about The Motel 8 I was staying at Sunday Night while taking his daughter to college orientation. Or talking to Skip at the Mesa hotel about storms in Florida and the record hot temps. Nevertheless my heart and soul remains down in Tempe/Mesa, in the bargain bins at the Hastings in Kingman or FYE next to Fiesta Mall. Sad to say, my livelihood remains here in the floodlands of Iowa to which storm after storm wishes me to be back in oven that is Arizona or Lake Havasu. And I'll be back at work, trying to balance work and trying to get things back to normal here again and compiling top tens and watching ratings and thinking I'm making a difference.
The Last Bargain Hunt in Arizona is over. May we never do this again.....till next year.
PS. Oatman: Forgot to add that the Oatman Hotel was closed to the public so I couldn't go upstairs and take pictures and see if Oatie, the ghost was still around. Oatman has some new updates to it, some newer buildings replacing the old and crumbling, but the burros were out and in the way of traffic. They actually had an open mine that I managed to go inside but the further I went into the darker and darker it got till I got to a section that it was so dark you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. To which I didn't go any further and walked back out into the daylight.
The radio stations I listened to were KCDX and KSLX, the latter more often after I became disappointed that that KCDX was playing the same 50 songs earlier in the day. For a radio station that prides itself on playing the lesser known, it's one thing to play the same thing over and over even if it's a track no other radio station plays. And Great Gig In The Sky still annoys me.
But not as annoying as Train's Soul Sister which was blaring from a pizza joint in Lake Havasu City. I ended up walking next door to Del Taco.
Favorite hangouts: Zia's Records in Tempe, FYE Fiesta Mall area, Half Priced Books-Camelback, Hastings in Kingman and Lake Havasu City.
Worst stores: Zia's Records Oracle Road (The help was too pushy and too annoying, seven times asking me for help or if I'm okay or all right gets a bit annoying)
Zia's Records-Thunderbird Rd Phoenix (Pushy help but they only bothered me 4 times; they're known to do this in past stoppings).
Other notes: Bookman's was very hit and miss, only cd I bought was the Saigon Kick-Lizard on Wounded Bird. Problem remains their high prices on used CDs, at 8.50, or 10 dollars for The Beatles. Since they're the only CD store in Flagstaff now I guess they can do that but in Mesa they're next door to Goodwill and sometimes Goodwill does have better and cheaper music. I remembered the Speedway Bookman's as a music store a couple years ago but now they're a sporting goods store with the music store relocated down the road
In terms of bargains Hastings beats out FYE although selection varied from location to location although my favorite ones still remain the Lake Havasu City and Kingman stores. Bullhead City didn't have a good used selection and there's too many weird folk in Prescott for me to hang around. FYE on Broadway in Tempe had a big selection of dollar cds of varying degree but not enough to compel me to return and try to sort through all they had while they were playing crap rap. Last year the Gilbert FYE had plenty of good music, this time out not much so. The best bargains were at the FYE across Fiesta Mall.
Revolver Records in Phoenix branched out to a new store on McClintock in Tempe so I went there instead of Phoenix. The help was friendly and let me to my own devices but their dollar selection of LPs, all of them were pretty scratched up. I got there late but they were kind enough to let me still look away after the five oclock closing that they do on Sundays. Worth a look if you're in the area.
Best pizza place was Buono's in Chandler about a mile away where I used to live. Their motto: Our Pizza's are so fresh we have to slap them. And they were fresh. New York style. In the stripmall a couple doors down from Goodwill on Guadalupe and Dobson.
I boycotted Sonic, still pissed at them for closing all the Iowa stores up here.
Finally, 3 Half Priced Bookstores in the Phoenix/Mesa area had some 45s that i passed up last time still there. Disappointed in Bookman's putting the damn price tag on the record label itself. Passed on Louie Jordan's Run Joe cuz of that. Ever tried to peel a price label off the old black Decca labels? They always tear up the damn label every fucking time. If you have a record sleeve put the fucking price there, not on the label, very against my wishes and drives the price down should you ever want to sell it.
For the most part, I was on my own this trip. No friends were available to get together although I did meet a few characters in Del Taco or Hastings. Sometimes that's the way it goes. BTW meet the grouchy old TSA dude who bitched about me having sunglasses on my head while going through security. Good job Barney Fife. (Photo courtesy of the Gazette)