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Put Another Token In The Nickelodeon...
As a teenager, I loved to visit my grandparents in Urbandale, Iowa. They had MTV! This was right when it came out... I think I saw the first few days it ever broadcast. I remember Hunters & Collectors "Talking To A Stranger", which I *think* was the second video MTV played right after The Buggle's "Video Killed The Radio Star", but I can't confirm that. My grandfather couldn't understand how I could sit in front of the TV and watch music videos for hours. But it was amazing... like history in the making. The pop culture and music that I loved was in visual form for the first time. It was like seeing a hidden side of my favorite artists, so I HAD to keep watching just in case I missed something.

But I also loved going down to the local video arcade. It was called the "Fun Factory". Sadly, it closed in the nineties. But here are some photos of Tokens, a different amusement arcade that I visted while I was in Des Moines, Iowa last weekend. It had a sad run-down vibe to it, like a low-rent Chuck E. Cheese. It made me long for "Showtime Pizza" - if you remember that place, then you were truly old school. Or rather you were old truant-from-school-because-you-were-too-busy-playing-Frogger-at-the-7-11 school.

























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In the south (Arkansas) the franchise was "Showbiz Pizza Place" and I worked there for four long years in college. We wore these tacky 300% polyester vests and the one-size-does-not-fit-all molded plastic top hat. That damn thing either gave me a headache, made me sweat or would pop off the top of my big head.

I had to do a little bit of everything including dressing up in the Billy Bob the Bear costume and roam around the showroom. The costume wasn't designed very well because the huge mouth and snout blocked your vision so you could never tell if one the little kids was right in front of you or not. I did like the sweat smell inside the mask though :P

When we did the gameroom/arcade we got to test the machines out before we opened so we'd get a big bucket of tokens and play the shit out of those games. We had something like 30 or 40 different games in there *drool*

The thing I hated most though was the Ball Pit. Thousands of plastic balls for the little kids to jump around in but if a baby with a diaper got in the balls we had to shut the pit down, pull out ALL the balls and run them through the sanitizer which took hours. It was some health department regulation and it seemed to happen way too often despite signs up everywhere telling people NOT to put their diaper clad kids in the Ball Pit.

Al in all though it was a fun time (mid 1980's) and we got some great new games in every so often.

Oh.. THAT was it! Showbiz, not Showtime. There's this great guy who bought a set of the animatronic robots that were called the "Rock-A-Fire Explosion" and he programmed them to sing modern songs.

I'm not a fan of most rap, but I love his version of this Usher song:


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