Some records are not about the things they make you remember.
Portland, Oregon. September 12, 2001.
The fall of the sun sweeps the backyard fence. Our picnic table nestles the remains of the chips and salsa. Shaking the dregs of empty Pabst cans, looking for a place to extinguish the joint, my friend’s friend from college debates a classic flick: “It’s not misogynistic, it’s about the plight of man.”
I want to touch him, his summer-labor shoulders. I don’t care about the plights of men, or Samuel Fuller’s war movies. What I want to know is: How to tap this violently musclebound fuck god? How to cash in on the fear of this day? How could I possibly be alone when the sky is falling?
And although he’s wrong, I feel for him. And for Fuller, too.
It’s like, no matter what amazing and radical intentions he has, no matter what fuck-shit-up rebellious instinct, what strong single mother raised him up, what depths of poetry lurk beneath those abs—no matter what—in the end, a man makes a war. What can he do?
When he leaves, lengthening shadows are cooling the wooden seats on which we sit. A Volvo station wagon pulls up and he strides through the gate to get in it. Out of the window behind the steering wheel, a pixie haircut and sunglasses reflect us.
He opens the car door to the amplified sound of a clipped electric guitar, fuzzy but clean like it came from a city bigger than here. His girlfriend has been repeating it for a month in the car. We all have. Defending it. This little disc in a little sleeve painted to look like a vinyl record. The Modern Age. Shades of: Velvet Underground, The Cars, someone at the table says “is that Rick Springfield?” or something else undeniably tinged with sudden nostalgia.
The past separates itself from today. The old car drives away. In its engine’s noisy wake I hear the beat. A deeper fuzz.
A fighter-plane’s patrol loop blots out the sunset for only 2.5 seconds, but it’s enough. Dresden, Sarajevo. Baghdad. New York.