Saturday, November 14, 2009

Party in the USA

The young man walked into his wing’s bathroom, toothbrush inserted into his mouth, scrubbing vigorously. The radio on the sink counter—a dilapidated thing older than many of the inhabitants of this wing of the dorm—was blaring the vehement inanity that was the pop station. Four songs a day, repeated ad nauseam. Currently playing for the umpteen millionth time was Miley Cyrus and her “Party in the U.S.A.” It was a song the indignity of which the young man had been bearing repeatedly for well over three months now; it was a song he had taken an immediate dislike to, for its synthetic trickery, its obvious lack of authenticity, its complete disregard of good taste and of musical complexity and tradition.

But, standing above the sink scrubbing his teeth and too lazy to expend the effort needed to reach out and turn the dial to a bearable station, the young man found himself for the first time ever listening to the lyrics. And, despite himself, he found that he was sympathetic. Maybe it really was just a song about a girl coming to a new place, lost and lonely and scared, for whom the musical tradition of her childhood provided a link to her past and her tradition…

The young man stopped and stared at himself in the mirror, frozen mid scrub. His eyes widened and he looked at himself as though he were an alien, a sub human, someone who had escaped from the circus. Miley Cyrus? A lost little girl? Jay-Z and Britney Spears her musical forebears, a legitimate part of her tradition? What was pop music doing to him?

He spat in disgust into the sink, rinsed his mouth, rinsed his toothbrush and stomped out of the bathroom with a thunder cloud above his head. A few minutes later he returned bearing a small screw driver. He turned the dial on the clock radio to another station, then bent down and did some close work with the screw driver. The plate on the side of the radio came off, and a few sparks leapt from the old man’s interior. The young man walked away, a smile on his face, followed by his own personal ray of sunlight.

The radio, meanwhile, was wafting classical music. Its dial appeared to have been removed, so that never again could it be changed to Pop Nausea. The young man slept well that night.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Another Thought, Or, What I Do Instead of Paying Attention in Class

I find solicitude in lonely places:
Cathedrals, graveyards, night time fog that traces
Edgewise spreading through the streets
Layering our old retreats with one-night
Dripping oyster-stands, yellow clatt'ring
Grace which never seeks my face
Nor seek I it; yet somehow morning's
Golden rays break the gloom of afternoon
Rising from the grave, our resurrection soon--
Too soon, maybe: running, crying, terrifying
The sea, the land, the Man o' the Moon.
And maybe with the roaring surf,
The caged lions torn from earth,
Maybe with the lion's roar, and the sand
Of lost sea tides, maybe from the roaring skies,
All our running, all our lies
Will create a stunning specious
Tapestry, flowing trickling quality
Of lions, monsters, pounding surf
And finally the great red turf
Springs fertile with shiv'ring towers
Made of crystal flaring panes
Of bloodlines pumping crystal
Through our stagnant veins.
Retreating steps on sunny streets
No longer our muttering retreats;
So forward, courage, raise your head
In your death be raised from dead
Retreat merely into war
Dive into the surf, the lion's mouth,
Usurp him, take him o'er, become the roar.
And My solicitude will stay as
The sun breaks bright on a bleeding aged day.