I was sitting at my desk here at the paper when my mind drifted off and I started to wonder if people would listen to a podcast called “Welcome to Clint’s House” where for 60 minutes I took you behind the scenes of every individual item of interest I had at my place. There’s an audience for that, right?
There better be, because recently, tired of having my schedule dictated to me by my television, I decided to give the constant stream of shows a break. And so, at the end of each work night, I retreat instead into my “workshop,” which is another name for the spare bedroom that instead of having a bed in it actually features numerous items of electronic bric-a-brac. More than enough to keep me occupied for an eternity and more than enough to keep you entertained, at least this week.
And with that I welcome you all as I cut the ribbon to the second annual “Mister Music Memorial Hi-Fi and Video Expo – 2019” first held at the still-missed Mister Music at the Cross County Mall as featured in this ad from the Nov. 6, 1985, Journal Gazette and being held right now, right here. Come with me, won’t you?
First of all, isn’t there something comforting about an “electronics expo”? It’s not like we still don’t have such things these days. I’m in charge of making sure our weekly “Go Guide” is up to date and every week it seems that there’s still an expo being held in some grubby convention center within driving distance of Coles County. Folks still need to look at aisles and aisles of home improvement stuff or farm equipment after all, but electronics? We’ve got more of that than ever. Heck, isn't today’s modern house like something out of Dean Koontz’s “Demon Seed” by this point. But face it, when you need a new flatscreen for your wall or a blasted smartphone to read this very column on, you go to a store where there’s a lot of that thing you need, you buy it, and you split. No expo needed. Fair enough.
But in these troubled times, a man such as me, who remembers the days when we had a pretty sweet record-slash-stereo store in the mall, I feel that some of the old traditions should be upheld. Like say, expositions of the latest bulky electronic gear that the dude in your life used to not be able to live without but now could be done with a phone, or if you happened to stop caring about music around the time Alabama devoted a whole song to 18-wheelers, or when you bought that Boston album with the spaceship on the cover (there’s a spaceship on all of them, by the way).
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Of the “150,000 dollars” of pictured gear which was stacked in the concourse of the Cross County Mall that weekend, I’m sure you could very well grab a colored pencil and track your own family history of which son of yours bought what for his swingin’ cool bedroom or what exact tape-deck with the noise reduction you bought for your Silverado to impress the lady hanging out at Gill’s who is now your wife. I don’t mean to crow too much, but (as I’ve had pointed out to me recently by some of my readers) I’ve got a bit fewer miles on the tires than some of you. But even I, one who saw Mister Music suddenly move to Broadway for a hot minute in the late ‘90s before becoming not a thing anymore, could hold that ad up, point to a few things and say, “Yeah…these things are all me.”
Most of it all coalescing into the centerpiece of my man-feelings retreat room: my “FrankenStereo,” which consists of a vintage Pioneer receiver (with big click buttons) and matching duel tape deck connected to an also-vintage MCS brand turntable (when J.C. Penny made electronics) and matching speakers (with duct-taped subwoofers) all inherited from my departed grandmother (along with a really mellow Johnny Nash gospel record), and brought “up to date” with a back-up Audio-Technics turntable I got for free and a NAD Component CD player which was purchased from one of the area’s only remaining old-fashioned audio stores in existence, from the owner, a white-haired rock and roll lover who’s commercials I used to watch on local TV as a kid when his hair was less white and the backgrounds behind him were wood paneled. Who says advertising doesn’t pay out?
And when the days are long and TV at night is no longer an option, I power up the beast and get to work making mix tapes using freshly unwrapped blank cassettes that I bought in bulk from Wal-Mart when I was in high school. And when I realize that my hours of hard work trying my best to needle drop onto tracks with expert precision are wasted because no one I know has a cassette player anymore, I sigh, listen to them myself, and play backgammon against an old digital backgammon computer for hours on a card table next to the window. But you don’t really want to hear me talk about backgammon again do you? I mean, I will if you want.
If you’re in the Cross County Mall and you gaze, as I do, at the taped-over glass of the storefront that used to be Mister Music and you wonder, then let me tell you, I’ve been behind that glass. Last year, when helping the JG-TC ad folks take down our booth at the annual Business Expo (natch) and I got a chance to wheel some tables into the space where Mister Music was. And folks, it’s just like it was, except the records and all the electronics are gone, of course. But that wooden dropped-ceiling structure around what was once the sales desk is still there. And that’s where I stood, right where the clerks did, and reminisced about all the things I bought or ordered at that counter, at which point Sales Coordinator Casianne Bailey politely gave me a look that screamed “That’s great, Clint. Can we just get this done?” Guess she wasn’t impressed with that verbal expo as you may very well not be impressed with this written one.
But hey, what can I tell you. No refunds.