In 2007, a much younger me sits silently, perched on a black-lacquered stool in an awkward pose. His legs extend upward towards his chest, because, you see, the rungs of the stool are set a little too high, forcing the young man into a most un-flattering semi-squat. Refuge from tortured soles maybe, but most totally grotesque and unattractive. This particular furnishing is an antique, but uncharmingly so. Chips in the shiny black coating, reflecting in panes of silky even light, only to be broken apart by harsh chip marks, solid evidence of heavy usage and abuse, and apropos obviously, for the human condition.
This skinny memory is the security guard for one of the many Madison Avenue Upper-East Side fashion-peddling installations. An installment in Betsey Johnson’s regime. The banking lifeblood in the lives of ragtaggers and punks. Counter-culture morons, all poignantly beautiful and tortured in their refuge from H&M, Macy’s or Bloomingdales. It swarms to a fervor with the rich and poor, the famous and the hidden, and as feverishly recedes into a dead calm, riding the constant economic tide of a sunny, hot summer afternoon.
“We’re at the melting point…”
With the Mainliner’s debut self-title sending auditory knives via ancient tinny speakers, the fool sits. Totally unsuspecting. A foolish man, but a treasure among hopeless romantics. His head turns towards the CD changer. His eyebrows bend to the will of the muscles just beneath the pasty skin of the forehead. He motions to the pretty lady behind the counter in a gesture that gently whispers: /heavier on the bass, turn it up, babe/.
“Would I make you happy then?”
He wonders if this is Soul. Is it Pop? Has he found a rare golden ticket to the rock n’ roll realms above? Surely not. Surely it is an anomalous first track, and then a phenomenon of a followup as the display ticks up to a blocky, bluish, glowing digital ’02.’ And an ’03,’ place your wagers on 4 and 5. Odds improve as the stakes get higher.
A unicorn. Pure, simple, raw. A ripple in spacetime so huge Abe’s stovepipe hat may be blown clean off his head towards the crowd at Gettysburg in a gust of Scandinavian wind.
“There’s a wall, they say you walk from here.”
It is survival out there. Survival as the gates close and the pretty ladies say goodnight. Thanking him for his service, his vigilant protection. All while knowing full well his biceps would melt at the hint of a struggle, and his bladder might very well release at the thought of confronting a shoplifter. But they smile and hug him anyway.
“Hundreds of reasons why I sit here alone.”
Cheap radio shack headphones penetrate the ear canals and the journey begins to the 4/5/6. To mount the green subterranean streak, home to Brooklyn and the dangers inherent in apartment living. But its all gravy. There is a blue-eyed soul record to review. The review site he writes for needs a review. It is hungry. In its greed for time, it will soon die, sporting the words RIP on the homepage.
But until it is gutted it will hear tell of this! Columbus and his impetuous hubris would be jealous, for this is some kind of uncharted territory.
Down the concrete stairs, and now a wait. Inches of grime on the tracks, and fathoms spewing up thoughts and memories, as his eardrums pulsate (apparently, according to science).
“Feeling mighty good…”
The blue glow of a laptop computer with an 11-inch screen highlights the sinews of his neck, while he cranes it down towards the disc case in his lap. He turns it over in his hands to read the track list once again.
It is a plain cover. Absolutely unappealing. One never would have guessed the contents were so rich.
He puts it down, and begins to type words that will likely never be recovered.
Still rich now, ten years later. Have you heard it? You really should. Highly recommended. Available at all the usual places, special order at all the unusual places.
Place to Visit In Sweden
- I’ve never been. So let’s start with the country as a whole. I hear Stockholm is nice.
- It’s not really a place, but Lee Hazlewood’s “Cowboy In Sweden” is a fantastic record. The accompanying film is kitsch at best, but also great.
- I am too lazy to find out about other places you should visit within a country to which I have never been. My forefathers were Swedish, so it stands to reason that some day I should go. If you’ve been, let me know in the comments.