As I drove home from the hospital today (yes, my froat still hurts), I was listening to a Bobby Vinton CD. Stuck on the unusually congested Great Highway, I was chillaxin’ to hits like “Blue Velvet” and “Mr. Lonely,” just trying to get my weekend started right. It was the last CD my car stereo would ever play.
You see, when I went to switch out CDs to put in The Pixies (yes, I finally bought a Pixies disc), it wouldn’t read. And in fact I found that no CD would read. I don’t know what Bobby did to my stereo, but apparently he rocked it so hard that now it’s ruined for all other discs. Now, I listen to CDs almost exclusively in my car. That’s the time when I am able to really pay attention to it. I don’t have to tell you what an inconvenience it is to suddenly have no working CD player in my car, or how frustrating it is that my Saturday afternoon is now spoken for because I now have to go pick out and install a new stereo. But it’s deeper than that. This wasn’t just any car stereo. This was the JVC KD-LH3100.
When I first got my car back in 2003, I was excited for the first time to have a nice enough car for it to be worth investing in. I kept it clean. I bought it nice things. I upgraded it. And I picked out the perfect stereo. I first saw this model at some hole-in-the-wall audio place while on a project in Boulder, CO. I did the research. I put real thought into this. And I knew this was my guy. “The KD-LH3100 features a full-motion 3D graphics display with variable color backlight for easy operation and visual confirmation of status and completed operations. PICT lets you create customized displays on your PC, and then transfer them to the head unit’s LCD display. PICT allows you to upload 90 still images and 15 seconds of full-motion video. It can all be captured, created, and personalized by you.” This thing can display and even cycle through a whole range of colors. You can upload your own pictures, album covers, videos, etc. to be displayed, even when certain songs or albums are playing. It lets you play a disc of mp3s; a common feature now, but virtually unheard of at the time. To top it all off, check out the Tron-like blue trim plate lighting. Ladies and gentlemen, seven years later this stereo still turns heads. It is truly unique among its peers.
But now it won’t play CDs. And as much as it pains me to replace it with an inferior model, I don’t see what choice I have. And believe me, any replacement will be inferior. I’ve looked, and even the heinously expensive models out there today don’t have the swagger of the KD-LH3100’s 1728-color 3D dot-matrix. It seems my choices are ugly digital clock type displays or full DVD type LCD displays that have no place in an automobile. So whatever I end up with tomorrow, my days of impressing with my JVC are over. To those of you fortunate enough to see it in its heyday, hold tight to those memories.