Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Hey, Hey

We watched one afternoon and smoked a hundred cigarettes—
Andrew’s dad was a retired beat cop from Manhattan
with a nice TV hooked up to a Sony Betamax. He also owned a little schnauzer named
Heidi. This all happened when we were young and didn’t know the world,
the outside, I mean, except through movies and song. The film in question
was Yellow Submarine. Even now you might not know the title

unless you’re over 45, and certainly if you’re over fifty you might re-title
that part of your life from any number of Beatles songs. The question
remains: do you know of all their variants and offshoots? The rough Manhattan
copies, the simulacrum of Monkee-land? Of Davy Jones I briefly speak, cigarette
in one hand, my other on the keypad: there were young beats named
for open windows in hell’s kitchen who frequented Los Angeles, too. The world,

for them, was like a bright blue sun-scorched sky. As for the others, the world
wakes more often to forgetfulness than any other condition, be it in Manhattan
or Los Angeles. The next day the new kid, Mitch, told us his mom smelled cigarettes
and pot smoke on him, although we’d been smoking mostly questionable
chunks of hash and Marlboro 100’s. If you could give us a title
back in the day, you might call us into question

concerning our lack of true beliefs. For example, we all questioned
whether or not god was dead or if the universe spun endlessly in quantum-named
waves and particles. At least we knew some science: one part of the Manhattan
Project had been located out in the desert, on a sagebrush flat, on an end of the world
road twisting out to the hard ruthless peaks and plains that had names and titles
like “The Journey of Death.” At a place called Allsup’s we bought cigarettes

and went on the black road heading north. We couldn’t stop smoking cigarettes
as the dim stars rushed above us and around the 1971 Nova Fastback titled
in my father’s name. We knew for sure that the car wouldn’t make it to Manhattan,
but was good for going back and forth between Albuquerque and the small world
of desert towns some of us came from: Gallup, Mentmore. We all questioned
the light, our return to light, if we’d come back to these places we’d named

in part because the feelings had no names. What can you name
the sensation of your first cigarette, your first deep inhale? Do you know the world
any better after chugging a couple of Coors Banquet Beers? We’ve all questioned
the return to normalcy that follows quite turbulent years: song titles
stick like broken records and the sensation you got from watching Manhattan
isn’t quite like what Mickey smoked with Valleri afterwards, a cigarette

probably dipped in hash oil. A cigarette made and rolled in Manhattan
where the pretty girls are there for the song titles, questioning
the world, what means what, where to locate god’s name.

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