Home > Author blabber > Dollar Bin Tragedies (or When I Cry in Public): Too Good to Be True Discs

Dollar Bin Tragedies (or When I Cry in Public): Too Good to Be True Discs

In another episode of gut-wrenching dollar bin shopping, I must remind the reader of a woeful scenario.  This terrible story is about the CDs that have been planted to make a mockery of your hope.  Do not read on if you wish to keep your music shopping optimism intact!

If one has been a regular purveyor of cheap CDs at their favorite music or item dump-off stores, one will eventually develop a scanning ability that enables one to swiftly scour racks of unfortunate music.  It is a bit hard to describe, but one eventually begins to memorize the features of some of the small, rectangular spines of CD cases.  These commonly discarded and forgotten CDs get mentally cataloged, for they are almost expected to be found in every dollar bin one sifts through.

They almost act like old friends.  One day I’ll say to myself hey, it’s bizarre that I haven’t seen a copy of that OMC “How Bizarre” CD recently.  Then suddenly, splat, one will show up in a bin to say hello.  I’ll nod and say to myself ah, there you are you obnoxiously infectious but universally discarded piece of vile New Zealand music, I’m going to ignore you yet again.  But as I was saying, one just acquires an ability to weed out the expected junk, the CD-R junk, and the never-heard-of-it junk.

The benefit of having this scanning skill is that when one scans something that is out of the norm one will apply the hard ocular brakes.  At first, the feeling is shock.  What the heck is this Radiohead CD doing here?  In fact, not long ago in New York City I actually stumbled onto three Radiohead CDs (“Kid A”, “In Rainbows” and “You Might Be Wrong”) in a cheap bin.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I began to question whether or not Radiohead is old news and that no one liked them anymore.  You know, crazy stuff.

Of course, since I’m always looking out for other people’s music collections, I grab all three in haste to use as buddy gifts.  However, at this point I take a moment to bring it down a level.  Perhaps most people would have already ran towards the register at this point, but as an experienced dollar bin shopper I felt that I was caught in a ruse.  The fact hit me as I realized that hey, c’mon, no one sells Radiohead CDs this cheap.  Sure enough, as I looked at the CDs I saw the psychotic scratch artistry that some bonehead made on the discs as the albums rolled around their car, living room, and/or truck bed.  Of course, it was too good to be true.

Like anything that advertises itself as a great sale or free ride, one always has to expect an asterisk somewhere.  In this case, the music store thought that the Radiohead discs could still sell despite their state.  Sure, they’re idiots for even trying to pass them off, but that’s what some stores do to overzealous buyers who are in a hurry.  I also found a very nice collection of pre-Green R.E.M. CDs in the same store that had suffered the same fate.  Some years ago, I once was quite forlorn about missing out on the classic Led Zeppelin IV CD (which was mutilated), for though I’ve heard the songs many times I hadn’t had a chance to actually acquire the disc.  I have more stories such as these, but I’m depressing myself.

If you want to become a hardened cheap disc shopper, you must ingrain and maintain an automatic low expectation level.  After all, you are shopping for a few miracles for nearly nothing.  If you actually find a pre-“China Girl” David Bowie or Husker Du album in the dollar bin, you really have to check yourself before you raise that low expectation level above a faint hum.  Breathe, say to yourself that the CD is scratched, then calmly check to see if you’re right.  If you’re not right, SNATCH THAT BABY UP AND RUN!  Pay first, though.

Ooh baby, you’re making me crazy, every time I look around.

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