So a couple of weeks ago, after three or four years of increasingly faltering service, Rocks Off's 30 GB iPod finally died. Completely. Out of sheer broke-assedness, we had held on to it for longer than most. By the end, its quirks and shenanigans were endless, not least its inability to hold a charge whether or not it was actually turned on, so perhaps it was something other than foolishness that impelled us to wear it out in the rain one afternoon. Maybe, it was, as Quincy, M.D. would have put it, iPod moy-da. But at any rate, we are still broke-ass muthas, and now we didn't have any tunes other than a couple of transistor radios. Impoverished or not, Rocks Off would have to replace that sucker, even if it meant rice and beans, hand-rolled cigs, and watered-down coffee for the next month. Our first thought was Craigslist. We arranged to meet a guy to whom we were about to pay $100 for a replacement 30 GB model, but negotiations broke down when the guy didn't show up. So the next day, we thought what the hell, why not go see what our friendly neighborhood Third Ward pawnshop had in stock. Jackpot. There, the list price for an 80 GB model was $110, and the clerk knocked ten bucks off the price when he discovered that it didn't have a charger, which we didn't need anyway. So there we were with over twice the space at the same price... ...And that wasn't all. When Rocks Off plugged the iPod in, we saw that the previous owner, a gentleman by the name of "Scooby," had neglected to erase his music collection, so not only did we get the iPod but over 5,000 songs as well. So Rocks Off did the math. Let's say the average album has 15 songs on it. That's about 350 CDs we got on top of everything else in that low, low price of $99. True, we pretty much already had all of Scooby's Geto Boys, Marvin Gaye, OutKast, Al Green and Curtis Mayfield, but his deeper collections nicely rounded out our Gap Band, Earth, Wind and Fire and Notorious B.I.G. starter kits. And then there were artists like Anthony Hamilton, Lauryn Hill, Mystikal and Tupac, whom Rocks Off had always sort of liked but never enough to go out and hunt down. Now we have something close to the complete works of Mystikal and Hamilton, as well as 'Pac and Hill's most important records. Rocks Off might now be the only white dude in history with the greatest hits of Maze (featuring Frankie Beverly) on his iPod. It wasn't all good, of course. We had no use for some of Scooby's music. Even though there were quite a few gigs left over after I piled over 10,000 songs of our own in there, we still deleted his vast collections of Boyz II Men, Brian McKnight and Luther Vandross. We're on the fence about what to do with all his R. Kelly, but we certainly know enough about Kelly's crazed genius to realize that to delete it all without listening would be a huge mistake. And then there were some things about Scooby's collection that were just odd: what was Foreigner's Greatest Hits doing in here? How about Bachatamania by Grupo Aventura? It's weird. An iPod leaves a record, and Rocks Off can piece together Scooby's life. The last albums played on his iPod while it was in his control were back in May. He was in gangsta mode on the last day, taking in several selections from Dr Dre's The Chronic, some varied Eazy-E and N.W.A. collections and virtually the entirety of Tupac's Me Against the World. It's a little bit out of character for Scooby as we came to know him. He seemed far more of a lover than a fighter - this was a guy with no UGK on his iPod, but who did have several volumes of a Time-Life series called Smooth Grooves: A Sensual Collection, not to mention all that Lufer, Boyz II Men and Teddy Pendergrass. What was going through his mind on the last day he owned this iPod? What was going on in Scooby's life? Was he going broke? Maybe he was playing that gangsta rap to feed his ailing machismo while on his way to the pawnshop to hock his prize toy. (We've been there and done that ourselves.) Or maybe this was the music he used to psych himself up for some gangsta mission from which he never returned...Or maybe he got mugged, or his ex stole his iPod and hocked it in a fit of rage, or perhaps he just wanted the quick money a pawn shop would give him to fund his iPod upgrade. Rocks Off will never know. But it sure is interesting to speculate. And the iPod works perfectly. The battery holds its charge and it's a much later generation than our old one. And when you get 5,000 free songs and such a huge discount on top of a window into a stranger's life and music collection, why anyone would rather get an iPod from some boring big-box store or that snooty Genius Bar in the Galleria will forever be a mystery worthy of the real Scooby and crew.
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