It is dawn, and I am sitting atop Squaw Peak, as is my wont, clad only in black jockstrap and simple yachting cap. The sun hits me and glances upon the crystals at my feet, arranged in a classic tantric form derived from the sacred teachings of Baba Gin Rummy, the 14-year-old Perfect Inhaler. I pluck a crystal at random and bring it to my lips--I have liberally coated it with caramel--and achieve perfect thigmotropism. Yet I am not at peace.

There is a major problem, a gnawing question that circles in my head like a lost bat in a deep cave. My buddy Mike the China Boy got married 11 months ago, and, according to the sacred teachings of Ann Landers, I have a mere 30 days to get him and his lovely bride a gift, or be forever shamed. (FYI--you get a year's grace period for wedding-gift giving.) I couldn't think of anything properly tasteful and expensive at the time (read: I was broke), but, of course, I attended the wedding and helped dispose of numerous beverages and small marine crustaceans dipped in cocktail sauce. Racked with guilt and responsibility--hell, Mike had shown up at my wedding with his own champagne--I climbed down from my meditative perch, drove to work and consulted the next best thing to Ms. Landers (or Baba Gin Rummy, for that matter): New Times' own Dewey Webb. "There's a bridal registry at Tower Records now" was his sage tip.

And, yes, it is true. No more agonizing over costly flatware or boring dish patterns; now you can give that special couple anything from the latest Yanni offering to the complete Cannibal Corpse catalogue--gifts that say "personal," "appropriate" and "I didn't spend a fortune, but it doesn't matter anymore, this isn't the Fifties and no one under 35 has any money, because we'll never be as successful as our parents, so let's all be thankful we can do away with outdated pomp and at least afford to give each other CDs, for God's sake."

I got Stefanie Gendreau, manager of the Tower location on East Thomas, on the phone, and she gave me the lowdown.

The whole thing started at Tower headquarters "in Sacramento a couple years ago, and has gone chainwide in the last six months," she told me. "What you do is, you register as you would at a normal department store, except you leave a list of, say, the Pink Floyd boxed set, or something on laser disc or anything we have in our store. We fax that information to any store in the immediate area where the person may be shopping."

Apparently, it's taking a while for nuptially minded Phoenicians to take the musical plunge, she said. "We've had a lot of reaction, but nobody's actually done it here in Phoenix. But it seems to work pretty well in Sacramento."

And what does it say about our society? "I think people are a little more down to earth," opined Gendreau. "People realize a little more that they'd rather have something they'd enjoy on a constant basis rather than something to put in a china cabinet and look at for the rest of their lives. Everybody always wants a new CD or a new movie."

Hopefully, Mike will.
Meat Genderizer: Let's get one thing straight: Serene Dominic is a man. To the very best of my male/female detection capabilities--and I have rarely been wrong in the past--I can tell you that S.D. talks in a scratchy baritone, shaves on a daily basis and is not only incapable of giving birth, but has sired a little one himself, thus rendering him 100 percent hombre in my book. So from now on, address all those hate letters to Mr. Serene Dominic, okay? Go See: According to Bob Log, "guitar" player for Doo Rag--Tucson's gift to the blues world--the Rag's opener at its next gig is a special little outfit named Pork Torta. "Hey, what makes it so special?" I hear you asking. Well, I guess that would depend on your definition of "special." To some, it is a Bob Hope TV show, to others a really fine piece of casaba melon, to still others, oh, a Pink Floyd concert. But according to Log, "special" is a thing named Pork Torta, and Pork Torta is this: "Oh, they're so great! The drummer wears a chef's hat and he has, like, lettuce on his drums that goes flying around so it looks like he's tossing a salad. And he's got regular drumsticks, but he plays with these wooden spoons, too." Of course, I cannot vouch for any of this personally, but it's enough to get me out to Congo on Monday to see if it's all true. Call 945-3778.

I once almost bought a bass head from the singer in this band; he'd advertised it as an SVT, but when I got to his house, the thing turned out to be a B4, instead, and it was missing handles and grill cloth. But just because the guy didn't know what an SVT was doesn't mean the Holy Rollers can't play. Washington, D.C.'s own (not the Bay City's) are sure to make you howl with joy--this is a Dischord band, mind you--along with Spill Blanket and Fuzz, on Thursday at Boston's. Call 921-7343.

It's not exactly the same as when the Beatles dumped Pete Best, but if you want to catch the last Death Takes a Holiday gig with its current drummer, Dennis Hickerson, show up at Hollywood Alley on Sunday; call 820-7117. The boys of Death are searching as you read for a replacement, and wrote me a letter with this phrase, which reminds me of something Kurt Loder would say: "Queensrche is very influential with today's drummers who are interested in checking out this alternative thing that has grabbed the nation's collective chain." No doubt.


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