Back in 1995, I was an affable young man, newly minted with a driver’s license and terrorizing the quiet streets of Katonah, NY with my brand of cautious driving and leery lane changing. My vehicle of choice (or rather, the vehicle my parents let me drive) was a bright red Toyota Camry — one that I later took with me to college and then eventually to Los Angeles. Over that span of years, the Camry accumulated all sorts of charming mementos (aka trash), and when the poor car finally flunked out on a sweltering Van Nuys side street in 2006, I was faced with the daunting task of cleaning all the crap out.
Naturally, I shoved everything into a thin garbage bag and transferred it into the trunk of my shiny, new Camry — with the goal that I would go home that night and sift through the memories. Eight years later, I finally got around to it.
This is what I found.
Truthfully, there was tons and tons of crap in that bag. Most of it was mix CDs and their broken jewel cases, but there were a few outdated road atlases from 1995 and a bizarre rental contract from 2001 that I never signed (thus sparing me a miserable existence in the darkest corner of North Hollywood). The majority of the junk now sits quietly in a giant dumpster awaiting removal, but a few things were intriguing enough to earn a trip up to my apartment. Here they are:
A rather inaccurate but spirited caricature of my friend Steph and I. This came from an over-the-top, lavish Bat Mitzvah in Burbank, CA. The smiles in the drawing come from probably one too many visits to the fondue fountain. Nevertheless, the drawing depicts us in our then-home away from home: Cabo Cantina on Sunset. Ah, 2004.
A collection of essential cassette tapes. There are some decent titles here to give me cred (Prince, David Bowie), but those are quickly undermined by cassette singles for Barenaked Ladies, Amber, and Los Del Rio, a.k.a. the purveyors of “The Macarena.”
Sentimental props go to the La Bamba soundtrack, a monumental cassette of my youth, and of course, we cannot overlook the Rain Man soundtrack either (nor the ever intriguing compilation, Living in the ’80s.) Man, not only was I living in the ’80s, I was living the DREAM.
A stained scrapbook from the NBC sitcom, Three Sisters, on which I was a production assistant. One of the show’s stars, AJ Langer (My So Called Life), was kind enough to take a picture of every single person on the cast and crew and compile it together in this tome. Oh, let me amend that: every single person on the cast and crew EXCEPT ME. Still hurts. Yes, that stain is the stain of my TEARS.
Inside the scrapbook. No, that is NOT me.
Here’s a random Polaroid of Fairfax Avenue. Don’t know who took it or when, but it’s surprisingly cool. A little pre-Instagram action right there. Looks like you’re not the only photographer out there, AJ LANGER.
Mix tapes. Glorious mix tapes. The one on the left is an instrumental part of my teenage development: it’s a mix of Dave Matthews Band songs compiled by my friend Lindsay. I used to listen to it over and over and over again, and yes, it is the basis of my love for DMB. I’ll pretend that laughter I hear from you stems from a place of warm nostalgia, not derision.
The next logical phase of my DMB love.
Ladies and gentlemen, there were not one but TWO Discmen lingering in my trunk. The one on the right even has a CD labeled “Random Mix 8/30/04.” Since it’s so close to the mix’s 10 year anniversary, I save it from destruction and give it a listen. It’s mainly whiteboy bands: Franz Ferdinand, Interpol, Lambchop. Things like that. NO DAVE MATTHEWS. Also, it’s a surprisingly really good mix. I’m keeping it. Oh, and if anyone wants a Discman, call me.