Car Stereo Blues



You know what sucks? Not being able to listen to music in your car. A friend once told me that he did 75 percent of his music consumption while driving. He's since moved to L.A., so I assume that number is now closer to 110. Living in a city with no trains means sitting in your car a lot, and Nashville, if in no other way, is like L.A. in that regard.

Now, I find myself once again with a car stereo that doesn't work. The adapter that I used to plug into my iPod looks exceptionally sad just hanging out of the cassette deck flap like an uneaten piece of black spaghetti. I've thought about trying to find an old Highway Hi-Fi, on eBay, but that hardly seems practical. And it probably wouldn't work anyway, at least not for long. As it turns out, I happen to have exceptionally bad luck with car stereos.

I've owned three vehicles in my life and in each case the stereo eventually just stopped working. My first car was a 1986 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser--the kind with fake wood paneling and a fold-up, rear-facing third row of seats. You might call it a Grocery Getter, which people I knew sometimes did. The radio (AM/FM only) was never very good, and would sometimes cut out completely. If I hit the steering wheel just right, I could get the music to come back on. I called this "Fonzie-ing" the stereo, and actually thought it was kind of cool.

Playing the Fonz worked for a while, but eventually the radio just died out completely. So, I bought a cheap cassette boom box that I kept on the seat next to me. Within a couple months, someone threw a piece of concrete through my window and stole it. (But not my tapes. What, a thief too good for Portastatic?) Cost of boom box: $20. Cost to replace car window: $75. As I was sweeping the broken glass out the car, I said, out of anger or grief or frustration, "Why didn't they just steal the fucking car?" A week later, someone did.

My question to you, Cream readers, is this: Where do I go to get my stereo fixed or buy a new one? Every time I see a place that seems to specialize in such things, I get the impression that I'm going to roll out of there with 26-inch rims, ground effects and a 600-watt subwoofer instead of a spare tire. Not that all those things aren't awesome in their own way, just overkill for a car with 193,000 miles on it.


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