It’s a go. I can MAKE this film; the last time wasn’t exactly like this, but everything was precisely the same, and usually on the second time around I like to sit in a tall directors chair and point out the artistic inevitabilies, the comforting certainties, of the next scene. When the realization comes, I decide it’s plausible this time to add the smells – dust, brittle canvas, musty blankets – and though the dream has been unreeling for some time, I begin in lucid earnest atop a creaky bunk-bed, leering down in shameless pre-cognition into the wide face of a weary-looking janitor in faded overalls, desultorily wielding a push-broom.
“Hey cuz,” I say, “what’s shakin’?”
He immediately picks up on his bit-part recognition, spits a lazy stream of brown juice onto the dusty wood-plank floor, nods a broken-toothed smile towards the rows of rusted metal shelves at the far end of the warehouse, and says: “Great prices on dem ol’ records,” and continues back on his endless rounds.
I’m off the bunk now, winding my way around stacks of crates and boxes, which I know to contain slim reptiles,kitchen appliances, shiny gumball dispensers, sinkholes, potholes and wormholes, towards the red and blue neon-lit back of the warehouse, where, I suddenly remember, I know who’ll be there to greet me. The last time, Don was more of a shadowy underworld figure in a drab, ill-fitting suit; a two-bit Cleveland number hustler, with a spiel like seedy carnival barker or a door-to-door siding salesman. This time however, knowing he would soon appear, I affixed a gaudy, flashing sign to the warehouse wall in this section: KING ENTERPRISES – ONLY IN AMERICA. As I passed beneath the sign, I had a Martha and the Vandellas tape begin cranking music. Row upon row of mint record albums still wrapped in plastic filled racks as far as the eye could see, and the air smelled like downtown Saturday night. With a fat blunt of bud in my lips and a fresh Colt .45 Malt waiting there whenever and whenever I reached for it, I began to randomly check out the album covers. The first one I looked at showed a trio of voluptuous women riding stick-horses with ecstatic looks on their faces. The florid lettering read: ‘Live from Carnegie Hall.” It was a recording of a rare concert featuring the Count Basie Orchestra backing Joan Baez and Howlin’ Wolf covering the songs of George Gershwin , with special appearances bt Sid Viscous and Johnny Rotten. A small round yellow label was affixed to the upper right hand corner. I toked at my blunt and swigged on a fresh Colt. The next album I looked at was titled, ‘Johnny Mathis Sings Songs So Sweet You’ll Wanna Puke’, the cover showed two white girls with beehive hairdos eating greasy pork chops with their fingers. I knew the lucidity was slipping, this was not music I’d choose to listen to, but I also knew I could restore my will whenever I chose to.
I heard Don somewhere near, his booming barker’s voice reverberating through the cavernous warehouse: “THIS is why I love America! The little people! Where else could a shoeshine boy become a millionaire, or a pig-knuckle eater dine on expensive caviar?!…Only in America, my friend, only in America!”
to be continued…