Thursday, August 09, 2007

the sorrows of light rotation

When I was teaching a writing workshop to kindergartners, this one kid Harrison, who insisted on wearing the same delightful uniform of cowboy boots and a fringe jacket every day, came in and told stories that remain to this day among my fondest storytelling memories, right up there with my grandfather's wild Irish yarns. It's not that they were sophisticated or even particularly original, but while he talked in class I could watch him just making things up on the fly, a natural-born bulltosser. He could deliver a story with such deadpan confidence that his classmates believed unflinchingly that he'd hosted a jaguar in his Alameda Victorian. Pressed for details by teachers wanting to depose the bard, he never flagged. He could invent under pressure. He just had a capacity to wonder that could not be undermined.

I remember him when I settle into my more indulgent drifts of pointless imagination. I had this great run with an idea all night last night. I sat on the Persian rug playing tug with the nutty pup I'm dogsitting (the adorable little monkey Betty Bling, for those familiar) and we watched the original Star Wars together. And I got to wondering what Star Wars would look like if it was retold as a series of episodic raves. Bjork plays Darth, Tilda Swinton Luke, Rachel Weisz Princess Leia, and I of course would get to be Han Solo. (I spent my youth planning to grow up as either Bo Duke, Han Solo, or a Solid Gold Dancer. Sadly, I'm kind of the perfect blend of all three.)

Anyway, it would be part traditional straight-ahead narrative whenever it had to be, part Weapon-of-Choice-variety breakout choreographed routine after the fashion of Dancer in the Dark, only without the terrible gun scene and with razzle dazzle lightsabers/glow sticks. You know that underground very ravey-looking scene in--what was it, the third?--Matrix? That ridiculous stuff? Imagine crowds of extras like that: tribal, futuristic, strobe lights, percussion, smoke, silly makeup, time-elapse, and did I mention smoke? Jawas were born to be choreographed. Likewise Imperial Stormtroopers. Sorry, it's true. And the Death Star, the droids and their pop & lock movements, wooly Chewie slung with crossbow ammo, Obi Wan the sage--all well suited to my & Betty's enlightened reinterpretation.

And so after the movie, I was exceptionally awake (unlike now ... zzz ...) and took the little Bling for a late-night sit to watch the waves break on Treasure Island. And as we drove back home on my three good tires and the slow-leak fourth, we heard this song on 92.7 (the local dance station that pretty much plays the same six electronicky songs over and over and over). I just know I heard that same song at a warehouse rave in Baltimore roundabout 1994. I didn't know the name then and I don't know it now. But as it played, I could just see little Bjork and earnest Tilda battling it out with that in the background. The spectacle would shatter glass, a Phantom of the Opera kind of orchestral stretch. Hair-raising!

But what am I to do? Be a weenie and call the radio station? There are NO lyrics, unless you count exclamatory monosyllables. So what would I do--just call and say, "You know? That one that goes la dee ahhh ahh ahhHHAHAHHHHHH and sounds vaguely German at parts?"

You know what this means. Endless loops of the six tracks in heavy rotation to get back to that one other song, if they even repeat it. And even then, the damn DJ may not say the name. So off I go, skipping the blues in my iPod for the same sponsored songs on the radio: Rihanna, JT, Hilary Duff, that ancient Daft Punk song, Dirty Vegas, and Beyonce yet again. Oh, the things I endure to populate my mental wunderkammers. At least I know Harrison would approve.