Sunday, March 8, 2009

Chuck the Writer and the Last Day of Circuit City

First off, I've never really been a fan of Crapola City, but when the store declared bankruptcy and started selling off everything they had, I did pick up some nice bargains here and there - mostly memory cards, blank CD-R's and DVD+R's and the like.

Today was the final day of Circuit City's existence, so I went over to my local branch to see if there was anything left. That place was picked clean like carrion. Most of the fixtures were gone, sold for pennies on the dollar. There were a couple of display computer towers, but I would suspect they've probably got more viruses than an overpopulated day care center.

Still, it reminded me of the time when another store closed, and I bought what I thought would be a perfect addition to my house.

See, I love the aesthetics of a vintage Wurlitzer 1015 jukebox. You know, the kind with the bubble lights and curved glass domes, the kind that just scream "I am a jukebox and you will love music from me!"

Well, about 10 years ago this locla party supply store went bankrupt, and among the fixtures they were selling was a jukebox display that advertised these budget CD's of "Drew's Party Music." Drew's Party Music was actually a company that manufactures knock-off CD's that almost sound like your favorite artists, but I didn't care. The display unit would take six CD's in a tray, you plug the tray into the display cabinet, you could punch in your selection (track and disc) and the music would play. I paid $35 for the unit, had it disassembled (didn't realize how much particle board and pressboard it would take), loaded it into the car, drove home, unloaded it, and re-assembled everything in my home office.

I plugged in some CD's, and started the unit up. Everything looked great. I started the unit on its first track, Boston's "More Than A Feeling," and felt like I had accomplished something great.

90 seconds later, the machine jumped off the Boston track and went to the second track on the CD.

Hmm. Is there a scratch on my CD? I tried another CD in the set.

A minute and a half later, the song ended prematurely and the jukebox went to another track.

This isn't good. Unless I have this hankering for 90-second songs, I've got to figure out where the controls to this unit are, and what I can do to fix this.

And that meant putitng in a phone call to Drew's Party Music.

It took forever to find a phone number for the company, but sure enough I tracked down their home office. I called. "Drew's Party Music, How can I make you smile today?"

I explained my situation and asked if there was a way to disengage the 90-second feature on that unit.

"Oh sorry sir, you're not supposed to own those display units. Those aren't for public use, those are only for in-store display. When will you be sending that unit back to us?"

After we had a further discussion about why I WOULDN'T be sending the unit back to wherever they were located, I asked again about bypassing that 90-second delay feature. She explained to me that the 90-second feature was to make sure customers heard several different tracks from the Drew's Party Music catalog.

About a few weeks later, I disassembled the unit - looked for anything on there, like a dip switch or a settings conductor or a bypass connector - and found nothing. I eventually tossed the entire unit in the trash, and chalked it all up to a personal learning experience.

As the trashmen hauled away the disassembled pieces of wood and plastic and electronics, I thought to myself - this was probably the only way that Drew's Party Music would make me smile.

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