Tower's airy new location at the Desert Ridge Marketplace has 14,000 square feet of CDs, cassettes (yes, places still carry them), videos and DVDs, plus an array of current magazines and stereo equipment. If you want to buy a Puccini CD for your dad, or that Raffi CD for your mom that she enjoyed playing more than you did, chances are it's in stock. A recent last-minute inspection to fill holes in the ol' record collection found the store carrying a dozen Hole CDs -- and six by a blues guy with the unfortunate name of Dave Hole. Their prices ranged from $12.99 to $14.99, with imports hovering just below the $20 range, besting the everyday regular price of your mark-up mom-and-pop fave.
Heck, why stop there? Check Tower's Web site to see what they have in stock; you can pretend it's Amazon and special-order a title. So cross yourself, ask your mom-and-pop outlet's forgiveness, clutch that Ziggy Stardust 30th-anniversary set that no one else in town has, and go to bed without any supper.
Most hunts end here at Tracks in Wax, where Blue Book value goes out the window if an item's not exactly flying off the shelves. While the list of vinyl albums finding their way to CD continues to grow, it's never going to encompass this shop's inventory of waxworks. Where else can you get failed experiments like the Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus or Chuck Berry's psychedelic dalliances at the Fillmore West with the Steve Miller Band? And both are priced according to desirability, at $5.99 and $15.99, respectively.
What of the countless soundtracks such as In Like Flynt and Out of Sight that have yet to make it to CD? Usual collector staples like the Beatles and the Stones are well-represented, with a large selection of 45 picture sleeves and 12-inches from around the world. Plus, the walls are lined with treasures you've never seen, except in grainy reproductions in a Goldmine magazine, priced at considerably less than the shaft prices that publication lists them for. Not in plain view are the thousands of 45s stashed in the back, listed in two yellow-and-green three-ring binders on the counter, which rarely exceed $5, even on an original label. Plus, you have knowledgeable owners Dennis and Donnie, who've been at this locale for ages and know the kind of stuff you've collected since you were a snot-nosed runt. With sections divided into jazz, punk, R&B, and male and female vocals, it'll take mere seconds to find what you're looking for, but you'll still inevitably be late coming back from your lunch break.
Let there be no doubt: These people take their beads seriously. Exhibits include "The Shape of Beads to Come," "Learning Bead Lingo," and the undoubtedly divisive "Common Bead Names and Misnomers," while the museum's calendar features appearances by guest artists and an extensive array of classes and workshops. Almost 50 courses are offered this fall alone, ranging from the introductory "Basic Beading" to the advanced "Wedding Series," in which the expert beadhead crafts a necklace, earrings and headband to wear at her own wedding.
And the bead goes on. . . . The museum store is a truly international experience, peddling Chinese glass beads, Japanese seed beads, handmade Peruvian animal beads, German glass beads, Czech seed beads and Navajo-made jewelry.
As well-organized as this garden may be, some of these plants are practically begging for further categorization. Such as? 007's favorite plant: goldeneye. Plant that most sounds like a recreational drug: euphorbia. Plant most likely to sign for $252 million: Texas ranger. You get the idea.