From The Desk Of Shoes’ John Murphy: MINI Coopers

Power-pop progenitors? O.G. DIYers? The last college-rock survivors? No label adequately captures the four-decade journey of Zion, Ill.’s Shoes, who have released their first new studio material in 17 years. Perhaps the most astonishing thing about Shoes is that this ethic and attitude prevails despite a collection of music-biz bumps and bruises that could rival Charlie Brown in terms of sheer career futility. In some ways, they’re the Forrest Gumps of rock. Shoes essentially presaged punk’s DIY movement by recording its first, early-’70s albums in the living room before garnering enough critical acclaim to merit a major-label contract. Shoes will be guest editing magnentmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on the band.

John Murphy: A few years ago, I needed a new car. Now I usually think of a car as simply something affordable that’ll get me from point A to point B, as long as I‘m not too ashamed to be seen in it. Wasn’t too crazy about going through the whole searching process, but I started checking out the usual suspects: Toyotas, Hondas and Nissans in the used lots. But there was one car that got me as excited as a one-eyed dog in a meat factory to think about owning: a MINI Cooper. Never even sat in one, let alone drive one, but their ’60s retro-look was right up my alley. Originally a British design and now retooled by BMW, their coolness factor was off the chart in my mind. One Saturday as I was on the fence over this, I spotted one in a color that really sealed the deal for me: a wonderful, flat teal that I later learned was called Oxygen Blue. When I ordered mine a few weeks later, I opted for the black hardtop rather than the traditional white, thinking that it looked a little more manly that way. Never paid this much for a car before but haven’t regretted it yet. I can zip around sluggish SUVs and rusted-out pickups when I just plain want to; it barely takes up two-thirds of a parallel parking space and the hatch can hold a guitar, a smallish amp, plus a couple gig bags or a good day’s haul from a flea market. To top it off, it feels like I’m in the cockpit of a small plane at night, with interior and dashboard lights glowing warmly. For what you get out of it, plunkin’ down your hard-earned cash for a MINI is money well-spent.

Video after the jump.

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