Too bad for them that the gnarliest place around these parts ain't even on Mill Avenue at all, but rather an unpretentious strip mall at Ash Avenue and University Drive.
This countercultural complex of cool boasts an array of independently owned alt-friendly business offering satisfaction for all your senses. Pick up the latest issues of X-Men and Spider-Man at Ash Avenue Comics & Books, followed by a search through the bins of Eastside Records for used vinyl, or a hunt for secondhand chic at the Buffalo Exchange. If you're hungry, Otto's Pizza has plenty of fresh slices and subs for noshing, and El Pollo Supremo serves up inexpensive dishes of delicious mesquite charbroiled chicken and sirloin strips with warm corn tortillas. Wet Paint Art Supply has plenty of pigment for artistic types, while the Headquarters has all your... er, tobacco-smoking supplies, HTC has a piercing studio on the premises, and Cowtown Skateboard features equipment fit for tricking.
To quote Wet Paint owner Jesika Jordan, "Fuck Mill Avenue, Ash Avenue's where it's at." Word.
Unless you forget to return your items on time, the price is right. So forget the old Chevy Chase flick or Animal House for the umpteenth time, and give La Dolce Vita or The Rules of the Game a gander, courtesy of one of our greatest institutions, the public library.
Prices range from $3 to $10 on most single discs from a full range of musical styles. We snagged a CD reissue of Dean Martin's Christmas with Dino, the new Skinny Puppy, and a collection of Sesame Street songs covered by rock singers, all for less than $20. Listening stations make for no-risk shopping, and free Wi-Fi access means that, while we're scouting out that B-52's box set, we won't have to miss a single incoming e-mail.
We usually sneak over to the DVD and special-purchase collectible music sections while we're at Bookmans, because they, too, are overflowing with amazing finds at incredible prices. Probably, we should take advantage of Bookmans' generous trade-in policy by swapping some of our less-favorite CDs, but with prices like these, we'd just as soon hand over a handful of dimes for a lot of cool music.
Looking for a quadraphonic, 180-gram vinyl pressing of Johnny Cash Sings Hank Williams for your cowboy cousin? It's here. Gotta get that double-LP picture-disc import of Iron Maiden's Matter of Life and Death for your metalhead man? They've got it.
Need a copy of ex-model Twiggy's 1971 LP The Boy Friend for, uh, some reason? They've got that, too.
Memory Lane's stock is 100,000 records strong, encompassing every genre, including sports and punk (big cred for carrying an Italian import picture-disc of influential U.K. hardcore punks Discharge's 1981 Never Again EP). But discerning collectors will really appreciate the store's grading system, which is informed and accurate, unlike many sellers on eBay.
Memory Lane's grade scale for the condition of its records ranges from G ("Good," which means there is audible damage to the record) to M ("Mint," which means the record is still factory-sealed), and the grades are honest if there's a tear or a promo stamp on the cover, they say so.
And the prices can be criminally low ($14 for a mint condition, German import of Led Zeppelin's In Through the Out Door; $15 for a mint condition, red vinyl Italian import of garage greats the 13th Floor Elevators' Easter Everywhere).
With its comprehensive stock, detailed grading system, and bargain prices, it's no wonder Memory Lane's been in business more than 22 years.
The significantly larger space boasts an expanded inventory of vinyl goodness, including rock, pop, jazz, blues, collectibles and a section devoted to local music.
A number of Rockaway's familiar faces are happy to help you navigate the stacks of used CDs, DVDs, and video games, and when you buy any used CD, a staff member will run the disc through an industrial-strength cleaner that removes all dust and most scratches, thus guaranteeing a skip-free ride home.
Our favorite day to shop at Rock Zone? Sunday.
Vinyl Sundays features 15 percent off any record as well as $1 records slashed to a measly 75 cents.
About time, we say. Now the rest of the world knows what we've known for years.
Besides offering the best in new and used titles, our favorite bookstore has created an entire community around authors, booksellers, and readers that truly feeds the souls of those of us who care about good writing and good reading. Besides the many cozy nooks for getting to know a book before you buy it, Changing Hands offers book groups, writer's workshops, and readings from authors both local and national. Groovy gift items like candles, stationery, and book lights and the adjacent Wildflower Bread Company are two more in a long list of reasons why we're glad to keep "visit Changing Hands" on our "to do" list.
Our only complaint again: When're you opening your downtown Phoenix location? Huh? Huh?
Did your neighbor move to Fresno with your favorite bathroom trivia book? There's probably a copy here. Do you have an in-law with an esoteric hobby or pursuit? Grab a year's worth of gifts for that weirdo yes, the books are sorted by subject. Ooh, a Little Golden Book for the kids. (Yeah, right, the kids.) And while your selections are rung up at the counter, try to resist that rare collectible tree ornament. Just try.