Archive for the ‘The Rock and The Roll’ Category
3734 E.P. Blvd., Memphis, Tennessee 38116, Polaroid 600, film expired July 2007, Photo taken November 2013.
YOU ARE TWENTY-ONE YEARS OLD and on Beale Street. Just like every other 21 year old in the history of Memphis who is 21 and on Beale Street you have been drinking whiskey and dancing to the blues and sweating even though it’s wintertime. There was an hour of R.L. Burnside and then J.S.B.X. screaming about how now they got worry. Between the two bands there is a century of blues. You’re pretty sure they ain’t got the heat turned on in the burned out old theatre you’re dancing in.
Christina from Boss Hogg is there amidst the busted Budweiser bottles and she is impossibly tall and wearing a floor length white mink coat. She is the most beautiful woman you have ever seen. There might as well be a forcefield around her, a ten foot invisble cordon. After the show you shake Judah Bauer’s hand and it is a massive paw, your hand like a little kid’s in the middle of this great rhythmic device of calcium and cartilage.
You are with your two best friends. One is a drummer and the other a singer and sometimes you will make fliers from cut-up bits from 1960s DC romance comics and then pull on a pair of your girlfriend’s fake leather pants and put on a lot of makeup and plug in a knockoff Les Paul and drink Colt 45 and make a lot of noise. You are 21 years old and drunk on whiskey and you want to be in a band so bad, the only thing you really believe in is holy blues, sacred rock and roll. It is the only thing anyone on Beale Street at midnight truly believes in.
Sweat freezing on tender young necks, y’all load up in the van, drive ten minutes South, wind down McLemore and Mississippi and spit out onto South Bellevue—that’s what they still called it when you were little, even though they’d changed the name a long time ago—and there you are, he’s long gone, long gone, Johnny Bye-Bye. But when you put your hands on the rocks and blue suede Converse scrape against mortar you can just believe, cutting your hand on the stone, you can just believe that if you make it to the top of the fence he’ll be standing there, and in the dark you can see the long limbs of the Weeping Willow sway, if you just make it to the top everything’s gonna be okay.
[SCENE: SOMETIME IN FALL OF 2012]
I wake up with a killer hangover, or
a bug that feels like it.
Can’t have a hangover, haven’t had a drink in
twenty-six months and—not that anybody’s counting.
Not that I count, not that I need to count.
Can have the damned flu. Can have wrestled a
bit with sleep last night and said screw it and
got up and grabbed the first Pretenders record off the shelf
and drove up and down I-55.
Kiiiiiiiid, precious kid,
Chrissie moans, over that beautiful rubbery riff, you got all sad,
so I feel sad, too.
I kind of wonder how old she was when she
wrote that lyric. It seems simple isn’t.
I ought to just look it up,
but it’s one of those nites everybody on the highway
is driving like murder, and even a casual glance
down at my phone feels risky,
makes me feel guilty.
There’s a 24-hr. Burger King by where
Video Library used to be, I bet I can get a
milkshake for a couple bucks. I’d rather get a movie,
but I was always bad about picking them out, just another
Robert Altman film festival, and besides
I haven’t had anything to watch it on in a decade.
And Video Library is long gone, but I could really
stand to watch that one long shot at the beginning of The Player
a couple times.
11:17 at nite the Burger King
is a reality show crime scene. It’s sort of amazing
and beautiful, like being under the stands at a
high school football game.
Everybody in the drive-through line is clearly drunk.
It’s hard to miss the window, but the Tahoe in front of me
first blows past it, then backs up, scraping off
a side-view mirror.
You can hear the stoned laughter reverberate
off the beige bricks.
By the time I get to the window
the Pretenders are bragging about how they’re special
soooooo special, you almost believe her, and
Burger King is trying to sell me some kind of mushroom burger.
If it were just me and Mushroom Burger on a desert isle,
(the thought balloon over its head being me dressed like a turkey,
the thought balloon over mine of Mushroom Burger
as a block of tofu), I wouldn’t touch that thing, let alone
pay somebody money for it. There’s nobody else here,
I just want my milkshake, no one like me.
I mash—-> over “Lovers of Today,” it’s too maudlin.
The holy God drums of “Mystery Achievement” kick in,
like the Golden Mean of rock and roll, drums on a
precise mathematical algorhythm, then the bass, then
the guitar chimes in, then ooooooooooooOOOOOoooooo,
it’s all in perfect sequence,
you can count it off to eight each time,
I never wrecked a car to it, but maybe should have.
They hand me some kind of drooling
monster, a liter of ice cream and syrup.
I hand the girl at the window a five automatically.
The girls in the window are still screaming at each other
about the drunk boy in the SUV, how cute he was.
“I had a small,” I manage to say.
“What,” the girl says, no question mark.
I question their commitment to Burger King,
question their taste in boys.
“I had a small,” I say, sober, exhausted, sick of everything.
She shrugs, hands me back three dollars and change.
The proud future insect lies repulsed at me, at us all.
There’s several pictures of it culled from the past decades. Shiny black in most, with stark white tones. The earliest images are worn smooth and blurry, printed thirty two years ago on thin cheap cardboard folded then jammed into rectangles of plastic, stories about the creature’s exploits detailed on the reverse.
The insect’s logogram, thought jammed through words, a knife slid through the ribs, the best we can do at explaining: code with a spider’s legs.
Eight proper ones as we would understand them, two antennae, a half a dozen feelers trailing behind the creature, pentagram carved into its ebony carapace. Even at the dawn of it all the proud insect was there, crawling through a sky of clockwork over blasted blue dunes.
Stamped on thousands of arms and torsos like the face of a lion on a coin, rays of sun spilling from its mouth, red triangle on a beer bottle.
The proud future insect scurries away.
We were going to work on a zine; we talked about it a million times. I could never find the time. You texted me saying “Get it together McCarty.” It was 2011. I tried to get it together, Dear Listener. I tried. I thought it was arrogant; presumptuous! (You’d tell me if those were actually synonyms.) But I appreciated it. Nobody ever pushed me to create, nobody seemed to care like you did. I never told you but it meant the world.
“RIP IT UP is a collection of poetry and drawings about the one true royal son of Tupelo: how he lived, who he loved, how he died, and them Blue Moon Boys that walked by his side. (And how he got his teeth fixed).”
UNWED TEENAGE MOTHERS
ink // screenprinted on cardstock by WAHL // listen to the 45 on the Hiss Lab Bandcamp (or snag the digital for only $3!)
You kind of think the boy could be really pretty if he weren’t wearing all the makeup.
Corpse paint, he calls it, but it’s only 1990 and everybody still thinks about Peter Criss and Ace Frehley when they see it, the Starchild versus the Phantom of the Park. You haven’t seen a corpse before but you don’t think corpses have really long, clean, gleaming blonde hair.
You go to talk to the boy but he just stands in the corner, every now and then banging up against the fake brick like a busted robot, mumbling to himself with his head down. A girl with a purple mohawk yells död vänligen leende but he just turns around and rolls his eyes up in his head.
You had a friend that said he stinks because he buries his clothes for a week before a show, but you think it just smells clean, like turned earth after it rains, like the farm your uncle had outside Uppsala, summers spent wandering a child’s Valsgärde, chopping down barley and oat with tree-limb swords, on a journey with Leifur Eiriksson or Ingvar the Far-Travelled.
You snuck in a couple of Falcons and even though everybody says you can’t even get drunk off them you’re only seventeen and it doesn’t take very much. A few years later you’re talking to a girl from California and you say oh yeah it was a really amazing show, it was really just a privilege to have been there that night, and by that time you’ve told the story so many times that the edges have worn smooth. The whole thing was just twenty minutes and when you watched it on YouTube you didn’t remember a note of it, and all you can think of is that weird little boy with the pretty hair.