i would just like to state for the record, in case you were wondering, that Sandinista! is a better record than London Calling. Not to say LC is bad, of course. Any other band in that era and genre would have driven safety pins into their own eyes to have a record that good. But Sandinista! is so much more daring, in so many ways. Their record company was already torqued about them having just released a double album, so the next time out they made a triple album. the band was willing to forego a lot of money in royalties to keep the sticker price down, while the record company still got their usual ridiculous cut.
the album has six sides. i know you k1dd33z who are too young to remember vinyl don't know what a "side" is, or its significance -- AND THAT'S WHY I'M USING THAT TERM. SPECIFICALLY TO SPITE YOU. GET OFFA MY LAWN. a lot of the material on the third, fourth, and fifth sides is typically maligned as being filler, throwaway, whatever. i'll concede it doesn't seem like absolutely every track had quite as much effort put into it as, say, "Hitsville U.K." did. BUT. the space between the notes is just as important as the notes themselves. messrs strummer et al are taking us on a journey. it's kind of a dark journey, in places.
the very last thing at the end of the record is a plane flying away. i don't know if they meant it that way, but to me it always sounds so sad. the end of a big bold record, the end of an era. yeah, they still had one more decent album in them, Combat Rock. it was good clean fun, but it didn't break any new ground. the band peaked at Sandinista!
i remember back in high school, when a friend loaned me Sandinista! so i could record it onto a cassette tape. (yes, i was more lax about da piratin' when i was a youngster.) i noted it wasn't going to fit on a C90, so he was pointing out all the "junk" you could do without to get it down to size. that was the first time i heard about the third, fourth, and fifth sides being expendable. nonsense! we weren't qualified to listen to the clash.
i met this girl out at the mall, almost exactly a year ago. i was buying a calendar in one of those temporary specialty kiosks that spring up during the big shopping season, and she was working the register. she was a type i hadn't seen for a long time, but when i lived in wichita i couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting one of her. the profile goes like this: smart, disaffected, maladjusted, far too into alterna-music to the exclusion of almost everything else, bad job and/or frustrating college career, ironic sense of humor, casual drug use, weird haircut, suppressed superiority complex, punk clothes. i didn't know nashville had any of her kind, i've certainly never seen any of them around before.
the sight of her brought out my inner 25-year-old. she didn't recognize me as one of her tribe, because i don't really fit the profile anymore, if i ever did. but i recognized her. i felt like i already knew her, through and through. i could bring up something i figured she'd like and i was pretty much never wrong.
when she wasn't at the impromptu calendar kiosk, she worked at one of the mall bookstores. i saw her around several more times and made a half-hearted attempt to make friends with her. then i ran into a characteristic of her type that i'd forgotten about: they don't want you getting too close. she would act like i was bothering her, then act miffed when i'd leave. she claimed to like people, but inevitably told stories about them that made it obvious she thought they were all far stupider than her.
one day i ran into her having lunch in the mall food court and sat down for a talk. she told me condescending stories about her co-workers, obviously thinking herself quite clever and superior, all the while claiming how much she "likes people." she skillfully fended off all my subtle attempts to get her to see what she was doing. so i did kind of a mean thing, purely and solely to get past her facade.
"i bet you haven't heard about it yet," i said. "joe strummer died today. heart attack. he was only fifty years old."
we had never before discussed strummer, the clash, big audio dynamite, or any other subject more than tangentially related to him. but i knew she'd consider him an icon, just as all of us in the club do. i was not wrong.
i can't recall very many conversational scenarios from the last decade that were very much more satisfying than that one. her usual smirk slowly melted off her face. her mouth opened a couple of times, like she was going to say something, but didn't. she looked at me hard to see if i was joking, and discovered i was not. she looked off in some other direction. her breathing started getting weird.
"yep, that's exactly the way i felt," i said. now it was me who was smirking. guess there's a way to get past your defenses after all, huh girlie.
she started blinking fast, and said "but we just saw him a couple of months ago! with the mescaleros!" she was so upset she almost forgot to be furious at me for making her drop her mask like that. but not quite. "oh yeah, and thanks a LOT for telling me that way," she said, as sarcastically as humanly possible.
i got up and left shortly after that. i never talked to her again.
so when did it happen that i can't write about something until it's a year old? that seems to be the gestation period of all my big stories these days.
dag, i'd give a hundred bucks for a decent omelette right now. i haven't had one in the whole two years i've been here. wait, actually i did. back in february, when we went on a trip to my old neighborhood in coral gables. i sauntered into the gables cafe, by myself, with a book under my arm, just like i did a thousand times when i lived there. there is more cool in a half a block of coral gables than in all of nashville.
i won't get to climb again until tuesday at the earliest. i'm starting to feel like a couch potato.