Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Riding in cars with boys

Walden - Drug Rug

Outside of this Car, the End of the World! - Le Loup

Patrick says it's not stealing if it's your own parents' car. I guess not. We needed something to get us to California and Dad's old green Volvo--and a couple boxes of Cheerios and Mom's kitchen cash stash--were easy to take. Pookie (or as Mom and no one else calls her, Penelope Anne) sits in the backseat chewing the ear of a pink stuffed bunny. Her eyes blink green and her teeth flash pearl. Pookie's already ripped off the bunny's other ear and plucked out one of its black button eyes. She's 12, if you can believe it. Patrick can't. He studies her in the mirror from the driver's seat as if monitoring a feral dog that could attack at any time.

"She's cute," he says to me in private, "but dangerous."

"Don't be absurd," I say, "she's my sister."

A sister, incidentally, neither of us planned to bring along. She ambushed us as we tiptoed the back stairs in our socks. Said she'd scream and wake up our parents and say Patrick molested her if we didn't let her go with us. "Where does she get these things?" he asked.

"I dunno. Oprah, Dr. Phil, probably."

Pookie worms her way out of school at least a couple days a week and drowses afternoons
in front of the tube on the sunporch's tangerine sofa. One time, Mom called the DAV to come pick up that hideous 70s artifact (springs sprung, corners frayed to a dirty gray). Pookie wailed for 45 minutes straight, I swear. So we kept it.

I know I said we're driving to California, but we're actually making a short (short!) stop in Concord first. It's not exactly on the way, but Patrick lived there when he was like 10, and wants to find his old house and take a picture or something. Boys are more nostalgic than girls, I think. Pat's nice, though ... the nicest guy at school--and smart. As soon as we get to California, I'm buying Pookie a plane ticket home so Pat and I can finally be alone together. You know.

"Pookie? Pookie you know Concord is home to Walden Pond?" Patrick asks, "Ya know that?"

"I want to see where they burned the witches," she says.

"That's Salem." he sighs.

Pookie asks me, "Can we see where they burned the witches?"

"That's Salem."

"Can we go to Salem?"


Patrick is driving in circles. I've seen that ice cream shack with the scabby peeling polar bear sign (Frostee! it screams) three times now. "I guess we're lost," I say.

"I guess," he says. Then, "Hey, why don't we go see where my mom is buried." It's meant to be spontaneous, but I can tell it isn't. Even Pookie can tell.

"I don't want to go to a cemetery," she sulks. (Our grandfather died last year.)

Now that we know where we're going, we find the place right away. It's kind of shabby compared to Grandpop's final resting place. There's a stripmall across the street with a burger joint, a dry cleaners and a bunch of boarded up storefronts.
At the cemetery gate, we ask a tubby man in a red polo shirt for Elizabeth Donnelly's grave. Pookie's moaning in the back.

"Shut up!" I tell her, "You sound like a whale! Stop it. You can stay in the car."

"Can I? Can you keep the stereo on?" Pookie grubs under the seat for a scratched cassette, the Archies' Greatest Hits.

"Yes. Fine," says Patrick, turning the key hard left, then twisting it a tick clockwise. "We'll be right back." We tramp through the crabgrass and bare patches and when we get to the stone with its stiff, formal etchings Pat feels bad about not having any flowers to put down. We stand there a few minutes and I try to look reflective. I mostly watch a bird peck the fresh dirt in the plot next to Mrs. Donnelly's. I'm not really sure what else to do.

When we get back in the car, Pookie's lying on her back singing, nah nah nah nah, bah bah bah and kicking her feet against the glass to the beat. Pat pops the tape out of the player and says he thinks we should go back to Connecticut, that our parents and his dad are probably missing us. I guess I'm not too surprised. I guess I knew
an hour ago when we saw the sign for Walden Pond. Pat's kind of crying and asks Pookie what she thinks, "Whadya say, should we go back, Pookie?"

"It wouldn't be the end of the world," she says.


She shrugs so that she practically lifts her shoulderblades off the seat in a kind of full-body twitch, "It wouldn't be the end of the world."

Songs from: Drug Rug, Drug Rug (Amazon, eMusic) and Le Loup, The Throne of the Third Heaven of the N (Amazon).


In a typically smart piece, Eric Harvey (aka Marathonpacks) argues that fetishization of music technologies has replaced meaningful engagement with music:
Yet there seems to be something inherently missing with the elbo.ws/Hype Machine era of mp3 blogging, and with the current state of music fandom in general, in which status is accumulated through the trading of endlessly reproducible commodities, and not necessarily (sadly, in fact, increasingly rarely), through a Jenkinsian model of what one has to offer to a discussion about the art itself, or even what one can do with the music once one has it in his/her possession.
As if timed to support Eric's thesis, the new Hype Machine debuted yesterday. ( Not that I don't want you to "heart" us or whatevs.)

Slate explains what many mp3 bloggers already know: When they're not prosecuting them as "infringers," copyright holders are only too happy to use fans as cheap day laborers:

... media companies—particularly in television and film—are at least sometimes practicing a mellower concept called "tolerated use." They watch and see whether infringements are actually harmful or not before sending out their copyright pit bulls.
And if you wanna know where the music industry is headed, you could do worse than watch Madonna.


Blogger Eric said...

Hooray for us cheap day laborers!

10:02 PM  

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