Monthly Archives: December 2013

Squatting in the Wrong Decade

The first time I saw a horse on a rooftop was in Lexington, Nebraska. It wasn’t a real horse, but I’ve never seen one, alive or otherwise, on a roof since. Coming from a packing plant town, the familiar Tyson aroma of seared hog flesh filled my nostrils and gave me a sense of home as we drove into Lexington. Barmore Drugs could’ve passed as Storm Lake’s Ressler’s. All these small Midwestern towns resembled each other in the details.

Down a residential street, two young girls in oversized T-shirts helped their mom rake the lawn. I pictured my childhood self and friend jumping into leaf piles at my grandma’s house, then heading inside for a snack of apples with caramel.

I was with my dad, spending two days driving to Broomfield and stopping here for the night like two road-weary truckers—a bed and a clean bathroom our main requirements.

On the outskirts of town a giant plum-painted water tower sat, like an industrialized Jack Horner, squatting in the wrong decade. Front lawns along residential roads were spotted with rusted truck beds filled with such things as wood, torn-out carpet, and empty bottles of engine oil.

Sticking out like Jack’s thumb on the edge of town, an African restaurant and a huddle of tall, well-dressed black men talking and laughing in the parking lot.

In its prime, the heart of this town must’ve been the railroad. Two spiral ramps supporting a footbridge over the tracks–for the days when it was needed to cross without danger–stood as the town’s most notable landmark.

Our motel parking lot was strewn with semis, and as we walked past them to the office my dad straightened protectively. In our motel room, we opened our paper Sonic bags to find cold fries, a chicken sandwich coated with black lettuce, and no appetite.

My next meal came as a Styrofoam cupful of Froot Loops, dry, the next morning. I frowned at the assortment of O’s, but kept any complaints to myself. I couldn’t wait to get to Colorado and the well-stocked cupboards of my uncle’s house.

March 2007

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Smokey Taboo

bluebird

Bluebird Theater: CocoRosie

I knew as soon as I saw the winged and face-painted fans in line that this would be a good show. A guy in a fur coat with a platinum blond Mohawk stood in front of me. To my left: two young women in stretchy headbands bedecked in Native American gift shop paraphernalia—miniature dream catchers, beads, feathers.

Glitter was everywhere. Women outnumbered the men.

Bianca: uniquely sexy with her bizarre clothes and makeup, sharp features, and child-like voice. Sierra: garbed in a gold leotard from ankle to wrist and waving her arms angelically like mid-summer stalks of wheat. A smile never left her face.

A tall ginger-haired man, mustachioed and gay, zeroed in on Derek. It appeared that this man waxed and twirled the ends of his mustache on a regular basis. His face was rosy, cherubic, and he wore a brown leather hat stuck with a dainty, pale pink hatpin.

“I work at Victoriana,” he explained, and told us stories about his bald, hypoallergenic kitty. It sounded like true love.

Two women joined the conversation. Both with long gray hair, never dyed.

Everyone seemed to be big fans of Florence and the Machine. Why am I always gestured at when another redhead is mentioned?

The floor: sticky; The venue: warm, confined.

A Hermione-haired rave dancer on the level below weaved her arms in abnormal, impulsive patterns for the whole three hours–an unavoidable presence, though she kept to her given dimensions.

Smoke and must floated halfway to the ceiling, hovering as though hesitant to dissolve. Hesitant to miss the next nonsensical costume change, the beat boxer’s solo performance, the second encore.

More than just a show, the concert was a communal celebration of sound and beauty held by citywide strangers. It was an observation of human expression.

October 2013