Minor-key single-finger piano arpeggios are all the backstory you need, and there’s what’s screened and what isn’t, television makes confusion that much more accessible, and why does the horror of being known in a pre-castled LA sound ecstatic and is saved for the add-on, you gotta pay the string arranger, she’s not carving arcs redolent of both Kashmir and Kaddish Shalem but that’s forever later during a different life and the sloth is in the way my or your blood used to flow so slowly that emergencies came with drum fills and maybe before being numb became mandatory it used to be impossible, though who the fuck let Slash in, nobody better let him get cigarette ashes on the Bösendorfer but before you can have feels or dig for them that’s it, the lyrics drew a steel veil and the surge surged and you want to dream of oceans but all you ever dream of is brick walls whose concertina wire glistens, glistens, and never reveals a lesson. Later this memory was found underneath a movie never seen and plucked from the bargain bin.
My decade is bigger than your decade. Coolness might be retroactive, the hippie is secretly a skater and the skater is secretly a DC scene socialist but purism doesn’t shift units because units lead to platforms and platforms to pronouncements but nobody bothered with a Jesus Christ Pose because this was later, was amber and cornflower blue when already one small blond girl is her own harmony and where’s Jeremy and where’s the nondescript man lying on the British sidewalk and how is it that even with the judicious use of delay pedals that sedulous utopias can seem so boring, so sweet, so forgiving? This is the dark end of the mall where you come to get your ears pierced, not to approximate a new or slightly used battle cry, but good pipes are good pipes though the scream you never hear, that’s the one that’s meant to stick, and it does, Los Angeles is now empty of everything except Marshall stacks, and the Marshall stacks are not hooked up to anything but hum nonetheless, and there is one lone tape recorder in the Toy District; from this height can you find it and claim it, can you hammer it into the interesting kind of heart?
Borders are boundaries but floods are just floods. Being casual about embarrassing your family does not avert emergency, this is dead skin and cherished rulers––wait but someone’s floating––I made confession and had not yet lifted my tongue, I contributed to zines but Napster did not incorporate zines and the tail end of the eighties in which dancing was black and white gave way to a kind of heaviness that was too polite to intrude, “I don’t believe in your privacy” wrapped in a chorale by all the world’s boy bands ringing like a rain-smeared bell choir, can everyone agree? I want to sing, but I am waiting for the key change that will make you remember me and how I was kicked out of Industrial School for wanting writing credits future tense and the grunge guitar buzz takes over from the other grunge guitar buzz because sometimes being alive feels better when it is free from narrative, and still what you call your life is behind a wall of what used to be glass and the water fills the colonial and memory is declared complicated but when the keyboards submerge the bridge had already vanished and the colors run but not only did nobody drown, no one even pretended to drown, though in history Ophelia is waiting, bumping Dre on an ironic walkman, and she wants her fucking cut.
Gleam, almost. Somebody borrowed a few beeps and bloops from the Euro Trendsetters who never quite break and went skyline with it, someone shrugged into a falsetto come hither like you shrug into a denim jacket meant to make you seem compact yet casual, and somewhere there’s no slipping a silver Mickey but there’s the buzz bin and the replay value and sneaking around the edifice of do you want fries with that and sneaking in the side door of loud/soft/loud minus dented croon and you might even be a Northern Soul, who knows, but your spoken word bridge is Feeling California and somewhere there’s a record collection in a warehouse in Detroit that does not contain these guitar licks but Todd Haynes filmed them for posterity, prosperity and serenity, a kind of pass-the-bucket maneuver in which nothing plus nothing adds up to cotton candy and sugar glass, then you can see Justin Timberlake crest the hilltop with sword bared so you Faith No More your way our of the shitpile and marry somebody famous before the white lights explode and you disappear. Meanwhile, skies are blue and Pink Floyd albums still sell even if Roger Waters is an incidental fascist. Meanwhile, somewhere else, someone not seen is still fat.
Take two? I’m still not Japanese. I don’t glisten like a pig. There’s no exclusive. The way to find a mate is to seem vaguely dissatisfied and discover new sides to yourself without even needing a mirror. The past slowly consolidates into a gaudy tunnel, just like you. The past slowly becomes a joke, just like you. A closet almost big enough to live in, just like you. Almost within arm’s reach of a room with a view.
It’s not rap-rock but this was back far enough into navel gazing where sunbathing was an active pursuit and your floating dream was sole ownership and it’s Manchester or Madchester so you don’t give a fuck about the what the fuck and you think whether there’s a grebo lurking somewhere in 1986 mumbling something about perverse sciences and if the piano whispers the word “rave” without so much even offering you a glow stick or a hit of herbal E then even your sister approves because everyone sunbathes, in youth began privacy but neither lasted and now you’re a sweat-stained elder glowing with the nights of whether you thought “purple prose” was literal and were disappointed upon learning the truth, because in youth began veracity but it wasn’t built to last, the drums are made out of cardboard that isn’t even post-consumer and everyone gets older and gathers CV skills and unrewarding sexual experiences and now in the air-conditioned dark you’re just thinking about one law or another, about avoiding roots rock, about desperation and about how much the clearance cost or if Ozzy didn’t even recognized himself in the white room, a psychedelic floating fetus, a pair of day-glo pants that don’t fit, a polyester lifestyle, a nose ring, an ever-loving what the fuck. Then the sun sets and the guitar solo kicks in and the dust’s dust and the swimming pool collapsed but the ashes, those are something else entirely and may contain bone fragments, you keep the past in the detached garage because the future is never safe.
Making wandering aimlessly seem sexy again, or it’s not aimless it’s just a secret, it’s a shrug in response to an honest question, it might be deliberate sepia or a tingling in the loins or body loathing in the form of layers of untucked riding layers of untucked but somewhere more picturesque everyone is tall and ambiguous and slim, this isn’t Leslie at Taco Bell describing sneer in terms of sandpaper grain, this is not the sunshine that was later completely renovated, this is the old sunshine, this was when operators got underpaid to glide in reverse but sex unfolds and blooms and unfolds and if it’s me and I own my body I can keep my hands in my jean pockets and look like a soft-focus Teddy Boy updated for J. Crew comfort style and I can make whatever sweeping pronouncements I want, the future says, because my semantic arrangements are bewitching, and you can’t disagree, though later you discover that you can make your torso know even if it isn’t slim-fit, and that sometimes even famous people get fat, that skipping the tattoos was a good idea, even the Gertrude Stein quote, or the dot, and this was the era just prior to face tat because it wasn’t called for yet, this was just one day later, but the distance of time the another-life male model has to wait makes his proclivity and ability to pine in croon no less intense. And that’s silence, that’s freeze-frame; you don’t even get to the part where you relate the other band members’ relative attractiveness, or how one curled question and deliberate forward step in expensive boots on Spanish cobblestone can, for nations of specific teenage boys, make the earth move, if only enough to set the loins in motion, because motion is all that can ever continue, besides the illusions of storage and completeness and eidetic carnal memory.
Would you put your arms around me if I’m human? What if you’re a white nationalist, are you still human? Will you tell me a secret if I know how to sing? All you must do is call out a problem with your body and a yodeled “oh yeah.” But I don’t even need to be told, and never have, and wanted to be loved just like whoever’s currently iconic, but Casanova never got any work done, even if the tempo does change and a glissando is still possible. I don’t know when you were born, but I do know you were born to let me down, the last of the sensitive men I trusted.