Text and annotation by Josh Koenig
Originally staged at an Axiom event, based largely on my discovery of the White Stripes and their tune, "Little Bird."
ON STAGE: A greaser: leather jacket, jeans, white t-shirt, etc. Some loud, guitar-driven bluesy rock underscores his words.
GREASER: I've got the righteous blues. Lonely, horny, looking for love, trying to make it start happening; yeah fuckin' yeah. Let me tell you about a smokey little room where all the girls swing and the fidelity is low, where there's rage against the auto industry and belief in urban revitalization.
This is an American story, man, because the French think this sort of shit is barbaric, monster trucks and 12 mpg muscle cars, and dusty beer-only bars with a limited selection of country western tunes until the touring rockabilly band stops in, piling on the grease, jacking up the frame, loading up on trucker speed and over proof whiskey and letting it all hang out.
That sort of shit doesn't fly in academic circles either, you know. Not unless they're going through one of those noble-savage socio-anthropology kicks. Even then they tend to fetishize things, much like I'm going to do now.
I'm talking about the whole picture, the smell of American automotive interiors that have been working overtime under the tutelage of velocity-crazed teenagers. I'm talking about breaking up with your girlfriend in the back seat because she won't got far enough -- forget all the way, she has a hard time leaving the front door -- and how were you supposed to know about her mother's abusive life-in boyfriend, that there was anything (other than her being a teasing prude) to the stiffness, that suffering uncomfortability? How were you to know that you'd never made a "safe space" for her to talk about this, and that her next boyfriend would do so and they would end up getting married because they were in love?
I'm talking about stomping the steel, dropping the clutch, laying down some rubber and drag racing against your own worst moments, alone with a bottle of home-made corn liquor under the seat and the vast star-pit of the midwestern night sky above. I'm talking about desperate times, live or die, razor's edge. The kind of times they make movies about with gorgeous 25-year-old actors re-living their 17-year-old angst.
This is where the smells of gasoline and coffee and the warm dry scent of heated air pouring off the engine block mingle into the most important decisions of your life, where every day is your last, every battle the ultimate climax, every score final.
I'm talking about rage and jealousy ad raw desire and innocence pure innocence to burn and give everything just that extra kick. This is the first time, the best time, the only time, the worst time, the last time, the one I will never forget -- until the next one, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next. Next town over, next drag race, next beer, next girl, next full moon howling out loud at midnight because today you are alive.
I'm talking about being alive. being fresh and raw and touching everything that's touching you. You can feel it accelerating out of a curve in a 67 mustang and the Manona County drag strip, outrunning the memory of a shallow bad thing you did, trying to impress your next mistake, maybe a blonde one this time. You can feel it there in that moment of hormonal rapture, but you can feel it in outside the fire and the blackness too. You can feel it any time you know how, it's just a matter of listening to the blood, feeling your personal heavenly connection to the starry dynamo. You can turn on any time you want, friends.
You too can be a rock star, you too can sing he blues. You can kick off you shoes, you can kick out the jams, grab a beer, get soulful. In fact, I encourage you to do so.