Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Voices of the Angels - The Final Chapter

...when I was 13 or 14, me and my best friend (at the time - we "broke up" a few years later over - of all things - a large quantity of very old MAD Magazine back-issues) were spending a lazy summer afternoon wandering down a backwoods trail near the dyke in our old hometown; a small river with beautiful overhanging willows and the occasional sewage drain-pipe joining one side to the other (which we would always puff up our ain't-afraida-nuthin' chests to and cross, well, about three feet of before quivering back to the home-shore and saying something like "Ah, there's nothing over there anyway!" in a quick excuse), under which a small flock of Mallards might float, along with maybe a small log, which would get caught up in a stack of dumped tires or a misused shopping cart, now brown from being covered with decaying algae & motor-oil.
As we kicked rocks along the way, we spotted something shining off to the right, buried in the tall grass. Excited by the prospect of not being bored anymore, we rushed over and found two rifles with scopes, a huge bowie knife, and about three boxes of tranquilizer-darts, spilled onto the dirt & mixed in with the grass.
We completely freaked out.
What luck! Guns! Ammo (sorta)! Scopes!
My friend grabbed the knife (as I already had one that size), and I grabbed a rifle and started tugging at the sight-scope to get it off. We briefly imagined ourselves sauntering down the sun-scorched avenues of our 'burg with weapons almost as tall as we were and decided against it, although we made plans to hide them and get back under cover of the night to recapture the deadly items.
Anyway, we heard some noise in the distance, and carefully took a peek down the path. FUCK! A truck marked with some official city-seal and about four huge lumberjack-types inside was slowly trundling towards our position. We had a quickly-negated plan to grab the guns and lam it, but they were too damn big to go unnoticed in the hands of teenagers down a dirt path.
(I also imagined picking them off with the tranks, but that would have required some kind of aiming skill - a skill withered by my trading in the slingshot for sitting in front of Donkey Kong)
We dropped everything and bolted.
They never saw us, didn't chase us. I incorporated the brilliant plan of stopping just out of sight and sitting on the curb next to the road where the trail's exit merged: guilty kids would keep running - we just looked like a couple teens sitting in the sun. And we could see what they were doing.
They loaded up the firearms without any excitement, like it was them who left the items there in the first place, and slowly drove off.
We got up and started walking.
So, whadda ya wanna do?”...

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Voices of the Angels Part 3

...remember sweltering summer days in Port Coquitlam; BMX-biking alone through heat-rippled streets with neither a moving car nor any of the thousands of kids my age, also set adrift for two months, in sight.
Eerie silence but for the combined hum of knobby tires sticking to hot asphalt and uncountable A/C units from seemingly deserted homes... where they all were I never could fathom and never found out. Inside watching TV or playing Atari? No laughter, no cheering from any of these homes. Off to Disneyland? Summer Camp?
Oh – there's the mail-lady.
Okay, so I'm not in some Twilight Zone episode or left behind as rapture-fodder, but the robotic affectations of her movements that the job requires doesn't comfort me at all.

Winding through the sidestreets, dead end cul-de-sacs grinding my tires in a 180 turn, and I find the abandoned “playground” in the middle of this particular area, only accessible through a tiny paved passage between houses.

I slowly tour the mobius-strip concrete 8 that winds through the entire area, a cracked and tree-root-warped cement path with a little bridge in the middle rising over the junction; a few giant tractor-tires are scattered about, erupting from the earth like farmland Easter-Island statues with peeling clown-paint nearly completely removed by the elements and years of neglect and almost buried in weeds. There's a three-person swing-set with one seat wrapped tight around the top, another dangling from one chain, and the last making a disturbing screeching wail from rusted chains holding a shredded canvas seat catching the dry wind.

Elsewhere, what was once a sandbox leisurely swallows unrecognizable and sun-faded plastic bits of toys. A discarded tricycle rusts peacefully against the wooden fence in a forgotten corner, and a doll-torso with matted hair and eyes frozen in horror glares up at me from a clump of undeveloped dandelions.
I ride over the small bridge once, back the bike up to the highest point for an overview of the entire area, and just get the chills; I mean one moment I'm fine and next this creeping terror with ice-legs crawls over my back like a blanket of millipedes and I am gone, I am outta there.

This side of the Voices of the Angels double-LP features author Danny Sugerman, Chris D (of the Flesheaters and Divine Horsemen to name a couple), and Doug Moody, infamous for his Mystic Records label of the 1980's.

Standouts (for me) are the Richard Meltzer track - "Wednesday...", and Cheryl Smith's "Sure", while the Jane Bond & the Undercovermen is merely a radio spot for the Rodney on the ROQ show.

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(photo of kid in Smiths shirt on bike c.1988, found on sidewalk some years ago)