Julia’s in the club, underage. There are hotter girls, lots of them, but she embodies a deadly gestalt of parts sinewed together like a stealth cobbler’s patent leather, tailored for Christopher and no other, meaning nothing in the grand scheme except a pathetic unrequited stimulation, heart palpitations, and aches in the loins. And she’s getting away with it, the dance club, but he’s coming at her from such an obtuse angle, it would be a terrible tangle and mangle any propriety he might still be able to hang on to. But she's a knockout, such a charm that the only thing he would violate, in his mind, is propriety. In all other respects and disrespects, it would be magical, a watery reverie of labial delirium, to jump on this mostly unspoiled girl, in whatever sly and slimy way might be required – any creepy means necessary, for he would be the winner of the game that only the greatest of connoisseurs had scoped out this early – this winter stage. A mad scientist who forgot his calculus could one day find himself back in time, an appropriate body brought along for himself, some hairless hunk of teenaged flesh bought from the body shop. But even with this prosthetic, the verbal interface would be the main challenge. Chris doesn’t do pick-ups and he doesn’t do lines.
Julia's with a fuzzy-haired bundle of fun who’s all red-eyed high. She’s a bit less fem and probably still in the single digits for total career THC trips, a lovely counterpart to the main attraction, letting herself go, arms outstretched, thinking she can feel the flecks of light from the disco ball.
But Julia is the one, the handsome girl with golden brown hair, too cool to be blond. She is so past that. But there are blue highlights left over from some – some – oh Christ, Chris has no business naming those pure sleaze-daubed episodes in her theoretical life. Oh, it’s pre-pubescent dye of some kind, but this is post pubescent lounge night and in this light, there’s some inside information gained from slippery electric affairs that now arms her with an eye-rolling ability to deal with intruders, not with aplomb but a bombed-out whimsy, a smoke-obscured battleground with clusterfuck fronts.
She’s wrapped her upper half in a deep-necked tank top and her shoulders are sparkling – literally. Sparkles, you can buy them at walmart. Her style is sparkly. Those freaks who freak at walmart, she doesn’t know what’s up with them. It’s just a store, like any other. Better than most, prices-wise, selection-wise. For peripherals, not garments, oh no. Walmart garments are a wasteland, heaped stacks of crate clothes under smoke-filled Rio skies. Not her style. She needs something a little open-necked. Open. Not for pleasure, really, except hers, at being halfway – maybe even, coyly, a third. No expectations no blame, and twist yourself up stranger, it’s entertaining, revealing, a window she’ll see, a mirror you’ll see. She’ll see, when she’s open. Not for business, business women don’t wear sparkles, not there anyway, the clever crescent under the collar bone. She’ll go far in the lounge because no one’s seen a pattern like that before, though it’s so obvious, why didn’t you think of it?
It draws eyes, some more bold than Chris. Julia Exudia, energy short of ecstasy, measured dose of reality in a wrinkled shirt fold, arms, complete and smooth, sliding out. Chris can’t get close to her thoughts. When he catches a fragment, he extracts and extrapolates to a delusional tremendum. He imagines touching her hair, feeling the frail weight of her whole taut head with his hand. He’d be a bit bigger but respectful. Has anyone ever touched that hair in that way? Grazed the contours of that round face? The asymmetry is balanced like an artful paisley that slid off the grid, rustbloom.
He thinks she meets his eyes for a second, under the wooden rafters of the low-ceiling room, the room that Jessica said was a bit of a joke now, wise black-haired Jessica, lamenting old age, a small, thin, bony woman with black bursting out of her eyes, her head, a vital, fungal noir. Fine forty something, and Julia at the opposite end of the spectrum. Just a little under the line. Provoking him over the line. Because she’s got it going on. In a certain sense. A certain mammalian sense we’ve all sensed as that budding foliage clogs the language center of the brain, the divine vine of lust strangles reason, substituting sensation. Even when set against the intellect, it can expand thought, make it for all the cards.
Christopher’s cards aren’t on the table. They’re close to his vest, comfort since he isn’t here with friends. His finger shines with the bind of his ring. Years ago, he allowed himself to be pulled into romance. It was barely a choice, but it was enough of a choice that he still congratulates himself on his decision. He opened his arms and felt his face spaghettify. It was going to be the ultimate trip. There was a force attached to a female, not THE feminine but A feminine fighter, a feisty flight from a crusting life to find some dubious online avatar, but she had a good nose for reality, and though she got spiked with the poison prickles of overgrown and overdrugged life’s brutality, she found him out. She came across in tact, off the medication. Beautiful, bountiful, fragile, skin showing through scabs of duress, demands of having to pry manipulators’ steel hooks out of her open wounds – she had to perform the operation herself. It wasn’t pretty. It was gorgeously horrific. She was willing, for the time being, to abandon the bullshit for what she thought, through academic soul-probing, would be a good guy, a good lay, and a survey of what could lie ahead, in truth, in lie. The bullshit was the dark and savage kind, the kind that may take a decade to turn into song, the kind you can’t just rap about. (Sometimes there is nothing for Chris to offer but to listen and fill in the blanks as only a soul-mate can.)
It was reality and it was another, the other – gravity welled, his heart swelled, apocalypse vertigo, he fell, into the white hole of true love, a font and fountain, a refiner’s fire. He would be a hero some day. But on this day he was to be saved – saved by his soul-mate, a brown-topped girl, darker in hair and spirit, of sharp wit she would turn on herself again and again. She spared no attacks for the worst ones, the ones who thrived on conflict and spreading of misery, the ones who really needed to be taken down. She was in fellowship with Chris – a Sisyphean martyr caught up in the hamster wheel, drinking and smoking and talking of art. But in between these impolite and erudite discussions they would plan pitifully modest careers outside the artistic realm – rent, tolerable rooms. With pets they might even be home, who knows?
It was a time for absorbing cartoons and slurring paradigms, oil depletion with some Aqua Teen to take the edge off, and botched experiments, and never quite consummated tolerance. A little infidelity to keep the edge on. There was no effort expended that could not be attributed to the inevitability of endorphins, intellect, and diabolically perfect providence.
But Julia is underage, at the club, the lounge, novelty. Christopher is neither a man of action, nor a man. But the beat is strong, and he’s been practicing in his head to be a lounge act – lounging about in life, grabbing, non-abashed at the newly conglomerating orbs of confidence drifting by in state-bounded implausibility, white lies, light lies, lies that are life, lives that could be lived, playing the virtuoso in limbo, under the hokey, low-key low bar. Merely feigning confidence can get him back in the game, nodding his head to the beat: he’s gotta have a beat, gotta groove with the world, and this dank pocket of world is sweaty with meat-market mania. It’s a techno beat, but he imagines a Nomeansno solo over it, Andy Kerr freaking out on guitar.
Julia is in the lounge, in the lounge – and he, as an ostensible, fun-loving, adult-man, is encountering her there, little Julia from that other world, that just-so-slightly sexual world. Christopher’s eyes have been darting away from the stimuli all night. He hasn’t allowed himself to get hard at the sight of any skin or alert searching eyes. He won’t allow himself to get as far as alertness because that would imply agenda, and agenda would imply failure at having accomplished any aspect of it. No, ostensibly, he’s just grooving on the atmosphere, the vibey density of all these people, dancing, or trying to dance, or thinking they ought to dance, or being too high to dance, and bouncing around, and baring primo sweaty skin Chris will allow himself no more than point five seconds glance at, just enough for that little thrill, that chemical spike.
But Julia is something else and the juxtaposition is explosive. Chris is stiff as a board in seconds. She is something. Some kind of girl, real girl, a toy without instruction manual, too complicated for even the grown ups, she’s grown out of her mold. What thoughts flower underneath that hair, what feelings flourish, supply those pale hazel eyes with their palette? Julia brown, Julia flesh-tone. Julia in A flat major, the key Chris could never play, that major third spaced a little too far away. The mystery is chasmic and orgasmic. He formulates a ridiculous implausible and unsustainable fantasy with an overflowing spilling slosh of neurotransmitting fun:
[Christopher is walking with Julia along the forest path he loves so much. But where is her reality? Where is her mind? Where are her words?]
She has no words. She turns to Chris and smiles. The smile fades in a way that suggests robust mind-idle. No, no need to label it. Look at the pine needles. Chris looks. And sees the pine needles. Where did Julia go? Chris mustn’t be alone.
She is still there with hair, red highlights, the R of the R G B nearly glowing in the chilly air, a brisk March morning, March 4th, march forth, things haven’t played themselves out yet. What did you do Chris, to deserve this?
“Surely you respect my axe, Julia? It’s a benign axe, it cuts soundwaves to ribbons, but it could never cut your skin.”
“Yeah, soundwaves,” she says, unimpressed. Which is cool. There is so much more. So much other. Respect lies in some dimension that slipped over the death barrier.
“The axe isn’t here right now”, she says with a thin film of etiquette, smile overhanging, flanging. Chris can’t tell where the smile leads, that’s the problem. It’s so fragmentary.]
The fantasy can’t sustain itself, an ‘80s chart-topper newaves out of a speaker column, conjured by the tune tweakers on the subterranean stage and a lot of the older gen are moving – really getting into it. It’s a cultural touchstone Chris can’t reach. He’s been drunk with older friends, the bonafide punks or whatever became of them, enough times to know that this is probably something by either the Soft Cell, or the Cure, he always gets those two confused.
That’s okay, the next wacky mix goes back further, to a temporal enclave Chris can relate to – the Doors, in their autumnal blues. And Julia is moving to this too, she’s got a natural jazz shuffle in her body. She throws her head back, fine follicle clumps flailing, showing off their lingering tints of psychedelic coloring, and she bobs and weaves to Morrison’s blues. “Cars hiss by my windows”. And the dumbest lines shine in relief, sweet relief at having this young dancer offer them an arabesque treatment, a sight Morrison never dared dream, a semantic twist into no long-past locked-up experience but the here and now, in this room. Surely the karmic connection necessitates him pursuing her in a ridiculous romantic comedy that will stop being funny very quickly.
And then one of those hip songs comes on, and Chris can tell it’s hip by how it sounds, how the whole tonality has been shifted down a few cents so you can’t whip out your pennywhistle and jam with it, and how the melodic lines are not any single instrument but pastiches of tweaked out samples, car horns, advertising jingles, and interviews with interesting high-on-life backstagers that made it through the Gatling Grunge Noise Gate, but then the spirited-unchiseled-lambwaver of Oberst’s voice rips through the quirky sound soup, and Chris thinks: Hell, they’re remixing Bright Eyes – I’ve dug this dude for nearly a year now! Forget the fools that tried to turn me on to him with their taste-plague contrivance.
And the meat market is fresh today, you wouldn’t believe how many would have sex with you if only you had the right ____. Chris and Julia are both dying, slaves to the forward cant of drunken Chronos, slice dice, soil, oil, everything must GO! But graph the curves of their high-frequency waveforms and watch them mingle like mountain ranges, offset, odd. Julia’s up, Chris is down. But Julia’s got a downer in her future. They’ve intersected on this turn of the century set, but rarely on the same stage. Their parts have been recorded separately, separate takes, on separate days, separate grooves. We’ve got a polyrhythm and it takes a pretty tweaked-out mind to feel it, really feel it, hear it as signal and not noise. That’s lounge action, slackadaisical laxative action, moving, moving somewhere, not sure where, ending up transcribing things that could have been, another plague of poetry.
That’s why our new band is “The Noise Gate”. The Gatling Grunge Noise Gate.
Here’s our ASCII logo: