too many words by laura lemay

affordable floors

In 1984, my freshman year of college at CMU in Pittsburgh, I had a friend who was way cooler than I was (OK, this wasn’t tough). She had the best asymmetrical haircut, she wore rubber bracelets and she was into bands like New Order and Tears for Fears. Oddly enough, I cannot now remember her name. We’ll call her Lisa. One day Lisa called me up in my dorm room and said “you have to meet me in the basement of Margaret Morrison RIGHT NOW,” and because I was cool I said, “what?”

It turned out that there was a band rehearsing in the lecture hall in the basement (Margaret Morrison is a building), and my friend Lisa had a big time crush on the keyboardist. And so we went and sat in the lecture hall and watched the band rehearse. For like three hours. It was actually tremendously dull.

So this is where I’m supposed to say that the band eventually became massively famous and I saw them Way Back When, and therefore I have huge rock credibility, but actually, no. The band was called the Affordable Floors, and they did end up with a fair amount of local fame in Pittsburgh (I guess that’s kind of damning with faint praise). Even after Lisa found cooler friends than me I ended up being a big fan of the band and since they played live just about everywhere all the time I must have seen a couple hundred shows by them when I was in school. Every fraternity party, every tiny scummy little bar, every nightclub at which I could sneak in with a fake ID. I did not develop a crush on any of the band members, but I really did like the band, and I was proud at the time that I had watched them rehearsing in a lecture hall when they were just starting out.

The Floors released two albums when I was in school, and a third after I graduated and left. I have the first two albums on vinyl and cassette, respectively, but never got the last album. I wore my copies of the first two albums down to almost no sound whatsoever.

Over the years I’ve attempted to replace my record and cassette with CDs, but never had any luck finding anything. The band never got any real attention outside Pittsburgh. I’ve called up record stores in Pittsburgh (“please just look in the A bin, I’ll pay shipping…no don’t hang up, I’m not crazy…”), I’ve put searches on Ebay and on various online record stores, I’ve searched P2P networks, all in vain. Once one of the CDs turned up on ebay, but I was out of town and I missed the auction. Someone else won it for ten cents. I was nearly apoplectic.

I should be clear here: the music is good but this is not the huge undiscovered band of the last century or anything. Listening to the music it feels very dated now, very mid-80’s, very synthesizery. But it was an important part of my college years, and I am nostalgic. That is why I’ve spent time on it.

And then last month I was poking around in google and up it popped: Uhhh. Uhhhh. That wasn’t there before. An entire web site for the Floors with pictures and lyrics…and a web store. A store! A store!

The CDs arrived a couple days ago, and straight into iTunes they went. I am so happy. I have to go find my rubber bracelets.