The Bargain Bin



Working at a record store taught me a tragic truth; no matter how much you love your favorite albums, they’ll never be as popular as they deserve to be. Each month at Merry-Go-Round Magazine, I dust off some long-overlooked records, revisit my pretentious past, and explore how this music forever etched itself into my history. Eventually, all your memories get marked down and thrown into The Bargain Bin.

“Multi Orchestral House Sound”

She told me I could take the extra bed frame we always had planned to set up in the guest bedroom. When we moved in four years ago, the room had become a makeshift storage space. I also took the big TV, our solid wood dresser—which had been a wedding gift from my mom’s side of the family—and half of our credit card debt. I signed away my half of the house and parental rights with our sweet rescue dogs. When the lawyer drafted the divorce paperwork, she referred to them as “canines,” which we both agreed seemed like a cold thing to call our babies.

After three months of crashing on a friend’s futon, I found an affordable apartment in a lovely part of town. It would be a few months before I could afford an actual mattress, so I searched online and purchased an inexpensive, very tall air mattress as a temporary sleeping solution—I didn’t know they made those things with the air pumps already built into them… technology, man. What will science think of next?

“Hammond Fireworks”

Open in Spotify


My daily routine is a series of loops.

The best way for me to stay focused on my new life and survival was to live in loops. I’d stay safe within circles, not allowing myself to get too sad or to sleep too long. I figure, if I’m not careful, I will only work and sleep and wither away. 

I wake up at 4:30 AM to shower and get ready. An hour later, I drive to work in the dark to avoid the stress of traffic, enjoy half an hour of whichever album I’m obsessing over, and finish my first cup of coffee in peace.

I sit at my desk for eight hours doing what is essentially mindless data entry while catching up on my favorite comedy podcasts because laughter is the only way I can get through the day. Laughter helps keep my day moving and the world spinning.

I drive home in minimal traffic. I hand wash the dishes from the night before. I watch movies or play video games. Some evenings I only exist to swipe left or right on local strangers who might want to go on dates. I stay up too late because I’m afraid I’ll sleep too long.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

“Marcy Son Want” 

I’m standing in my mostly empty apartment. You can hear every creak in the floorboards when you take a step, that ripping scratch sound that old wood makes. It matches my groan as I push myself beyond my limits with a few loyal friends to stack boxes of records and the remaining pieces of furniture that are now mine. 

The woman I’d been seeing the past couple of months offered to help me clean the place. I’m thankful for her suggestion because doing that never would have crossed my mind. She’s been in my shoes. The best dates I’ve been on are with other people who are going through or have been through a divorce on their own. Living alone is brand new, and it wasn’t long ago that she was in my shoes. In my 33 years, I’ve never not lived without family, a friend, or a foe. 

She’s kind and stays on the air mattress with me for a few nights. I think I’m falling in love with her, but I have decided she wouldn’t want to be bothered by hearing about that.


When I encounter an electronic act that feels otherworldly, I’ll do everything possible to avoid learning anything about them. This Shakarchi & Stranéus record was fascinating. I prefer to think of repetitive, inventive electronic music living independently, existing as something otherworldly. Music like this is better with a bit of mystery.

I still haven’t even looked to see if any samples are listed or cross-referenced any names I recognize in the credits. The less I know, the easier it is to detach these sounds from reality and reshape them into something cosmic. 

Let Daft Punk be robots and never let my brain know what the flesh their hiding underneath their helmets looks like. Let Shakarchi & Stranéus be from a dark and shapeless void.

“Kungssten Bus Stop Riddle”

My uncle offered a puffy red couch that he had sitting in storage. My brother-in-law spends a couple of hours helping my mom, and I smash it through the shared foyer and into my living room. There’s no way it will ever fit back through the doorway in one piece. I pack up the air mattress and spend two weeks sleeping on its plush cushions until my back wakes me up one night in excruciating pain. The next day, I sign for a line of credit for a mattress of my own. It feels like I never dream anymore. 

One night I asked her if she would consider us exclusive. She says she doesn’t envision a future with me, and, like, I get it. I don’t see a future with me in it, either. I appreciated her candidness, but my heart shattered.

“Path Mountain Square”

I pick up the pieces quickly, and dating is back to being fun. I’m lonely, but I’m getting to smooch many different people, and it’s liberating as hell. 

The dating loop starts with friendly chatter on the app. We meet for dinner and a pleasant conversation. I get excited about the new person and tell those closest to me all about them. A few days later, I get a text saying some variation of how they’re “not really feeling it.” I go back to swiping. 

Lather, rinse, repeat.

“Waayaha Cusbub”

My stepmother remarks how relaxed I seem. She says I don’t look as tense and nervous like I’m forever about to get in trouble. It’s nice to hear that those close to me notice the difference.

“Jenin Grill Dreams”

Open in Spotify

One evening after I’ve closed the loop on my dishes, I swear I smell gas. I convince myself I’m just imagining it. I start to nod off on the couch, watching THE LAST JEDI for the 20th time. I’m sure it’s unrelated to the faint smell still present around the stove that’s older than I am. 

If it is gas, I’ll have to make phone calls and deal with the gas company. They’ll shut off my gas, and the company that owns the building will have to come out to work on it. I’ll have to take a day off and only have a few left until the end of the year. It’s so many steps filled with unlimited outcomes. It will be a hassle to me, and I will be a burden to someone else. Also, would it be so bad not to wake up? 

“Wudzele Obeme”

I watch THE LAST JEDI as a comfort. It’s far from perfect, and I could do without the whole casino side plot, but some bits resonate with me as I start my life over from scratch. I turn it on once or twice a month as background while I scroll and swipe.

I’m fascinated with Adam Driver’s speech, where he says, “Let the past die. Kill it if you have to. That’s the only way to become what you were meant to be.” It doesn’t exactly align with the new life I want to lead, but I am considering leaving behind some more of my previous life so I can start over with a cleaner slate.

As I drift off, I decide that if I wake up tomorrow, I will gather relics of my old life to chuck into the dumpster. I think I’ll start with my closet.

“The Return of Uncle Benon”

I wake up the next day, and when I open my bedroom door, I’m hit with the smell. Oh, fuck me. What the fuck? Could I have died? I could have died! What the fuck is wrong with me? Other people live in this building, too! Christ. Wake the fuck up, man. 

I text my manager to let her know I won’t be in, open the windows, and make all the calls from the front steps.

“K & F’s Favorite”

Sleeping on a real bed again is nice, but the mattress feels far too wide. I’m a creature of habit living off old loops, still sleeping on the same side against the edge like there are still two dogs and a wife on the other side. 

“Wheel of Fortune”

I like living alone; I do. It’s quiet. I’ve made the apartment cozy, and it feels safe. But god, I hate going to sleep. I struggle to switch off my brain and walk to the bedroom. I hate thinking about the bed being empty.

I start inviting friends to spend the night. Let’s sleep near each other so we don’t have to be alone. So I don’t have to be alone. So I can dream again.

Jack Probst
Jack is a freelance pop culture writer living in St. Louis, Missouri. His writing has also been featured in Pitchfork, Paste Magazine, CREEM Magazine, NME, and The Riverfront Times. He appreciates the works of James Murphy, Wes Anderson, and Super Mario. He also enjoys writing paragraphs about himself in his spare time.

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